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Sociological Paradigms

and Organisational
Elements of the SocioloRY of Corporate L({e

Gibson BUlT'H'eBm
lecturer in the Department of Behaviour in Organisations,
University of lancaster, England
Gareth Morgalm
Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour and
Industrial Relations, York University. Toronto

© Gibson Burrell and Gareth Morgan 1979
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means,
electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the Contents
prior permission of the publisher

First published in 1979 by Heinemann Educational Books

Reprinted 1980, 1982 Ust of figures page
Reprinted 1985, 1987, 1988 by Gower Publishing Company Limited List of Tables v
Reprinted 1992 by Ashgate Publishing Limited Acknowledgements VI
Introduction viii
Reprinted 1993, 1994 by Arena PART I: IN SEARCH Of A FRAMEWORK

Reprinted 1998, 2000, 200 I, 2003, 2005 by n AssumptiOHlls lllbout the NllltlUlre oa'Social Sciellllce n
Ashgate Publishing Limited The Strands of Debate 4
Gower House Analy'sing Assumptions about the Nature of Social 7
Cron Road Sci.ence
Aldershot 2 Assumptiolllls aboot the Nature off Soddy no
Bants GU 11 311R The Order-Conflict Debate 10
England J 'Regulation' and 'Radical Change' 16
Two Dimelllsioll1lS: ]four !Paradigms 2ll
Ashgale Publishing Company The Nature and Uses of the Four Paradigms 23
Suile420 The Functionalist Paradigm 25
101 Cherry Streel The Interpretive Paradigm 28
Burlington, VT 0540 1-4405 The Radical Humanist Paradigm 32
USA The Radical Structuralist Paradigm 33
Exploring Social Theory 35

British Library Cataloguing in Publication D:nta ~ Functiollllalist Sociology

Burrell, Gibson Origins and Intellectual Tradition 4\
Sociological paradigms and organisational The Structure of the Paradigm 48
analysis: elements of the sociology of corporate Social System Theory 49
lite. Interactionism and Social Action Theory 68
I. Organization Integrative Theory 87
I. Title II. Morgan, Gareth Objectivism 102
302.3'5 HMl31 The Underlying Unity of the Paradigm 106
:5 FIJlll1lctiomnRist Orglllrusllltiolll nlleory nn8
ISBN 0 566 05148 6 Hbk Theories of Organisation within the Functionalist
185742 1140 Pbk Paradigm 121
Social System Theory and Objectivism 123
Printed and bound in Great Britain by Athenaeum Press Ltd, Theories of Bureaucratic Dysfunctions 184
Gateshead, Tyne & Wear
Introduction ix

Introduction proportion of theory and research is located within the bounds of just
one of the four paradigms to be considered here. Indeed, the bulk of it
is located within the context of a relatively narrow range of theoretical
possibilities which define that one paradigm. it is no exaggeration,
therefore, to suggest that the social-scientific enter-prise in general is
built upon an extremely narrow set of metatheoretical assumptions.
This boole, which has devoured the last two years of our lives, is the This concentration of effort in a relatively narrow area defines what is
product of a friendship and intellectual partnership. It began as an usually regarded as the domimmt orthodoxy within a subject. Because
innocuous idea which grew with such strength that it developed into a
this orthodoxy is so dominant and strong, its adherents often take it for
'way of seeing'. It has changed the ways in which we think about social
theory, and we hope that it will do the same for others. granted as right and self-evident. Rival perspectives within the same
The book is intended to clarify and help overcome what seem to be paradigm or outside its bounds appear as satellites defining alternative
some of the major sources of confusion within the social sciences at the points of view. Their impact upon the orthodoxy, however, is rarely
present time. Initially it had a fairly specific objec-tive: to attempt to very significant. They are seldom strong enough to establish
relate theories of organisation to their wider sociological conteJlt. In themselves as anything more than a somewhat deviant set of
the course of development, however, this endeavour widened in scope approaches. As a result the possibilities which they offer are rarely
and evolved into an enterprise embracing many aspects of philosophy explored, let alone understood.
and social theory in gen-eral. As such it now stands as a discourse in Yn order to understand alternative points of view it is important that
social theory of relevance to many social science disciplines, of which a theorist be fully aware of the assumptions upon which his own
those in the general area of organisationstudies - industrial sociology, perspective is based. Such an appreciation involves an intel-lectual
journey which takes him outside the realm of his own familiar domain.
organ-isation theory, organisational psychology and industrial relations
It requires that he become aware of the bound-aries which define his
- are but special cases by which we illustrate our general themes.
perspective. h requires that hejourney into the une"plored. h requires
Our proposition is that social theory can usefully be conceived in that he become familiar with paradigms which are not his own. Only
terms of four key paradigms based upon different sets of then can he look back and appreciate in full measure the precise nature
metatheoretical assumptions about the nature of social science and the of his starting point.
nature of society. The four paradigms are founded upon mutlll-ally The work presented here is an attempt to take the student of
exclusive views of the social world. lEach stands in its own right and organisations into realms which he has probably not explored before. It
generates its own distinctive analyses of social life. With regard to the is a journey upon which we, the authors, unwittingly embarked as a
study of organisations, for example, each paradigm generates theories result of certain nagging doubts and uncertainties about the utility and
and perspectives which are in fundamental opposition to those validity of much contemporary theory and research in our subject. We
generated in other paradigms. were concerned about the way in which studies of organisational
Such an analysis of social theory brings us face to face with the activities had generated mountains of theory and research which
nature of the assumptions which underwrite different approaches to seemed to have no obvious links outside narrow discipline areas. We
social science. It cuts through the surface detail which dresses many
were concerned about the essentially ephemeral nature of our subject.
social theories to what is fundamental in determining the way in which
We were concerned about the academic sectarianism reflected at
we see the world which we are purporting to analyse. It stresses the
crucial role played by the scientist's frame ofreJfer-ence in the various times in open hostility, ostrich-like indifference and generally
generation of social theory and research. poor-quality dialogue and debate between essentially related schools of
The situation with regard to the field of organisation studies at the thought. Yn short, we felt that our subject area called for a close
present time, as in other social science disciplines, is that a vast e1tamination of the assumptions upon which it is based with a view to
seeing it in a new, and hopefully refreshing, light. Our book in essence
presents an account of our journey and a record of the
J( Introduction Introduction xi
conclusions and insights which have emerged. Marxist social theorists appeared content to work in isolation, ignoring
We began our enterprise by considering how we could dis-tinguish the contradictory persp.ectives w~lich they. presented, it seemed that
between different approaches to the study of organisations. The view any adequate analySIS of theones of society must take
that 'all theories of organisation are based upon a philosophy of science these rival perspectives into account. .
and a theory of society' seemed to recur time and again in our Our journey into Marxist literature took us mto yet another new
conversations and we soon found it defining two major dimensions of realm as far as our initial interests were concerned. We were surprised
analysis. Although organisation theorists are not always very explicit to find striking parallels betwe.en i~tellectual developments within
about the basic assumptions which inform their point of view, it is Mandsttheory and academiC soc~olog~. We
clear that they all take a stand on each of these issues. Whetller they found that the assumptions about the nature of SOCial sCience which
are aware of it or not, they bring to their subject of study a frame of had divided academic sociologists into different schools of thought
also divided Mantist theorists. In that realm, too, t~e dominant
reference which reflects a whole series of assumptions about the nature
theoretical framework was surrounded by satellite
of the social world and the way in which it might be investigated.
schools of thought offering rival explanations. Pursuing thes~ tra-
Our attempt to explore these assumptions led us into the realm of ditions to their source, we found that they emerged from prec~sely
social phi losoph y. We were confranted wi th problems of ontol-ogy the same bounds of social philosophy which had underWritten
and epistemology and other issues which rarely receive con-sideration divergent elements within sociology itself. It became clear that the
within the field of organisation studies. As we investigated these issues rival traditions emphasising 'order' as opposed to 'conflict' shared the
we found that they underpinned the great philosophical debates same pedigree as far as their roots in social philosophy were
between social theorists from rival intellectual traditions. We realised concerned. Deriving from similar assumptions about the ontological
that the orthodoxy in our sub-ject was based in essence uponjust one of and epistemological status of social science, they been wedded to
these traditions, and that the satellite perspectives which we had fundamentally different frames of reference With
observed as surrounding the orthodoxy were, in fact, derived from regard to the nature of society. . , .. Given these cross linkages between
quite a separate intellectual source. We realised that they were nvalmtellectual traditions,
attempting to articulate points of view which derived from
it became clear to us that our two sets of assumptions could be counter-
diametrically opposed assumptions about the basic nature of the social posed to produce an analytical sch~mefor studying soci~1 theories in
world; accordingly they subscribed to quite different assumptions about general: the two sets of assu.mpllons de~ned fo~r baSIC
the very nature of the social-scientific enterprise itself. paradigms reflecting quite separate vlew.s of .soclal. reahty. On attempting
In investigating assumptions with regard to the nature of society we to relate this scheme to the SOCial sCience hteratu~e :v
were, at first, able to operate on firmer ground. The sociology of the found that we possessed an eKtremely powerful tool.for negottatmg
1960s had focused upon the 'order-conflict debate' - whether sociology our way through different subject areas, and one which made sense of a
emphasises the 'problem of order' or the 'problem of conflict and great deal of the confusion which characterises much con-temporary
change'. By the late 1960s the debate had been pronounced dead, and debate within the social Th~ schem~ offered itself as a form
these two views of society were seen merely as two aspects of the same of intellectual map upon which SOCial theones could be located
problematic. In reviewing the literature relevant to this debate we according to their source and tradition. Theories rarely
became increasingly con-vinced that it had met a premature death. if ever appear out of thin air; they usually have a well established
Whilst it was clear that academic sociologists had convinced history behind them. We found that our i~tellectual map all.owed
themselves that the 'problem of conflict' could be subsumed under the us to trace their evolution. Theories fell mto place accordmg to their
origins. Where rival intellectual traditions had been fused, distinctive
'problem of order', theorists outside this tradition, particularly those hybrid versions seemed to appear. What had first offered itself as a
interested in Marxist theory, were actively engaged in the development simple classificatory device for organising the literature now presented
of social theories which placed the problems of conflict and change at itself as an analytical tool. It pointed us towards new areas of
the forefront of their analysis. Although academic sociologists and investigation. It allowed us 10 appraise and evaluate theories against the
backcloth of the intellectual tradition
xii lfllroductioll

