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encyclopedia of

social theory

Social theory is the central terrain of ideas concepts, schools, debates, and personalities
that links research in sociology to key pro- in the history of the discipline. Special atten-
blems in the philosophy of the human sci- tion is paid to leading schools and debates,
ences. At the start of the twentieth century, with shorter entries reserved for bio-
social theory was the body of thought that graphies of key theorists and definitions of
sought to ground sociology as an indepen- key terms. Entries are fully cross-referenced
dent discipline. At the start of the twenty- and contain concise listings for further
first century, social theory is the dynamic reading. A comprehensive index guides the
nexus of concepts and ideas that informs reader to further divisions of content.
sociology’s dialogue with a protean variety
of approaches in neighbouring disciplines. Austin Harrington is Lecturer in Sociol-
In recent years social theory has stood at the ogy at the University of Leeds, UK, and
forefront of the most exciting debates in Research Fellow at the Max Weber Centre
fields ranging across sociology and anthro- for Advanced Study at the University of
pology, political theory and political econ- Erfurt, Germany.
omy, media and cultural studies, feminist
theory and post-colonial studies. Barbara L. Marshall is Professor of
The Encyclopedia of Social Theory provides Sociology and Women’s Studies at Trent
a unique reference source for students and University, Canada.
academics, embracing all major aspects of
the field. Written by more than 200 inter- Hans-Peter Müller is Professor of Sociol-
nationally distinguished scholars, almost ogy at the Humboldt University of Berlin,
500 entries cover core contemporary topics, Germany.
encyclopedia of
social theory

edited by
austin harrington
barbara l. marshall
hans-peter müller
First published 2006
by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada
By Routledge
270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group
# 2006 Routledge
Typeset in Bembo and Helvetica by Taylor & Francis Books
Printed and bound in Great Britain by MPG Books Ltd, Bodmin
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized
in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or
hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information
storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
A catalog record for this book has been requested

ISBN10: 0-415-29046-5
ISBN13: 978-0-415-29046-3

T&F informa

Taylor & Francis Group is the Academic Division of T&F Informa plc.

introduction vii
acknowledgements xi
board of advisers xiii
contributors xv
list of entries xxi
entries A to Z 1
index 687

The Routledge Encyclopedia of Social Theory underlying our difficult decisions about
contains 479 entries, each in varying length which kinds of material to include in the
categories ranging from approximately 300 volume and which to leave out.
to 2,500 words. Though a sizeable figure,
this total permits us to make only a limited 1. This encyclopedia caters chiefly to
selection from the vast range of topics, topics in social theory, rather than
themes, concepts, debates, schools and to topics in empirical sociology or
authors that today pass by the broad and empirical social research. Topics
open-ended name of ‘social theory’. Social consisting of a relatively large com-
theory is, by definition, an interdisciplinary ponent of empirical information and
undertaking, composing a large nexus of a relatively small component of the-
domains in the humanities and social sci- oretical analysis receive less treatment
ences. Social theory gravitates around the in this work. We have determined
discipline of sociology but also pulls into its entry headwords according to the
orbit a veritable galaxy of fields ranging extent to which they are driven spe-
from history, philosophy, economics and cifically by a theory or by the extent
political science to anthropology, geo- to which they raise issues that are
graphy, cultural studies, media studies, specifically conceptual, epistemologi-
women’s studies and area studies. This cal or methodological in character.
encyclopedia cannot possibly do justice to 2. This is an encyclopedia primarily of
the full panoply of links between sociology social rather than political theory. Social
and these other fields. Nor can it compete theory and political theory relate to and
with the many other reference works available depend on one another very closely,
today for more specialised domains such as and the present work naturally covers
social policy, feminist theory, post-colonial a range of key concepts in political
studies, religious studies or psychoanalytic thought, such as democracy, equality,
theory—even though each of these named liberty, liberalism, socialism, anarchism,
areas intersects with social theory in key communitarianism, and several others.
ways. Nevertheless, we believe the present However, we must emphasise that
encyclopedia offers a spread of entries that this encyclopedia is aimed primarily
reflects this rich conjunction of ideas as at the social or sociological end of the
judiciously and comprehensively as it can spectrum of the field, rather than at
within the constraints of a single volume. the normative political end.
In this brief Introduction we want to 3. The emphasis of this encyclopedia
underline a few general considerations falls on concepts, themes, debates and

