Contemporary articles citing Collins R (1981) Am J Sociol
action, interaction, context, groups, particular, provide, forms, individual, upon, alternative
- Jepperson, Ronald & John Meyer. 2011. "Multiple Levels of Analysis and the Limitations of Methodological Individualisms." Sociological Theory. 29:1 54-73.
- This article discusses relations among the multiple levels of analysis present in macro-sociological explanation-i.e., relations of individual, structural, and institutional processes. It also criticizes the doctrinal insistence upon single-level individualistic explanation found in some prominent contemporary sociological theory. For illustrative material the article returns to intellectual uses of Weber's ``Protestant Ethic thesis,'' showing how an artificial version has been employed as a kind of proof text for the alleged scientific necessity of individualist explanation. Our alternative exposition renders the discussion of Protestantism and capitalism in an explicitly multilevel way, distinguishing possible individual-level, social-organizational, and institutional linkages. The causal processes involved are distinct ones, with the more structural and institutional forms neither captured nor attainable by individual-level thinking. We argue more generally that ``methodological individualisms'' confuse issues of explanation with issues about microfoundations. This persistent intellectual conflation may be rooted in the broader folk models of liberal individualism.
- 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. 2008. "Justifying Sociological Knowledge: From Realism to Interpretation." Sociological Theory. 26:2 101-129.
- In the context of calls for ``postpositivist'' sociology, realism has emerged as a powerful and compelling epistemology for social science. In transferring and transforming scientific realism-a philosophy of natural science-into a justificatory discourse for social science, realism splits into two parts: a strict, highly naturalistic realism and a reflexive, more mediated, and critical realism. Both forms of realism, however, suffer from conceptual ambiguities, omissions, and elisions that make them an inappropriate epistemology for social science. Examination of these problems in detail reveals how a different perspective-centered on the interpretation of meaning-could provide a better justification for social inquiry, and in particular a better understanding of sociological theory and the construction of sociological explanations.
- Fine, GA & B Harrington. 2004. "Tiny Publics: Small Groups and Civil Society." Sociological Theory. 22:3 341-356.
- It has been conventional to conceptualize civic life through one of two core images: the citizen as lone individualist or the citizen as joiner. Drawing on analyses of the historical development of the public sphere, we propose an alternative analytical framework for civic engagement based on small-group interaction. By embracing this micro-level approach, we contribute to the debate on civil society in three ways. By emphasizing local interaction contexts-the microfoundations of civil society-we treat small groups as a cause, context, and consequence of civic engagement. First, through framing and motivating, groups encourage individuals to participate in public discourse and civic projects. Second, they provide the place and support for that involvement. Third, civic engagement feeds back into the creation of additional groups. A small-groups perspective suggests how civil society can thrive even if formal and institutional associations decline. Instead of indicating a decline in civil society, a proliferation of small groups represents a healthy development in democratic societies, creating cross-cutting networks of affiliation.
- Summers-Effler, E. 2002. "The Micro Potential for Social Change: Emotion, Consciousness, and Social Movement Formation." Sociological Theory. 20:1 41-60.
- Can one explain both the resilience of the status quo and the possibility for resistance from a subordinate position? This paper aims to resolve these seemingly incompatible perspectives. By extending Randall Collins's interaction ritual theory, and synthesizing it with Norbert Wiley's model of the self this paper suggests how the emotional dynamics between people and within the self can explain social inertia as well as the possibility for resistance and change. Diverging from literature on the sociology of emotions that has been concerned with individual emotional processes, this paper considers the collective level in order to explore how movement action is motivated. The emotional dynamics of subordinate positioning that limit women's options in face-to-face interactions are examined, as are the social processes of developing feminist consciousness and a willingness to participate in resistance work. Pointing toward empirical applications, I conclude by suggesting conditions where resistance is likely.
- Goodman, D. 2001. "What Collins's the Sociology of Philosophies Says About Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 19:1 92-101.
- In Collins's latest book, we see an attempt to apply his sociological theories to the history of philosophy. While Collins's marcrosociology of knowledge provides important insights into the role of conflict in an intellectual field, his microsociology is more problematic. In particular. Collins's micro theory ignores the fundamental importance of social interpretations. This leads him to use a vague and unproductive notion of emotions. Nevertheless, we can usefully apply Collins's findings to sociological theory itself As in philosophy we see the same competitive appropriation and elaboration of accumulated intellectual capital and the same struggle over the limited resources necessary to intellectual production, especially over what Collins calls the intellectual attention space.
- Gibson, DR. 2000. "Seizing the Moment: the Problem of Conversational Agency." Sociological Theory. 18:3 368-382.
- In conversation, actors face constraints on when they can speak, whom they can address, what they can say, and what they carr safely expect from others by way of cooperation. This is the backdrop against which people pursue their idiosyncratic interests and objectives, success at which constitutes conversational agency. In principle, agency is made possible by the ``looseness'' of conversational constraints. This does not create a clear path for the advancement of personal ends, however, since options are always limited by the context, and success is always contingent upon the cooperation of others. Ultimately, the most agentic people are those who readily exploit imperfect options though this means abandoning the inflexible pursuit of pre-conceived objectives.
- 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.
- 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.