Contemporary articles citing Calhoun C (1995) Critical Social Theo
society, his, terms, empirical, cultural, critical, concept, symbolic, state, develop
- Lo, Ming-Cheng & Yun Fan. 2010. "Hybrid Cultural Codes in Nonwestern Civil Society: Images of Women in Taiwan and Hong Kong." Sociological Theory. 28:2 167-192.
- Scholars have established that cultural codes and styles of expression in civil society must be recognized as informal mechanisms of exclusion, calling into question the possibility of the Habermasian normative ideal of the public sphere. This article joins theoretical discussions of how to remedy this problem. Going beyond Alexander's model of ``multicultural incorporation'' and borrowing from Sewell's theory of the duality of structure, we develop a theoretical framework of code hybridization to conceptualize how civil society participants achieve civil solidarity amid multiple, potentially contradictory cultural legacies. Code hybridization is a process whereby social actors not only incorporate the cultural codes of subordinate groups into the public sphere, but in doing so also potentially transform dominant codes. We conceptualize code hybridization in terms of three analytic steps: enlargement of the terrains of signification; reinterpretation of codes; and mixing of schemas. The resulting hybridized schemas and frameworks are particularly useful cultural tools for developing visions of civil inclusiveness for young, unstable civil societies. Using a brief comparative study of the representation of women in political cartoons in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we offer a concrete example of code hybridization a process linking the codes of liberty and caring while producing alternative and more inclusive narratives during moments of political agitation.
- Orloff, Ann. 2009. "Gendering the Comparative Analysis of Welfare States: an Unfinished Agenda." Sociological Theory. 27:3 317-343.
- Can feminists count on welfare states-or at least some aspects of these complex systems-as resources in the struggle for gender equality ? Gender analysts of ``welfare states'' investigate this question and the broader set of issues around the mutually constitutive relationship between systems of social provision and regulation and gender. Feminist scholars have moved to bring the contingent practice of politics back into grounded fields of action and social change and away from the reification and abstractions that had come to dominate models of politics focused on ``big'' structures and systems, including those focused on ``welfare states.'' Conceptual innovations and reconceptualizations of foundational terms have been especially prominent in the comparative scholarship on welfare states, starting with gender, and including care, autonomy, citizenship, (in)dependence, political agency, and equality. In contrast to other subfields of political science and sociology, gendered insights have to some extent been incorporated into mainstream comparative scholarship on welfare states. The arguments between feminists and mainstream scholars over the course of the last two decades have been productive, powering the development of key themes and concepts pioneered by gender scholars, including ``defamilialization,'' the significance of unpaid care work in families and the difficulties of work-family ``reconciliation,'' gendered welfare state institutions, the relation between fertility and women's employment, and the partisan correlates of different family and gender policy models. Yet the mainstream still resists the deeper implications of feminist work, and has difficulties assimilating concepts of care, gendered power, dependency, and interdependency. Thus, the agenda of gendering comparative welfare state studies remains unfinished. To develop an understanding of what might be needed to finish that agenda, I assess the gendered contributions to the analysis of modern systems of social provision, starting with the concept of gender itself, then moving to studies of the gendered division of labor (including care) and of gendered political power.
- Mirchandani, R. 2005. "Postmodernism and Sociology: From the Epistemological to the Empirical." Sociological Theory. 23:1 86-115.
- This article investigates the place of postmodernism in sociology today by making a distinction between its epistemological and empirical forms. During the 1980s and early 1990s, sociologists exposited, appropriated, and normalized an epistemological postmodernism that thematizes the tentative, reflective, and possibly shifting nature of knowledge. More recently, however, sociologists have recognized the potential of a postmodern theory that turns its attention to empirical concerns. Empirical postmodernists challenge classical modern concepts to develop research programs based on new concepts like time-space reorganization, risk society, consumer capitalism, and postmodern ethics. But they do so with an appreciation for the uncertainty of the social world, ourselves, our concepts, and our commitment to our concepts that results from the encounter with postmodern epistemology. Ultimately, this article suggests that understanding postmodernism as a combination of these two moments can lead to a sociology whose epistemological modesty and empirical sensitivity encourage a deeper and broader approach to the contemporary social world.
- Jerolmack, C & D Porpora. 2004. "Religion, Rationality, and Experience: a Response to the New Rational Choice Theory of Religion." Sociological Theory. 22:1 140-160.
