Contemporary articles citing Kiser E (1991) Am J Sociol

approach, yet, problems, second, sociological, first, methodological, historical, important, concept

Demetriou, Chares. 2012. "Processual Comparative Sociology: Building on the Approach of Charles Tilly." Sociological Theory. 30:1 51-65. Link
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.

Reed, Isaac. 2008. "Justifying Sociological Knowledge: From Realism to Interpretation." Sociological Theory. 26:2 101-129. Link
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.

Abend, Gabriel. 2008. "The Meaning of `theory'." Sociological Theory. 26:2 173-199. Link
`Theory' is one of the most important words in the lexicon of contemporary sociology. Yet, their ubiquity notwithstanding, it is quite unclear what sociologists mean by the words `theory,' `theoretical,' and `theorize.' I argue that confusions about the meaning of `theory' have brought about undesirable consequences, including conceptual muddles and even downright miscommunication. In this paper I tackle two questions: (a) what does `theory' mean in the sociological language?; and (b) what ought `theory' to mean in the sociological language? I proceed in five stages. First, I explain why one should ask a semantic question about `theory.' Second, I lexicographically identify seven different senses of the word, which I distinguish by means of subscripts. Third, I show some difficulties that the current lack of semantic clarity has led sociology to. Fourth, I articulate the question, `what ought ``theory'' to mean?,' which I dub the `semantic predicament' (SP), and I consider what one can learn about it from the theory literature. Fifth, I recommend a `semantic therapy' for sociology, and advance two arguments about SP: (a) the principle of practical reason-SP is to a large extent a political issue, which should be addressed with the help of political mechanisms; and (b) the principle of ontological and epistemological pluralism-the solution to SP should not be too ontologically and epistemologically demanding.

Webster, M & JM Whitmeyer. 2001. "Applications of Theories of Group Processes." Sociological Theory. 19:3 250-270. Link
Theories of group processes have been and are being applied usefully to natural situations. We review a selection of these theories and examine different types of applications and interventions to which they have led. We then offer a typology of application, five ``stages'' with examples. As theoretical application proceeds, issues of complexity, rules of correspondence, and competing social interests increase the difficulty of that work, yet the benefits are considerable for theoretical development.

Hopcroft, RL. 2001. "Theoretical Implications of Regional Effects." Sociological Theory. 19:2 145-164. Link
Local economic institutions (systems of property rights and rules of land use) influenced the course of economic change in European history, as well as state formation and religious change. In this paper, I outline the theoretical implications of these regional effects. None of our existing macrolevel theories and explanations of the ``rise of the West'' can adequately incorporate them, so I present an alternative theory, based on rational choice premises. Yet the existence of these regional effects also highlights the deficiencies of a rational choice theoretical approach. First, the approach is unable to explain historical contexts, institutional legacies, or the effects of timing, which were vital for outcomes of social change but that lie outside the model itself. Second, although it can be very useful, the model of the actor motivated by material self-interest often proved inadequate in historical situations. Solutions are suggested.

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. Link
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.

WALDER, AG. 1994. "The Decline of Communist Power - Elements of a Theory of Institutional Change." Theory and Society. 23:2 297-323. Link

SOMERS, MR. 1994. "The Narrative Constitution of Identity - a Relational and Network Approach." Theory and Society. 23:5 605-649. Link
This article argues for reconfiguring the study of identity formation through the concept of narrative. It is motivated by two recent but seemingly unrelated developments in social theory and society. One is the emergence of a wide-spread `'identity politics'' and a concomitant scholarly focus on the `'social construction of identity.'' The other is the reconfigured approach to the concept of narrative that researchers from many disciplines have been formulating in recent years. Both are important developments not to be overlooked by social scientists and social theorists; both, however, have problems and limitations as they now stand. I argue in this article that the limitations of each potentially can be overcome by bringing the two thematics together. The key concept I propose to achieve this reconfiguration is that of narrative identity.

Mahoney, J. 2000. "Path Dependence in Historical Sociology." Theory and Society. 29:4 507-548. Link

Haydu, Jeffrey. 2010. "Reversals of Fortune: Path Dependency, Problem Solving, and Temporal Cases." Theory and Society. 39:1 25-48. Link
Historical reversals highlight a basic methodological problem: is it possible to treat two successive periods both as independent cases to compare for causal analysis and as parts of a single historical sequence? I argue that one strategy for doing so, using models of path dependency, imposes serious limits on explanation. An alternative model which treats successive periods as contrasting solutions for recurrent problems offers two advantages. First, it more effectively combines analytical comparisons of different periods with narratives of causal sequences spanning two or more periods. Second, it better integrates scholarly accounts of historical reversals with actors' own narratives of the past.

Lizardo, Omar. 2010. "Beyond the Antinomies of Structure: Levi-strauss, Giddens, Bourdieu, and Sewell." Theory and Society. 39:6 651-688. Link
In this article, I attempt to address some enduring problems in formulation and practical use of the notion of structure in contemporary social science. I begin by revisiting the question of the fidelity of Anthony Giddens' appropriation of the idea of structure with respect to Levi-Strauss. This requires a reconsideration of Levi-Strauss' original conceptualization of ``social structure'' which I argue is a sort of ``methodological structuralism'' that stands sharply opposed to Giddens' ontological reconceptualization of the notion. I go on to show that Bourdieu's contemporaneous critique of Levi-Strauss is best understood as an attempt to recover rather than reject the central implication of Levi-Strauss' methodological structuralism, which puts Bourdieu and Giddens on clearly distinct camps in terms of their approach toward the idea of structure. To demonstrate the-insurmountable-conceptual difficulties inherent in the ontological approach, I proceed by critically examining what I consider to be the most influential attempt to resolve the ambiguities in Giddens structuration theory: Sewell's argument for the ``duality of structure.'' I show that by retaining Giddens' ontological focus, Sewell ends up with a notion of structure that is at its very core ``anti-structuralist'' or only structuralist in a weak sense. I close by considering the implications of the analysis for the possibility of developing the rather neglected ``methodological structuralist'' legacy in contemporary social analysis.