Contemporary articles citing Blumer H (1969) Symbolic Interaction
relations, structures, cultural, agency, his, processes, approach, problems, important, understanding
- Go, Julian. 2013. "Decolonizing Bourdieu: Colonial and Postcolonial Theory in Pierre Bourdieu's Early Work." Sociological Theory. 31:1 49-74.
- While new scholarship on Pierre Bourdieu has recovered his early work on Algeria, this essay excavates his early thoughts on colonialism. Contrary to received wisdom, Bourdieu did in fact offer a theory of colonialism and a systematic understanding of its effects and logics. Bourdieu portrayed colonialism as a racialized system of domination, backed by force, which restructures social relations and creates hybrid cultures. His theory entailed insights on the limits and promises of colonial reform, anticolonial revolution, and postcolonial liberation. Bourdieu's early thinking on colonialism drew upon but extended French colonial studies of the time. It also contains the seeds of later concepts like habitus, field, and reflexive sociology while prefiguring more recent disciplinary postcolonial studies. Bourdieusian sociology in this sense originates not just as a study of Algeria but more specifically a critique of colonialism. It can be seen as contributing to the larger project of postcolonial sociology.
- Colyvas, Jeannette & Stefan Jonsson. 2011. "Ubiquity and Legitimacy: Disentangling Diffusion and Institutionalization." Sociological Theory. 29:1 27-53.
- Diffusion and institutionalization are of prime sociological importance, as both processes unfold at the intersections of relations and structures, as well as persistence and change. Yet they are often confounded, leading to theoretical and methodological biases that hinder the development of generalizable arguments. We look at diffusion and institutionalization distinctively, each as both a process and an outcome in terms of three dimensions: the objects that flow or stick; the subjects who adopt or influence; and the social settings through which an innovation travels. We offer examples to flesh out these dimensions, and formulate testable propositions from our analytic framework that could lead to further theoretical refinement and progress.
- Fine, Gary. 2010. "The Sociology of the Local: Action and Its Publics." Sociological Theory. 28:4 355-376.
- Sociology requires a robust theory of how local circumstances create social order. When we analyze social structures not recognizing that they depend on groups with collective pasts and futures that are spatially situated and that are based on personal relations, we avoid a core sociological dimension: the importance of local context in constituting social worlds. Too often this has been the sociological stance, both in micro-sociological studies that examine interaction as untethered from local traditions and in research that treats culture as autonomous from action and choice. Building on theories of action, group dynamics, and micro-cultures, I argue that a sociology of the local solves critical theoretical problems. The local is a stage on which social order gets produced and a lens for understanding how particular forms of action are selected. Treating ethnographic studies as readings of ongoing cultures, I examine how the continuing and referential features of group life (spatial arenas, relations, shared pasts) generate action and argue that local practices provide the basis for cultural extension, influencing societal expectations through the linkages among groups.
- Reed, Isaac. 2010. "Epistemology Contextualized: Social-scientific Knowledge in a Postpositivist Era." Sociological Theory. 28:1 20-39.
- In the production of knowledge about social life, two social contexts come together: the context of investigation, consisting of the social world of the investigator, and the context of explanation, consisting of the social world of the actors who are the subject of study. The nature of, and relationship between, these contexts is imagined in philosophy; managed, rewarded, and sanctioned in graduate seminars, journal reviews, and tenure cases; and practiced in research. Positivism proposed to produce objective knowledge by suppressing the nonlogical and nonobservational aspects of the contexts. Attacks on positivism disputed the effectiveness and rationality of this strategy. Thus ``postpositivism'' can be understood as a series of attempts to reconstitute the relation between the contexts as the basis for accurate social knowledge. Two of the most important of these attempts-grounded theory and postmodern anthropology-are considered, and a synthesis, which draws from the insights of cultural sociology, is proposed.
- Jerolmack, Colin. 2009. "Humans, Animals, and Play: Theorizing Interaction When Intersubjectivity Is Problematic." Sociological Theory. 27:4 371-389.
- Simmel (1949) argues that humans have an ``impulse'' toward sociability, defined as noninstrumental, playful association that is enjoyed as an end in itself. While sociability as conceived of by Simmel necessitates a shared definition of the situation, recent studies problematize symbolic interactionist assumptions by documenting the ways humans engage in analogous sociable play with animals. Drawing from ethnomethodological and pragmatist perspectives, this article offers a way to theorize human-animal encounters and their relationship to interactions among humans. Beginning with a conceptualization of play as an interpretive frame (Goffman 1986) that actors can employ to organize situated interactions, this article argues that humans can engage in playful associations with animals even if animals do not share in the play frame. It illustrates how play with animals can preserve some of the forms and satisfactions of interaction with humans, and it clarifies how interaction can be coordinated and understood when we cannot assume that interactants share intersubjectivity. The article concludes by offering a tentative set of conditions that structure the possibilities of sociable play, based on the degree of potential intersubjectivity and other situational factors.