- This paper is a critical response to the newest version of the rational choice theory of religion (RCTR). In comparison with previous critiques, this paper takes aim at RCTR's foundational assumption of psychological egoism and argues that the thesis of psychological egoism is untenable. Without that thesis, the normative aspects of religious commitment cannot be reduced validly to instrumental reason. On neither conceptual nor empirical grounds therefore can religion or religious commitment be defined comprehensively in terms of exchange theory. With the failure of psychological egoism as a point of departure, the paper articulates an alternative theory of religion, one based on the epistemic rationality grounded in religious experience and religious emotion.
- Alexander, JC. 2001. "The Long and Winding Road: Civil Repair of Intimate Injustice." Sociological Theory. 19:3 371-400.
- Ku, AS. 2000. "Revisiting the Notion of ``public'' in Habermas's Theory - Toward a Theory of Politics of Public Credibility." Sociological Theory. 18:2 216-240.
- There exist around the notion of the public three different yet overlapping dichotomies posed on different levels of analysis: public (sphere) versus private (sphere), public versus mass, and publicness versus privacy/secrecy. Habermas's book (1989) incorporates all the three sets of dichotomy without resolving the contradictory meanings and bridging the gaps among them. As a result, his conception of the public sphere becomes paradoxical in terms, and it undertheorizes the cultural properties of publicness. This article proposes all alternative conception of the public that may encompass the structural, institutional, and cultural levels of theorization in a more precise and coherent way. It is argued that the public is an imagined category about citizen membership that is attached to both institutions of state and civil society: In political practices, a symbolic ``public'' is institutionalized through an open communicative space where it is called upon, constructed, and contested as the central source of cultural references. In this connection, a notion of public credibility is introduced as an attempt to bring forth a richer and more dynamic conception about the role of culture in democratic struggles than that of critical rationality by Habermas.
- Lemert, C. 1999. "The Might Have Been and Could Be of Religion in Social Theory." Sociological Theory. 17:3 240-263.
- Religion may well be the most inscrutable surd of social theory, which began late in the 19(th) century dismissing the subject. Not even the renewal of interest in religion in the 1960s did much to make religion a respectable topic in social theory. It is possible that social theory's troubles are, in part, due to its refusal to think about religion. Close examination of social theories of Greek religion suggest, for principal example, that religion is perfectly able to thrive alongside the profane provided both are founded on principles of finitude, which in turn may be said to be the foundational axiom of any socially organized religion. The value of a social theory of religion, thus defined, may be seen as a way out of the current controversies over the politics of redistribution and politics of recognition. Any coherent principles of social justice, whether economic or cultural, may only be possible if one begins with the idea that all human arrangements are, first and foremost, limited - that is to say: finite; hence, strictly speaking, religious. Durkheim got this only partly right.
- Dillon, M. 1999. "The Authority of the Holy Revisited: Habermas, Religion, and Emancipatory Possibilities." Sociological Theory. 17:3 290-306.
- This article argues that Jurgen Habermas's view of religion as anathema to rational critical discourse reflects his misunderstanding that religion comprises a monolithic and immutable body of dogma that is closed to reason. Illustrative data from Catholic history and theology and empirical data gathered from contemporary American Catholics are used to show the weaknesses in Habermas's negation of the possibility of a self-critical religious discourse. Specifically, I highlight the doctrinal differentiation within Catholicism , its longstanding theological emphasis on the coupling of faith and reason, institutional reflexivity, and the doctrinally reflexive reasoning that contemporary Catholics us in negotiating what might appear as ``contradictory'' identities (e.g., being gay or lesbian and Catholic). Although the data presented take issue with Habermas's disavowal of religion the article shows that the practical relevance of doctrinal reasoning at both the institutional and the individual level vindicate Habermas's faith in the emancipatory potential of reasoned argumentation to advance participative equality.
- Vandenberghe, F. 1999. "``the Real Is Relational'': an Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's Generative Structuralism." Sociological Theory. 17:1 32-67.
- An internal reconstruction and an immanent critique of Bourdieu's generative structuralism is presented. Rather than starting with the concept of ``habitus,'' as is usually done, the article tries to systematically reconstruct Bourdieu's theory by an analysis of the relational logic that permeates his whole work. Tracing the debt Bourdieu's approach owes to Bachelard's rationalism and Cassirer's relationalism, the article examines Bourdieu's epistemological writings of the 1960s and 70s. It tries to make the case that Bourdieu's sociological metascience represents a rationalist version of Bhaskar's critical realism, and enjoins Bourdieu to give heed to the realist turn in the philosophy of the natural and the social sciences. The article shows how Bourdieu's epistemological assumptions are reflected in his primary theoretical constructs of ``habitus `` and ``field.'' To concretize their discussion, it analyzes Bourdieu's reinterpretation of Weber in his theory of the field of religion and of the young Mannheim in his theory of the scientific field.
