A term usually contrasted with determinism , voluntarism denotes the assumption that individuals are the agents of their actions, and have some control over what they do. Voluntarism's alliance with action contrasts with the deterministic emphasis associated with structure . By accepting human unpredictability, voluntarism renders sociological analysis more difficult, though arguably more interesting. Voluntaristic theories place issues of decision, purpose, and choice at the forefront of sociological analysis. InThe Structure of Social Action (1937), Talcott Parsons develops a voluntaristic theory of action, so called because it includes normative elements, subjective categories, choices about means and ends, and effort.
Voluntarism in social science raises the philosophical issue of free will: namely, the belief that choice means freedom, in the sense of individuals being free to will what they will. Most sociologists-even those of a voluntaristic persuasion- recognize that individuals can only do otherwise than they do within limits (perhaps of a cultural or psychological kind). That is, a residual determinism is implied, even though social action is typically not reduced to physical and biological variables.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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  • Voluntarism — • In the modern metaphysical sense is a theory which explains the universe as emanating ultimately from some form of will Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Voluntarism     Voluntarism …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • voluntarism — VOLUNTARÍSM s.n. 1. Concepţie filozofică potrivit căreia existenţa se întemeiază pe anumite tendinţe iraţionale ale voinţei umane sau pe o voinţă cosmică oarbă. 2. Concepţie sociologică care neagă existenţa legilor obiective ale naturii şi… …   Dicționar Român

  • Voluntarism — can refer to: *Voluntarism (action), the use of or reliance on voluntary action to maintain an institution, carry out a policy, or achieve an end. *Voluntarism (metaphysics), a philosophical term emphasising the primacy of the will. *Voluntaryism …   Wikipedia

  • Voluntarism — Vol un*ta*rism, n. 1. (Philosophy) Any theory which conceives will to be the dominant factor in experience or in the constitution of the world; contrasted with {intellectualism}. Schopenhauer and Fichte are typical exponents of the two types of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • voluntarism — 1838, in philosophy, from VOLUNTARY (Cf. voluntary) + ISM (Cf. ism). As the theory or principal of using voluntary action rather than coercion (in politics, etc.), from 1924, Amer.Eng. (Voluntaryism in this sense is recorded from 1883) …   Etymology dictionary

  • voluntarism — [väl′ən tər iz΄em] n. 1. a) voluntary or willing participation in a course of action b) a doctrine or system based on such participation c) VOLUNTEERISM 2. Philos. any theory which holds that reality is ultimately of the nature of will or that… …   English World dictionary

  • voluntarism — voluntarist, n., adj. voluntaristic, adj. /vol euhn teuh riz euhm/, n. 1. Philos. any theory that regards will as the fundamental agency or principle, in metaphysics, epistemology, or psychology. 2. the principle or practice of supporting… …   Universalium

  • voluntarism — Generally a position seeing reason and intellect as subservient to the will: any position sympathizing with Hume s dictum that reason is and ought to be the slave of the passions. In ethics, voluntarism is the position that it is will or desire… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Voluntarism (action) — Voluntarism is the use of or reliance on voluntary action to maintain an institution, carry out a policy, or achieve an end. [Definitions of voluntarism at http://www.bartleby.com/61/44/V0144400.html and… …   Wikipedia

  • Voluntarism (metaphysics) — This article is about the metaphysical philosophy known as voluntarism. For other uses, see here. Voluntarism is a descriptive term for a school of thought which regards the will as superior to the intellect and to emotion. This description has… …   Wikipedia

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