Contemporary articles citing Skocpol T (1985) Bringing State Back
policy, public, institutional, historical, cultural, actors, existing, second, change, action
- Major, Aaron. 2013. "Transnational State Formation and the Global Politics of Austerity." Sociological Theory. 31:1 24-48.
- A perennial concern among scholars of globalization is the relationship between global social formations and national and subnational political and economic developments. While sociological understanding of ``the global'' has become increasingly rich, stressing the complex relationship between material and cultural pressures, an undertheorized nation state often sits on the receiving end of the sociologist's model of globalization. The goal of this article is to help move the sociology of globalization out of the analytical trap of global-national dualism by developing an account of the transnationalization of political authority. Building on neo-Marxist and Weberian theories of the transnational, or global state, which explicate the macro-structural dynamics that have led to the transnationalization of the state as such, I look at the process of the transnationalization of political authority from an institutional perspective, one that focuses on processes of transnationalization within, and across, specific state agencies. These theoretical points are empirically motivated through an historical investigation of the transnationalization of monetary authority and its relationship to the international diffusion of policies of austerity from the era of the classical gold standard through the economic crisis of 2008.
- Manza, Jeff & Clem Brooks. 2012. "How Sociology Lost Public Opinion: a Genealogy of a Missing Concept in the Study of the Political." Sociological Theory. 30:2 89-113.
- In contemporary sociology the once prominent study of public opinion has virtually disappeared. None of the leading theoretical models in the closest disciplinary subfield (political sociology) currently provide ample or sufficiently clear space for consideration of public opinion as a possible factor in shaping or interacting with key policy or political outcomes in democratic polities. In this article, we unearth and document the sources of this curious development and raise questions about its implications for how political sociologists have come to understand policy making, state formation, and political conflict. We begin by reconstructing the dismissal of public opinion in the intellectual reorientation of political sociology from the late 1970s onward. We argue that the most influential scholarly works of this period (including those of Tilly, Skocpol, Mann, Esping-Andersen, and Domhoff) face an underlying paradox: While often rejecting public opinion, their theoretical logics ultimately presuppose its operation. These now classical writings did not move toward research programs seeking engagement with the operation and formation of public opinion, even though our immanent critique suggests they in fact require precisely this turn. We address the challenge of reconceptualizing how public opinion might be productively integrated into the sociological study of politics by demonstrating that the major arguments in the subfield can be fruitfully extended by grappling with public opinion. We conclude by considering several recent, interdisciplinary examples of scholarship that, we argue, point the way toward a fruitful revitalization.
- Jacobs, Ronald & Sarah Sobieraj. 2007. "Narrative and Legitimacy: Us Congressional Debates About the Nonprofit Sector." Sociological Theory. 25:1 1-25.
- This article develops a theory about the narrative foundations of public policy. Politicians draw on specific types of narratives in order to connect the policies they are proposing, the needs of the public, and their own needs for legitimacy. In particular, politicians are drawn to policy narratives in which they themselves occupy the central and heroic character position, and where they are able to protect the scope of their jurisdictional authority. We demonstrate how this works through a historical analysis of congressional debate about the nonprofit sector in the United States. Two competing narratives framed these debates: (1) a selfless charity narrative, in which politicians try to empower heroic charity workers and philanthropists, and then stay out of the way; and (2) a masquerade narrative, in which fake charities are taking advantage of the nonprofit tax exemption, in order to pursue a variety of noncivic and dangerous activities. Members of Congress quickly adopted the masquerade narrative as the dominant framework for discussing the nonprofit sector because it provided a more powerful and flexible rhetoric for reproducing their political legitimacy. By developing innovative elaborations of the masquerade narrative (i.e., identifying new categories of ``false heroes''), while remaining faithful to its underlying narrative format, politicians were able to increase the persuasive impact of their legislative agendas. We argue that the narrative aspects of political debate are a central component of the policy-making process because they link cultural and political interests in a way that involves the mastery of cultural structure as well as the creativity of cultural performance.
- Emirbayer, M. 1996. "Useful Durkheim." Sociological Theory. 14:2 109-130.
- From the mid-1960s through much of the 1980s, Durkheim's contributions to historical-comparative sociology were decidedly marginalized; the title of one of Charles Tilly's essays, ``Useless Durkheim,'' conveys this prevailing sensibility with perfect clarity. Here, ky contrast, I draw upon writings from Durkheim's later ``religious'' period to show how Durkheim has special relevance today for debates in the historical-comparative field. I examine how his substantive writings shed light on current discussions regarding civil society; how his analytical insights help to show how action within civil society as well as other historical contexts is channelled by cultural, social-structural, and social-psychological configurations (plus transformative human agency); and how his ontological commitment to a ``relational social realisin'' contributes to ongoing attempts to rethink the foundations of historical-comparative investigation.
