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Extra info for International encyclopedia of the social sciences volume 6

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Ideal structures may be defined as those structures that the members of any given system (or systems) feel should be the structures of their behavior or those of others. , patterns) in terms of which the members of the system in fact behave as they would be described by an observer with theoretically perfect scientific knowledge. The terms "ideal" and "actual" in these respects may be applied in other connections, but they are most generally applied to the concepts of structure. The following generalizations in terms of them are relevant in almost any analysis.

He states that the major question (explicandum) is why witchcraft patterns have survived through a given period of time and that his basic postulate is "that no cultural forms survive unless they constitute responses which are adjustive or adaptive, in some sense, for the members of the society or for the society considered as a perduring unit" (1944, p. 46). This postulate is very similar to Merton's statement of the three basic postulates of functional analysis: "Substantially, these postulates hold first, that 31 standardized social activities or cultural items are functional for the entire social or cultural system; second, that all such social and cultural items fulfill sociological functions; and third, that these items are consequently indispensable" ([1949] 1957, p.

Patterns) that define the aspects of units that are not even theoretically capable of concrete separation from other structured aspects. If one defines the economic aspect of action as having to do with the allocation of goods and services and political aspects as having to do with the allocation of power and responsibility, then economic and political structures are analytic structures, since there are no social systems that are totally devoid of either economic or political aspects. Failure to keep this sort of distinction straight constitutes the fallacy of reification (or misplaced concreteness).

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