which they sought to emulate. It allowed us to identify embryonic

theories and anticipate potential lines of development. it allowed us to
write this boole.
in the following chapters we seek to present our analytical
scheme and to use it to negotiate a way through the literature on soci~1
theory and org~nisationalanalysis. We have aimed to pre-
sentlt as clearly and directly as we can whilst avoiding the pitfalls of 10 Assumptions about the
oversimplification. But the concepts of one paradigm cannot easily be
interpreted in terms of those of another. To understand a new paradigm Nature of Social Science
one has to explore it from the inside in terms of its own distinctive
problematic. Thus, whilst we have'made every efforlto present our Central to our thesis is the idea that 'all theories of organisation are
account as plainly as possible as far as the use of the English language based upon a philosophy of science and a theory of society' .in this
is concerned, we have necessarily had to draw upon concepts which chapter we wish to address ourselves to the first aspect of this thesis
may at times be unfamiliar. and to examine some of the philosophical assumptions which
. The r,emaining chaJ;>ters in Part i define the nature of our two key underwrite different approaches to social science. We shall argue that it
dimenSIOns of analysIs and the paradigms which arise within their is convenient to conceptualise social science in terms of four sets of
bounds. In this analysis we polarise a number of issues and mance assumptions related to ontology, epistemology, human nature and
much use of rough dichotomisations as a means of presenting OUf case. methodology.
We do so not merely for the purposes of classification but to forge a All social scientists approach their subject via eJ\plicit or implicit
working tool. We advocate our scheme as a heuristic device rather than assumptions about the nature of the social world and the way in which
as a set of rigid definitions. it may be investigated. First, there are assumptions of an ontological
in Part II we put our analytical framework into operation. For each nature - assumptions which concern the very essence of the phenomena
of our four paradigms we conduct an analysis of relevant so.cial .theory under investigation. Social scientists, for eJ\ample, are faced with a
and then proceed to relate theories of organisation to basic ontological question: whether the 'reality' to be investigated is
tillS wider background. lEach of the paradigms is treated in terms eJ\ternal to the individual - imposing itself on individual consciousness
~onsistent wit.h. it,S own distinctive frame of reference. No attempt from without - or the product of individual consciousness; whether
IS made to cnticise and evaluate from a perspective outside the 'reality' is of an 'objective' nature, or the product of individual
paradigm. S.uch criticism is all too easy but self-defeating, since it IS cognition; whether 'reality' is a given 'out there' in the world, or the
usually directed at the foundations of the paradigm itself. Ail four product of one's mind.
paradigms can successfUlly be demolished in these terms. What we Associated with this ontological issue, is a second set of assumptions
seek to do is to develop the perspective characteristic off the paradigm of an epistemological nature. These are assumptions about the grounds
and draw out some of its 'implications for social analysis. in so doing of knowledge - about how one might begin to understand the world and
we have found that we are frequently able to strengthen the communicate this as knowledge to fellow human beings. These
conceptualisations which each paradigm generates as far as the study of assumptions entail ideas, for eJ\ample, about what forms of knowledge
organisations is concerned. Our guiding rule has been to seek to offer can be obtained, and how one can sort out what is to be regarded as
something to each paradigm within the 'true' from what is to be regarded as 'false'. Indeed, this dichotomy of
terms of its own problematic. The chapters in Part II therefore are 'true' and 'false' itself pre-supposes a certain epistemological stance. It
~ssentially eJ\pository i~ nature. They seek to' provide ~ is predicated upon a view of the nature of knowledge itself: whether,
detailed framework upon which future debate might fruitfully be based. for example, it is possible to identify and communicate the nature of
knowledge as being hard, real and capable of being transmitted in
Part. m. pre~ents a slJ(~rt conclusion which focuses upon some of tangible form, or whether 'knowledge' is of a softer, more subjective,
the prinCipal Issues which emerge from our analysis. spiritual or even transcendental kind, based on eJ\perience and insight
of a
2 SocioloRical Paradi/?ms and OrRanisational Analysis Assumptions about the Nature oj Social Science 3
unique ~nd .essenti~lIy personal nature. The epistemological social world as ifit were a hard, external, objective reality. then the
~ssumptlOnsIn these Instances determine extreme positions on the scientific endeavour is likely to focus upon an analysis of relation-ships
Issue of whether knowledge is something which can be acquired on and regularities between the various elements which it com-prises. The
~he one hand. or is something which has to be personally exper-Ienced on concern. therefore. is with the identification and defini-tion of these
the other. elements and with the discovery of ways in which these relationships can
Associated with the ontological and epistemological issues. but be expressed. The methodological issues of importance are thus the
concept~ally separate from them. is a third set of assumptions concepts themselves. their measurement and the identification of
concermng human. nature an? in .particular. the relationship between underlying themes. This perspective e){presses itself most forcefully in a
human beings and their environment. All social science. clearly • be search for universal laws which explain and govern the reality which is
predicated upon this type of assumption. since human ~Ife IS. essentially being observed.
the subject and object of enquiry. Thus, we can Identify perspectives in If one subscribes to the alternative view of social reality. which stresses
social science which entail a view of human beings responding in a the importance of the subjective experience of individuals
mechanistic or even deterministic fashion to the situations encountered in in the creation of the social world. then the search for understand-ing
their external world. This view tends to be one in which human beings and focuses upon different issues and approaches t?em in differe~t ways. The
their experiences are regarded as products of the environment; one in principal concern is with an understanding of the way In which the
which humans individual creates. modifies and interprets the world in which he or she
are conditioned by their external circumstances. This extreme finds himself. The emphasis in extreme cases tends to be placed upon the
perspecti~ecan be contrasted with one which attributes to human explanation and understanding of what ~s unique and particular to the
b~i~gs a m~ch more creative role: with a perspective where 'free will individual rather than of what IS general and universal. This approach
OCCUPI~S the ~entreof the stage; where man is regarded as the questions whet~er there exists an external reality worthy of study. In
creator of hiS environment. the controller as opposed to the con- methodological terms it is an approach which emphasises the relativistic
trolled, the master rather than the marionette. In these two ext~emeviews nature of the social world to such an extent that it may be perceived as
of the relationship between human beings and their 'anti-scientific' by reference to the ground rules commonly applied in the
environment we are identifying a great philosophical debate between the natural sciences.
advocates of determinism on the one hand and
voluntarism on the other. Whilst there are social theories which adhere to
eac~ of t~ese.extremes,as we shall see, the assumptions Th0 subjective-objective dimension
of many SOCial SCientists are pitched somewhere in the range between. The subjectivist The objectivist
approach to !IIpproach to
social sci0nce social science
The three sets of assumptions outlined above have direct
implications of a metJlOdoloRical nature. Each one has important
cons.eq~encesfor t~e way in Which. one attemp~sto investigate and
ob~aln kn0':'Vledge about the social world. Different ontologies.
epl~temo.logl~sand models of human nature are likely to incline
SOCial sClent!sts. t?wards different methodologies. The possible
range of ch?l.ce IS Indeed so large that what is regarded as science by ~he
tradl~lOnal '.natural scientist' covers but a small range of
optIOns. nt. IS p~sslbl~, for, example, to identify methodologies
~mployedIn social sCience research which treat the social world
~Ik~ ~he natural world. as being hard. real and external to the
individual, and others which view it as being of a much softer
personal and more subjective quality. '
If one subscribes to a view of the former kind. which treats the !Figure 1.1 A scheme for analysing assumptions about the nature of social science
4 Sociological Paradigms and OrKaflisational Analysis Assumptions about the Nature of Sodal Science 5
Hn this brief sketch of various ontological, epistemological, human Anti-positivism-positivism: the
and methodological standpoints which characterise approaches to
social sciences, we have sought to illustrate two broad and somewhat epistemological delbate 4
polarised perspectives. !Figure 1.1 seeks to depict these in a more
rigorous fashion in terms of what we shall describe as the subjective- Hi has been maintained that 'tille word "positivist" like the word
objective dimension. Hi identifies the four sets of assumptions relevant "bourgeois" has become more of a derogatory epithet than a useful
to our understanding of social science, characterising each by the descriptive concept'. S We intend to use it here in the latter sense, as a
descriptive labels under which they have been debated in the literature descriptive concept which can be used to characterise a particular type of
on social philosophy. Hn the following section of this chapter we will epistemology. Most of the descriptions of H)ositivism in current usage
review each of tile four debates in necessarily brief but more refer to one or more off the ontological, epistemological and
systematic terms. methodological dimensions of our scheme for analysing assumptions with
regard to social science. It is also sometimes mistakenly equated with
empiricism. Such confiatiollls cloud basic issues and contribute to the use
of the term in at derogatory sense.
The Strands of Debate
Nominalism-realism: the ontological delbateR We use 'positivist' here to characterise epistemologies which sede to
explain and predict what happens in the social world by searching for
These terms have been the subject of much discussion in the literature regularities and causal relationships between its con-stituent dements.
and there are great areas of controversy surrounding them. The Positivist epistemology is in essence based uporll the traditional
approaches which dominate the natural sciences. Positivists may differ
nominalist position revolves around the assumption that the social
in terms of detailed approach. Some would claim, for eRailllple, that
world external to individual cognition is made up off nothing more hYlPothesised regularities can be verified by an adequate experimental
than names, concepts and labels which are used to structure reality. The research programme. Others would maintain that hypotheses can only
nominalist does not admit to there being any 'real' structure to the be falsified and neVer demon-strated to be 'true'.6 However. both
world which these concepts are used to describe. The 'names' used are 'verilficationists' and 'fal-silficatioll1lists' would accept that the growth
regarded as artificial creations whose utility is based upon their of Imowledge is essen-tially a cumulative pmcess in which new
convenience as tools for describ-ing, making sense of and negotiating insights are added to the e,dsting stock of Imowledge and false
the external world. Nominal-ism is often equated with hypotheses eliminated.
conventionalism, and we will make no distinction between them. 2 The epistemology of anti-positivism may talee various forms but is
Realism. on the other hand. postulates that the social world external formly set against the utility of a search for laws or umderlyill1lg
to individual cognition is a real world made up of hard, tangible and regularities in the world of social affairs.lFor the anti-positivist. the
relatively immutable structures. Whether or not we label and perceive social world is essentially relativistic and can only be understood ffmm
these structures, the realists maintain, they stili exist as empirical the point of view of the individuals who IlIre directly ill1lvolved in the
entities. We may not even be aware of the existence of certain crucial activities which are to be studied. Anti-positivists reject th(\'; st~ndPoiDlt
off the 'observer'. whidu charactenises positivist en>nstemology, as a valid
structures and therefore have no 'names' or concepts to articulate them.
vantage poillllt for understlllndinll1l RmmaB1l activiti~s. They maintain that
1F0r the realist, the social world e)(ists independently of an
one can only 'understand' by occupymg the frame olfreferelfllce olfthe
individual's appreciation of it. The individual is seen as being born into Pllllrticipall1t ilfll action. One lInllls ao Ulll1lderstamll from the inside
and living within a social world which has a reality of its own. It is not rather than the olUtside. lFrom this point olf view social scielOlce is seenn
something which the indivi~ualcreates-it ex~sts 'out there'; ontologically it as beillbg essertlltiatny all subjective rather tnUaln llUIll objectiV<e
is prior to the eXistence and conscIOusness of any single human being. elOlaerprise. Anti-positivists ae111l\\J\ to reject the 1Ol0aioll1l ahat
1F0r the realist, the social world has an existence which is as hard and science cllIn generate objecaive Rmowledge ofr' all1lY Reiaud."
concrete as the natural world.]
6 Sociological Paradigms and Organisational A.nalysis A.ssumptions aboul the Nature of Social Science "I