- Breslau, D. 1997. "The Political Power of Research Methods: Knowledge Regimes in Us Labor-market Policy." Theory and Society. 26:6 869-902.
- Anderson, Elisabeth. 2008. "Experts, Ideas, and Policy Change: the Russell Sage Foundation and Small Loan Reform, 1909-1941." Theory and Society. 37:3 271-310.
- Between 1909 and 1941, the Russell Sage Foundation (RSF) was actively involved in crafting and lobbying for policy solutions to the pervasive problem of predatory lending. Using a rich assortment of archival records, I build upon political learning theory by demonstrating how institutional conditions and political pressures - in addition to new knowledge gained through scientific study and practical experience - all contributed to the emergence and development of RSF experts' policy ideas over the course of this 30-year period. In light of these findings, I suggest that policy ideas and political interests are mutually constitutive, and that the notion that ideas must be shown to operate independent of interests in order to ``prove'' that they matter in policymaking is misguided. Furthermore, I discuss the implications of the remarkable success of RSF's policy proposals for current understandings of institutional change. In particular, I argue that the passage of RSF's controversial Uniform Small Loan Law in 34 states suggests that political actors' collective agency can produce significant policy reforms in a context of normal policymaking without the intervention of major destabilizing events.
- Berk, Gerald & Dennis Galvan. 2009. "How People Experience and Change Institutions: a Field Guide to Creative Syncretism." Theory and Society. 38:6 543-580.
- This article joins the debate over institutional change with two propositions. First, all institutions are syncretic, that is, they are composed of an indeterminate number of features, which are decomposable and recombinable in unpredictable ways. Second, action within institutions is always potentially creative, that is, actors draw on a wide variety of cultural and institutional resources to create novel combinations. We call this approach to institutions creative syncretism. This article is in three parts. The first shows how existing accounts of institutional change, which are rooted in structuralism, produce excess complexity and render the most important sources and results of change invisible. We argue that in order to ground the theory of creative syncretism we need a more phenomenological approach, which explains how people live institutional rules. We find that grounding in John Dewey's pragmatist theory of habit. The second part of the article explains Dewey and shows how the theory of habit can ground an experiential account of institutional rules. The third part presents a field guide to creative syncretism. It uses an experiential approach to provide novel insights on three problems that have occupied institutionalist research: periodization in American political development, convergence among advanced capitalist democracies, and institutional change in developing countries.
- Saylor, Ryan. 2012. "Sources of State Capacity in Latin America: Commodity Booms and State Building Motives in Chile." Theory and Society. 41:3 301-324.
- The pursuits of private profit and distributional political advantage can be powerful state building motives. This article describes how each motive can trigger a distinct causal sequence amid commodity booms, which can result in the growth of state capacity. First, when pursuing profit during booms, export-oriented actors regularly seek new state-supplied public goods, the provision of which promotes the expansion of state capacity. Second, when booms enrich rivals to the ruling coalition, coalition members may respond with institution building to preserve their existing political advantages. A case study of Chile (1848-1883) and supplementary evidence from Argentina, Central America, Colombia, and Peru indicate that these causal sequences may have been central to state building in Latin America historically.
- Anderson, Elisabeth. 2013. "Ideas in Action: the Politics of Prussian Child Labor Reform, 1817-1839." Theory and Society. 42:1 81-119.
- This article explains the political origins of an 1839 law regulating the factory employment of children in Prussia. The article has two aims. First, it seeks to explain why Prussia adopted the particular law that it did. Existing historical explanations of this particular policy change are not correct, largely because they fail to take into account the actual motivations and intentions of key reformers. Second, the article contributes to theories of the role of ideas in public policymaking. Ideas interact with institutional and political factors to serve as motivators and as resources for policy change. As motivators, they drive political action and shape the content of policy programs; as resources, they enable political actors to recruit supporters and forge alliances. I offer a theory of the relationship between ideas, motivation, and political action, and I develop a methodological framework for assessing the reliability of political actors' expressed motivations. Further, I explain how political actors use ideas as resources by deploying three specific ideational strategies: framing, borrowing, and citing. By tracing how different understandings of the child labor problem motivated and were embodied in two competing child labor policy proposals, I show how the ideas underlying reform had significant consequences for policy outcomes.