- Ku, AS. 1998. "Boundary Politics in the Public Sphere: Openness, Secrecy, and Leak." Sociological Theory. 16:2 172-192.
- The issue of openness/secrecy has nor received adequate attention in attention discussion on the public sphere. Drawing on ideas in critical theory, political sociology, and cultural sociology. this article explores the cultural and political dynamics involved in the public sphere in modem society vis-a-vis is the practice of open/secret politics by the state. It argues that the media, due to their publicist quality are situated at the interface between publicity and secrecy which thereby allows for struggles over the boundary of state openness/secrecy in the public sphere. A theory of boundary, politics is introduced that is contextualized In the relationship among state forms, the means of making power visible/invisible (media strategies), and symbolic as well as discursive practices in the public sphere. In explaining the dynamics of boundary politics over openness/secrecy three ideal-types of boundary creation are conceptualized: open politics, secrecy and leak. The theory is illustrated with a case study of the Patten controversy in Hong Kong.
- Dahms, HF. 1997. "Theory in Weberian Marxism: Patterns of Critical Social Theory in Lukacs and Habermas." Sociological Theory. 15:3 181-214.
- For Weberian Marxists, the social theories of Max Weber and Karl Marx are complementary, contributions to the analysis of modern capitalist society. Combining Weber's theory of rationalization with Marx's critique of commodity fetishism to develop his own critique of reification, Georg Lukacs contended that the combination of Marx's and Weber's social theories is essential to envisioning socially transformative modes of praxis in advanced capitalist society. By comparing Lukacs's theory of reification with Habermas's theory of communicative action as two theories in the tradition of Weberian Marxism, I show how the prevailing mode of ``doing theory'' has shifted from Marx's critique of economic deter terminism to Weber's idea of the inner logic of social value spheres. Today, Weberian Marxism can make an important contribution to theoretical sociology by reconstituting itself as a framework for critically examining prevailing societal definitions of the rationalization imperatives specific to purposive-rational social value spheres (the economy, the administrative state, etc.). In a second step, Weberian Marxists would explore how these value spheres relate to Each other and to value spheres that are open to the type of communicative rationalization characteristic of the lifeworld level of social organization.
- Kane, AE. 1997. "Theorizing Meaning Construction in Social Movements: Symbolic Structures and Interpretation During the Irish Land War, 1879-1882." Sociological Theory. 15:3 249-276.
- Though the process of meaning construction is widely recognized to be a crucial factor in the mobilization, unfolding, and outcomes of social movements, the conditions and mechanisms that allow meaning construction and cultural transformation are often misconceptualized and/or underanalyzed. Following a ``tool kit'' perspective on culture, dominant social movement theory locates meaning only as it is embodied in concrete social practices. Meaning construction from this perspective is a matter of manipulating static symbols and meaning to achieve goals. I argue instead that meaning is located in the structure of culture, and that the condition and mechanism of meaning construction and transformation are, respectively, the metaphoric nature of symbolic systems, and individual and collective interpretation of those systems in the face of concrete events. This theory is demonstrated by analyzing, through textual analysis, meaning construction during the Irish Land War 1879-1882, showing how diverse social groups constructed new and emergent symbolic meanings and how transformed collective understandings contributed to specific, yet unpredictable, political action and movement outcomes. The theoretical model and empirical case demonstrates that social movement analysis must examine the metaphoric logic of symbolic systems and the interpretive process by which people construct meaning in order to fully explain the role of culture in social movements, the agency of movement participants, and the contingency of the course and outcomes of social movements.
- Weinberg, D. 1997. "Lindesmith on Addiction: a Critical History of a Classic Theory." Sociological Theory. 15:2 150-161.
- The evolution of Alfred Lindesmith's classic theory of addiction is analyzed as a product of the particular intellectual currents and controversies in and for which it was developed. These include the conflicts that pitted qualitative against quantitative sociology; the fledgling discipline of sociology against medicine, psychiatry, and psychology; and advocates of therapy for addicts against those who would simply punish them. By casting the meaningful experience of drug effects exclusively in terms of symbolically mediated mental representations of brute physiological sensations, Lindesmith's theory posits an epistemologically untenable dualism between mental and bodily perception that unnecessarily limits the explanatory scope of sociological research. As an alternative to this dualism, a praxiological approach to the meaning of drug-induced behavior and experience is proposed.
