Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Isomorphic means having the same structure in the sense of a one-to-one correspondence between parts.

explanatory context

For example, a fully working on-to-twenty scale model of a steam engine is isomorphic to the engine it reproduces in miniature.


In mathematics and logic models are isomorphic if there is a one-to-one correspondence of parts and structure.


In social science, economists attempt isomorphic models of the economy; sociologists attempt isomorphic models of organisational structure, and so on. In practice economic and social models rarely or never achieve isomorphism as the social and economic worlds are vastly complex.


The term 'intensionally isomorphic' has been used to indicate sentences that are logically equivalent and share the same structure (Carnap, 1947).

analytical review

Wertheimer, M., 2010, states:

In psychology, the term “isomorphism” is identified with the classical Berlin school of Gestalt psychology, which used the word to characterize the Gestaltists' approach to the mind/brain problem. They argued that the objective brain processes underlying and correlated with particular phenomenological experiences are isomorphic with (that is, have functionally the same form and structure as) those subjective experiences.

associated issues


related areas

See also



Carnap, R., 1947, Meaning and Necessity, Chicago, Univserity of Chicago Press. Available as a .pdf at, accessed 24 January 2013, page not available 23 December 2016.

Wertheimer, M., 2010, 'Isomorphism' in Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology, Published Online: 30 January 2010, London, Wiley.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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