Ever, among the countless ideas I have had and I have not followed, it occurred to me that it would be a good idea to write a text similar to the Rules of The Method Sociological. Among other reasons, because it seems to me that what is missing-oddly, in a discipline so concerned about methodological issues – discussions about what constitutes a good sociological analysis. Both lack that in a manual of quantitative methodology and common wildlife the analysis part will be replaced by a succinct description of statistical analysis. But both the text of Durkheim (and more that of Giddens) are ordered by the question of which things have to meet a test to be good sociology.
And, in that spirit, we put the first postulate of a good sociological analysis: The equality of actors: All actors must have the same capabilities, and where possible, their differences have to come from differences in their social relationships, in their locations rather than attributes of the actor. And if there is no other more that correspond to attributes of the actor, then the distribution of the attribute as general as possible.
Let’s start by the first: the requirement that there are no actors special. Basically, if we postulate that a given actor can do X (can be arranged, you can learn such a thing etc) then any actor can do it. If we find that an actor does not perform the action, then we cannot base the explanation in which the actor is different, but that their situation was different. There are No actors with special abilities, what’s more there are special situations that allow them to or not to carry them out.
Consider, for instance, in the case of the collective action and the old observation of Olson that not all actors with common interests are organized for their achievement. But that some do. Now, the conceptual development of Olson is in base to discover circumstances, situations, structures occur in the groups that produce collective action. It is not to raise, let’s say, that where there is collective action, it is because the actors are different (because they have more collective guidance or any other thing).
This has, incidentally, certain interesting consequences. The whole conceptual model (or empirical) that is based on a distinction between truth / falseness (from false consciousness to explain the differences with respect to a standard rational by an error term) that is known to the analyst but may not be known to the actors is unacceptable. The analysts are, in the end, actors; and therefore, if they have the ability to detect the ‘truth’, then that capacity is available to the actors. The idea of the intellectual class as to occupy a free place in the society and thus being in a position to know the reality (Mannheim) does not work.
But it is not only that if researchers can find the truth is should also be available to the actors. The following case, in principle, compliance with that requirement: Some text (which I will not say the name now) posed, based on economic theories, contemporary and the idea of rent-seeking explanations of mercantilism given at that time do not correspond (that is, that commercialism has other effects), and that is another explanation. Then, then it can’t be that the elites leaders of europe have been considered to be mercantilist for the reasons given in the theories of his time, but that must have been mercantile for the reasons posed by the modern theory. To put it another way, the barometer of rationality has an actor in particular (the researcher), for an actor to be considered rational to think as he does. The fact that a person could effectively keep the beliefs of mercantilism, and, therefore, act accordingly, it just doesn’t seem possible.
The postulate involves, ultimately, to recognize that the researchers are, finally, social actors. With the same features, constraints and opportunities that either. And it involves, on the other hand, think that the differences between actors have to be explained through differences in their social fabric, that in both actors have the same capabilities. In other words, it is not in the actor, where he has sought an explanation from a sociological standpoint.