Elder-Vass on the Causal Power of Social Structures

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this review essay I examine the central tenets of sociologist Dave Elder-Vass’s recent contribution to social ontology, as put forth in his book The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency (2010). Elder-Vass takes issue with ontological individualists and maintains that social structures exist and have causal powers in their own right. I argue that he fails to establish his main theses: he shows neither that social structures have causal powers “in their own right” (in any sense of this expression) nor that they exist.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Philosophy


  • causal power, critical realism, emergence, mereology, ontological individualism, social ontology, structure
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)774-791
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

Total downloads

No data available

Related projects

Björn Petersson, Olle Blomberg, Gunnar Björnsson, Johan Brännmark, Åsa Burman, Tobias Hansson Wahlberg, Patrizio Lo Presti, Anna-Sofia Maurin, Jeroen Smid & Andras Szigeti

Swedish Research Council

2012/03/01 → …

Project: NetworkNational collaboration

View all (2)