Variables, Mechanisms, and Simulations : Can the Three Methods Be Synthesized ? A Critical Analysis of the Literature
This article offers a critical analysis of four contemporary sociological debates. Systematic analysis of the relevant literature suggests the existence of a project for reformulating the methodological foundations of empirical quantitative sociology. This reconstruction shows the emergence of the following idea : an alliance of variable analysis, mechanism methodology, and simulation techniques would be of great help in resolving some of the impasses that “standard” empirical quantitative sociology encounters. This thesis is then tested for quantitative sociology of social stratification : where there are “irrefutable signs” that the idea is becoming acceptable. Lastly, a link is established between these recent debates and older, similar proposals for resolving the problem, and the question of why the soundness of these proposals has only recently been recognized is examined.