Drawing extensively on the research findings of natural and social sciences both in America and Europe, Reframing the Social argues for a critical realist and systemist social ontology, designed to shed light on current debates in social theory concerning the relationship of social ontology to practical social research, and the nature of 'the social'. It explores the works of the systems theorist Mario Bunge in comparison with the approach of Niklas Luhmann and critical social systems theorists, to challenge the commonly held view that the systems-based approach is holistic in nature and necessarily downplays the role of human agency. Theoretically sophisticated and investigating the work of a theorist whose work has until now received insufficient attention in Anglo-American thought, this book will be of interest to those working in the field of social theory, as well as scholars concerned with philosophy of social science, the project of analytical sociology, and the nature of the relationship between the natural and social sciences.
'This is the clearest and most comprehensive discussion of contemporary social ontology. The author’s definitions and illustrations of such key concepts as those of system, process, mechanism, and emergence, often used sloppily, are lucid. And his evaluation of the competing theories is magisterial. This book should greatly help any social theorists and philosophers seeking clarity and depth.' Mario Bunge, McGill University, Canada 'Poe Yu-ze Wan has produced an impressive book that brings social systems theory into the twenty-first century. In a beautifully well-judged argument that deserves to be widely read, he shows how social theorists are moving towards mechanismic explanation and "emergentist systemism" - and why they are right to do so.' Dave Elder-Vass, Loughborough University, UK 'Wan’s intellectual achievement in this book stands out from comparable entries in the marketplace for at least two reasons. First, there is just the sheer amount of ground covered in the book… Second, there is the fact that Wan goes beyond reviewing other people’s proposals to offer his own positive project… an impressive achievement. This book should be required reading for anybody interested in becoming acquainted with the best contemporary work on the meta-methodological foundations of social science, the debates and controversies opened up by advocates of the various programmatic movements that have emerged in the way of the dissolution of positivism, and Mario Bunge’s equally ambitious - but rather unheralded - proposal to bring order to the proceedings.' Science and Education 'I recommend Reframing the Social: Emergentist Systemism and Social Theory to everyone interested in recent discussions not only on social systems theory and social ontology but also on causality and mechanism-based explanations in the social sciences. Moreover, I think that those social scientists and philosophers of the social sciences who associate themselves with the movement of