Contemporary articles citing Bourdieu P (1984) Distinction Social C
approach, action, concept, bourdieu, bourdieu's, change, them, habitus, historical, agency
- 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.
- Lizardo, Omar & Sara Skiles. 2012. "Reconceptualizing and Theorizing ``omnivorousness'': Genetic and Relational Mechanisms." Sociological Theory. 30:4 263-282.
- Scores of sociological studies have provided evidence for the association between broad cultural taste, or omnivorousness, and various status characteristics, such as education, occupation, and age. Nevertheless, the literature lacks a consistent theoretical foundation with which to understand and organize these empirical findings. In this article, we offer such a framework, suggesting that a mechanism-based approach is helpful for examination of the origins of the omnivore-univore taste pattern as well as its class-based distribution. We reground the discussion of this phenomenon in Distinction (Bourdieu 1984), conceptualizing omnivorous taste as a transposable form of the aesthetic disposition available most readily to individuals who convert early aesthetic training into high cultural capital occupational trajectories. After outlining the genetic mechanisms that link the aesthetic disposition to early socialization trajectories, we identify two relational mechanisms that modulate its manifestation (either enhancing or inhibiting it) after early socialization.
- Hart-Brinson, Peter. 2012. "Civic Recreation and a Theory of Civic Production." Sociological Theory. 30:2 130-147.
- The debate on civic decline inspired by Putnam's ``bowling alone'' thesis exposed an important limitation in three dominant conceptions of the civic. Whether conceptualized as a locus, type, or motivation for action, the boundaries distinguishing the civic from other categories of political action are permeable and indistinct. This article develops a theory of civic production to better account for the inherent normativity and ``porousness'' of this analytic category. I conceptualize the civic as a variable, contingent outcome or product of a contentious performance undertaken in some venue for some reason. The phenomenon of ``civic recreation,'' a form of fund-raising that combines a leisure activity with a public cause, underscores the necessity of a theory of civic production. I draw from social movement theory and from ethnographic data from one fitness fund-raiser to illustrate some of the key processes and outcomes for which a theory of civic production must account.
- Tavory, Iddo. 2011. "The Question of Moral Action: a Formalist Position*." Sociological Theory. 29:4 272-293.
- This article develops a research position that allows cultural sociologists to compare morality across sociohistorical cases. In order to do so, the article suggests focusing analytic attention on actions that fulfill the following criteria: (a) actions that define the actor as a certain kind of socially recognized person, both within and across fields; (b) actions that actors experienceor that they expect others to perceiveas defining the actor both intersituationally and to a greater extent than other available definitions of self; and (c) actions to which actors either have themselves, or expect others to have, a predictable emotional reaction. Such a position avoids both a realist moral sociology and descriptive-relativism, and provides sociologists with criteria for comparing moral action in different cases while staying attuned to social and historical specificity.
- Mukerji, Chandra. 2010. "The Territorial State as a Figured World of Power: Strategics, Logistics, and Impersonal Rule." Sociological Theory. 28:4 402-424.
- The ability to dominate or exercise will in social encounters is often assumed in social theory to define power, but there is another form of power that is often confused with it and rarely analyzed as distinct: logistics or the ability to mobilize the natural world for political effect. I develop this claim through a case study of seventeenth-century France, where the power of impersonal rule, exercised through logistics, was fundamental to state formation. Logistical activity circumvented patrimonial networks, disempowering the nobility and supporting a new regime of impersonal rule: the modern, territorial state.
- Garcelon, Marc. 2010. "The Missing Key: Institutions, Networks, and the Project of Neoclassical Sociology." Sociological Theory. 28:3 326-353.
- The diversity of contemporary ``capitalisms'' underscores the need to supplant the amorphous concept of structure with more precise concepts, particularly institutions and networks. All institutions entail both embodied and relational aspects. Institutions are relational insofar as they map obligatory patterns of ``getting by and getting along''-institutional orders-that steer stable social fields over time. Institutions are simultaneously embodied as institutional paradigms, part of a larger bodily agency Pierre Bourdieu called habitus. Institutions are in turn tightly coupled to networks between various people based on, but not reducible to, strategic interests. Yet social interaction sometimes exceeds institutional boundaries, giving rise to disjunctive fields and underscoring the prominence of institutional failures in the unfolding of antagonistic relations such as warfare. Such disjunctive fields can be tracked in relation to some transnational networks at the global level without assuming developmental convergence. This last point underscores the meaning of neoclassical sociology, which eschews assumptions of developmental convergence at the global level.
