Sociology Index

Micro Sociology and Macro Sociology

Macrosociology can also be the analysis of large collectivities like the city or the church. Macrosociology deals with broad societal trends that be applied to the smaller features of a society. Macrosociologists and microsociologists generally look at the same phenomena in different ways. Do macro-sociological approaches or micro-sociological approaches tell us more about why some pupils under-achieve in school? The book 'The MacDonaldization of Society' is about macro-sociology. The book  'The Dance of Life' is about micro-sociology. The distinction between macrosociology and microsociology is at once fundamental and fundamentally ambiguous.

After a period in which sociology was torn apart by the polarized claims of microsociology and macro-methodology, a number of sociologists are now attempting a fusion of the two approaches. In "Advances in Social Theory and Methodology: Toward an Integration of Micro- and Macro-Sociologies." some of the most distinguished sociologists set out possible resolutions of the debate.

Gianluca Manzo. Revision of the previous edition article by M. Cherkaoui.

Abstract: The history of sociology shows that the distinction between macrosociology and microsociology is at the same time fundamental andfundamentally ambiguous. The article aims to highlight the main sources of disagreement and division among sociologists interested in the macrosociology and microsociology issue, and in the end stresses the importance of mechanism-based theorizing and formal methods to advance it.

When the history of sociological theorizing has to be systematized, the distinction between microsociology and macrosociology is fundamental (Collins, 1988; Cherkaoui,2005: Chapter 5). But what are microsociology and macrosociology?

According to Randall Collins (1981: 984), "microsociology isthe detailed analysis of what people do, say, and think in the actual flow of momentary experience. Macrosociology is the analysis of large-scale and long-term social processes, often treated as self-subsistent entities such as state, organization, class, economy, culture, and society."

While this broad characterization of microsociology and macrosociology is largely undisputed (Calhoun et al.,2012:27, it seems problematic to provide a more precise definition. As noted by Münch and Smelser (1987: 356), the terms micro and macro, have been assigned a number of diverse meanings in the sociological literature and these meanings are not always consistent with one another.

Wippler and Lindenberg (1987:153) admitted that "there is no agreement on the micro/macro distinction, except that micro always refers to smaller units than those implied by macro. The various meanings attached to this distinction have generated micro/macro problems that stand in the way of an adequate solution of the master problem."

Social Stratification and Comparative Macro-Sociology.

Macrosociology is an approach to sociology which emphasizes the analysis of social systems and populations on a large scale, the level of social structure, and at a high level of theoretical abstraction.

Microsociology focuses on the individual social agency. Macrosociology concerns individuals, families, and other constituent aspects of a society in relation to larger social system of which they are a part.

Macrosociology deals with issues such as war, distress of Third World nations, poverty, and environmental deprivation. Microsociology analyses issues such as the role of women, the nature of the family, and immigration.

Microsociology and Macrosociology are based on how sociologists view sociology. Macrosociologists focus on social structure, social institutions, economic change and so on. Microsociologists basically study social interaction.

Microsociologists look at how families and other small groups of people interact and how they interpret the meanings of their own interactions.


The Logic and Method of Macrosociology - An Input-Output Approach to Organizational Networks - Namboodiri and Corwin make a strong case for adopting a macro perspective in sociological investigations.