schools of thought, rather than on Longer entries aim to provide concise

intellectual personalities. Entries for overviews of substantive fields of
names of individual theorists have research and debate.
been confined to brief overviews of 6. Our policy in this one-volume work
no more than about 300 words. The has been to commission a large
purpose of this policy has been to number of succinct but tightly cross-
release space for lengthier treatments referenced entries, rather than a smaller
of the principal ideas, theses and number of longer entries under less
arguments for which these theorists discriminate headwords. Headwords
are chiefly celebrated or criticised. aim to reflect technical differences
Our aim has been to exploit the between terms as closely as possibly,
advantages of the format of an ency- more after the fashion of a dictionary
clopedia both in dividing material than a compendium of themed areas
into analytically distinct elements and such as a handbook. The entry for
in linking these elements together by ‘stratification’, for example, may be
thematically guided cross-references. read in conjunction with ‘inequality’,
This format, we believe, is particu- ‘class’, ‘status’, ‘gender’, ‘elites’, ‘caste’,
larly well-suited to a concentration ‘prestige’, ‘cultural capital’, ‘poverty’,
on conceptual analysis and synthesis, ‘underclass’, and ‘social inclusion and
rather than on intellectual biography. social exclusion’. We use cross-refer-
4. The encyclopedia contains 106 ences both to divide material into
entries on the work of individual units and to link these units together
theorists. This roster will inevitably by ‘family resemblance’, in Wittgen-
be open to criticism. There are some stein’s celebrated phrase.
names we could not possibly have 7. The encyclopedia includes one large
excluded; but there are many other entry for ‘religion’ and three separate
figures we could not have included entries for Christianity, Judaism and
without raising virtually endless and Islam, but omits entries for all other
intractable issues of relative parity of world religions. We include the
importance. Our necessarily rather three Western monotheistic religions
pragmatic selection is based on con- because these have historically fea-
siderations of canonical influence, tured not only as objects but also as
originality and critical depth, but is in dimensions in the formation of the
no way meant to imply a roll-call of concepts of modern Western social
the ‘greatest of the great’. thought, whereas, at least until
5. Lengths of entries for concepts, recently, religions such as Hinduism,
themes and schools have been deter- Buddhism or Confucianism have
mined by relative scope and com- featured in social theory at most as
plexity of the topic, by relative distant objects of research. We do
disciplinary centrality, and by relative not here imply that social theory is an
modernity and contemporaneity. By exclusively Western enterprise. If
‘modernity’ and ‘contemporaneity’ social theory was an exclusively
we mean social thought and analysis Western enterprise in the past, it is
from around the eighteenth and no longer so today. Nevertheless,
nineteenth centuries onwards, but with respect to the study of world
mostly in the twentieth and twenty- religions and civilizations, the present
first centuries. Short entries are con- encyclopedia must defer to better
ceived simply as definitions of terms. equipped reference works available


today in such fields as global cultural hensive in its coverage of these issues
studies, religious studies and area as works devoted specially to women’s
studies. studies, such as the Routledge Ency-
8. Similarly, we include two entries for clopedia of Feminist Theory edited by
‘Europe’ and ‘America’ but omit Lorraine Code, among others.
entries for other world regions. We 10. Some headwords are marked in the
do so not because we subscribe to a listing of entries by their synonyms or
Eurocentric or Western-centred view near-synonyms. For ‘labour’, we write
of world culture. We do so because ‘see Work’. For ‘ethics’, we write ‘see
adequate treatment of non-Western Morality’. For terms such as ‘sanction’,
regional contexts is well beyond our ‘discipline’, ‘punishment’ and ‘surveil-
available resources; and because Eur- lance’, we write ‘see Social control’.
ope and America (qua the USA) are For all other synonyms or near-
the initial historical sites of the emer- synonyms, for other overlapping
gence of social theory as a scientific terms or for words included under
institution; and because Europe and more encompassing terms, please see
America have been profoundly com- the index at the end of this volume.
plex signifiers for numerous influential Note that in the List of Entries
names in modern cultural criticism, ‘change’ appears as ‘social change’,
from Alexis de Tocqueville to Jean ‘justice’ as ‘social justice’, ‘reproduc-
Baudrillard. tion’ as ‘social reproduction’, and
9. The encyclopedia addresses a range of ‘system’ as ‘social system’.
concepts, themes and debates in femin-
ist theory and in feminist responses to Austin Harrington
main- or ‘malestream’ social theory. Barbara L. Marshall
However, it cannot be as compre- Hans-Peter Müller