- Atkinson, Will. 2010. "Phenomenological Additions to the Bourdieusian Toolbox: Two Problems for Bourdieu, Two Solutions From Schutz." Sociological Theory. 28:1 1-19.
- In constructing his renowned theory of practice, Pierre Bourdieu claimed to have integrated the key insights from phenomenology and successfully melded them with objectivist analysis. The contention here, however, is that while his vision of the social world may indeed be generally laudable, he did not take enough from phenomenology. More specifically, there are two concepts in Alfred Schutz's body of work, which, if properly defined, disentangled from phenomenology, and appropriated, allow two frequently forwarded criticisms of Bourdieu's perspective to be overcome: on the one hand, a particular interpretation of the concept of lifeworld can remedy identified weaknesses on the problem of individuation; while on the other hand, Schutz's notion of the stock of knowledge can rectify Bourdieu's overly nonconscious depiction of agency. Given my overall support for Bourdieu's scheme and the fact that the extant criticisms on these two grounds are often excessive and obfuscatory, both the suggested elaborations will be prefaced by a clarificatory partial defense of his position.
- Reay, Mike. 2010. "Knowledge Distribution, Embodiment, and Insulation." Sociological Theory. 28:1 91-107.
- This article looks at how parts of a social stock of knowledge can become insulated from each other via their uneven distribution both ``horizontally'' across time and space, and ``vertically'' with respect to degrees of embodiment in unconscious habits and routines. It uses ideas from Alfred Schutz, Peter Berger, Thomas Luckmann, Michael Polanyi, and others to argue that this insulation can produce a highly dynamic structuring of knowledge, awareness of which has the potential to help explain the existence of ignorance, misperception, and multiple interpretations in different social settings. This potential is illustrated with examples taken from a study of American economists, showing how an approach considering insulation can improve understanding of at least one currently influential branch of knowledge. The article also suggests briefly how such an approach might augment recent theories of habitual action by accounting for both stability and change, and even help with some longstanding epistemological problems in social theory.
- De, Cedric, Manali Desai & Cihan Tugal. 2009. "Political Articulation: Parties and the Constitution of Cleavages in the United States, India, and Turkeys." Sociological Theory. 27:3 193-219.
- Political parties do not merely reflect social divisions, they actively construct them. While this point has been alluded to in the literature, surprisingly little attempt has been made to systematically elaborate the relationship between parties and the social, which tend to be treated as separate domains contained by the disciplinary division of labor between political science and sociology. This article demonstrates the constructive role of parties in forging critical social blocs in three separate cases, India, Turkey, and the United States, offering a critique of the dominant approach to party politics that tends to underplay the autonomous role of parties in explaining the preferences, social cleavages, or epochal socioeconomic transformations of a given community. Our thesis, drawing on the work of Gramsci, Althusser, and Laclau, is that parties perform crucial articulating functions in the creation and reproduction of social cleavages. Our comparative analysis of the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States, Islamic and secularist parties in Turkey, and the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress parties in India will demonstrate how ``political articulation'' has naturalized class, ethnic, religious, and racial formations as a basis of social division and hegemony. Our conclusion is that the process of articulation must be brought to the center of political sociology, simultaneously encompassing the study of social movements and structural change, which have constituted the orienting poles of the discipline.
- Steinmetz, George. 2009. "Feminism and the Abyss of Freedom." Sociological Theory. 27:1 85-89.
- Wherry, Frederick. 2008. "The Social Characterizations of Price: the Fool, the Faithful, the Frivolous, and the Frugal." Sociological Theory. 26:4 363-379.
