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George Homans Theory of Social Behavior

George Homans was born in 1910. He was educated at Harvard and received an A.B. in 1932. He received an M.A. at Cambridge in 1955. He was an instructor at Harvard University from 1939 to 1941, an associate professor from 1946 to 1953, and a professor of sociology after 1953. He was a visiting professor at the University of Manchester in 1953, at Cambridge University from 1955-1956, and at the University of Kent in 1967. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Sociological Association, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. He was a junior fellow at Harvard from 1934 to 1939 and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences from 1958 to 1959. He has written numerous books, including The Human Group, The Nature of Social Science, and English Villagers in the Thirteenth Century (Contemporary authors, 1983, 213). He died in 1989, having left his place as professor of sociology at harvard in 1980 and having served thereafter as department chair and dean for undergraduate education (Contemporary Authors, 1994, 189).

The work of George Homans is tied to the psychological behaviorism of B.F. Skinner while the work of Peter Blau is more influenced by Simmel, but both Homans and Blau express concerns about the reliance of functionalism on values and norms to explain social behavior. Homans is especially critical of the work of Durkheim and Parsons, seeing that each ascribed too much to the play of external forces having an effect on behavior and giving too little attention to the individual. Homans speaks of these theorists as if they have betrayed western ideals. He sees Durkheim's theory of society as an attack on the liberal idea of individual autonomy as well as on the view that individuals are unique entities who give meaning to society. Homans' own sociology is individualistic and involves an a...

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George Homans Theory of Social Behavior. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 16:31, February 26, 2017, from