Causation (sociology)

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Causation is a belief that events occur in predictable ways and that one event leads to another.[1] If the relationship between the variables is non-spurious (there is a third variable that is not causing the effect), the temporal order is in line (cause before effect), and the study is longitudinal, it may be deduced that it is a causal relationship.

A functionalist theory of causation[edit]

Causation relates to moral and legal rules. Human society exercises social control and keeping society functional by enforcing rules.For rules to work society must be held accountable for their actions. all societies excluding animalistic ones have a concept of causality. Causality imposes moral obligations.[2]

Max Weber identifies two types of causation;

  • adequate causation refers to a context in which any one of a number of factors may have been finally responsible for an event (the absence of a single factor would not have led to a different outcome).
  • chance causation refers to a situation in which one factor was of decisive importance for the occurrence of a particular event.[3]

Logical formulation of the principal of productive causality[edit]

  1. x is held to be the cause, y the effect. i.e., x produces y, according to the definition of causality
  2. x and y refer to classes of concrete phenomena rather that to singular phenomena themselves; or to classes of properties for the phenomena rather than the properties themselves.
  3. hence x and y permit of greater or lesser abstractedness
  4. the more abstract x or y, the more variables are covered by it. If a limited system of variables is assumed, the categories of x and y can be made relatively inclusive and thus reduce the number of unaccounted variables, and vice versa
  5. however, the more concrete x or y, the easier it is identifiable as a possible ontological cause or affect, but the more difficult it is to be certain of its actual causality or effectiveness; and vice versa, the more abstract x or y, the more difficult it is to identify it as cause or effect, but the less difficult it is to ascertain logically its causality or effectiveness.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Jon Shepard and Robert W. Greene, Sociology and You, Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2003, ISBN 0-07-828576-3.
  2. ^ Pickering, W. S. F.. Durkheim and Representations. London, GBR: Routledge, 2000. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 2 December 2015.
  3. ^ Shilling, Chris, and Mellor, Philip A.. Sociological Ambition : Elementary Forms of Social and Moral Life. London, GBR: SAGE Publications Inc. (US), 2001. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 2 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Causation and Functionalism in Sociology." Google Books. Web. 16 Dec. 2015.