- This article extends both Viviana Zelizer's discussion of the social meaning of money and Charles Smith's proposal that pricing is a definitional practice to the under-theorized realm of the social meanings generated in the pricing system. Individuals are attributed with calculating or not calculating whether an object or service is ``worth'' its price, but these attributions differ according to the individual's social location as being near to or far from a societal reference point rather than by the inherent qualities of the object or service purchased. Prices offer seemingly objective (quantitative) proof of the individual's ``logic of appropriateness''-in other words, people like that pay prices such as those. This article sketches a preliminary but nonexhaustive typology of the social characterizations of individuals within the pricing system; these ideal types-the fool, the faithful, the frugal, and the frivolous-and their components offer a systematic approach to understanding prices as embedded in and constituents of social meaning systems.
- Go, Julian. 2008. "Global Fields and Imperial Forms: Field Theory and the British and American Empires." Sociological Theory. 26:3 201-229.
- This article develops a global fields approach for conceptualizing the global arena. The approach builds upon existing approaches to the world system and world society while articulating them with the field theory of Bourdieu and organizational sociology. It highlights particular structural configurations (''spaces of relations'') and the specific cultural content (''rules of the game'' and ``symbolic capital'') of global systems. The utility of the approach is demonstrated through an analysis of the different forms of the two hegemonic empires of the past centuries, Great Britain and the United States. The British state tended toward formal imperialism in the 19th century, characterized by direct territorial rule, while the United States since WWII has tended toward informal imperialism. The essay shows that the difference can be best explained by considering the different historical global fields in which the two empires operated.
- Elder-Vass, Dave. 2007. "Reconciling Archer and Bourdieu in an Emergentist Theory of Action." Sociological Theory. 25:4 325-346.
- Margaret Archer and Pierre Bourdieu have advanced what seem at first sight to be incompatible theories of human agency. While Archer places heavy stress on conscious reflexive deliberation and the consequent choices of identity and projects that individuals make, Bourdieu's concept of habitus places equally heavy stress on the role of social conditioning in determining our behavior, and downplays the contribution of conscious deliberation. Despite this, I argue that these two approaches, with some modification, can be reconciled in a single emergentist theory of human action that is sketched out in this article. It examines how human dispositions and our reflexive decisions are related to the determination of human action, linking dispositions and decisions to their neural base in human physiology and to the social factors that influence them. As a result, it argues, we can see human action as the outcome of a continuous interaction between dispositions and reflexivity. The article goes on to relate this explanation back to Bourdieu's concept of the habitus and Archer's account of reflexivity. It argues that the weaknesses in Bourdieu's theory of action can be resolved by a reasonable reinterpretation of the habitus that makes it consistent with the emergentist theory and creates space for human choices as well as social influences on our behavior. This opens up a role for the sort of reflexive deliberations advocated by Archer and thus to a reconciliation of the key contributions of both Archer and Bourdieu.
- Kurzman, Charles, Chelise Anderson, Clinton Key, Youn Lee, Mairead Moloney, Alexis Silver & Maria Van. 2007. "Celebrity Status." Sociological Theory. 25:4 347-367.
- Max Weber's fragmentary writings on social status suggest that differentiation on this basis should disappear as capitalism develops. However, many of Weber's examples of status refer to the United States, which Weber held to be the epitome of capitalist development. Weber hints at a second form of status, one generated by capitalism, which might reconcile this contradiction, and later theorists emphasize the continuing importance of status hierarchies. This article argues that such theories have missed one of the most important forms of contemporary status: celebrity. Celebrity is an omnipresent feature of contemporary society, blazing lasting impressions in the memories of all who cross its path. In keeping with Weber's conception of status, celebrity has come to dominate status ``honor,'' generate enormous economic benefits, and lay claim to certain legal privileges. Compared with other types of status, however, celebrity is status on speed. It confers honor in days, not generations; it decays over time, rather than accumulating; and it demands a constant supply of new recruits, rather than erecting barriers to entry.
- Rydgren, Jens. 2007. "The Power of the Past: a Contribution to a Cognitive Sociology of Ethnic Conflic." Sociological Theory. 25:3 225-244.
