G. Bolacchi, Introduzione, G.C. Homans, La natura delle scienze sociali, Franco Angeli, 1980

«Homans’ analysis of the methodological problem in the social sciences assumes human behavior as a phenomenon to be studied and explicated using the natural-science research method, namely the Galilean method of controlled (laboratory) experiment.» «The experimental method applied to the analysis of behavior characterizes behaviorism. The latter can be considered, according to Homans, the most rigorous perspective for the study of human behavior. That said, even the analyses of social behavior should assume the experimental and theoretical predicates identified in the behavioristic field as their explicative foundations.»

«On this level, any perspective that uncritically presupposes a separation between psychology and sociology is overcome – hence the need to differentiate the methods of analysis according to whether individual or social behaviors are examined. The need to distinguish between individual and social dimensions -which common sense naively accepts, just as the need to distinguish between spirit and nature- still exists, albeit in a different manner and with different connotations. The ideological and metaphysical assumptions grounded on the intuitive method (which can ultimately be traced back to a naïve commonsense standpoint) also underlie the distinction between individual and social dimensions and, hence, the attempt to establish a specific field of social analysis separately from individual psychology and social psychology. Seen like that, the distinction between psychology and sociology always presupposes, either explicitly or implicitly, an erroneous methodological perspective based on metaphysical-type assumptions, even in what might seem more advanced analyses. The philosophical-intuitive dimension of these assumptions also appears in Durkheim’s work, to which Homans explicitly refers to show its groundlessness.» IT

(Introduction, pp. 11, 14, 15)
Giulio Bolacchi



G.C. Homans, La natura delle scienze sociali (pp. 11-16)

Original title: George C. Homans, The Nature of Social Science, Harcourt, Brace & World, 1967. Italian translation by Gianfranco Sabattini and Beniamino Moro

Franco Angeli, Milano