Voluntarism-determinism: the 'human nature' quant.itativ~ tedmiques .for the analysis of data. Surveys,
questIOnnaires, personality tests and standardised research instruments
debate of all kinds are prominent among the tools which comprise nomothetic
methodology. 10
This debate revolves around the issue of what model of man is
reflected in any given social-scientific theory. At one extreme we
can identify a determinist view which regards man and his activities Analysnng AssumptnoJnls about the Nature of
as being completely determined by the situation or 'environment' in
which he is located. At another e"treme we can identify the
Social ScieJnlce
voluntarist view that man is completely autonomous and free-willed.
l~ese four s~ts ofassumptions with regard to the nature olf social sCI~nce
Insofar as social science theories are concerned to understand human
activities, they must incline implicitly or explicitly to one or other of prOVide an e"tremely powerful tool for the analysis of SOCial theorr. in
mU~h of t~e literature there is a tendency to conti.ate the Issues which
these points of view, or adopt an intermediate standpoint which
allows for the influence of both situational and voluntary factors in are mvolved. We wish to argue here that con.slder~ble.~dvantagesaccrue
accounting for the activities of human beings. Such assumptions are from treating these four strands of soclal~sclentdlcdebate as ~naly~ically
essential elements in social-scientific theories, since they define in distinct. While in practice ther~ IS often a strong relatIOnship bet.ween
broad terms the nature of the relationships between man and the the positions adopted on each. of the ~our strands, assumptions about
society in which he lives.o each can in fact vary. qUite considerably. It is worth ex.amining this
point in more detail.
The ex tr~me.posi tions on each of the four strands are reflected in
two major mtellectual traditions which have dominated social
Ideographic-nomothetic theory: the method- th~
sCience over .tlhe last two. hundred years. The first of these is usually
ological debate descnbed as 'SOCIOlogical positivism'. in essence this reflects th~
attempt to apply models and methods derived from the natural s~l~nces
The ideographic approach to social science is based on the view that to the study of human affairs. h treats the social world as If It wer.e t~e
one can only understand the social world by obtaining first-hand natural world, adopting a 'realist' approach
knowledge of the subject under investigation. It thus places to o~tology. TIus IS backed up by a 'positivist' epistemology
considerable stress upon getting close to one's subject and e"ploring ~elatlvely :d~terministic' yiews of human nature and the use of
its detailed background and life history. The ideographic approach nomothetiC methodologies. The second intellectual traditioR1l that of '<?e.rman
emphasises the analysis of the subjective accounts which one idealism' ,stands in complete opposition to this.l~
generates by 'getting inside' situations and involving oneself in the that the ultimate reality of the
everyday flow of life - the detailed analysis of the insights generated umvers~ lies I~ spmt .or Idea rather than in the data of sense per~eptlOn. It
by such encounters with one's subject and the insights revealed in
IS essentially 'nominalist' in its approach to social reality: In co~tr~st to
impressionistic accounts found in diaries, biographies and
journalistic records. The ideographic method stresses the importance the natural sciences, it stresses the ~ssentlally subjective nature of human
of letting one's subject unfold its nature and characteristics during affairs, denying the utility and .rele~ance. of the models and methods of
the process of investigation. 9 natural science to ~tudles I~ ,thiS. realm. It is 'anti-positivist' in
epistemology, volu~tanst With regard to human nature and it favours ideo-
The nomothetic approach to social science lays emphasis on the
gra~~I~ methods as a foundation for social analysis. Sociological
importance of basing research upon systematic protocol and
technique. It is epitomised in the approach and methods employed and German idealism thus define the objective and subjective
in the natural sciences, which focus upon the process of testing extremes of our model.
hypotheses in accordance with the canons of scientific rigour. It is Ma~y ~ociologists~~d organisati~n theorists have been brought
preoccupied with the construction of scientific tests and the use of up wlthm the tradition of SOCiological positivism, without
Assumptions about the Nature of Social Science 9
8 Sodolo~kal Paradigms and Organisational Analysis exposure to the
basic tenets of German idealisr~.Social scienc~for 3. For a comprehensive review of 'realism', see Keat and Urry
them is seen as consonant with the configuration of assumptions which (1975), pp. 27-45. They make much of the distinction between
characterise the objective e"treme of our model. ~owev~r, 'positivism' and 'realism' but, as they admit, these terms are used
over the last seventy years or so there has been an mcreasl,ng in a somewhat unconventional way.
interaction between these two traditions, particularly at a SOCIO- 4. For a further discussiol1l of the positivism-anti-positivism debate,
philosophical level. As a result intermediate points of viey-r have see, for e"ample, Giddens (1974) and Walsh (1972).
emerged, each with its own distinctive configurafion of 5. Giddens (1974), p. l.
assumptions about the nature of social science. T~ey have 31.11 6. See, for e){ample, Popper (1963).
spawned theories, ideas and approaches cha~actenstlc of their 7. For a good illustration of 31111 anti-positivist view of science, see
intermediate position. As we shall argue m later chapters, Douglas (l970b), PI'. 3-44.
developments il1l phenomenology, ethnomethod.ology and the action 8. The human nature debate in its widest sense involves many other
frame of reference are to be understood In these terms. These issues which we have l1Iot referred to here. The precise model of
perspectives, whilst offering their ?wn special brand of man to be employed in any analytical scheme, however, is
insight, have also often been used as launchlOg pa~s for attacks on underwritten by assumptions which relflect the voluntarism-
sociological positivism and have generated a c~nslderable a~ou~t determinism issue in one way or another. We have isolated this
of debate between rival schools of thought. fhe nature of thiS debate element of the debate here as a way of treating at its most basic
can only be fully understood by grasping and aprrecia~ing level a necessary assumption of all social-scientific theories which
the different assumptions which underwrite the competing pomts of purport to account for human activities. Detailed propositions
view. with regard to the precise e){planation of human activities
It is our contention that the analytical scheme offered here enables one
to do precisely this. It is offered not as a ,m~re classificatory device, but
elaborate in one way or another this basic theme.
as an important tool for negotiating social theory. It draws attention to key 9. For an excellent discussion of the nature of the ideographic
assumrtions. I~ alloy-rs ~ne approach to social science, see Blumer (1969), ch. I.
to focus on precise issues which differentiate soclo-sclentlfic 10. It is important to emphasise here that both nomothetic and
approaches. It draws attention to the degre~ of ,congrue~cy ideographic methodologies can be employed in a deductive and
between the four sets of assumptions about SOCial sCience which inductive sense. Whilst the inductivc>--deductive debate in science is
characterise any given theorist's point of view. We offer it here as the a subject of considerable interest and importance, we do not see it as
first principal dimension of ~ur ,theoretical .sche~e for analysing being central to the fOUir dimensions suggested here as a means of
theory in general and orgamsatlOnaltheory m pa~tlcular. distinguishing between the nature of social science theories. That
For the sake of convenience we shall normally refer to It as the notwith-standing, it remains an important methodological issue, of
'subjectivc>--objective' dimension, two descriptive labels which relevance to both sociology and organisational analysis, within the
perhaps capture the points of commonality between the four analytical conte". of the assumptions e){plored here.

