The Concept of Value in Sociological Theory: the Influence and (Underestimated) Possibilities of its Interpretation from the Standpoint of Gestalt Psychology

The Concept of Value in Sociological Theory:
the Influence and (Underestimated) Possibilities of its Interpretation from the Standpoint of Gestalt Psychology

Deviatko I.F.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Full Prof., National Research University Higher School of Economics; Chief Researcher, Institute of Sociology FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia

ID of the Article: 8330

For citation:

Deviatko I.F. The Concept of Value in Sociological Theory: the Influence and (Underestimated) Possibilities of its Interpretation from the Standpoint of Gestalt Psychology. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2020. No 10. P. 3-12


The article offers a historical reconstruction of the influence of the concept of value interpreted as “requiredness” emerging in the context of the holistic situation, which was initially developed in Gestalt psychology in the works of M. Wertheimer and W. Köhler, on the development by T. Parsons of both, the sociological theory of institutions and the understandings of the nature of social order and the normative dimension of social action proposed by him. The contribution of Gestalt psychology to the justification of the possibility of an empirical study of values in the social sciences is analyzed. Particularly, it is shown that understanding of values as contextual effects of requiredness overcomes the alleged irreducibility of normative-prescriptive judgments to descriptive ones (“is” – “ought” problem) and serves as an argument against the popular methodological position of axiological relativism. Two examples of the potential relevance of the idea of “requiredness” developed in Gestalt psychology for the further elaboration of some new arguments and approaches in modern sociological theory and sociology of morality are presented.

Gestalt psychology; theory of institutions; value; requiredness; normativity; social action; sociological theory; sociology of morality


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