- Depelteau, Francois. 2008. "Relational Thinking: a Critique of Co-deterministic Theories of Structure and Agency." Sociological Theory. 26:1 51-73.
- This article presents a relational criticism of the ``morphogenetic theory'' of M. Archer. This theory is founded and representative of the most influential mode of perception of the social universe of the last few decades: co-determinism (structure <-> agency). Co-determinism's influence can be explained by its integration of modern general presuppositions like freedom, individualism, and the quest for a new social order. By identifying five basic principles of relational sociology, we see that Archer's co-deterministic theory offers a complicated solution to avoid voluntarism and co-determinism, limits the potential of sociological imagination, cannot adequately see the fluidity of social processes, produces a certain reification of social structures and agency, and is based on an inconsistent use of egocentric and relational perspectives. These problems can be avoided if we use a relational approach (actor <-> actor double right arrow structures) based on the study of complex and empirical trans-actions.
- Scott, Susie & Charles Thorpe. 2006. "The Sociological Imagination of R. D. Laing." Sociological Theory. 24:4 331-352.
- The work of psychiatrist R. D. Laing deserves recognition as a key contribution to sociological theory, in dialogue with the interactionist and interpretivist sociological traditions. Laing encourages us to identify meaningful social action in what would otherwise appear to be nonsocial phenomena. His interpretation of schizophrenia as a rational strategy of withdrawal reminds us of the threat that others can pose to the self and how social relations are implicated in even the most ``private'' and ``internal'' of experiences. He developed a far-reaching critical theory of the self in modern society, which challenges the medicalization and biochemical reduction of human problems. Using the case of shyness as an example, the article seeks to demonstrate the importance of Laing's theories for examining the fragility of the self in relation to contemporary social order.
- Whipple, M. 2005. "The Dewey-lippmann Debate Today: Communication Distortions, Reflective Agency, and Participatory Democracy." Sociological Theory. 23:2 156-178.
- In this article, I introduce the Dewey-Lippmann democracy debate of the 1920s as a vehicle for considering how social theory can enhance the empirical viability of participatory democratic theory within the current context of advanced capitalism. I situate within this broad theoretical framework the theories of Habermas and Dewey. In the process, I argue (a) that while Dewey largely failed to reconcile his democratic ideal with the empirical constraint of large-scale organizations, Habermas, in particular his work on the public sphere, provides an important starting point for considering the state of public participation within the communication distortions of advanced capitalism; (b) that to fully understand the relation between communication distortions and public participation, social theorists must look beyond Habermas and return to Dewey to mobilize his bi-level view of habitual and reflective human agency; and, finally, (c) that the perspective of a Deweyan political theory of reflective agency best furthers our understanding of potential communication distortions and public participation, particularly in the empirical spaces of media centralization and intellectual property rights.
- Bergesen, AJ. 2004. "Chomsky Versus Mead." Sociological Theory. 22:3 357-370.
- G. H. Mead's model of language and mind, while perhaps understandable at the time it was written, now seems inadequate. First, the research evidence strongly suggests that mental operations exist prior to language onset, conversation of gestures, or social interaction. Second, language is not just significant symbols; it requires syntax. Third, syntax seems to be part of our bioinheritance, that is, part of our presocial mind/brain-what Noam Chomsky has called our language faculty. Fourth, this means syntax probably is not learned nor a social construction that is internalized as a cultural template. Fifth, this suggests a basic reversal of the prevailing model of symbolic interaction, mind, language, and perhaps the self as well, although there has not been the time or space to engage that topic here. Therefore, symbolic interaction may turn out to be a more Chomskyan than Meadian process. Given the bioinheritance of our mind/brain we are able to engage in symbolic interaction; it does not appear that symbolic interaction creates our mind or the basic computational algorithms of language.
- Stark, R. 1999. "Micro Foundations of Religion: a Revised Theory." Sociological Theory. 17:3 264-289.
- In a major revision of my earlier theoretical work on religion, I attempt to identify and connect the basic micro elements and processes underlying religious expression. I show that all primary aspects of religion - belief; emotion, ritual, prayer, sacrifice, mysticism, and miracle - can be understood on the basis of exchange relations between humans and supernatural beings. Although I utilize a cognitive definition of religion, this new version of the theory is especially concerned with the emotional and expressive aspects of religion. Along the way I also clarify the difference between religion and magic and this sets the stage for explaining the conditions under which religion (but not magic) can require extended and exclusive exchange relations between humans and the gods, thus enabling some religions to sustain stable organizations based on a lay membership.