Notes and! References

For a further discussion of the nominalism-realism debate, see
Kolakowski (1972), pp. 15-16.
2. Kolakowski (1972), PI'. 158-9. In its most extreme form
nominalism does not recognise the e"istence of any world outside
the realm of individual consciousness. This is the solipsist position,
which we discuss in more detail in Chapter
Assumptions about the Nature of Society II
primarily geared towards an explanation of social order. The
approach advocated by Cohen, for example, clearly illustrates this. ]
20 Assumptions about the Nature He takes his point of departure from the work of DahrendOif and
elaborates some olf the central ideas in the order-cordlict debate to
of Society present two models olf society, which are characterised in terms of
competing sets olf assumptions which attribute to social systems the
characteristics of commitment, cohesion, solidarity, cons.ensus,
reciprocity, co-operation, integration, stability and persIstence on
the one hand, and the characteristics olf coercion division. hostility.
dissensus, conflict, malintegration and chang; on the other (Cohen,
All approaches to the study of society are located in a frame of 1968, Pl'. 166-7).
reference of one Idnd or another. Different theories tend to reflect Cohen's central criticism is that Dahrendorf is mistaken in treat-
different perspectives, issues and problems worthy of study, and are ing the order and conflict models as being entirely separate. He in
generally based upon a whole set of assumptions which reflect a effect suggests that it is possible for theories to involve elements of
particular view of the nature of the subject under investigation. The both models and that one need not necessarily incline to one or the
last twenty years or so have witnessed a number of attempts on the other. From this point of view, the order and conflict views of
part olf sociologists to delineate the differences which separate societ~ are but two sides of the same coin; they are not mutually
various schools of thought and the meta-sociological assumptions exclUSive and thus do not need to be reconciled. The force of this
which they reflect. sort of argument has been very powerful in diverting attention away
from the order-conflict debate. In the wake ohhe so-called counter-
culture movement of the late I%Os and the failure of the 1968
The Order-Conflict Debate revolution in France, orthodox sociologists have become much
more interested in and concerned with the problems of the
Dahrendorf (1959) and Lockwood (1956), for example, have 'individual' as opposed to those of the 'structure' of society in
sought to distinguish between those approaches to sociology which general. The influence of 'subjectivist' movements such as
concentrated upon e)(plaining the nature of social order and phenomenology, ethnomethodology and action theory, which we
equilibrium on the one hand, and those which were more con- referred to in passing in the previous chapter, have tended to
cerned with problems of change, conflict and coercion in social become much more attractive and more worthy of attention. As a
structures on the other. This distinction has received a great deal of result, interest in continuing the conflict-order debate has sub-sided
attention and has come to be known as the 'order-conflict debate'. under the iQfluence olf issues relating to the philosophy and
The 'order theorists' have greatly outnumbered the 'con-flict methods of social science.
theorists', and as Dawe has observed, 'the thesis that socio-logy is Our contention here is that ilf one reviews the intellectual source
centrally concerned with the problem of social order has become and foundations of the order-conflict debate, one is forced to
one of the discipline's few orthodo)(ies. It is common as a basic conclude that it has met a premature death. Dahrendorf and
premise to many accounts of sociological theory which otherwise lo.c~(wood sought to revitalise the work of Marx through their wntmgs
differ considerably in purpose and perspective' (Dawe, and to restore it to a central place in sociological theory. For. the. most
1970, p. 207).1 p~rt Marx had been largely ignored by leading SOCIOlogIsts, the
Many sociologists now regard this debate as dead or as having mfluence of theorists such as Durltheim, Weber and Pareto having been
been a somewhat spurious non-debate in the first place (Cohen, paramount. Interestingly enough, these laHer three sociologists are all
1%8; Silverman, 1970; van den Berghe, 1969). Influenced by the very much cOlClcemed with tDu~ problem of social order; it is Marx
work of writers such as Coser (1956), who pointed to the functional who is preoccupied with the role off conflict as the driving force
aspects of social conflict, sociologists have been able to incorpor- behind social change. Stated in this way, therefore, the order-conflict
ate conflict as a variable within the bounds of theories which are debate is underwritten by a
H2 SociologicallParadigms and Organisational Analysis Assumptions about the Nature of Society B3

differell1lce between tRne persl>ectives alIId concerns ofleading social 'ftlllb>HIe2.11

URneorists of the nineteell1lth and early twentieth centuries. Modem
socioBogy has done Biule more than articulate and develop the basic
themes initiated Iby these pioneers of social analysis. To state that the rhe 'order' or 'inte/?rationis,' rhe 'conflict' or 'coercion'
order-con1f1ict debate is 'dead' or a 'non-debate' is thus to IImderpBay, I'iew of society emphasises: I-iew of society empJwJises:
if not ignore, substantial differences between the work of Marx and, for Siabilily Change
example, Durkheim, Weber and Pareto. Anyone familiar with the work Inlegralion Conflict
of these theorists and aware of the deep division which exists between lFunclional co-ordinalion Disintegration
Consensus Coercion
Mandsm and sociology is forced to admit that there are fundamental
differences, which are far from being reconciled. 2 nn this chapter
therefore, we wish to re-evaluate the order-conflict issue with a view to As Dahrendorf admits, this conceptuaiisatimll is something off an
identifying a key dimen-sion for analysing the assumptions about the oversimplification. and whilst providing a very useful tool fOB' coming
nature of society reflected in different social theories. In order to do so, to grips with the differences between the two standpoints, it is open to
let us return to the work of Dahrendorf, who seeks to set out the the possibility of misintelfJPretatioffll, in that the different adjectives
opposing issaJIes in the following terms: mean different things to differet]t peo[ple. Nowhere is this more evident
than in the way in which tine notion of cml/licd has been tn':ated in the
The integration theory of society, as displayed by the work of Parsons sociological literature. Since Coser's demonstration of the functions of
and other structural-functionalists, is founded on a number of assump- social conflict, for e"ample, the role of conflict as an integrating
tions of tine following type:
(I) IEvery society is a relatively persistent, stable structure of ele- mechanism has received a great deal of attention, nn effeCt, the whole
ments. notion off 'conflica' llDas oftefi1l been incorporated within the notion of
(2) IEvery society is a well integrated structure of elements. integration. Dahrendorfs integration/ confllict dimension has been
(3) IEvery element in a society has a function, i.e., renders a con- conveniently telescoped so that it is brought within the bm.ll1lllds off
tribution to its maintenance as a system. sociology's traditiona8 concel'll1l for the eRplanation of order. TIne
(4) IEvery lfulJlctiornng social structure is based on a consensus of fallacy off this [position becomes dear if one considers certain e,(treme
values among its members .... forms of conflict, such as class conflict, revolution aUlld war, which can
, .. What Hhave called the coercion theory of society can also be
D"4;ducedl to a small number of basic tenets, although here again these only be incorporated in the integrationist model by the wildest stretch
assumptions oversimplify and overstate the case: oft· one's imagination. ]Examples such as these suggest tIDat it is mis~
(I) IEvery society is at every point subject to !processes of change; leading to equate this type of macrostmcturnl collll.flict with the
social change is ubiquitous. functional conflict identified lby Coser. There is an importalIl\t
(2) IEvery society displays at every point dissenslls and conflict; questioll1l olfdegree involved here, which emphasises the dalIl\gers olf
social conflict is ubiquitous, the dichotomisation of integrntion and con1f1ict; realistically the
(3) IEvery element in a society renders a contribution to its disin- distinction between the two is much more off a conailfmum tIDarrn ahe
tegratiolJl and change.
(4) IEvery society is based on the coercion of some orits members by majority olf writers have recognised.
others. (Dahrendorf, 1959, IPn>. 160-2) Another strand of the Dalhllrendorlf scheme which caun lbe regarded
as somewhat problematic lies ilIl\ the distinctioUll lbetweelll1
The opposing adjectives which Dahrendorfs schema suggests for conumU$ all1ld coercion. At first sight the distincti0ll1l appears
disuinguisinilllg approaches to the study olf society can be conve- obvio,us and clear-cut, focusing UpOIIl\ shared va811.11es 01Il\ the orrne
unielIl\u8y brought together ill'll the fform olf a table, as follows: Inall1ld and tine impositiolIl\ off some sort of Iforce on the other. OU1I
closer iUllspectioUll there is at certain ambiguity. Where do the shared
values come lfrom? Are they acquired all.lltoR1Iomousiy or imposed on
some members ofl'socnety by ot8u~rs?ThisI[]luestiolfn identifies the
Assumptions about dine Nature of Sociedy DS
D4 Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis
ugration can be seen as constituting one of the most P?werful strands of
possibility that consensus may be the product of t~e use ~f some form
thought which distinguish tt~e order and ~~nfllct per-spectives. Here again,
of coercive force. for example, as C. Wnght Mills has pointed out,
however, there IS room Ifor mlsn~terpreta tion. The concept of integration in
'What Parsons and other grand theorists call "value orientations" and
Dahrendorfs work denves from the functionalists' concern with the
"normative structure" has mainly to do with master symbols of
contribution which cOllistituelf1lt elements of a system make to the whole.
legitimation' (1959, p. 46).
In many respects this is an oversimplification. Merton (1948) introduced
A normative structure here - what Dahrendorf would view as the idea of manifest and latent functions, some of which may be
COIllSei1lSUS - is treated as a system legitimising the power structure. dysfunctional for the integration olf society.4 Again, Gouldner (1959),
from Mills's point of view, it reflects the fact of domination. Hn other writing shortly after the publication of the German edition of Dahrendonf's
words, shared values may be regarded not so much as an index ohhe work, suggests that various parts olf a syste!" may have a ~igh deg~ee of
degree of integration which characterises a society as one which autonomy and may contribute very Intle by way olf mtegratlon to the
reflects the success of the forces of domination illl a society prone to system as a whole. The term 'functional co-ordination' is thus something of
disintegration. from one point of view, extant shared ideas, values and an oversimplification and, given the existence of the points of view
norms are something to be preserved; Ifrom another, they represent a el\pressed above within t~e. ~mnction.ali~t camp itself, it is not surprising
mode olf dominat~on Ifrom which man needs to be released. The that the concept of dlsmtegratlon s~ould be seen as relevant and capable of
consensus/ coercion dimension cam thus be seen as focusing upon the being used from a functIOnal standpoint. 'Disintegration' can be very easily
issue of social control. Consensus - however it may arise - is identified viewed as an inte-grationist concept and, as with other aspects of
in Dahrendorf's scheme as something independent of coercion. This we Dahrendorfs scheme this dimension has often been telescoped and brought
believe to be· a mistaken view since, as suggested above, it ignores the within the bounds olf the theories of order. for this reason it may well have
possibility olf a form of coercion which arises through tllhe control olf been clearer if the position of conflict theory on this dimension had been
value systems. presented in more radical and distinctive terms. There is much in Mandan
theory, for example, which refers to the notion olf 'contradiction' and the
Hn distinguishing between stability and change as respective basic incompatibility be-tween different elements of social structure.
features olf the order and conflict models Dahrendorf is again open to Contradiction implies heterogeneity, imbalance and essentially antagonistic
misinterpretation, even though he explicitly states that he.d<?es fl1lot and divergent social forces. H thus stands at the opposite pole to the
intend to imply that the theory olf order assumes that sOCletles are concept of 'functional co--ordinatioll1', which mu~t presuppose a basic
statk. His concem is to show how functional theories are essefl1ltially compatibility between the elem~ntsof any gIVen syste~. ~o argue that the
concerned with those processes which serve to maintain the pattems olf concept of contradictIOn can be ~mbraced wlthm functional analysis
the system as a whole. Hn other words, fU1ll1ctiorrnaD theories are requires either an act olf faith or at least a
regarded as static in the sense that they are concerned with explaining
the status quo. Hn this respect conflict theories lllfe clearly of a
different nature; they are committed to, and seek to explain, the process
and nature olf deep-seated structural change in society as opposed to considerable leap of imagination. . Dahrendorf's work has clearly
change olf III more superfBcial and ephemeral Reind. The.fact that~! served a very useful purpose m
1functi<? theo~es recognise change, and that change IS an
obVIOUS empmcal reality in everyday life, has led Dahrendorfs identifying a number of important strands ofthought distingui~hing
categorisation in relation to stability and change to lose its potential theorists of order from theorists of conflict. However, as Will be
radicallforce and influ-ence. It can be argued that different labels are apparent from the above discussion, in many respects th~ dis-
required to identify Dlllhrendonf's two paramount concerns: first, that tinctions which have been drawn between the two meta-theones do not
the order view olf society is [)rimarily status quo orientated; second, go far enough. In particular, the insights of some twenty ye~rs of debate
that it deals witllb chaulge olf a fundamentally different nature from suggest that the characterisation of the COnflict perspective has not
that with wlbicOn conflict theorists are concerned.) been suffici~ntly r~dical to avoid co~usioll1l with the 'integrationist'
perspectIve. Tlus has allowed theonsts of order to meet the challenge
Dalnrtmdou-fs notioll1ls olf fmncdiouBal co-ordbnation lllmi disiuu-
which Dahrendonf's scheme presents
i6 Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis Assumptions about the Nature of Society 17

