Contemporary articles citing Burt R (1992) Structural Holes Soc

sociological, economic, change, action, theories, institutional, approach, if, dynamic, relational

Chang, Kuang-chi. 2011. "A Path to Understanding Guanxi in China's Transitional Economy: Variations on Network Behavior*." Sociological Theory. 29:4 315-339. Link
Current research on guanxi (Chinese social connections) suffers from conceptual confusion. This article presents a new theoretical framework for understanding guanxi in the face of China's economic and social transformations. Guanxi is viewed as a purposive network behavior that can take different strategic forms, such as accessing, bridging, and embedding. Pairing this conceptualization with a social-evolutionary framework, I argue that the emergence and increasing or decreasing prevalence of each form over time result from (1) a combination of factors at three analytical levelsmicroagency, mesonetwork, and macroinstitutionaland (2) endogenous processes of selection. By focusing on behavioral forms and their evolution, this framework is able to bridge divides in the guanxi literature, provide a foundation for comparative studies of network behavior across societies, and connect the study of guanxi with economic sociology more broadly.

Beckert, Jens. 2010. "Institutional Isomorphism Revisited: Convergence and Divergence in Institutional Change." Sociological Theory. 28:2 150-166.
Under the influence of groundbreaking work by John Meyer and Brian Bowen, as well as Paul DiMaggio and Walter Powell, over the last 30 years research in the new sociological institutionalism has focused on processes of isomorphism. I argue that this is a one-sided focus that leaves out many insights from other institutional and macrosociological approaches and does not do justice to actual social change because it overlooks the role played by divergent institutional development. While the suggestion of divergent trends is not new, there have been Jew attempts to integrate divergence into the theoretical premises of the new sociological institutionalism. Based on the typology proposed by DiMaggio and Powell, I show that the mechanisms identified by them as sources of isomorphic change can support processes of divergent change as well. The theoretical challenge is to identify conditions under which these mechanisms push institutional change toward homogenization or divergence.

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.

Fuhse, Jan. 2009. "The Meaning Structure of Social Networks." Sociological Theory. 27:1 51-73. Link
This essay proposes to view networks as sociocultural structures. Following authors from Leopold von Wiese and Norbert Elias to Gary Alan Fine and Harrison White, networks are configurations of social relationships interwoven with meaning. Social relationships as the basic building blocks of networks are conceived of as dynamic structures of reciprocal (but not necessarily symmetric) expectations between alter and ego. Through their transactions, alter and ego construct an idiosyncratic ``relationship culture'' comprising symbols, narratives, and relational identities. The coupling of social relationships to networks, too, is heavily laden with meaning. The symbolic construction of persons is one instance of this coupling. Another instance is the application of social categories (like race or gender), which both map and structure social networks. The conclusion offers an agenda for research on this ``meaning structure of social networks.''.

Ryan, Dan. 2006. "Getting the Word Out: Notes on the Social Organization of Notification." Sociological Theory. 24:3 228-254. Link
Even when the timing, sequence, and manner of notification are instrumentally inconsequential, how one conveys information affects the meaning of the telling. This article introduces the concepts of ``notification norms'' and the ``information order,'' showing how the former constrain the behavior of nodes in social networks as well as enabling manipulation of the relationships that comprise those networks. ``Notification'' is defined as information transmission motivated by role obligations and notification norms as social rules that govern such transmission. These rules produce patterns of information dissemination different from what individual volition would yield and from what technology makes possible. The capacity to wield a socially sanctioned repertoire of notification rules is a learned competence. Competent notifiers must also understand the local epistemological ecology-the distribution and trajectory of information, as well as the projects, concerns, and priorities of one's fellows. This study of notification introduces the broader concept of ``the information order'' and is a first step in the project of a sociology of information.

