Contemporary articles citing Merton R (1968) Social Theory Social

sociological, action, question, sociologists, future, problem, empirical, way, mechanisms, theories

Saito, Hiro. 2011. "An Actor-network Theory of Cosmopolitanism." Sociological Theory. 29:2 124-149. Link
A major problem with the emerging sociological literature on cosmopolitanism is that it has not adequately theorized mechanisms that mediate the presumed causal relationship between globalization and the development of cosmopolitan orientations. To solve this problem, I draw on Bruno Latour's actor-network theory (ANT) to theorize the development of three key elements of cosmopolitanism: cultural omnivorousness, ethnic tolerance, and cosmopolitics. ANT illuminates how humans and nonhumans of multiple nationalities develop attachments with one another to create network structures that sustain cosmopolitanism. ANT also helps the sociology of cosmopolitanism become more reflexive and critical of its implicit normative claims.

Aneesh, A.. 2009. "Global Labor: Algocratic Modes of Organization." Sociological Theory. 27:4 347-370.
This study investigates a practice that allows workers based in India to work online on projects for corporations in the United States, representing a new mode of labor integration. In the absence of direct bureaucratic control across continents, the question arises how this rapidly growing labor practice is organized. The riddle of organizational governance is solved through an analysis of software programming schemes, which are presented as the key to organizing globally dispersed labor through data servers. This labor integration through programming code is distinguished from two other systems of organization-bureaucracy and the market-while bringing out the salient features of each system in terms of its ruling principle: bureaucracy (legal-rational), the market (price), and algocracy (programming or algorithm). The logic of algocratic systems is explored methodically to analyze global work.

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.

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.

Rydgren, Jens. 2007. "The Power of the Past: a Contribution to a Cognitive Sociology of Ethnic Conflic." Sociological Theory. 25:3 225-244. Link
The aim of this article is to demonstrate the ways in which the past matters for ethnic conflict in the present. More specifically, by presenting a sociocognitive approach to the problem, this article sets out to specify macro-micro bridging mechanisms that explain why a history of prior conflict is likely to increase the likelihood that new conflicts will erupt. People's inclination toward simplified and/or invalid (but often useful) inductive reasoning in the form of analogism, and their innate disposition for ordering events in teleological narratives-to which causality is typically attributed-will be of particular interest for this article. The article will also emphasize the ways in which collective memory sites become activated in such belief formation processes. For instance, the memory biases inherent in analogical reasoning often lead people to overestimate the likelihood of future conflict, which may lead them to mobilize in order to defend themselves, and/or to take preemptive action in ways that foment conflict.

Kenny, Robert. 2007. "The Good, the Bad, and the Social: on Living as an Answerable Agent." Sociological Theory. 25:3 268-291. Link
This article describes answerability, a fundamental component of social reason and action. ``Holding answerable'' and ``being answerable'' are characterized in terms of their roles in the drama of human relations, and our general tendency to anticipate answerable, rather than ethical, behavior in situations that are ethically problematic is discussed.

Hoffman, SG. 2006. "How to Punch Someone and Stay Friends: an Inductive Theory of Simulation." Sociological Theory. 24:2 170-193. Link
One way to study ontology is to assess how people differentiate real activities from others, and a good case is how groups organize simulation. However, social scientists have tended to discuss simulation in more limited ways, either as a symptom of postmodernism or as an instrumental artifact. Missing is how groups organize simulations to prepare for the future. First, I formulate a definition of simulation as a group-level technique, which includes the qualities of everyday ontology, playfulness, risk and consequence reduction, constrained innovation, and transportability. Next, I use ethnographic data collected at an amateur boxing gym to argue that simulations simplify the most risky, unpredictable, and interpersonal aspects of a consequential performance. The problem is that a simulation can rarely proceed exactly like the reality it is derived from. For example, boxers hold back in sparring but should not in competition. The effectiveness of a simulation therefore depends on how robust the model is and how well members translate the imperfect fit between the contextual norms of the simulation and its reality.

Abend, G. 2006. "Styles of Sociological Thought: Sociologies, Epistemologies, and the Mexican and Us Quests for Truth." Sociological Theory. 24:1 1-41. Link
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.