- The aim of this article is to demonstrate the ways in which the past matters for ethnic conflict in the present. More specifically, by presenting a sociocognitive approach to the problem, this article sets out to specify macro-micro bridging mechanisms that explain why a history of prior conflict is likely to increase the likelihood that new conflicts will erupt. People's inclination toward simplified and/or invalid (but often useful) inductive reasoning in the form of analogism, and their innate disposition for ordering events in teleological narratives-to which causality is typically attributed-will be of particular interest for this article. The article will also emphasize the ways in which collective memory sites become activated in such belief formation processes. For instance, the memory biases inherent in analogical reasoning often lead people to overestimate the likelihood of future conflict, which may lead them to mobilize in order to defend themselves, and/or to take preemptive action in ways that foment conflict.
- Garcelon, Marc. 2006. "Trajectories of Institutional Disintegration in Late-soviet Russia and Contemporary Iraq." Sociological Theory. 24:3 255-283.
- How might revolutions and other processes of institutional disintegration inform political processes preceding them ? By mapping paths of agency through processes of institutional disintegration, the trajectory improvisation model of institutional breakdown overcomes ``action-structure'' binaries by framing political revolutions as possible outcomes of such disintegrative processes. The trajectory improvisation approach expands the trajectory adjustment model of social change developed by Gil Eyal, Ivan Szelenyi, and Eleanor Townsley. An overview of political revolution in Soviet Russia between 1989 and 1991 illustrates trajectory improvisation. The recent American invasion and occupation of Iraq shows alternative routes to institutional disintegration, indicating the independence of models of institutional breakdown from those of social movements. These cases illustrate both the diversity of situations the trajectory improvisation model speaks to, and the limitation of models of trajectory adjustment, improvisation, social movements, and invasions, illustrating why such models at best enable what are called ``explanatory narratives'' of actual historical processes.
- Martin, JL & M George. 2006. "Theories of Sexual Stratification: Toward an Analytics of the Sexual Field and a Theory of Sexual Capital." Sociological Theory. 24:2 107-132.
- The American tradition of action theory failed to produce a useful theory of the possible existence of trans-individual consistencies in sexual desirability. Instead, most sociological theorists have relied on market metaphors to account for the logic of sexual action. Through a critical survey of sociological attempts to explain the social organization of sexual desiring, this article demonstrates that the market approach is inadequate, and that its inadequacies can be remedied by studying sexual action as occurring within a specifically sexual field (in Bourdieu's sense), with a correlative sexual capital. Such a conception allows for historical and comparative analysis of changes in the organization of sexual action that are impeded by the use of a market metaphor, and also points to difficulties in Bourdieu's own treatment of the body qua body.
- Dalton, B. 2004. "Creativity, Habit, and the Social Products of Creative Action: Revising Joas, Incorporating Bourdieu." Sociological Theory. 22:4 603-622.
- Hans Joas's The Creativity of Action (1996) posits that conceiving of all action as fundamentally creative would overcome problems inherent in rational and normative theories of action and would provide an alternative basis for action-based theories of macrosociological phenomena. Joas conceives (of creativity as a response to the frustration of ``prereflective aspirations,'' which necessitates innovative adjustment to reestablish habitual intentions. This conceptualization creates an unsupportable duality between habitual action and creativity that neglects other possible sources of creative action, including habit itself. Combining strengths from Bourdiell's concept of habitus, creativity can be redefined as the necessary adaption of habitual practices to specific contexts of action. Creative action continually introduces novel possibilities in practical action and provokes a variety of social responses to its products. This revised concept of creativity overcomes the dichotomy presented by Joas, identifies a microsocial source of innovation in creative action, and calls attention to patterns of creative authority in society at large.
- Hallett, T. 2003. "Symbolic Power and Organizational Culture." Sociological Theory. 21:2 128-149.
- With the recent wave of corporate scandals, organizational culture has regained relevance in politics and the media, However, to acquire enduring utility, the concept needs an overhaul to overcome the weaknesses of earlier approaches. As such, this paper reconceptualizes organizational culture as a negotiated order (Strauss 1978) that emerges through interactions between participants, an order influenced by those with the symbolic power to define the situation. I stress the complementary contributions of theorists of,practice (Bourdieu and Swidler) and theorists of interaction (Goffman and Strauss), building upward from practice into interaction, symbolic power, and the negotiated order. Using data from initial reports on the fall of Arthur Andersen and Co., I compare this symbolic power approach to other approaches (culture as subjective beliefs and values or as context/public meaning). The symbolic power model has five virtues: an empirically observable object of study; the capacity to explain conflict and integration; the ability to explain stability and change; causal efficacy; and links between the micro-, meso-, and macrolevels of analysis. Though this paper focuses on organizational culture, the symbolic power model provides theoretical leverage for understanding many situated contexts.
