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The fact that "collective entities can have a property (likeability) that its component individuals do not" is actually consistent with complex methodological individualism, as explained by the most important sociologist of this field: Raymond Boudon. Indeed, individuals acting under limited, strategic rationality (i.e. for reasons that are legitimately theirs but that can be circonstancially mislead) spawn "composition effects" that may turn out to produce "perverse effects" (Boudon, Effets pervers et ordre social, Paris, PUF, 1977) contrary to the initial goal of the action; Boudon analyses specifically the example of financial panics in this light. These phenomenons are often also understandable under the ligh of mimetic desire (Girard) and its resulting imitation behaviors. One thus does not need to disregard the individual, only entity capable of agency and conscious thinking, to analyse complex, macro-level phenomena. (And for the little story, from this insight, Boudon and his students went on to debunk most of the politically-motivated-but-scientifically-unsound work of his great nemesis: Bourdieu, which greatly pissed off the structuralist, heavily left-leaning French intelligentia who then "preferred being wrong with Bourdieu than being right with Boudon", to their own admittance).
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Jan 18, 2015