Berk, BB. 2006. "Macro-micro Relationships in Durkheim's Analysis of Egoistic Suicide." Sociological Theory. 24:1 58-80. Link
Contemporary theory is increasingly concerned with macro-micro integration. An attempt is made to integrate these levels of analysis in Durkheim's theory of egoistic suicide. Does Durkheim's theory, which is a social system analysis designed to explain differences in suicide rates between groups, have micro implications for specifying which particular individuals within the group will take their lives? In attempting to answer this question by exploring the causal linkages between integration and suicide, Durkheim's theory of egoistic suicide was revealed not to be a singular theory but rather contained several different explanations. The numerous interpretations have resulted from his incompletely specified, inconsistent, unsystematized, and inadequately tested theory. These ambiguities also account for the historically inconsistent research findings that have limited sociologists' ability to advance beyond Durkheim's century-old formulations. Further areas for new research and illustrative hypothesis are suggested.

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.

Mirchandani, R. 2005. "Postmodernism and Sociology: From the Epistemological to the Empirical." Sociological Theory. 23:1 86-115. Link
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.

Jasso, G. 2004. "The Tripartite Structure of Social Science Analysis." Sociological Theory. 22:3 401-431. Link
The goal of sociology, and all social science, is to produce reliable knowledge about human behavioral and social phenomena. To reach that goal, we undertake three kinds of activities: theoretical work, empirical work, and, even more basic, we develop frameworks that assemble the fundamental questions together with the fundamental tools that will be used to address them. This article examines the three sets of activities and their interrelations. Both deductive and nondeductive theory are highlighted, as are three kinds of empirical work-testing the predictions of deductive theories, testing the propositions produced by nondeductive theories, and extratheoretical measurement and estimation. Illustrations are drawn from the fields of status, justice, and migration.

Jasso, G. 2000. "How I Became a Theorist." Sociological Theory. 18:3 490-497. Link
This essay tells the story of how the author became a theorist. It describes the central event-how one afternoon in the summer of 1976 the justice evaluation function jumped out of a regression equation-together with earlier theoretical influences and the new theoretical work it set in motion.

Jasso, G. 2000. "Some of Robert K. Merton's Contributions to Justice Theory." Sociological Theory. 18:2 331-339. Link

Gould, M. 1999. "Race and Theory: Culture, Poverty, and Adaptation to Discrimination in Wilson and Ogbu." Sociological Theory. 17:2 171-200. Link
This article provides the theoretical resources to resolve a number of conundrums in the work of William Julius Wilson and John Ogbu. Contrary to what Wilson's and Ogbu's work sometimes imply, inner-city blacks are not enmeshed in a ``culture of poverty,'' but rather are generally committed to mainstream values and their normative expectations. Activities that deviate from these values derive from the cognitive expectations inner-city blacks have formed in the face of their restricted legitimate opportunity structures. These expectations, which suggest that educational and occupational success are improbable for inner-city residents, are accurate. If their opportunities were to improve, their cognitive expectations would change and most would be committed to taking advantage of these new opportunities. The differences that separate the inner-city poor from whites center on cultural symbols, which help constitute their identity, sometimes in opposition to the white majority. Most deficiencies in performance among blacks stem not from these cultural attributes, but from the way they are processed in white-dominated organizations. Given a majority commitment to equal opportunity and a majority belief that blacks actually have equal opportunity, many conclude from their performance that blacks are in some sense inferior. This ``new racism `` overdetermines the performance of blacks.

Vandenberghe, F. 1999. "``the Real Is Relational'': an Epistemological Analysis of Pierre Bourdieu's Generative Structuralism." Sociological Theory. 17:1 32-67. Link
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.

Martin, JL. 1998. "Authoritative Knowledge and Heteronomy in Classical Sociological Theory." Sociological Theory. 16:2 99-130. Link
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.

Schwinn, T. 1998. "False Connections: Systems and Action Theories in Neofunctionalism and in Jurgen Habermas." Sociological Theory. 16:1 75-95. Link
Recent theoretical discussions have served to bridge the gap separating systems- and action-theoretical approaches; however the question of their basic compatibility; has rarely been raised This paper takes up two efforts at linking systems and action theory: those of neofunctionalists and those of Jurgen Habermas. Neofunctionalists start from the inadequacies of systems functionalism and seek to open it to the theory of action. Habermas. on the other hand, seeks to overcome the limits of the theory of action by widening its scope in systems-theoretical terms. Successful synthesis eludes both efforts. either the status of voluntaristic aspects is so enhanced that the systemic whole and its functional imperatives practically vanish, or too much emphasis is placed on the systemic aspect, reducing actors to the mere executing agents of systemic needs. The combination, of theories of structure and action provides a way old of this dilemma.