to thdr frame of reference within the conte){t of their order- We introduce the term 'sodology of regulation' to refer to the writings
ornientated mode of thought. In order to illustrate this point, let us of theorists who are primarily cOll1cemedl to provide e){plaraations of
return to the work of Cohen (1968) referred to earlier. society in terms which emphasise its underlyil1lg unity and
Hn advocating his viewpoint Cohen appears to be misinterpreting cohesiveness. H is a sociology which is essentially Con-cerned with
the distinction between the two models. His interpretation of the need for regulation in human affairs; the basic questions which it
concepts telescopes the different variables into a form in which they asks tend to focus upon the need to understand why society is
can be seen as consistent with each other. In effect his whole maintained as an entity. H attempts to explain why society tends to
hold together rather than fall apart. It is interested ifl1ufI1derstal1lding
anlalysis reflects an attempt to incorporate the conflict model within
the social forces which prevelf1lt the lHlobbesiautn vision of 'war of
the bounds of the contemporary theory of order. He thus loses the all against all' becoming a reality. 'fhe worl, of Durldleim with its
radical essence of the conflict perspective and is able to conclude emphasis upon the nature of social cohesion and solidarity, for
that the two models are not mutually exclusive and do not need to be e,mmple, provides a clear and comprehensive illustration of a concern
reconciled. He argues that the two models are not gellluine for the sociology of regulation.
alternatives and in effeca suggests that each is no more than the 'fhe 'sociology ofradical change' stands in stark contrast to the
reciprocal of the other. He is therefore able to leave Dahrendorfs 'sociology of regulation', in that its basic concern is to find e)
analysis with the central concern of his book - the fi1'roblem of {planations for the radical change, deep-seated structural con-flict,
order - largely intact. 'fhe incorporation of conflict illlto the bounds modes of domination and structural contradiction which its
of the model of order de-emphasise£ its importance. S theorists see as characterising modern society. na is a sociology
Un line with the analysis which we presented earlier, we argue tUnat which is essentially concemed with man's emancipation from the
the attempt to reduce the two models to a common base ignores the structures which limit and stunt his potential for development. 'fhe
fundamental differences which e"ist between them. A. conflict tlDeory basic questions which it asks focus upon the deprivation of maUl,
based on deep-seated structural conflict and concerned with radical both material and psychic. Hi is often visionary and Utopian, in tilat
transformations of society is not consistent with a fUlOlctionalist it looks towards potentiality as much as actuality; it is concerned
perspective. 'fhe differences between them, therefore, are important with what is possible rather than with what is; with altematives
rather than with acceptance olfthestatus {luo. In these respects it is
all1ld worthy of distinction in any auempt to analyse social theory. With
as widely separate and distant from the sociology of regulation as
the benefit ofhindsigh,t, it is possible to see that many of the the sociology of Man{ is separated and distant from the sociology
misinterpretations which have arisen have d]ouDe so becallDse the of Durkheim.
models Dun Dahrendorf's analysis were not sufficiently differentiated. 'fhe distinction between these two sociologies can perhaps be
We wish to propose, therefore, that certain modifacations be made illl best illustrated in schematic form; extreme points of view are
order to articulate the differences iUl a more eJ{piicit and radical form. counter-posed in order to highlight the essential differences
Since much of the confusion has arisen because of the ambiguity of the between them. 'fable 2.2 summarises the situation.
descriptions associated with the two models we wish to suggest the use We offer this regulation-radical change distinction as the second
of a somewhat different terminology. principal dimension of our scheme for analysing sociaft theories.
A.long with the subjective-objective dimension developed in the
previous chapter, we present it as a powerfuft means for identifying
and analysing the assumptions which I.mder-lie social theories in
'fhe notions of 'regulation' and 'radical change' have thus far been
Our analysis has shown that the ou'der-conflict distinction is in mall1lY presented in a very rough and e){treme form. 'fhe two models
senses the most problematic. We suggest, therefore, that it $hoold be illustrated in Table 2.2 should be regarded as ideal-typical
replaced as a central theme by the notions of 'regulation' aIumd 'rndical formulations. nne seven elements which we have identifBed lell1lrll
cRnannge'. themselves to a much more rnigorous and systematic treatment in
us Sociological Paradigms tmd Organisational Analysis A.uumptimRS about tJue Nature of Society U9

which their overall form and nature is speh out in detail. We delay between the sub-elements of each modd need not be congruent, that
this task until later chapters. Here, we wish to address ourselves to is, an analysis may pay attention to elements of both.
the broad relationships which e"ist between the sociologies of The answer to both criticisms follows our defence of Dahrendorf's
regulation and radical change. We maintain that they present work. To conflate the two models and treat them as variations on a
fundamentally different views and interpretations of the nature of single theme is to ignore or at least to umierplay the fundamental
society. They reflect fundamentally different frames of reference. differences which exist between them. Whilst it may be possible to
They present themselves, therefore, as alternative models for the use each model in a diluted form and thus obtain two analyses of the
analysis of social processes. middle ground which apprmdmate each other, they must remain
To present the models in this way is to invite criticism along the essentially separate, since they are based upon oppos-ing
lines of that levelled at Dahrendorfs worl•. For eUffiple, it could be assumptions. Thus, as we have illustrated, to discuss the 'functions'
suggested that the two models are the reciprocals of each other - no of social conflict is to commit oneself to the sociology of regulation
more than two sides of the same coin - and that relationships as opposed to that of radical change. lHIowever close one's position
might be to the middle ground, it would seem that one must always
Tlllll»Be 2.2
be committed to one side more than another. The fundamental
TUne ll"egunDmQnmll-ll'ad!ficaDcDnaJl1lge IlIbimemD@un
distinctions between the sociologies ofregulation and radical change
will become clear from our analysis of their intellectual
TIlt' socio/OIlY of REGULATION 111e soci%!?y of RADICAL CHANGE development and constituent schools of thought in later chapters. We
is cOflc('Y/Ied ",ith: is concerned lIIith: conceptualise these two broad sociological perspectives in the form
(a) The status quo (a) Radical change
of a polarised dimension, recognising that while variations within
(b) Social order (b) Structural connict the context of each are possible, the perspectives are necessarily
(c) Consensus* (c) Modes of domination separate and distinct from each other.
(d) Social integration and (d) Contradiction
cohesion (e) Emancipation
(e) Solidarity
(0 Need satisfactiont (0 Deprivation
(g) Actuality (g) Potentiality
Notes and References
I\!@Qeg I. Among the numerous theorists primarily concerned with the
litBy 'consensus' we mean voluntary and 'spontaneous' agree-ment problem of order, Dawe cites Parsons (1949), Nisbet (1967),
of opinion. Bramson (1%1), Cohen (1968), and Aron (1968).
t The term 'need satisfaction' is used to refer to the focus upon 2. For a discussion of the Mar"ism versus social science debate,
satisfaction of individual or system 'needs'. The sociology of see Shaw (1975). The division between Mantist theorists and
regulation tends to presume that various social characteristics can be orthodm( sociologists is now so deep that they either ignore
explained in relation to these needs. It presumes that it is possible to each othelf completely, or indulge in an exchange of abuse and
identify and satisfy human needs within the conte"t of e,dsting accusation regarding the politicall conservatism or
social systems, and that society reflects these needs. The concept of subversiveness commonly associated wiili their respective
'deprivation', on the other hand, is rooted in the notion that the social points of view. Debate about the intellectual strengths and
'system' prevents human fulfilment; indeed that 'deprivation' is weaknesses of their opposing standpoints is conspicuous by its
created as the result of the status quo. The social 'system' is not seen absence.
as satisfying needs but as eroding the possibilities for human 3. lLater in this chapter we sllIlggest that the descriptions of
fulfilment. It is rooted in the notion that society has resulted in 'concern with the status quo' and 'concern for radical change'
deprivation rather than in gain. provide more accurate views of the issues involved here.
:W Sociological Paradigms and Organisatimwl Analysis
4. Dahrendonf acknowledges Merton's distinction between latent
and manifest functions but does not pursue the con~ sequence
of 'dysfunctions' for the concept of integration (Dahrendorf,
1959, pp. 173-9).
30 Tvvo Dimensions:
5. Other 'order' theorists who have addressed themselves to
Dahrendorf's model tend to follow a similar path in the
Four Paradigms
attempt to embrace conflict theory within their perspective.
See, for e1\ample, vall1l den lBerghe (1%9).