- Olick, JK. 1999. "Collective Memory: the Two Cultures." Sociological Theory. 17:3 333-348.
- What is collective about collective memory? Two different concepts of collective memory compete-one refers to the aggregation of socially framed individual memories and one refers to collective phenomena sui generis-though the difference is rarely articulated in the literature. This article theorizes the differences and relations between individualist and collectivist understandings of collective memory. The former are open to psychological considerations, including neurological and cognitive factors, but neglect technologies of memory other than the brain and the ways in which cognitive and even neurological patterns are constituted in part by genuinely social processes. The latter emphasize the social and cultural patternings of public and personal memory, but neglect the ways in which those processes are constituted in part by psychological dynamics. This article advocates, through the example of traumatic events, a strategy of multidimensional rapprochement between individualist and collectivist approaches.
- Vandenberghe, F. 1999. "``the Real Is Relational'': an Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's Generative Structuralism." Sociological Theory. 17:1 32-67.
- An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of ``habitus,'' as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of ``habitus `` and ``field.'' To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field.
- Bogard, W. 1998. "Sense and Segmentarity: Some Markers of a Deleuzian-guattarian Sociology." Sociological Theory. 16:1 52-74.
- Although the focus of their work was rarely explicitly sociological, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari developed concepts that have important and often profound implications for social theory and practice. Two of these, sense and segmentarity provide us,with entirely new ways to view sociological problems of meaning and structure. Deleuze conceives sense independently of both agency and signification, That is, sense is neither the manifestation of a communicating subject nor a structure of language-it is noncorporeal, impersonal, and prelinguistic, in his,words, a ``pure effect or event.'' With Guattari, Deleuze notes that it is not a question of how subjects produce social structures, but how a ``machinics of desire'' produces subjects. In Deleuze and Guattari, desire is not defined as a want or a lack, but as a machinery of forces, flows, and breaks of energy. The functional stratification we witness in social life is only the molar effect of a more primary segmentation of desire that occurs at the molecular level, at the level of bodies. In Deleuze and Guattari, bodies are not just human bodies, but ``anorganic'' composites or mixtures, organic form itself being a mode of the body's subjectification. The problem of the subject, and thus of the constitution of society, is first a problem of how the sense of bodies is produced through the assembly of desiring-machines. The subject, we could sag: is the actualization of desire on the incorporeal surface of bodies.
- Weinberg, D. 1997. "Lindesmith on Addiction: a Critical History of a Classic Theory." Sociological Theory. 15:2 150-161.
- The evolution of Alfred Lindesmith's classic theory of addiction is analyzed as a product of the particular intellectual currents and controversies in and for which it was developed. These include the conflicts that pitted qualitative against quantitative sociology; the fledgling discipline of sociology against medicine, psychiatry, and psychology; and advocates of therapy for addicts against those who would simply punish them. By casting the meaningful experience of drug effects exclusively in terms of symbolically mediated mental representations of brute physiological sensations, Lindesmith's theory posits an epistemologically untenable dualism between mental and bodily perception that unnecessarily limits the explanatory scope of sociological research. As an alternative to this dualism, a praxiological approach to the meaning of drug-induced behavior and experience is proposed.
- Chapoulie, JM. 1996. "Everett Hughes and the Chicago Tradition." Sociological Theory. 14:1 3-29.
- RAMBO, E. 1995. "Conceiving Best Outcomes Within a Theory of Utility Maximization - a Culture-level Critique." Sociological Theory. 13:2 145-162.
- Coleman's rational choice theory introduces the idea of a `'social optimum'' into sociological theory. This idea of conceiving best outcomes is central to the project of reasoned progress and is an important tonic against the postmodern doubt. The utility maximization approach is inadequate, however because it is locked into an analysis of social structures. As a result it cannot conceptualize common standards, which are essential to best outcomes. These are treated adequately only within a cultural analysis. Welfare economics has dealt with this problem of best outcomes for a long time. Its history with the problem verifies the insuperable difficulties in a conception of action as utility maximization. When Coleman generalizes that approach, he manages only to reduce standards to power. This is inadequate. Some implications of conceiving common standards as culture are discussed.
- MELTZER, BN & JG MANIS. 1995. "Agency, Chance, and Causality - a Rejoinder." Sociological Theory. 13:2 203-205.