Dahms, HF. 1997. "Theory in Weberian Marxism: Patterns of Critical Social Theory in Lukacs and Habermas." Sociological Theory. 15:3 181-214. Link
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.

Jacobs, RN & P Smith. 1997. "Romance, Irony, and Solidarity." Sociological Theory. 15:1 60-80. Link
Contemporary social theory has turned increasingly to concepts such as civil society, community, and the public sphere in order to theorize about the construction of vital, democratic, and solidaristic political cultures. The dominant prescriptions for attaining this end invoke the need for institutional and procedural reform, but overlook the autonomous role of culture in shaping and defining the forms of social solidarity. This article proposes a model of solidarity based on the two genres of Romance and Irony, and argues that these narrative forms offer useful vocabularies for organizing public discourse within and between civil society and its constituent communities. Whilst unable to sustain fully-inclusive and solidaristic political cultures on their own, in combination the genres of Romance and Irony allow for solidaristic forms built around tolerance, reflexivity, and intersubjectivity.

Bentz, VM & W Kenny. 1997. "``body-as-world'': Kenneth Burke's Answer to the Postmodernist Charges Against Sociology." Sociological Theory. 15:1 81-96. Link
Postmodernism charges that sociological methods project ways of thinking and being from the past onto the future, and that sociological forms of presentation are rhetorical defenses of ideologies. Postmodernism contends that sociological theory presents reified constructs no more based in reality than are fictional accounts. Kenneth Burke's logology predates and adequately addresses postmodernism's valid charges against sociology. At the same time, logology avoids the idealistic tendencies and ethical pitfalls of radical forms of postmodernist deconstruction, which acknowledge neither pretextual and extratextual worlds nor the way sin which experience is embodied. While not fully articulated, Burke's logology gives primacy to an embodies, social world prior to text (body-as-World). Sociology can strengthen both its theoretical arsenal and its response to postmodernism by reacknowledging and reclaiming Burke's logology.

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.

BRENNER, N. 1994. "Foucault New Functionalism." Theory and Society. 23:5 679-709. Link

Swedberg, R. 1999. "Civil Courage (zivilcourage): the Case of Knut Wicksell." Theory and Society. 28:4 501-528. Link

Gieryn, TF. 2002. "What Buildings Do." Theory and Society. 31:1 35-74. Link

Gieryn, TF. 2002. "What Buildings Do." Theory and Society. 31:1 35-74. Link

Goldberg, CA. 2003. "Haunted by the Specter of Communism: Collective Identity and Resource Mobilization in the Demise of the Workers Alliance of America." Theory and Society. 32:5-6 725-773. Link
This article seeks to integrate identity-oriented and strategic models of collective action better by drawing on Pierre Bourdieu's theory of classification struggles. On the one hand, the article extends culture to the realm of interest by highlighting the role collective identity plays in one of the key processes that strategic models of collective action foreground: the mobilization of resources. The article extends culture to the realm of interest in another way as well: by challenging the notion that labor movements are fundamentally different from or antithetical to the identity-oriented new social movements. On the other hand, the article also extends the idea of interest to culture. Rather than viewing collective identity as something formed prior to political struggle and according to a different logic, I show that collective identity is constructed in and through struggles over classificatory schemes. These include struggles between movements and their opponents as well as struggles within movements. The article provides empirical evidence for these theoretical claims with a study of the demise of the Workers Alliance of America, a powerful, nation-wide movement of the unemployed formed in the United States in 1935 and dissolved in 1941.

