Contemporary articles citing Weber M (1949) Methodology Social S
his, well, role, understanding, action, rational, relations, ideas, weber's, relation
- 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.
- 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.
- McKinnon, Andrew. 2010. "Elective Affinities of the Protestant Ethic: Weber and the Chemistry of Capitalism." Sociological Theory. 28:1 108-126.
- Although scholars have long recognized the importance of ``elective affinity'' as a key word in Weber's sociology, surprisingly little systematic research has gone into understanding this metaphor in Weber's writing, or the source from which he drew the term. For Weber, this was an implicit reference to Goethe's novel, well known to Weber's educated German audience, entitled Elective Affinities (1807). In this article, I provide a systematic account of Goethe's conception of elective affinity as a chemical metaphor, and of the way that it is related to Weber's uses of the term in the Protestant ethic essays and in his critical rejoinders. By understanding elective affinity as a Goethean chemical metaphor we can better understand the causal claims that Weber makes in his famous essay: Weber's argument is best understood as an analysis of emergence in the chemistry of social relations.
- 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.
- Abend, G. 2006. "Styles of Sociological Thought: Sociologies, Epistemologies, and the Mexican and Us Quests for Truth." Sociological Theory. 24:1 1-41.
- Both U.S. and Mexican sociologies allege that they are in the business of making true scientific knowledge claims about the social world. Conventional conceptions of science notwithstanding, I demonstrate that their claims to truth and scientificity are based on alternative epistemological grounds. Drawing a random sample of nonquantitative articles from four leading journals, I show that, first, they assign a different role to theories, and indeed they have dissimilar understandings of what a theory should consist of. Second, whereas U.S. sociology actively struggles against subjectivity, Mexican sociology maximizes the potentials of subjective viewpoints. Third, U.S. sociologists tend to regard highly and Mexican sociologists to eagerly disregard the principle of ethical neutrality. These consistent and systematic differences raise two theoretical issues. First, I argue that Mexican and U.S. sociologies are epistemologically, semantically, and perceptually incommensurable. I contend that this problem is crucial for sociology's interest in the social conditioning of scientific knowledge's content. Second, I suggest four lines of thought that can help us explain the epistemological differences I find. Finally, I argue that sociologists would greatly profit from studying epistemologies in the same fashion they have studied other kinds of scientific and nonscientific beliefs.
- Hartmann, D & J Gerteis. 2005. "Dealing With Diversity: Mapping Multiculturalism in Sociological Terms." Sociological Theory. 23:2 218-240.
- Since the 1960s, a variety of new ways of addressing the challenges of diversity in American society have coalesced around the term ``multiculturalism.'' In this article, we impose some clarity on the theoretical debates that surround divergent visions of difference. Rethinking multiculturalism from a sociological point of view, we propose a model that distinguishes between the social (associational) and cultural (moral) bases for social cohesion in the context of diversity. The framework allows us to identify three distinct types of multiculturalism and situate them in relation to assimilationism, the traditional American response to difference. We discuss the sociological parameters and characteristics of each of these forms, attending to the strength of social boundaries as well as to the source of social ties. We then use our model to clarify a number of conceptual tensions in the existing scholarly literature and offer some observations about the politics of recognition and redistribution, and the recent revival of assimilationist thought.
- 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.
- Black, D. 2004. "The Geometry of Terrorism." Sociological Theory. 22:1 14-25.
- Terrorism in its purest form is self-help by organized civilians who covertly inflict mass violence on other civilians. Pure sociology explains terrorism with its social geometry-its multidimensional location and direction in social space. Here I build on the work of Senechal de la Roche (1996) and propose the following geometrical model: Pure terrorism arises intercollectively and upwardly across long distances in multidimensional space. Yet because social distance historically corresponded to physical distance, terrorism often lacked the physical geometry necessary for its occurrence: physical closeness to civilians socially distant enough to attract terrorism. New technology has made physical distance increasingly irrelevant, however, and terrorism has proliferated. But technology also shrinks the social universe and sows the seeds of terrorism's destruction.
- Sjoberg, G, EA Gill & LD Cain. 2003. "Countersystem Analysis and the Construction of Alternative Futures." Sociological Theory. 21:3 210-235.
- This essay explicates the role of countersystem analysis as an essential mode of social inquiry. In the process, particular attention is given to the place of negation and the future. One underlying theme is the asymmetry between the negative and the positive features of social activities, the negative being more readily identifiable empirically than the positive. A corollary theme, building on the observations of George Herbert Mead, is: one engages the present through experience; one engages the future through ideas. Furthermore, as Anthony Giddens, Ulrich Beck, and Niklas Luhmann suggest, we in late modernity seem to be facing a future that is more contingent than it was in early modernity. After articulating the foundations of the mode of inquiry we term ``countersystem analysis,'' we employ Karl Mannheim as a point of departure for critically surveying a constellation of scholars-conservatives as well as reformers-who have relied upon some version of countersystem analysis in addressing the future. Such an orientation serves to advance not only theoretical inquiry but empirical investigation as well.