Un the previous two chapters we have focused upon some of the

n,ey assumptions which characterise different approaches to social
theory. We have argued that it is possible to analyse these
approaches in terms of two I(ey dimensions of analysis, each of
which subsumes a series of related themes. h has been suggested
that assumptions about the nature of science can be thought of illl
terms of what we call the subjective-objective dimension, and
assumptions about the nature of society in terms of a regulation-
rndical change dimension. Un this chapter we wish to discuss the
relationships between the two dimensions and to develop a coher-
ent scheme for the analysis of social theory.
We have already noted how sociological debate since the late
1960s has tended to ignore the distinctions between the two dimen-
sions - in particular,how there has been a tendency to focus upon
issues concerned with the subjective-objective dimension and to
ignore those concerned with the regulation-radical change
dimension. Interestingly enough, this focus of attention has
characterised sociological thought associated with both regulation
and radical change. The subjective-objective debate has beelfi
conducted independently within both sociological camps.
Within the sociology of regulation it has assumed the form of a
debate between interpretive sociology and functionalism. Un the
wake of Berger and Luckmann' s treatise on the sociology of Imow-
ledge (1%6), Garfinkel's work on ethnomethodology (1967) and a
general resurgence of interest in phenomenology, the questionable
status of the ontological and epistemological assumptions of the
functionalist perspective have become increasingly exposed. The
debate has often led to a polarisation between the two schools of
Similarly. within the context of the sociology of radical chalfige
there has been a division between theorists subscribing to 'subjec-
tive' and 'objective' views of society. The debate in many respects
taB'es its lead from the publication in france in 1966 and Britain in
Two Dimensions: Four Paradif!.ms 23
22 Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis
twO independent dimensions which resurrect the sociological issues
1969 of Louis Althusser's work For Marx. This presented the of the early I960s and place them alongside those of t~e .Iate I%Os
notion of an 'epistemological break' in Marx's work and emphas- and early 1970s. Taken together, they define four d~stmct
ised the polarisation of Marxist theorists into two camps: those sociological paradigms which can be utilised fo~ the analySIS of a
emphasising the 'subjective' aspects of Marxism (Lukacs and the wide range of social theories. The relationship between these
frankfurt School, for example) and those advocating more 'objec- paradigms, which we label 'r.adic~1 ~u~~nist', ' ~tructural ist',
tive' approaches, such as that associated with Althusserian struc- 'interpretive' and 'functIOnalIst, IS Illustrated In figure ~.I.
turalism. It will be clear from the diagram that each of the paradigms shares a
Within the context of the sociologies both of regulation and common set of features with its neighbours on the hori-zontal and
radical change, therefore, the middle to late 1960s witnessed a
distinct switch in the focus of attention. The debate between these vertical axes in terms of one of the two dimensions but is differentiated
two sociologies which had characterised the early 1960s disap- on the other dimension. for this reason they should be viewed as
peared and was replaced by an introverted dialogue within the contiguous but separate - contiguous because of the shared
context of each of the separate schools of thought. Instead of characteristics, but separate because the differentiation is, as we shall
'speaking' to each other they turned inwards and addressed their demonstrate later, of sufficient importance to warrant treatment of the
remarks to themselves. The concern to sort out their position with paradigms as four distinct entities. The four para-digms define
regard to what we call the subjective-objective dimension, a fundamentally different perspectives for the analysis of social
complicated process in view of all the interrelated strands, led to a phenomena. They approach this endeavour from con-trasting
neglect of the regulation-radical change dimension. standpoints and generate quite different concepts and analytical tools.
As a consequence of these developments, recent debate has often
been confused. Sociological thought has tended to be charac-terised
by a narrow sectarianism, from which an overall perspec-tive and
grasp of basic issues are conspicuously absent. The time is ripe for
consideration ofthe way ahead, and we submit that the two key
The Nature and Uses of the Four Paradigms
dimensions of analysis which we have identified define critical
Before going on to discuss the substantive nature of each of the
parameters within which this can take place, We present them as
paradigms, it will be as well to pay some attention to the way in
THE SOCIOLOGY OF RADICAL CHANGE which we intend the notion of 'paradigm' to be used.· We regard our
r---------- ----------1 four paradig~sas being d.efined by very basic meta-theoretical
I assumptions which underwnte the frame of reference, mode of
I theorising and modus operandi of the social theorists who ~perate
'Rllldical 'Radical I within them. It is a term which is intended to emphaSise the
humlllnist' atructurlllli13t' I commonality of perspective which binds the work of a group of
I theorists together in such a way that they can be usefully regarded as
I approaching social theory within the bounds of the same
SUBJECTIVE ;-------- +------~I OBJECTIVE
problematic. .
I This definition does not imply complete umty of thought. h
I allows for the fact that within the context of any given paradigm
there will be much debate between theorists who adopt different
I standpoints. The paradigm does, however, have an underlying unity
I in terms of its basic and often 'taken for granted' assump-tions,
L. JI which separate a group of theorists in a very fundamental way from
THE SOCIOLOGY OF REGULATION theorists located in other paradigms. ~he '~nity' of the paradigm thus
derives from reference to alternative views of real-
!Figure 3.1 Four paradigms for the analysis of social theory
24 Sociololfical Paradixms and Or/?anisational Analysis Two Dimensions: Four Paradif?ms 25

ity which lie outside its boundaries and which may not necessarily practice. As Keat and Urry put it, 'For individual scientists, the change
even be recognised as existing. of allegiance from one paradigm to another is often a "conversion
In identifying four paradigms in social theory we are in essence experience", akin to Gestalt-switches or changes of religious faith'
suggesting that it is meaningful to examine work in the subject area in (1975, p. 55). When a theorist does shift his position in this way, it
terms of four sets of basic assumptions. Each set identifies a quite stands out very clearly as a major break with his intellectual tradition
separate social-scientific reality. To be located in a particular paradigm and is heralded as being so in the literature, in that the theorist is
is to view the world in a particular way. The four para-digms thus usually welcomed by those whom he has joined and often disowned by
define four views of the social world based upon differ-ent meta- his former 'paradigm colleagues'. Thus we witness what is known as
theoretical assumptions with regard to the nature of science and of the 'epistemological break' between the work of the young Marx and
society. the mature Man, - what we would identify as a shift from the radical
It is our contention that all social theorists can be located within the humanist paradigm to the radical structuralist paradigm. At the level of
context of these four paradigms according to the meta-theoretical organisational analysis, a distinct paradigm shift can be detected in the
assumptions reflected in their work. The four para-digms taken work of Silverman - a shift from the functionalist paradigm to the
together provide a map for negotiating the subject area, which offers a interpretive para-digm. We will analyse such intellectual journeys in
convenient means of identifying the basic similarities and differences more detail in
between the work of various theorists and, in particular, the underlying later chapters.
frame of reference which they adopt. It also provides a convenient way Before we progress to a review of the four paradigms, one point is
of locating one's own personal frame of reference with regard to social worthy offurther emphasis. This relates to the fact that the four
theory, and thus a means of understanding why certain theories and paradigms are mutually exclusive. They offer alternative views of
social reality, and to understand the nature of all four is to under-stand
perspectives may have more personal appeal than others. Like any
four different views of society. They offer different ways of seeing. A
other·map, it provides a tool for establishing where you are, where you
synthesis is not possible, since in their pure forms they are
have been and where it is possible to go in the future. It provides a tool contradictory, being based on at least one set of opposing meta-
for mapping intellectual journeys in social theory - one's own and theoretical assumptions. They are alternatives, in the sense that one
those of the theorists who have contributed to the subject area. can operate in different paradigms sequentially over time, but mutually
nn this work we intend to make much use of the map-like qual-ities exclusive. in the sense that one cannot operate in more than one
of the four paradigms. Each defines a range of intellectual territory. paradigm at any given point in time. since in accept-ing the
Given the overall meta-theoretical assumptions which distinguish one assumptions of one, we defy the assumptions of all the
paradigm from another, there is room for much variation within them. others.
Within the context of the 'functionalist' paradigm, for example, certain We offer the four paradigms for consideration in these terms, in the
theorists adopt more extreme posi-tions in terms of one or both of the hope that knowledge of the competing points of view will at least
two dimensions than others. Such differences often account for the make us aware of the boundaries within which we approach our
internal debate which goes on between theorists engaged in the subject.
activities of 'normal science' within the context of the same paradigm. 2
The remaining chapters of this work examine each of the four
paradigms in some detail and attempt to locate their principal theorists
in these terms. The FunctionaHist Paradigm
Our research suggests that whilst the activity within the context of
each paradigm is often considerable, inter-paradigmatic 'journeys' are This paradigm has provided the dominant framework for the con-duct
much rarer. This is in keeping with Kuhn's (1970) notion of of academic sociology and the study of organisations. lIt represents a
'revolutionary science'. For a theorist to switch para-digms calls for a perspective which is firmly rooted in the sociology of regulation and
change in meta-theoretical assumptions, some-thing which, although approaches its subject matter from an objectivist point of view.
manifestly possible, is not often achieved in Functionalist theorists have been at the forefront of
26 Sociological Paradif?ms and Orf?anisational Analysis
Two Dimensions: Four Paradigms 27
the order-conflict debate, and the concepts which we have used to
categorise the sociology of regulation apply in varying degrees to all ing the world of human affairs. for Durkheim, the task of sociology
schools of thought within the paradigm. It is characterised by a was to understand the nature of this regulated ordcu:.
concern for providing explanations of the status quo, social order. Since the early decades of the twentieth century, however, the
consensus. social intef?ration, solidarity, need satisfaction and functionalist paradigm has been increasingly influenced by ele-ments
actuality. It approaches these general sociological concerns from a from the German idealist tradition of socialthoughl. As will be recalled
standpoint which tends to be realist, positivist, determinist and from our discussion in Chapter I, this approach reflects assumptions
nomothetic. about the nature of social science which stand in opposition to those of
The functionalist paradigm generates regulative sociology in its sociological positivism. As a result of the work of such theorists as
most fully developed form. In its overall approach it seeks to provide Max Weber, George Simmel and George Herbert Mead, elements of
essentially rational explanations of social affairs. It is a perspective this idealist approach have been util-is~d within the conte"t of social
which is highly pragmatic in orientation, concerned to understand theories which have attempted to bndge the gulf between the two
society in a way which generates knowledge which can be put to use. It traditions. In so doing they have forged theoretical perspectives
is often problem-orientated in approach, con-cerned to provide characteristic of the least objectiv-ist region of the paradigm, at its
practical solutions to practical problems. It is usu~lIy firmly committed junction with the interpretive paradigm. Such theories have rejected the
to a philosophy of social engineering as a baSIS .of social cha~ge and use of mechanical and biological analogies for studying the social
emphasises the importance of under- sta~dlng order, eqUilibrium and world and have introduced ideas which place emphasis upon the
stability in society and the way in which these can be maintained. It is importance of understanding society from the point of view of the
concerned with the effective 'regulation' and control of social affairs. actors who are actually engaged in the performance of social activities.
Since the I940s there has been also an infusion of certain Manist
As will be apparent from our discussion in Chapter I the appro~ch to influences characteristic of the sociology of radical change. These science characteristic of the functionalist para-digm IS rooted In have been incorporated within the paradigm in an attempt to
the tradition of sociological positivism. This reflects the attempt, par 'radicalise' functionalist theory and rebuff the general charge that
excellence, to apply the models and methods of the natural sciences to
the study of human affairs. Originating in france in the early decades THIE SOCIOlOGV OF RADICAL CHANGE
of the nineteenth century, its majo~ influen~e upon the paradigm has been
through the work of social theonsts such as Auguste Comte, Herbert
f---------- -----------1
I i
Spencer, Emile Durkheim and Vilfredo Pareto. The functionalist I IVllJlntis~ I
I ,
approach to social science tends to assume that the social world is
composed of relatively concrete empirical artefacts and relation-ships
: th~or\l :
which c~n be identified, studied and measured through approaches I I
denved from the natural sciences. The use of mechan-ical a~d SUIlllJIECTIVIE
biological. analogies as a means of modelling and under-stand!ng !he I I world is particularly favoured in many functIOnalist theones. I I
By way of illustration consider, for exam-pie, ~he work of Durkheim.
Central to his position was the idea that 'social facts' exist outside of id00lism
men's consciousness and restrain men in their everyday activities. The
aim was to understand the relationships between these 'objective'
social facts and to articu-~ate the,soci.ology whi~h e~plained the types of
'solidarity' provid-Ing the SOCial cement which holds society together. tl1lIEGULATION SOCi?~o~icllll
The stability and ordered nature of the natural world was viewed as PO!lI~IVI$m

