Contemporary articles citing Mcadam D (2001) Dynamics Contention
approach, politics, role, change, contemporary, political, movements, recent, yet, concept
- Manza, Jeff & Clem Brooks. 2012. "How Sociology Lost Public Opinion: a Genealogy of a Missing Concept in the Study of the Political." Sociological Theory. 30:2 89-113.
- In contemporary sociology the once prominent study of public opinion has virtually disappeared. None of the leading theoretical models in the closest disciplinary subfield (political sociology) currently provide ample or sufficiently clear space for consideration of public opinion as a possible factor in shaping or interacting with key policy or political outcomes in democratic polities. In this article, we unearth and document the sources of this curious development and raise questions about its implications for how political sociologists have come to understand policy making, state formation, and political conflict. We begin by reconstructing the dismissal of public opinion in the intellectual reorientation of political sociology from the late 1970s onward. We argue that the most influential scholarly works of this period (including those of Tilly, Skocpol, Mann, Esping-Andersen, and Domhoff) face an underlying paradox: While often rejecting public opinion, their theoretical logics ultimately presuppose its operation. These now classical writings did not move toward research programs seeking engagement with the operation and formation of public opinion, even though our immanent critique suggests they in fact require precisely this turn. We address the challenge of reconceptualizing how public opinion might be productively integrated into the sociological study of politics by demonstrating that the major arguments in the subfield can be fruitfully extended by grappling with public opinion. We conclude by considering several recent, interdisciplinary examples of scholarship that, we argue, point the way toward a fruitful revitalization.
- Demetriou, Chares. 2012. "Processual Comparative Sociology: Building on the Approach of Charles Tilly." Sociological Theory. 30:1 51-65.
- Charles Tilly's work on process analysis offers a methodological approach to comparative-historical sociology that can be considered paradigmatic. Yet the approach has been widely criticized for lack of rigor. This paper maintains that the problem lies in insufficient clarification of the approach's central concept: mechanism. Once scrutinized, the concept reveals a tension between its connotation and its denotation. This can be addressed in two ways: either by maintaining what the concept connotes according to Tilly but limiting what it denotes (thus limiting the paradigm's scope conditions) or by limiting what it connotes and maintaining what it was intended by Tilly to denote (thus maintaining wide scope conditions). Elucidating the possibilities of processual comparison is particularly important for comparative-historical sociology because the subfield rests upon processual presuppositions.
- Moore, Adam. 2011. "The Eventfulness of Social Reproduction*." Sociological Theory. 29:4 294-314.
- The work of William Sewell and Marshall Sahlins has led to a growing interest in recent years in events as a category of analysis and their role in the transformation of social structures. I argue that tying events solely to instances of significant structural transformation entails problematic theoretical assumptions about stability and change and produces a circumscribed field of events, undercutting the goal of developing an eventful account of social life. Social continuity is a state that is achieved just as much as are structural transformations, and events may be constitutive of processes of reproduction as well as change.
- Jansen, Robert. 2011. "Populist Mobilization: a New Theoretical Approach to Populism." Sociological Theory. 29:2 75-96.
- Sociology has long shied away from the problem of populism. This may be due to suspicion about the concept or uncertainty about how to fit populist cases into broader comparative matrices. Such caution is warranted: the existing interdisciplinary literature has been plagued by conceptual confusion and disagreement. But given the recent resurgence of populist politics in Latin America and elsewhere, sociology can no longer afford to sidestep such analytical challenges. This article moves toward a political sociology of populism by identifying past theoretical deficiencies and proposing a new, practice-based approach that is not beholden to pejorative common sense understandings. This approach conceptualizes populism as a mode of political practice-as populist mobilization. Its utility is demonstrated through an application to mid-twentieth-century Latin American politics. The article concludes by sketching an agenda for future research on populist mobilization in Latin America and beyond.
- Fligstein, Neil & Doug McAdam. 2011. "Toward a General Theory of Strategic Action Fields." Sociological Theory. 29:1 1-26.
- In recent years there has been an outpouring of work at the intersection of social movement studies and organizational theory. While we are generally in sympathy with this work, we think it implies a far more radical rethinking of structure and agency in modern society than has been realized to date. In this article, we offer a brief sketch of a general theory of strategic action fields (SAFs). We begin with a discussion of the main elements of the theory, describe the broader environment in which any SAF is embedded, consider the dynamics of stability and change in SAFs, and end with a respectful critique of other contemporary perspectives on social structure and agency.
- DiCicco-Bloom, Benjamin & David Gibson. 2010. "More Than a Game: Sociological Theory From the Theories of Games." Sociological Theory. 28:3 247-271.
- Sociologists are fond of game metaphors. However, such metaphors rarely go beyond casual references to generic games. Yet games are little social systems, and each game offers a distinctive perspective on the relationship between rules and constraints, on the one side, and emergent order, on the other. In this article, we examine three games-chess, go, and (Texas hold `em) poker-for sociological insights into contested social arenas such as markets, warfare, politics, and the professions. We describe each game's rules and emergent properties, and then offer a brief theorization of the social world through the ``lens'' of that game. Then we show how a study of the three games advances the sociology of strategy by enriching ideas about skill, position, and strategic dilemma.
- 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.
- 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.
- Earl, Jennifer & Katrina Kimport. 2009. "Movement Societies and Digital Protest: Fan Activism and Other Nonpolitical Protest Online." Sociological Theory. 27:3 220-243.
