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A Model of Human Motivation for Sociology


Jacob Alsted

Many macro-sociologists have insufficient understanding of the roots of human motivation and this seriously hampers the effort to build theoretical models of society, social organisations and social change. The aim of this work is to remedy this deficiency. In this book, a model of motivation is constructed in order to demonstrate how it can improve our understanding of society. The aim here is an integration of concepts from psychology and sociology. Furthermore, it is the aim to clearly demonstrate that such a model adds new insights to our understanding of society. It can enrich key concepts used for analysis of meso- and macro-level phenomena. The author argues that the model of motivation can increase our understanding of, on the macro-level, the history of the state and, on the meso-level, dynamics in organisations.


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5. From Micro to Meso and Macro 137


CHAPTER 5 From Micro to Meso and Macro Time has come to explore the implications of the model of motivation for the way we conceive organisations, institutions and society. This chapter will argue that social structures are essentially our collective psychic defences against ambivalence. Social structures are created by individuals and are therefore influenced by individual psy- chology. Consequently, these structures can be understood using concepts similar to those used when understanding the psyche. In the introduction I raised three problems of which I promised to treat the two here: - Refining the agent - structure analysis - Strengthening the concepts of meso and macro In the process of arguing for the claim that social structures are psychic defences, it is necessary to take up these problems again. Refining the Agent- Structure Analysis In the preceding chapter it was established that the ability to relate rests on the efficiency of the psychic defences - the compromise formations. They were treated as an indi- vidual matter. But compromise formations have a social dimension too. It was first discovered by Goffman and Garfinkel in their studies of rituals in everyday life (Goffman 1959; Garfinkel1967). More recently, several authors have contributed studies that connect these rituals to the defensive workings of the human psyche. Many of these authors state that there are affinities between patterns in psychic development and patterns in social rituals (Frankl1989; Kernberg 1998; Smelser 1998a). From Micro to Meso and Macro To understand social structures, we should investigate the workings...

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