Berger, J, D Willer & M Zelditch. 2005. "Theory Programs and Theoretical Problems." Sociological Theory. 23:2 127-155. Link
Some sociologists argue that sociological theory does not grow and the reason why it does not grow is that the discipline lacks a core of highly developed, almost universally accepted, paradigms; even worse, because it is reflexive, its criteria of problem and theory choice are so noncognitive that there are no paradigms, hence no progress, in its future. We do not question that sociology lacks a core of almost universally accepted paradigms, nor that highly developed paradigms may be a sufficient condition of theory growth, but we question both that universal acceptance of them is necessary and that sociology has nothing like them. We argue that theoretical research programs-sets of strategies, sets of interrelated theories embodying these strategies, and empirical models interpreting these theories-are sufficient for theoretical growth. An examination of three theoretical research programs in this article shows that they perform some of the same functions for theory growth as, in Kuhn, are performed by paradigms. Sociology may lack a universally accepted core, but there are theoretical research programs in sociology, and therefore already there is theory growth if it is looked for in the right place. Nor is there any warrant for the view that because its criteria of problem and theory choice are inescapably noncognitive, there are no paradigms, hence no progress, in sociology's future. If that were true, not only would sociology lack paradigms, but also theoretical research programs. We conclude from our study that sociology need not wait on the emergence of a universally accepted core. It is sufficient for the growth of theory that it develops further its existing theoretical research programs and that it encourages the creation of new programs.

Michalski, JH. 2003. "Financial Altruism or Unilateral Resource Exchanges? - Toward a Pure Sociology of Welfare." Sociological Theory. 21:4 341-358. Link
Questions concerning the essential nature of altruism, the existence of an altruistic personality, and the genetic, biosocial, and social psychological bases of altruistic behavior have dominated theory and research on the topic. The current paper reconceptualizes financial altruism sociologically as a form of unilateral resource exchanges, or welfare. The alternative definition employs Donald Black's (1979, 2000) analytic approach to describe and explain the behavior of welfare with its location and direction in social space. The paper offers several propositions that purport to explain variations in welfare by drawing upon cross-cultural research. In general, welfare flows in the direction of those who are less integrated and who have lower social status. In addition, welfare varies directly with intimacy, conventionality, and respectability. Finally, welfare varies inversely with relational distance, cultural distance, and group size. The paper concludes with a brief discussion of strengths and limitations of the general propositions advanced.

Corra, M & D Willer. 2002. "The Gatekeeper." Sociological Theory. 20:2 180-207. Link

Breslau, D. 2000. "Sociology After Humanism: a Lesson From Contemporary Science Studies." Sociological Theory. 18:2 289-307. Link
The field of science studies is the site of an explicit reflection on the ontological premises of sociology, with rival approaches defined by distinctive ways of specifying the basic constituents of reality. This article takes advantage of this debate to compare three types of ontological schemes in terms of their internal coherence and their consequences for sociology. Sociological in terms of their internal coherence and their consequences for sociology. Sociological humanism-represented by proponents of the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK)-distinguishes between an immanent domain of social relations, a transcendent and meaningless material reality, and an intermediate, socially constructed level of knowledge, meaning and culture. Symmetrical humanism-as found in the recent writings of Andrew Pickering-insists that society too should be placed among the constructions, thereby disqualifying it as a source of explanations of human agency and leaving a detached and self-moving human agent. The relational ontology-exemplified by the ``actor-network'' approach of Bruno Latour adn others-make no a priori distinctions between humans and others, or between trandscendent reality and construction, treating these properties as outcomes. The two humanist approaches are found to be incoherent as ontological schemes and also, contrary to the antisociological stance of the actor-network approach, it is found that the relational ontology provides a consistent basis for sociological explanations of human practices.

Beckert, J. 1996. "What Is Sociological About Economic Sociology? Uncertainty and the Embeddedness of Economic Action." Theory and Society. 25:6 803-840. Link

Krippner, GR. 2001. "The Elusive Market: Embeddedness and the Paradigm of Economic Sociology." Theory and Society. 30:6 775-810. Link

Berman, Elizabeth. 2006. "Before the Professional Project: Success and Failure at Creating an Organizational Representative for English Doctors." Theory and Society. 35:2 157-191. Link
Theories of the professions do not sufficiently explain how individuals with different and often ill-defined interests can organize themselves into a group coherent enough to undertake a ``professional project.'' I suggest that concepts from institutional and organizational theory can help fill this gap and apply such concepts to one of the first professional projects, that of English doctors. In the early nineteenth century, two groups sought to become the organizational representative of the incipient profession. The first rapidly organized a sizeable fraction of practitioners and achieved some legislative success, but could not transform its early accomplishments into a position as the doctors' representative. The second had only moderate impact in its early years and was dismissed as politically irrelevant, but eventually united the profession and continues to this day as the British Medical Association. The professions literature, most of which is pitched at a broader level of analysis, does not provide theoretical tools to explain these divergent outcomes. I argue that they can be accounted for by analyzing English medicine as an institutional field. The groups' different structural locations within the field affected their trajectories, and a novel organizational model borrowed from an adjacent field helped the latter group keep doctors mobilized and achieve legitimacy. As a result, an unlikely-looking group of outsiders with limited resources was eventually able to lead a successful professional project, while an initially promising group fell by the wayside.