Light, DW. 2004. "From Migrant Enclaves to Mainstream: Reconceptualizing Informal Economic Behavior." Theory and Society. 33:6 705-737. Link
The ``informal economy'' has developed in sociological theory to refer to clusters of illegal or quasi-illegal activities, usually unreported, by which people in some immigrant or ethnic communities earn income outside regular businesses and jobs. This article first extrapolates a set of characteristics beyond the legal status of such activities that define the ``informal economy.'' These provide a richer framework for future research and the basis for identifying informal economic activity in other sectors of the legitimate mainstream economy. In fact, informalization seems to have gone from marginal activities to a mainstream movement to make large sectors more fluid, network-based, and less regulated - the informalized economy. Its characteristics are identified. They overlap with the first set but differ principally in terms of extending Merton's proposition that different social structures exert different pressures to engage in non-conforming behavior. The article concludes with policy implications for fostering greater entrepreneurship in marginal migrant communities, and it suggests new ways for economic sociologists to study network transactions in modern corporations of informal economic activity through generative sociology.

Mohr, John & Roger Friedland. 2008. "Theorizing the Institution: Foundations, Duality, and Data." Theory and Society. 37:5 421-426. Link
Although a central construct for sociologists, the concept of institution continues to elude clear and full specification. One reason for this lack of clarity is that about 50 years ago empirical researchers in the field of sociology turned their gaze downward, away from macro-sociological constructs in order to focus their attention on middle-range empirical projects. It took almost 20 years for the concept of the institution to work its back onto the empirical research agenda of mainstream sociologists. The new institutional project in organizational sociology led the way. Since then, scholars in this tradition have achieved a great deal but there is still much more to accomplish. Here, future directions for research are considered by reviewing how the concept of the institution has come to be treated by mainstream philosophers, sociologists of science and technology studies, and social network theorists.

Mohr, John & Harrison White. 2008. "How to Model an Institution." Theory and Society. 37:5 485-512. Link
Institutions are linkage mechanisms that bridge across three kinds of social divides-they link micro systems of social interaction to meso (and macro) levels of organization, they connect the symbolic with the material, and the agentic with the structural. Two key analytic principles are identified for empirical research, relationality and duality. These are linked to new research strategies for the study of institutions that draw on network analytic techniques. Two hypotheses are suggested. (1) Institutional resilience is directly correlated to the overall degree of structural linkages that bridge across domains of level, meaning, and agency. (2) Institutional change is related to over-bridging, defined as the sustained juxtaposition of multiple styles within the same institutional site. Case examples are used to test these contentions. Institutional stability is examined in the case of Indian caste systems and American academic science. Institutional change is explored in the case of the rise of the early Christian church and in the origins of rock and roll music.

Kaufman, Jason & Matthew Kaliner. 2011. "The Re-accomplishment of Place in Twentieth Century Vermont and New Hampshire: History Repeats Itself, Until It Doesn't." Theory and Society. 40:2 119-154. Link
Much recent literature plumbs the question of the origins and trajectories of ``place,'' or the cultural development of space-specific repertoires of action and meaning. This article examines divergence in two ``places'' that were once quite similar but are now quite far apart, culturally and politically speaking. Vermont, once considered the ``most Republican'' state in the United States, is now generally considered one of its most politically and culturally liberal. New Hampshire, by contrast, has remained politically and socially quite conservative. Contrasting legacies of tourist promotion, political mobilization, and public policy help explain the divergence between states. We hypothesize that emerging stereotypes about a ``place'' serve to draw sympathetic residents and visitors to that place, thus reinforcing the salience of those stereotypes and contributing to their reality over time. We term this latter process idio-cultural migration and argue its centrality to ongoing debates about the accomplishment of place. We also elaborate on several means by which such place ``reputations'' are created, transmitted, and maintained.

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.

Beck, Ulrich & Natan Sznaider. 2011. "Self-limitation of Modernity? the Theory of Reflexive Taboos." Theory and Society. 40:4 417-436. Link
This is not an introductory text in cosmopolitan sociology, but a next step into a cosmopolitan sociology, which preserves modernity, trying to construct taboos. It is a matter, therefore, of taboos and of which taboos can and should be justified, when it's a question of not abandoning the basic principles of modernity to erosion. An almost ebullient cultural criticism, which declares the concepts human being, humanity, freedom, individuality to be Western mechanisms of repression, argues and criticizes within the horizon of a stable economic-technical civilization and society whose existence was never called into question. But is that still the case? In the face of the new world risks will not the reflexivity of a modernity vehemently calling itself into question necessarily also become aware of its own limits? At issue is the problem of a self-limitation of modernity: How are post-traditional, reflexive taboos made possible? Modernity must become aware of its own threatened modernity, of its own sacredness, which also involves the question of a transcendental horizon.