Contemporary articles citing Somers M (1998) Am J Sociol

sociological, first, choice, second, historical, framework, rational, yet, critical, four

Silver, Daniel & Monica Lee. 2012. "Self-relations in Social Relations." Sociological Theory. 30:4 207-237. Link
This article contributes to an ongoing theoretical effort to extend the insights of relational and network sociology into adjacent domains. We integrate Simmel's late theory of the relational self into the formal analysis of social relations, generating a framework for theorizing forms of association among self-relating individuals. On this model, every ``node'' in an interaction has relations not only to others but also to itself, specifically between its ideality and its actuality. We go on to integrate this self-relation into a formal model of social relations. This model provides a way to describe configurations of social interactions defined by the forms according to which social relations realize participants' ideal selves. We examine four formal dimensions along which these self-relational relationships can vary: distance, symmetry, scope, and actualization.

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.

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.

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.

Steinmetz, G. 2004. "Odious Comparisons: Incommensurability, the Case Study, and ``small N's'' in Sociology." Sociological Theory. 22:3 371-400. Link
Case studies and ``small-N comparisons'' have been attacked from two directions, positivist and incommensurabilist. At the same time, some authors have defended small-N comparisons as allowing qualitative researchers to attain a degree of scientificity, yet they also have rejected the case study as merely ``idiographic.'' Practitioners of the case study sometimes agree with these critics, disavowing all claims to scientificity. A related set of disagreements concerns the role and nature of social theory in sociology, which sometimes is described as useless and parasitic and other times as evolving in splendid isolation from empirical research. These three forms of sociological activity-comparative analysis, studies of individual cases, and social theory-are defended here from the standpoint of critical realism. In this article I first reconstruct, in very broad strokes, the dominant epistemological and ontological framework of postwar U.S. sociology. The next two sections discuss several positivist and incommensurabilist criticisms of comparison and case studies. The last two sections propose an understanding of comparison as operating along two dimensions, events and structures, and offer an illustration of the difference and relationship between the two.

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.

Zafirovski, M. 2000. "The Rational Choice Generalization of Neoclassical Economics Reconsidered: Any Theoretical Legitimation for Economic Imperialism?." Sociological Theory. 18:3 448-471. Link
The article reconsiders the generalization of neoclassical economics by modern rational choice theory. Hence, it reexamines the possible theoretical grounds or lack thereof within neoclassical economics for economic imperialism implied in much of rational choice theory. Some indicative instances of rational choice theory's generalization of neoclassical economics are reviewed. The main portion of the article addresses the question as to whether neoclassical economics allows its generalization in rational choice theory and thus legitimizes economic imperialism. Presented are a number of pertinent theoretical reasons why neoclassical economics does not fully justify ifs generalization into rational choice as a general social theory particularly into an over-arching economic approach to social action and society Also discussed are some theoretical implications of the rational choice generalization of neoclassical economics. The main contribution of the article is to defect lack of a strong theoretical rationale in much of neoclassical economics for rational choice theory's manifest or latent economic imperialism.

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

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

Whitford, J. 2002. "Pragmatism and the Untenable Dualism of Means and Ends: Why Rational Choice Theory Does Not Deserve Paradigmatic Privilege." Theory and Society. 31:3 325-363. Link

Mclean, PD. 2004. "Widening Access While Tightening Control: Office-holding, Marriages, and Elite Consolidation in Early Modern Poland." Theory and Society. 33:2 167-212. Link
Elites are dynamically emergent and evolving groups, yet their organization at any given time has tremendous implications for the tenor of social life and the probability of historical change. Using data on more than 3,000 Senatorial office-holders and over 3,100 elite marriages in early modern Poland, this article systematically documents changes over time in the structure of the Polish elite between 1500 and 1795 from a ``multiple-networks'' perspective. It measures timing of entry into senatorial ranks, regional integration of the elite, degree of elite dominance, and patterns of overlap between office-holding and marriage networks across four distinct eras in Polish history. Aggregate network patterns reveal a system in the eighteenth century characterized simultaneously by widening political access and increasing super-elite political control. Highlighting these patterns makes better sense of the Polish nobility's distinct cultural practices than do other historical sociological accounts and illuminates the structural basis for Poland's remarkable constitutional moment in the late eighteenth century.

Emirbayer, M & CA Goldberg. 2005. "Pragmatism, Bourdieu, and Collective Emotions in Contentious Politics." Theory and Society. 34:5-6 469-518. Link
We aim to show how collective emotions can be incorporated into the study of episodes of political contention. In a critical vein, we systematically explore the weaknesses in extant models of collective action, showing what has been lost through a neglect or faulty conceptualization of collective emotional configurations. We structure this discussion in terms of a review of several ``pernicious postulates'' in the literature, assumptions that have been held, we argue, by classical social-movement theorists and by social-structural and cultural critics alike. In a reconstructive vein, however, we also lay out the foundations of a more satisfactory theoretical framework. We take each succeeding critique of a pernicious postulate as the occasion for more positive theory-building. Drawing upon the work of the classical American pragmatists-especially Peirce, Dewey, and Mead-as well as aspects of Bourdieu's sociology, we construct, step by step, the foundations of a more adequate theorization of social movements and collective action. Accordingly, the negative and positive threads of our discussion are woven closely together: the dismantling of pernicious postulates and the development of a more useful analytical strategy.

Illouz, Eva & Shoshannah Finkelman. 2009. "An Odd and Inseparable Couple: Emotion and Rationality in Partner Selection." Theory and Society. 38:4 401-422. Link
The dichotomy between emotion and rationality has been one of the most enduring of sociological theory. This article attempts to bypass this dichotomy by examining how emotion and rationality are conjoined in the practice of the choice of a mate. We posit the fundamental role of culture in determining the nature of this intertwinement. We explore the culturally embedded intertwining of emotion and rationality through the notion of modal configuration. Modal configuration includes five key features: reflexivity, techniques, modal emphasis, modal overlap, and modal sequencing. We apply this framework to the topic of partner selection. Comparing primary and secondary sources on pre-modern partner selection and on internet dating, we show that emotion and rationality were intertwined in both periods but that what differs between them is precisely the emotion-rationality modality.

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.

Ermakoff, Ivan. 2010. "Theory of Practice, Rational Choice, and Historical Change." Theory and Society. 39:5 527-553. Link
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.