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Definition of Holism

(noun) The principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and a part cannot be understood independent of the whole.

Holism Pronunciation

  • IPA Pronunciation
    • American English
      • /ˈhoʊlˌɪzəm/
    • British English
      • /ˈhəʊlɪz(ə)m/
      • /ˈhɒlɪz(ə)m/
  • Syllabification: (ho·lism)

Usage Notes

  • Holism is more common in the social sciences than the natural sciences.
  • Holism is the opposite of reductionism.
  • Research methods are often viewed as holistic (qualitative) or reductionistic (quantitative).
  • Variant spelling: wholism
  • Also called holistic theory.
  • A (noun) holist views society (adverb) holistically from a (adjective) holistic perspective.

Additional Information

Related Terms

Works Consulted

Macmillan. (N.d.) Macmillan Dictionary. (https://www.macmillandictionary.com/).

Merriam-Webster. (N.d.) Merriam-Webster Dictionary. (http://www.merriam-webster.com/).

Oxford University Press. (N.d.) Oxford Dictionaries. (https://www.oxforddictionaries.com/).

Princeton University. 2010. WordNet. (https://wordnet.princeton.edu/).

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

Wikipedia contributors. (N.d.) Wiktionary, The Free Dictionary. Wikimedia Foundation. (http://en.wiktionary.org).

Cite the Definition of Holism

ASA – American Sociological Association (5th edition)

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “holism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Retrieved August 26, 2019 (https://sociologydictionary.org/holism/).

APA – American Psychological Association (6th edition)

holism. (2014). In K. Bell (Ed.), Open education sociology dictionary. Retrieved from https://sociologydictionary.org/holism/

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

Bell, Kenton, ed. 2014. “holism.” In Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Accessed August 26, 2019. https://sociologydictionary.org/holism/.

MLA – Modern Language Association (7th edition)

“holism.” Open Education Sociology Dictionary. Ed. Kenton Bell. 2014. Web. 26 Aug. 2019. <https://sociologydictionary.org/holism/>.