- Delanty, G. 1997. "Habermas and Occidental Rationalism: the Politics of Identity, Social Learning, and the Cultural Limits of Moral Universalism." Sociological Theory. 15:1 30-59.
- While Habermas's theory of communicative action is deeply critical of all kinds of ethnocentrism, proposing a discursive concept of universal morality which transcends culture, a residual Eurocentrism still pervades it. habermas's theory rests on a notion of modernity which is tied to Occidental rationalism, and when viewed in the global context or in the context of deeply divided societies it is problematic. The theory fails to grasp that universal morality can be articulated in more than one cultural form and in more than one logic of development. However, his theory can be defended against its Eurocentric bias if it shifts its emphasis from a de-contexualized and transcendental critique of communication rooted in Occidental rationalism to a cosmopolitan model of contemporary cultural transformation. Crucial to that task is a weaker notion of rationality which recognizes that the problem of universality is also a cognitive cultural problem and not just a normative one. Bringing culture and identity to the foreground will involve making room for a level of discourse focused less on consensual agreement than on cultural understanding.
- Stamatov, P. 2000. "The Making of a ``bad'' Public: Ethnonational Mobilization in Post-communist Bulgaria." Theory and Society. 29:4 549-572.
- Couldry, N. 2003. "Media Meta-capital: Extending the Range of Bourdieu's Field Theory." Theory and Society. 32:5-6 653-677.
- This article addresses a general problem in media sociology - how to understand the media both as an internal production process and as a general frame for categorizing the social world, with specific reference to a version of this problem in recent work on media within Bourdieu's field-based tradition of research (work previously reviewed by Rodney Benson in Theory and Society 28). It argues that certain problems arise in reconciling this work's detailed explanations of the media field's internal workings (and the interrelations of that field's workings to the workings of other fields) and general claims made about the ``symbolic power'' of media in a broader sense. These problems can be solved, the author argues, by adopting the concept of meta-capital developed by Bourdieu himself in his late work on the state, and returning to the wider framework of symbolic system and symbolic power that was important in Bourdieu's social theory before it became dominated by field theory. Media, it is proposed, have meta-capital over the rules of play, and the definition of capital (especially symbolic capital), that operate within a wide range of contemporary fields of production. This level of explanation needs to be added to specific accounts of the detailed workings of the media field. The conclusion points to questions for further work, including on the state's relative strength and the media's meta-capital that must be carried out through detailed empirical work on a global comparative basis.
- Abend, Gabriel. 2008. "Two Main Problems in the Sociology of Morality." Theory and Society. 37:2 87-125.
- Sociologists often ask why particular groups of people have the moral views that they do. I argue that sociology's empirical research on morality relies, implicitly or explicitly, on unsophisticated and even obsolete ethical theories, and thus is based on inadequate conceptions of the ontology, epistemology, and semantics of morality. In this article I address the two main problems in the sociology of morality: (1) the problem of moral truth, and (2) the problem of value freedom. I identify two ideal-typical approaches. While the Weberian paradigm rejects the concept of moral truth, the Durkheimian paradigm accepts it. By contrast, I argue that sociology should be metaphysically agnostic, yet in practice it should proceed as though there were no moral truths. The Weberians claim that the sociology of morality can and should be value free; the Durkheimians claim that it cannot and it should not. My argument is that, while it is true that factual statements presuppose value judgments, it does not follow that sociologists are moral philosophers in disguise. Finally, I contend that in order for sociology to improve its understanding of morality, better conceptual, epistemological, and methodological foundations are needed.
- Ermakoff, Ivan. 2010. "Theory of Practice, Rational Choice, and Historical Change." Theory and Society. 39:5 527-553.
- If we are to believe the proponents of the Theory of Practice and of Rational Choice, the gap between these two paradigmatic approaches cannot be bridged. They rely on ontological premises, theories of motivations and causal models that stand too far apart. In this article, I argue that this theoretical antinomy loses much of its edge when we take as objects of sociological investigation processes of historical change, that is, when we try to specify in theoretical terms how and in which conditions historical actors enact and endorse shifts in patterns of relations as well as shifts in the symbolic and cognitive categories that make these relations significant. I substantiate this argument in light of the distinction between two temporalities of historical change: first, the long waves of gradual change and, second, the short waves of moments of breaks and ruptures. Along the way, I develop an argument about the conditions of emergence of self-limiting norms and the centrality of epistemic beliefs in situations of high disruption.