Dobbin, Frank. 2008. "The Poverty of Organizational Theory: Comment On: ``bourdieu and Organizational Analysis''." Theory and Society. 37:1 53-63. Link
American organizational theorists have not taken up the call to apply Bourdieu's approach in all of its richness in part because, for better or worse, evidentiary traditions render untenable the kind of sweeping analysis that makes Bourdieu's classics compelling. Yet many of the insights found in Bourdieu are being pursued piecemeal, in distinct paradigmatic projects that explore the character of fields, the emergence of organizational habitus, and the changing forms of capital that are key to the control of modern organizations. A number of these programs build on the same sociological classics that Bourdieu built his own theory on. These share the same lineage, even if they were not directly influenced by Bourdieu.

Beckert, Jens. 2009. "The Social Order of Markets." Theory and Society. 38:3 245-269. Link
In this article I develop a proposal for the theoretical vantage point of the sociology of markets, focusing on the problem of the social order of markets. The initial premise is that markets are highly demanding arenas of social interaction, which can only operate if three inevitable coordination problems are resolved. I define these coordination problems as the value problem, the problem of competition and the cooperation problem. I argue that these problems can only be resolved based on stable reciprocal expectations on the part of market actors, which have their basis in the socio-structural, institutional and cultural embedding of markets. The sociology of markets aims to investigate how market action is structured by these macrostructures and to examine their dynamic processes of change. While the focus of economic sociology has been primarily on the stability of markets and the reproduction of firms, the conceptualization developed here brings change and profit motives more forcefully into the analysis. It also differs from the focus of the new economic sociology on the supply side of markets, by emphasizing the role of demand for the order of markets, especially in the discussion of the problems of valuation and cooperation.

Sgourev, Stoyan. 2011. "``wall Street'' Meets Wagner: Harnessing Institutional Heterogeneity." Theory and Society. 40:4 385-416. Link
If institutional heterogeneity tends overall to reduce survival chances, it may also persist and be harnessed to good use. This article investigates this ambivalence by looking at how institutional heterogeneity emerges, develops, and survives. An inductive study of the ``Metropolitan Opera'' archives suggests that what enables heterogeneity to survive and to withstand the pressure for homogenization is its inherent potential for ``multivocality.'' The analysis shows how institutional discrepancies were bridged over through an opportunistic, ``multivocal'' action pattern, whereby the organization maneuvered between conflicting institutional demands, seeking to minimize dependence on any single constituency or evaluation principle. Maintaining discretionary options is essential in multi-dimensional space, where ambiguity makes optimization impractical. The trade-off in this action pattern includes remarkable adaptability and operational inefficiencies.

Collins, Randall & Mauro Guillen. 2012. "Mutual Halo Effects in Cultural Production: the Case of Modernist Architecture." Theory and Society. 41:6 527-556. Link
Previous research has suggested that in cultural production fields the concatenation of eminence explains success, defined as influence and innovation. We propose that individuals in fields as diverse as philosophy, literature, mathematics, painting, or architecture gain visibility by cumulating the eminence of others connected to them across and within generations. We draw on interaction ritual chain and social movement theories, and use evidence from the field of modernist architecture, to formulate a model of how networks of very strong ties generate motivations and emotional enthusiasm, change reputations, and form collective movements that over time transform the structure of cultural fields. Because major aesthetic innovations break sharply with older styles, they need very strong group solidarity over a long period of time to propagate a new standard of practice. We propose mutual halo effects, i.e., the reciprocal reinforcement of upstream and downstream prestige on a given individual node, as the key factor accounting for success in a cultural production field. We discuss the relevance of these results for building a model of influence and innovation in cultural production fields in which networks-reshaped by shifting technological, political, and economic conditions-trigger new styles.