- Sociologists of culture studying ``fan activism'' have noted an apparent increase in its volume, which they attribute to the growing use of the Internet to register fan claims. However, scholars have yet to measure the extent of contemporary fan activism, account for why fan discontent has been expressed through protest, or precisely specify the role of the Internet in this expansion. We argue that these questions can be addressed by drawing on a growing body of work by social movement scholars on ``movement societies,'' and more particularly on a nascent thread of this approach we develop that theorizes the appropriation of protest practices for causes outside the purview of traditional social movements. Theorizing that the Internet, as a new media, is positioned to accelerate the diffusion of protest practices, we develop and test hypotheses about the use of movement practices for fan activism and other nonpolitical claims online using data on claims made in quasi-random samples of online petitions, boycotts, and e-mailing or letter-writing campaigns. Results are supportive of our hypotheses, showing that diverse claims are being pursued online, including culturally-oriented and consumer-based claims that look very different from traditional social movement claims. Findings have implications for students of social movements, sociologists of culture, and Internet studies.
- Armstrong, Elizabeth & Mary Bernstein. 2008. "Culture, Power, and Institutions: a Multi-institutional Politics Approach to Social Movements." Sociological Theory. 26:1 74-99.
- We argue that critiques of political process theory are beginning to coalesce into a new approach to social movements-a ``multi-institutional politics'' approach. While the political process model assumes that domination is organized by and around one source of power, the alternative perspective views domination as organized around multiple sources of power, each of which is simultaneously material and symbolic. We examine the conceptions of social movements, politics, actors, goals, and strategies supported by each model, demonstrating that the view of society and power underlying the political process model is too narrow to encompass the diversity of contemporary change efforts. Through empirical examples, we demonstrate that the alternative approach provides powerful analytical tools for the analysis of a wide variety of contemporary change efforts.
- 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.
- Steinmetz, G. 2004. "Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and ``small N's'' in Sociology." Sociological Theory. 22:3 371-400.
- Case studies and ``small-N comparisons'' have been attacked from two directions, positivist and incommensurabilist. At the same time, some authors have defended small-N comparisons as allowing qualitative researchers to attain a degree of scientificity, yet they also have rejected the case study as merely ``idiographic.'' Practitioners of the case study sometimes agree with these critics, disavowing all claims to scientificity. A related set of disagreements concerns the role and nature of social theory in sociology, which sometimes is described as useless and parasitic and other times as evolving in splendid isolation from empirical research. These three forms of sociological activity-comparative analysis, studies of individual cases, and social theory-are defended here from the standpoint of critical realism. In this article I first reconstruct, in very broad strokes, the dominant epistemological and ontological framework of postwar U.S. sociology. The next two sections discuss several positivist and incommensurabilist criticisms of comparison and case studies. The last two sections propose an understanding of comparison as operating along two dimensions, events and structures, and offer an illustration of the difference and relationship between the two.
- Bergesen, AJ & O Lizardo. 2004. "International Terrorism and the World-system." Sociological Theory. 22:1 38-52.
- Theories of international terrorism are reviewed. It then is noted that waves of terrorism appear in semiperipheral zones of the world-system during pulsations of globalization when the dominant state is in decline. Finally, how these and other factors might combine to suggest a model of terrorism's role in the cyclical undulations of the world-system is suggested.
- Platt, GM & RH Williams. 2002. "Ideological Language and Social Movement Mobilization: a Sociolinguistic Analysis of Segregationists' Ideologies." Sociological Theory. 20:3 328-359.
- The current ``cultural turn `` in the study of social movements has produced a number of concepts formulating the cultural-symbolic dimension of collective actions. This proliferation, however, has resulted in some confusion about which cultural-symbolic concept is best applied to understanding cultural processes involved in social movements. We articulate a new definition of ideology that makes it an empirically useful concept to the study of social-movement mobilization. It is also formulated as autonomous of concepts such as culture and hegemony and of other cultural-symbolic concepts presently used in the movement literature to explain participant mobilization. We demonstrate the usefulness of our ideology concept by analyzing letters written to Martin Luther King, Jr. from segregationists opposed to the integration of American society. The analysis indicates that the letter writers particularized segregationist culture, creating ideologies that fit their structural, cultural, and immediate circumstances, and that the ideologies they constructed thereby acted to mobilize their countermovement participation. The particularizing resulted in four differentiated ideological versions of segregationist culture. The empirically acquired variety of ideological versions is inconsistent with the role attributed to cultural-symbolic concepts in the social-movement literature and requires theoretical clarification. We conclude with a discussion of the theoretical implications,for social-movement theory of the variety of segregationist ideologies.
- Tilly, C. 2002. "Event Catalogs as Theories." Sociological Theory. 20:2 248-254.
- All empirical social research rests, at least implicity, on not one but two theories: a theory explaining the phenomenon under study, another theory explaining the generation of evidence concerning the phenomenon. The two theories necessarily interact, setting important constraints on each other. The second theory answers questions about how the phenomenon leaves traces, how analysts can observe those traces, and how analysts con reconstruct attributes, elements, causes, and effects of the phenomenon from those traces. As employed in studies of contentious politics, event catalogs raise till these questions. Competing conceptions of the phenomenon under study as protest, (is collective violence, as collective action, as conflict, and (is contentious claim-making imply different measurement strategies. The strategy of aggregation follows plausibly from identification of the phenomenon as protest or violence, the strategy of from most of the competing conceptions, the strategy of internal regularities incidence only from treatments of the crucial phenomenon as collective action, conflict, or contentious claim-making.