- Gartman, D. 2002. "Bourdieu's Theory of Cultural Change: Explication, Application, Critique." Sociological Theory. 20:2 255-277.
- Pierre Bourdieu's theory of cultural change is more powerfull and comprehensive than other recent theories, which neglect one or another of the important dimensions of cultural markets. Bourdieu's theory conceptualizes both the supply and demand sides of the market, as well as specifying their interaction with external social factors. Two cases from American culture are developed to demonstrate the explanatory power of Bourdieu's theory of cultural change: the demise of tail fins in automobile design and the fall of modernism in architecture. These cases reveal, however, that Bourdieu's theory fails to account for the leveling of cultural hierarchies and the emergence of pluralized cultural fields. The general conditions,for such leveling and pluralization are developed from a comparison of the two cases.
- Black, D. 2000. "Dreams of Pure Sociology." Sociological Theory. 18:3 343-367.
- Unlike older sciences such as physics and biology, sociology has never had a revolution. Modern sociology is still classical-largely psychological, teleological, and individualistic-and evert less scientific than classical sociology. But pure sociology is different: It predicts and explains the behavior of social life with its location and direction in social space-its geometry. Here I illustrate pure sociology with formulations about the behavior of ideas, ideas, including a theory of scienticity that predicts and explains the degree to which an idea is likely to be scientific (testable, general, simple, valid, and original). For example: Scienticity is a curvilinear function of social distance from the subject. This formulation explains numerous facts about the history and practice of science, such as why some sciences evolved earlier and faster than others and why so much sociology is so unscientific. Because scientific theory is the most scientific science, the theory of scienticity also implies a theory of theory and a methodology far the development of theory.
- Baxter, V & AV Margavio. 2000. "Honor, Status, and Aggression in Economic Exchange." Sociological Theory. 18:3 399-416.
- The concept of honor links reputation and self-esteem with interaction. in social groups and provides a promising way to approach questions about the release of aggression aggression in economic exchange. While the internalization of conventional honor codes offers the hope of peaceful, if not just, exchange, competing codes of honor coexist within various aspects of the self and among members of various status groups. When a person's sense of individual or group honor is repeatedly violated in economic interaction, the reaction may include the release of aggression to repair damaged honor and establish self-respect. The narrative proceeds with art exploration of the concept of honor-followed by a brief review of the association of honor with rational action in pursuit of economic success. The problematic inscription on the self of conventional codes of honor is then discussed. A brief discussion of staged role performance and the display of alternative codes of honor in workplace interaction and in extralegal market exchange illustrates the argument. A final section considers alternative approaches to the problem of self-control as social control.
- King, A. 2000. "Thinking With Bourdieu Against Bourdieu: a `practical' Critique of the Habitus." Sociological Theory. 18:3 417-433.
- There are two strands in Bourclieu's sociological writings. On the one hand Bourdieu argues for a theoretical position one might term his `practical theory'' which emphasizes virtuosic interactions between individuals. On the other hand, and most frequently, Bourdieu appeals to the concept of the habitus according to which society consists of objective structures and determined-and isolated-individuals. Although Bourdieu believes that the habitus is compatible with his practical theory and overcomes the impasse of objectivism and subjectivism in social theory, neither claim is the case; the habitus is incompatible with his practical theory, and it retreats quickly into objectivism. However Bourdieu's practical theory does offer a way out of the impasse of objectivism and subjectivism by focussing on the intersubjective interactions between individuals.
- Collins, R. 2000. "Situational Stratification: a Micro-macro Theory of Inequality." Sociological Theory. 18:1 17-43.
- Eliasoph, N & P Lichterman. 1999. "``we Begin With Our Favorite Theory ...'': Reconstructing the Extended Case Method." Sociological Theory. 17:2 228-234.
- Evens, TMS. 1999. "Bourdieu and the Logic of Practice: Is All Giving Indian-giving or Is ``generalized Materialism'' Not Enough?." Sociological Theory. 17:1 3-31.