- Verter, B. 2003. "Spiritual Capital: Theorizing Religion With Bourdieu Against Bourdieu." Sociological Theory. 21:2 150-174.
- Bourdieu's. theory of culture offers a rich conceptual resource for the social-scientific study of religion. In particular, his analysis of cultural capital as a medium of social relations suggests an economic model of religion alternative to that championed by rational choice theorists. After evaluating Bourdieu's limited writings on religion, this paper draws upon his wider work to craft a new model of ``spiritual capital.'' Distinct from Iannaccone's and Stark and Finke's visions of ``religious capital,'' this Bourdieuian model treats religious knowledge, competencies, and preferences as Positional goods within a competitive symbolic economy. The valuation of spiritual capital is the object of continuous struggle and is subject to considerable temporal and subcultural variation. A model of spiritual capital illuminates such phenomena as religious conversion, devotional eclecticism, religious fads, and social mobility. It also suggests some necessary modifications to Bourdieu's theoretical system, particularly his understanding of individual agency, cultural production, and the relative autonomy of fields.
- 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.
- Martin, JL. 1998. "Authoritative Knowledge and Heteronomy in Classical Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 16:2 99-130.
- This article traces the impact of philosophical questions regarding the grounds of moral autonomy and heteronomy (rule-from-another as opposed to rule-from-oneself) on classical sociological theory, arguing that both Weber and Durkheim understood sociology to have a contribution to make in the debate,with Kant over the grounds of ethical action. Both insisted that the only possible ethical action was one within the bounds of rational knowledge that was inherently authoritative, but this sat uneasily with their focus on the relation between concrete social authority and the authoritativeness of beliefs in the sociology of religion. In rejecting Comte's explicit avowal of the embodiment of moral authority in the secular priesthood of sociologist, Weber and Durkheim had to paper over the social authority supporting the formulation of this rational knowledge. Each then produced a sociology of knowledge without a well-specified mechanism, in turn encouraging the development of the sociology of knowledge as ct flawed sub-discipline.
- Klausner, SZ. 1998. "E. Digby Baltzell: Moral Rhetoric and Research Methodology." Sociological Theory. 16:2 149-171.
- The ways in which values are assimilated to social research differ according to the theoretical frame of reference informing the research. An example from the writings of E. Digby Baltzell illustrates how a moral commitment shaped his assumptions al,out the nature of the social matrix and his research strategies. A Western moral rhetoric fares well if the researcher chooses a methodologically individualist framework. The framework assists a moral rhetoric by providing it with concrete rather than abstract social actors and with a basis for explanation in terms of motive rather than situational forces. Along the way moral statements can appear in the form of empirical generalizations and historical laws. Should sociologists deem ethically neutral social research desirable, this study suggests that concentration on scientific method, without exploring the value bases for selecting a frame of reference, is not a promising approach. A value analysis, especially around Weber's ``value relevance,'' may function propaedeuticly.
- Kalberg, S. 1996. "On the Neglect of Weber's Protestant Ethic as a Theoretical Treatise: Demarcating the Parameters of Postwar American Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 14:1 49-70.
- Although widely recognized as one of sociology's true classics, Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism has largely failed to influence the development of sociological theory in the United States. Because it has been read almost exclusively as a study of the ``role of ideas'' in economic development, its diverse and multifaceted theoretical contributions generally have been neglected. This study explicitly calls attention to The Protestant Ethic as a theoretical treatise by examining this classic in reference to four major debates in postwar sociological theory in the United States. Moreover, it demarcates an array of major parameters in American theorizing. The conclusion speculates upon the reasons for the strong opposition to The Protestant Ethic's theoretical lessons and argues that a style of theorizing unique to sociology in the United States has erected firm barriers against this classic text.
- Drysdale, J. 1996. "How Are Social-scientific Concepts Formed? a Reconstruction of Max Weber's Theory of Concept Formation." Sociological Theory. 14:1 71-88.
- Recent interpretations of Weber's theory of concept formation have concluded that it is seriously defective and therefore of questionable use in social science, Oakes and Burger have argued that Weber's ideas depend upon Rickert's epistemology, whose arguments Oakes finds to be invalid; by implication, Weber's theory fails. An attempt is made to reconstruct Weber's theory on the basis of his 1904 essay on objectivity. Pivotal to Weber's theory is his distinction between concept and judgment (hypothesis), where the former is the interpretive means to the formation of explanatory accounts (judgments). His theory includes criteria of abstraction and synthesis in the construction of ideal-type concepts as well as criteria for their evaluation. Weber provides a reasonably coherent, if incomplete, theory of concept formation which does not depend on Rickert's epistemological arguments.