!Figure 3.2 Intellectual influences upon the functionaiisl paradigm
28 Sociolo/:ical Paradi/:ms alld Or/:allisatiollal Allalysis
functionalism is essentially conservative and unable to provide >
explanations for social change. These attempts underwrite the debate f-
examined in the previous chapter as to whether a theory of 'contlict' can ill
be incorporated within the bounds of a theory of 'order' to provide a
adequate explanations of social affairs.
Put very crudely, therefore, the formation of the functionalist
paradigm can be understood in terms of the interaction of three sets of
intellectual forces, as illustrated in Figure 3.2. Of these, sociological
positivism has been the most influential. The compet-ing traditions
have been sucked in and used within the context of the functionalist
problematic, which emphasises the essentially objectivist nature of the
social world and a concern for explana-tions which emphasise
'regulation' in social affairs. These cross-currents of thought have given
rise to a number of distinctive schools of thought within the paradigm,
which is characterised by a wide range of theory and internal debate.
By way of overview, again somewhat crudely, Figures 3.3 and 3.4
illustrate the four paradigms in terms of the constituent schools of
sociological and organisational theory which we shall be exploring
later on. As will be apparent, most organisation theorists, industrial
sociologists, psychologists and industrial relations theorists approach
their sub-ject from within the bounds of the functionalist paradigm.

The li nterpretive Paradigm

Theorists located within the context of the interpretive paradigm adopt
an approach consonant with the tenets of what we have described as
the sociology of re/:ulation, though its subjectivist approach to the
analysis of the social world makes its links with this sociology often
implicit rather than explicit. The interpretive paradigm is informed by a
concern to understand the world as it is, to understand the fundamental
nature of the social world at the level of subjective experience. It seeks (f) 0a. VJ _ &II E
explanation within the realm of individual consciousness and
subjectivity, within the frame of reference of the participant as opposed ~~~..,""",--JI-_----'-""='';''';''''i
to the observer of action. >
In its approach to social science it tends to be Iluminalist, anti- U

pO.l'itil'iJf, volulltarist and idl'ographic. It sees the social world as an OJ
emergent social process which is created by the individuals concerned. lfl

Social reality, insofar as it is recognised to have any existence outside

the consciousness of any single individual, is regarded as being lillie
more than a network of assumptions and
Two Dimensions: Four Paradigms 31

intersubjectively shared meanings. The ontological status of the

social world is viewed as extremely questionable and problematic
as far as theorists located within the interpretive paradigm are
concerned. Everyday life is accorded the status of a miraculous
achievement. interpretive philosophers and sociologists seek to
understand the very basis and source of social reality. They often
delve into the depths of human consciousness and subjectivity in
their quest for the fundamental meanings which underlie social
Given this view of social reality, it is hardly surprising that the
commitment of the interpretive sociologists to the sociology of
regulation is implicit rather than explicit. Their ontological
assumptions rule out a direct interest in the issues involved in the
order-conflict debate as such. However, their standpoint is
underwritten by the assumption that the world of human affairs is
cohesive, ordered and integrated. The problems of conflict,
domination, contradiction, potentiality and change play no part in
their theoretical framework. They are much more orientated
towards obtaining an understanding of the subjectively created
social world 'as it is' in terms of an ongoing process.
interpretive sociology is concerned with understanding the
essence of the everyday world. in terms of our analytical schema it
is underwritten by an involvement with issues relating to the
nature 9f the status quo, social order, consensus, social integra-
tion and cohesion, solidarity and actuality. 3
The interpretive paradigm is the direct product of the German
idealist tradition of social thought. its foundations were laid in the
work of Kant and reflect a social philosophy which emphasises the
essentially spiritual nature of the social world. The idealist tradi-
tion was paramount in Germanic thought from the mid-eighteenth
century onwards and was closely linked with the romantic move-
ment in literature and the arts. Outside this realm, however, it was
oflimited interest, until revived in the late 1390s and early years of
this century under the influence of the so-called neo-idealist
movement. Theorists such as Dilthey, Weber, Husserl and Schutz
have made a major contribution towards establishing it as a
framework for social analysis, though with varying degrees of
commitment to its underlying problematic.
figures 3.3 and 3.4 illustrate the manner in which the paradigm
has been explored as far as our present interest in social theory and
the study of organisations is concerned. Whilst there have been a
small number of attempts to' study organisational concepts anli
situations from this point of view, the paradigm has not generated
32 Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis Two Dimensions: Four Paradi/?ms 33
much organisation theory as such. As will become clear from our In keeping with its subjectivist approach to social science, the radical
analysis, there are good reasons for this. The premises of the humanist perspective places central emphasis upon human
interpretive paradigm question whether organisations exist in any~ consciousness. Its intellectual foundations can be traced to the same
thing but a conceptual sense. Its significance for the study of source as that of the interpretive paradigm. It derives from the German
organisations, therefore, is of the most fundamental kind. It challenges idealist tradition, particularly as expressed in the work of Kant and
the validity of the ontological assumptions which underwrite Hegel (though as reinterpreted in the writings of the young Marx). It is
functionalist approaches to sociology in general and the study of through Marx that the idealist tradition was ~rst utilised as a basis for a
organisations in particular. radical social philosophy , and many radical humanists have derived
their inspiration from this source. In essence Marx inverted the frame
of reference reflected in Hegeliai1l idealism and thus forged the basis
The Radical Humanist Paradigm for radical humanism. The paradigm has also been much influenced by
an infusion of the phenomenological perspective de:ivin~ from. Husser~.
The radical humanist paradigm is defined by its concern to develop a .
sociQlogy of radical change from a subjectivist standpoint. Its As we shall illustrate in our detailed diSCUSSIOn of thiS paradigm,
approach to social science has much in common with that of the apart from the early work of Mant, interest remained dormant until the
interpretive paradigm, in that it views the social world from a 1920s, when Lukacs and Gramsci revived interest in subjectiv-ist
perspective which tends to be nominalist, anti-positivist, voluntar-ist interpretations of Marxist theory. This interest was taken on by
and ideographic. However, its frame of reference is committed to a members of the so-called JFrankfurt School, which has generated a
view of society which emphasises the importance of over- great deal of debate, particularly through the writings of Habermas and
throwing or transcending the limitations of existing social Marcuse. The existentialist philosophy of Same also belongs to this
arrangements. paradigm, as do the writings of a group of social theorists as widely
One of the most basic notions underlying the whole of this paradigm diverse as lIIich, Castaneda and Laing. All in their various ways share
is that the consciousness of man is dominated by the ideological a common concern for the release of consciousness and experience
superstructures with which he interacts, and that these drive a cognitive from domination by various aspects of the ideolog-ical superstructure
wedge between himself and his true conscious-ness. This wedge is the of the social world within which men live out their lives. They seek to
wedge of 'alienation' or 'false conscious-ness', which inhibits or change the social world through a change in modes of cognition and
prevents true human fulfilment. The major concern for theorists consciousness.
approaching the human predicament in these terms is with release JFigures 3.3 and 3.4 again provide a somewhat rough and ready
from the constraints which existing social summary of the manner in which this paradigm has been explored in
arrangements place upon human development. It is a brand of terms of social theory and the study of organisations. As we shall argue
socialthe<?rising ~esigned to. provide a critique of the status quo. It in Chapter 9, the writers who have something to say on organisations
tends to view society as anti-human and it is concerned to articu-late from this perspective have laid the basis of a nascent anti-organisation
ways in which human beings can transcend the spiritual bonds theory. The radical humanist paradigm in essence is based upon an
and fetters which tie them into existing social patterns and thus realise inversion of the assumptions which define the functionalist paradigm. It
their full potential. should be no surprise, there-fore, that anti-organisation theory inverts
I~ terms of ~he elements. with which we have sought to concep- the problematic which defines functionalist organisation theory on
tuahse the sO~lology ofr~dlcal change, the radical humanist places almost every :.::ount.
most emphaSIS upon radical chanr:e, modes o./dominlltion, eman-
cipation, deprivation and potemiality. The concepts of structural
conjlict ~nd (:ontradiction do not figure prominently within this The Radnca~ Structuralist Paradigm
perspecll~e, since they are characteristic of more objectivist views of
the SOCial world, such as those presented within the conte,u of the Theorists located within this paradigm advocate a sociology of radical
radical structuralist paradigm. change from an objectivist standpoint. Whilst sharing an
Two Dimensions: Four /Paradigms 35
34 Sociological /Paradigms and Organisational Analysis
dorf belongs, along with that of other theorists such as Rex and
approach to science which has many similarities with that offunc- Miliband. .
tionalist theory, it is directed at fundamentally different ends. figures 3.3 and 3.4 again provide a ge~erai o~ervlew of the
Radical structuralism is committed to radical change, emancipa- schools of thoughllocated within the paradigm, which w~~hall be
tion, and potentiality, in an analysis which emphasises structural examining in some detail in Chapters 10 ~nd 1.1. In Bntlsh .and
conflict, modes of domination, contradiction and deprivation. It American sociology the radical structuralist vle~ has recelve.d
approaches these general concerns from a standpoint which tends to relatively little attention outside the r~alm.of conflict the.ory. ThiS
be realist, positivist, determinist and nomothetic. paradigm, located as i.t is ~ith!n a realist view of the socl~1 w?rld,
Whereas the radical humanists forge their perspective by focus- has many significant ImplicatIOns for the study of organisatIOns,
ing upon 'consciousness' as the basis for a radical critique of but they have only been developed in the barest forms. In Chapt~r
society, the radical structuralists concentrate upon structural rela- II we review the work which has been done and the embrYOniC
tionships within a realist social world. They emphasise the fact that radical organisation theory which it reflects.
radical change is built into the very nature and structure of con-
temporary society, and they seek to provide explanations of the
basic interrelationships within the context of total social forma-
tions. There is a wide range of debate within the paradigm, and Exploring Sodal Theory
different theorists stress the role of different social forces as a
means of explaining social change. Whilst some focus directly upon So much, then, for our overview of the four Su~
the deep-seated internal contradictions, others focus upon the sequent chapters seek to place flesh upon t~e bones of thiS analyti-
structure and analysis of power relationships. Common to all cal scheme and attempt to demonstrate ~ts po~er a.s a t~ol ~or
theorists is the view that contemporary society is characterised by exploring social theory:1 Hopefully, our dlSc~sslonWill do Justice to
fundamental conflicts which generate radical change through the essentially complex nature of the pa~adlgms~nd the net~ork
political and economic crises. It is through such conflict and change of assumptions which they reflect, and will ~stabllsh.the.relatlO.n
that the emancipation of men from the social structures in which ships and links between the various perspectJ.ves dommatmg SOCial
they live is seen as coming about. analysis at the present time. Whi.'st the focus m C~la~ters 5,7, ?and
This paradigm owes its major intellectual debt to the work of the 11 is upon organisational analysIs, the general pll1nclples and Ideas
mature Marx, after the so-called 'epistemological break' in his work. discussed in the work as a whole clearly ~ave the
It is the paradigm to which Marx turned after a decade of active exploration of a wide variety of ot~er SOCial sCience diSCiplines.
political involvement and as a result of his increasing inter-est in The scope for applying the analytical scheme to other fields of
Darwinian theories of evolution and in political economy. Man's study is enormous but unfortunately lies beyond ~he scop~ of our
basic ideas have been subject to a wide range of interpreta-tions in resent enquiry. However, readers interest~d m appl¥mg the
the hands of theorists who have sought to follow his lead. Among ~cheme in this way should find little difficulty m proceedmg from
these Engels, J?lekhanov, Lenin and Bukharin have been the sociological analyses presented in Chapters 4,~,8.. an~ 10 toan
particularly influential. Among the leading exponents of the radi- cal anal ysis of the Iiterature in their own sphere of speCialised mterest.
structuralist position outside the realm of Russian social theory, the
names of Althusser, Poulantzas, Colletti and various Marxist
sociologists of the New Left come to mind. Whilst the influence of
Marx upon the radical structuralist paradigm is undoubtedly dominant, Notes and! References
it is also possible to identify a strong Weberian influence. As we shall
argue in later chapters, in recent years a group of social theorists have for a full discussion of the role of paradi~ms in s~iell1tjfic
sought to explore the inter-face between the thought of Marx and development, see Kullm (I 970). ~nhis a~aly.sis,lPar~(bgmsare
Weber and have generated a distinctive perspective which we describe defined as 'universally recogmsed SCientific adn~vements
as 'conflict theory'. It is to this radical structuralist perspective that the that for a time provide model problems and soh.!tlons to a
work of Dahren-
36 Sociological Paradigms and Organisational Analysis Two Dimensions: /Four Paradigms 37
community of practitioners' (p. viii). Paradigms are regarded number of works which have aimed ~o chara a jpaah througlln
as governing the progress of what is called 'normal science', in ahe social science literature by reducing the variables of
which 'the scientist's worlc is devoted to the articulation and sociological analysis to a number off Icey dimensions. TIwse
wider application of the accepted paradigm, which is not itself of Dahrendorf (959), Wallace 09(9), Gouldner (1970),
questioned or criticised. Scientific problems are regarded as Friedrichs (1970), D'<lIwe (1970), Robertson (1974), Keat and
puzzles, as problems which are known to have a solution Urry (1975), Strasser (1976) and Benton (1977) all readily
within the framework of assumptions implicitly or explicitly come to mind. nn a sense our work adds to this literature. Had
embodied in the paradigm.llfa puzzle is not solved, the fault sjpace permitted, we would have liked to demonstrate the
lies in the scientist, and not in the paradigm' (Keat and Urry precise way in which the schemes jproposed by these various
1975, p. 55). 'Normal science' contrasts with rela-tively brief authors all fali, in a partial way, within the bounds of the
periods of 'revolutionary science' , in which 'the scientist is scheme developed here.
confronted by increasingly perplexing anomalies, which call
into question the paradigm itself. Scientific revolu-tion occurs
when a new paradigm emerges, and becomes accepted by the
scientific community' (ibid., p. 55).
We are using the term 'paradigm' in a broader sense than
that intended by Kuhn. Within the context of the present worl,
we are arguing that social theory can be conveniently
understood in terms of the co-existence of four distinct and
rival paradigms defined by very basic meta-theoretical!
assumptions in relation to the nature of science and society.
'Paradigms', 'problematics', 'alternative realities', 'frames of
reference', 'forms of life' and 'universe of discourse' are all
related conceptualisations although of course they are not
2. Some inter-paradigm debate is also possible. Giddens main-
tains 'that all paradigms ... are mediated by others' and that
within 'normal science' scientists are aware of other para-
digms. He posits that: 'The process of learning a para-digm ...
is also the process of learning what that paradigm is not'
(1976, pp. 142-4).
nnterestingly, he confines his discussion to the mediation of
one paradigm by another one. We believe that a model of four
confllicting paradigms within sociology is more accurate and
that academics' knowledge of 'scientists' within the other three
paradigms is m,ely to be very sketchy in some cases.
Relations between paradigms are perhaps better described in
terms of 'disinterested hostility' rather than 'debate' .
3. The notion of need satisfaction derives from the use of a
biological analogy of an organism and plays no part in
interrpretive sociology.
4. The sociological concerns of recent years have resulted in a