- I argue here that in the end Bourdieu's theory of practice Sails to overcome the problem on which it expressly centers, namely, subject-object dualism. The failure is registered in his avowed materialism, which, though significantly ``generalized,'' remains what it says: a materialism In order to substantiate my criticism, I examine for their ontological presuppositions three areas of his theoretical framework pertaining to the questions of(I) human agency las seen through the conceptual glass of the habitus), (2) otherness, and (3) the gift. By scrutinizing Bourdieu's powerful and progressive social theory, with an eye to finding fault, I hope to show the need to take a certain theoretical action, one that is patently out of keeping with the usual self-presentation and self understanding of social science. The action I have in mind is this: because the problem of subject-object dualism is in the first place a matter of ontology, in order successfully to address it there must take place a direct shift of ontological starting point, from the received starting point in Western thought to one that projects reality in terms of ambiguity that is basic. With this shift the dualism of subject and object dissolves by definition, leaving a social reality that, for reasons of its basic ambiguity, is best approached as a question of ethics before power.
- Vallas, SP. 1999. "Rethinking Post-fordism: the Meaning of Workplace Flexibility." Sociological Theory. 17:1 68-101.
- Social scientists increasingly claim that work structures based on the mass production or ``Fordist'' paradigm have grown obsolete, giving way to a more flexible, ``post-Fordist'' structure of work. these claims have been much disputed, however, giving rise to a sharply polarized debate over the outcome of workplace restructuring. I seek to reorient the debate by subjecting the post-Fordist approach to theoretical and empirical critique. Several theoretical weaknesses internal to the post-Fordist approach are identified, including its uncertain handling of ``power'' and ``efficiency'' as factors that shape work organizations; its failure to acknowledge multiple responses to the crisis of Fordism, several of,which seem at odds with the post-Fordist paradigm; and its tendency to neglect the resurgence of economic dualism and disparity within organizations and industries. Review of the empirical literature suggests that, despite scattered support for the post-Fordist approach, important anomalies exist (such as the growing authority of ``mental'' over manual labor) that post-Fordism seems powerless to explain. In spite of its ample contributions, post-Fordist theory provides a seriously distorted guide to the nature of workplace change in the United States. Two alternative perspectives toward the restructuring of work organizations are sketched-neoinstitutionalist and ``flexible accumulation'' models-which seem likely to inspire more fruitful lines of research bn the disparate patterns currently unfolding within American work organizations.
- Ruonavaara, H. 1997. "Moral Regulation: a Reformulation." Sociological Theory. 15:3 277-293.
- Philip Corrigan and Derek Sayer introduced the concept of moral regulation to contemporary sociological debate in their historical sociology of English State formation, The Great Arch (1985). In their work they fuse Durkheimian and Foucauldian analysis with a basic Marxist theory. However this framework gives too limited a perspective to their analysis. I suggest that moral regulation should not be seen as a monolithic project, as merely action by and for the State, nor as activity by the ruling elite only. It should be seen as a form of social control based on changing the identity of the regulated. Its object is what Weber calls Lebensfuhrung, which refers to both the ethos and the action constituting a way of life. The means of moral regulation are persuasion, education, and enlightenment, which distinguishes it from other forms of social control. Analyzing the social relations of moral regulation provides a useful perspective on this form of social action.
- Emirbayer, M. 1996. "Useful Durkheim." Sociological Theory. 14:2 109-130.
- From the mid-1960s through much of the 1980s, Durkheim's contributions to historical-comparative sociology were decidedly marginalized; the title of one of Charles Tilly's essays, ``Useless Durkheim,'' conveys this prevailing sensibility with perfect clarity. Here, ky contrast, I draw upon writings from Durkheim's later ``religious'' period to show how Durkheim has special relevance today for debates in the historical-comparative field. I examine how his substantive writings shed light on current discussions regarding civil society; how his analytical insights help to show how action within civil society as well as other historical contexts is channelled by cultural, social-structural, and social-psychological configurations (plus transformative human agency); and how his ontological commitment to a ``relational social realisin'' contributes to ongoing attempts to rethink the foundations of historical-comparative investigation.