biological reductionism

(noun) A theory stating all social phenomena have a biological explanation.

Example: Standardized test scores between different ethnicities occur because of biological differences.

Audio Pronunciation: (bi·o·log·i·cal re·duc·tion·ism)

Download Audio Pronunciation: biological reductionism.mp3

Usage Notes:

  • Plural: biological reductionisms
  • Biological reductionism has been used to explain crime, mental illness, patriarchy, and poverty or to defend eugenics and Social Darwinism.
  • Not to be confused with biological determinism.
  • A type of reductionism.
  • Also called biologism.
  • A (noun) biological reductionist views society (adverb) biological reductionally from a (adjective) biological reductionistic perspective.

Related Quotation:

  • “Reductionism of any type tends to suggest that particular units of analysis or variables are more relevant than others. Suppose we ask what caused the American Revolution. Was it a shared commitment to the value of individual liberty? The economic plight of the colonies in relation to Britain? The megalomania of the founders? As soon as we inquire about the single cause, we run the risk of reductionism. If we were to regard shared values as the cause of the American Revolution, our unit of analysis would be the individual colonist. An economist, though, might choose the 13 colonies as units of analysis and examine the economic organizations and conditions of each. A psychologist might choose individual leaders as the units of analysis for purposes of examining their personalities” (Babbie 2011:109).

Additional Information:

Related Terms: 


Works Consulted

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (

Random House Webster’s College Dictionary. 1997. New York: Random House.

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. (


How to Cite the Definition of Biological Reductionism

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “biological reductionism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved June 27, 2019 (

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

biological reductionism. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from

Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date – Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “biological reductionism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed June 27, 2019.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“biological reductionism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 27 Jun. 2019. <>.