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Subject Index

!l\ccolJlntin~ prmctnccs, 247-11, 250, 260, classical mail2lgemcilt ilneorlf, I:n.

1.69 126-30. 142. 165, 166
mction fmme olf relference. 8, iH. 122, communicllltive distortioll. Ui!>l. Z!li5,
131,195-202, 20ll-lO. 2m, 353 2%.321,323
Administrative Scieroce Quarterly, 162, l;:onl!1ict, 13, n. 95. 2m, 201i. 205. 2iJ!lJ,
163 1.30.326
mlilCnmtioift. 32, 270. 2!l2. 2116, 296, 307, conflict theory, 34. 334, 349-57. :r7!li,
311.312,323.324,329,346-7,348, 3119
349 conflict functionalism. 93-9. 202, 2B
illl Simmd. n congruency between stmnds 011 objec-
as bad fmith, 304-5 tive-subjective dimension. B. 103 •
as fetishism of commodities. 329 246
ms one-dimensionality, 292. 293-4, between organismtiollal sllIbsystems,
317,332 116-9
irnllsccllded by idelltical sUlbject-ob- consciousness, 279-81, 2Il5. 2116, 291.
ject. 2lJ6, 1.37 292,294,296,307,310. 3IB, 337,
llhernative realities, 312-9 353
Illflmrchism, 301. 339 class. 21M, 1.36. 23111
lllJIMnrclnistic communism, 301, 333, Ifalse. J2
334.338-41 pathology olf, 306
Innl!\rchistic DrHJlividnnmlisl1Jn, 233, contingency theory, 126. 1M-II I, 1112
299-302 contrndictions, 34, 9ll, 307,3211-9,344.
lIlnomie, 45. 91. 92, B9 346,347,355,356,357. 353,36lJ,
lJliIti-Oi"glllllisatioll theory. 33, 310-25 377,3113,31l6
lJliIii-rositivism, .'I, 2lJ, 32, 200, 228. 253, convivimlity, 314. JIlJ
291,313,320 cl'iticml tlleoty, 232, 233-99, 3 Hili. 312,
Astoil studies, 162-3. 166 316,320
lb<clliaviOlirisl1Jn. 49, 73-4. 76, IlO, 84. IFmnkfurt School, 234, 290-99, 302,
102-4, 151 olf orglllnisations, 321-2
behavioural symb()!ic illtemcliornsm, culture, 50. 100, 101. 193,315,3 m, 320
n, 79.81, 11l9-93, 251 cybernetics, 100, 101
bio~~icllli mllmlo!llf (o!1ltlllllismic lIlU1l!nl-
o~y),42,43,44,49-50, 52-3, 56, iJleterminism.6. 25. 34,103,289,3311.345
61,63,64, M, 61l. 73,111, 100. 140, ilimlectic. 21l0. 237, 336, 343, 346, ],49,
153, 154, 159, 1M, 167, 184, 137, 357. 31B
220,355,399.400 lllimlecticllli mateuimiism, 94, 285, :no,
oorC2IIJICrnClf, 9il-3, 862. 175,315,332 3113-4
~lI'ill!llism,236. 1JJ7. 327, :'l30. 332. 337, dyslfunctions, 9$-9, 134, 136,355
340,341, 349-50, 372,373,377, cmll'iricism, 76, 90. 210. 345. 353. 3M,
378,380, 3113. JII6 . 374
Cr1scso(f,326,337,344.359,363,J69, mbstrlllctelil,, HM-I6>, mo,
378, 3113 !I)JO
cllli1llstrophic llliftmlo~". 66. 3316-7, 337 , empirical stlJlOlnes 0([ oTlf,miftis!l\tioaul,aR

&musmlliliftlillysis, 4&l, 231, 3J7-ilJ chal1llcteristics, 126, !60-64\

<envirollment, 156-iMl, IM-6, !~iI, HR,
OniclIIgo $ocio~~y, 77-11, 82. 100, 190 131, 336, 3$~
19.hS • eillisiemol()~lf, Rii, 8, 5. 57, 78. 75, itl,