The volume editors thank the Directorate assistance in the tasks of assigning, collecting
of the Institute of Social Sciences at the and coordinating entries from the contribut-
Humboldt University of Berlin for funds ing authors and reporting to the management
made available for the services of research team at Routledge Reference. The volume
assistants at the Lehrstuhl f ür Allgemeine editors also thank Ingar Abels, Julia Behne,
Soziologie, 2003–4. The volume editors and Andreas Weiß for key editorial assistance
particularly thank Il-Tschung Lim for vital in the preparation of the final manuscript.
board of advisers

Gerard Delanty, University of Liverpool, UK

Salvador Giner, University of Barcelona, Spain
Fuyuki Kurasawa, York University, Canada
Michèle Lamont, Harvard University, USA
Claus Offe, Humboldt University of Berlin, Germany
Saskia Sassen, University of Chicago, USA
Steven Seidman, State University of New York at Albany, USA
Richard Sennett, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Piotr Sztompka, Jagiellonia University of Krakow, Poland
Rosalind Sydie, University of Alberta, Canada
Anna Yeatman, University of Alberta, Canada

editorial coordinator

Il-Tschung Lim

editorial assistants

Ingar Abels
Julia Behne
Andreas Weiß

Christopher Adair-Toteff Benjamin Barber

Mississippi State University University of Maryland

Robert Adcock Andrew Barry

University of California, Berkeley Goldsmith’s College, University of London

Lisa Adkins Rainer Bauböck

University of Manchester Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

Brian Alleyne Ulrich Beck

Goldsmith’s College, University of London Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich

Robert J. Antonio Johannes Berger

University of Kansas University of Mannheim

Caroline Arni Tony Blackshaw

University of Berne Sheffield Hallam University

Roland Axtmann James Bohman

University of Wales, Swansea Saint Louis University

Feyzi Baban Cornelia Bohn

Trent University, Ontario University of Trier

Maurizio Bach Craig Brandist

University of Passau University of Sheffield

Veit Bader Jens Brockmeier

University of Amsterdam New School University, New York

Dirk Baecker Hauke Brunkhorst

University of Witten/Herdecke University of Flensburg

Patrick Baert Christian Brütt

University of Cambridge Humboldt University of Berlin

Gideon Baker Sonja Buckel

University of Salford University of Frankfurt

Sekhar Bandyopadhyay Lars Bullmann

Victoria University of Wellington Ruhr University of Bochum

Jack Barbalet Günter Burkart

University of Leicester University of Lüneburg

Joan Busfield Günter Frankenberg

University of Essex University of Frankfurt

Tim Butler Susanne Fuchs

King’s College, University of London Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin

Philip Catton Jan A. Fuhse

University of Canterbury University of Stuttgart

Robin Celikates Steve Fuller

University of Erfurt University of Warwick

Naomi Choi Matthew Gandy

University of California, Berkeley University College London

Kevin Christiano Heiner Ganßmann

Notre Dame University Free University of Berlin

Karen S. Cook Vincent Geoghegan

Stanford University Queen’s University, Belfast

Nick Crossley Alexandra Gerbasi

University of Manchester Stanford University

Charles Crothers Ute Gerhard

Auckland University of Technology University of Frankfurt

Jens Dangschat Uta Gerhardt

Technical University of Vienna University of Heidelberg

Gerard Delanty Nigel Gibson

University of Liverpool Harvard University

Eoin Devereux Bernhard Giesen

University of Limerick University of Constance

Göran Djurfeldt Emily Gilbert

Lund University University of Toronto

Klaus Eder Graeme Gilloch

Humboldt University of Berlin University of Salford

Klaus-Dieter Eichler Gert-Joachim Glaeßner

University of Mainz Humboldt University of Berlin

Stuart Elden Jukka Gronow

University of Durham University of Uppsala

Christoph Fehige Steven Grosby

University of Constance Clemson University

Ralph Fevre Matthias Gross

Cardiff University UFZ Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig

Beate Fietze Peter Hägel

Humboldt University of Berlin Humboldt University of Berlin

Robert Fine Lawrence Hamilton

University of Warwick University of KwaZulu-Natal

Karsten Fischer Philip Hancock

Humboldt University of Berlin Warwick Business School


Rom Harré Richard Jenkins

University of Oxford University of Sheffield

Austin Harrington Fabien Jobard

University of Leeds CNRS, Paris

Anke Hassel Danielle Juteau

Max Planck Institute, Cologne University of Montreal

Pierre Hassner Stephen Kalberg

Sciences Po, Paris Boston University

Mark Haugaard Stephen Katz

National University of Ireland Trent University, Ontario

Wilhelm Heitmeyer Suzanne Keller

University of Bielefeld Princeton University

Rosemary Hennessy Duncan Kelly

State University of New York at Albany University of Sheffield

Andreas Hess Rachel Kerr

University College Dublin King’s College, University of London

Myra Hird Thomas Khurana

Queen’s University, Ontario University of Potsdam

Trevor Hogan Richard Kilminster

La Trobe University University of Leeds

John Holmwood Barbara Kinach

University of Sussex University of Maryland, Baltimore

Alan How Sascha Kneip

University College Worcester University of Heidelberg

David Howarth Helmut Kuzmics

University of Essex University of Graz

Jason Hughes Raymond M. Lee

University of Leicester Royal Holloway College, University of London

James D. Ingram Thomas Lemke

New School University, New York University of Frankfurt

Engin F. Isin Il-Tschung Lim

York University, Toronto University of Mannheim

Stevi Jackson Bodo Lippl

University of York Heslington Humboldt University of Berlin

Søren Jagd Marcus Llanque

University of Roskilde Humboldt University of Berlin

Lynn Jamieson Tim Lockley

University of Edinburgh University of Warwick

David Jary David Lyon

University of Birmingham Queen’s University, Ontario

Guillermina Jasso Jürgen Mackert

New York University Humboldt University of Berlin


Kirk Mann Darren O’Byrne

University of Leeds Roehampton University

Oliver Marchart Brian O’Connor

University of Basel University College Dublin

Barbara L. Marshall Patrick O’Mahony

Trent University, Ontario University College Cork

Steffen Mau Thomas Osborne

University of Bremen University of Bristol

Vanessa May David Owen

University of Leeds University of Southampton

Jim McGuigan Frank Pearce

University of Loughborough Queen’s University, Ontario

Volker Meja Anton Pelinka

Memorial University of Newfoundland University of Innsbruck

Wolfgang Merkel Mary Pickering

Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin San Jose State University

Peter-Ulrich Merz-Benz Gary Pollock

University of Zürich Manchester Metropolitan University

Lukas Meyer Annie Potts

University of Bremen University of Canterbury

Murray Milner Christine Pries

University of Virginia Frankfurter Rundschau

Barbara Misztal Momin Rahman

University of Leicester University of Strathclyde

Virág Molnár William Ramp

Princeton University University of Lethbridge

Catherine A. Morgan Werner Raub

University of Leeds University of Utrecht

Raymond A. Morrow Andreas Reckwitz

University of Alberta University of Hamburg

Charlotte Müller Karl-Siegbert Rehberg

University of Bern Technical University of Dresden

Hans-Peter Müller Tilman Reitz

Humboldt University of Berlin University of Jena

Armin Nassehi Martin Riesebrodt

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich University of Chicago

Friedhelm Neidhardt Derek Robbins

Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin University of East London

Carlos Novas Ralf Rogowski

London School of Economics University of Warwick

Gertrud Nunner-Winkler Frank Ruda

Max Planck Institute, Munich Ruhr University of Bochum


Thomas Sablowski Nick Stevenson

Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin University of Nottingham

Barry Sandywell Rudolf Stichweh

University of York University of Lucerne

Bobby Sayyid Piet Strydom

University of Leeds University College Cork

Uwe Schimank Daniel Šuber

University of Hagen University of Constance

Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg Richard Swedberg

Humboldt University of Berlin Cornell University

Thomas Schneider Arpad Szakolczai

University of Erfurt University College Cork

Wolfgang Ludwig Schneider Keith Tester

University of Gießen University of Portsmouth

Ralph Schroeder Bjørn Thomassen

Oxford Internet Institute American University of Rome

Alan Scott Jacob Torfing

University of Innsbruck University of Roskilde

Wes Sharrock Keith Tribe

University of Manchester King’s School Worcester

Martin Shaw Jonathan Turner

University of Sussex University of California, Riverside

Alison Sheldon Stephen P. Turner

University of Leeds University of South Florida

Steffen Sigmund Ralf E. Ulrich

University of Heidelberg University of Bielefeld

Don Slater John Veit-Wilson

London School of Economics University of Newcastle

Laureen Snider Michael Vester

Queen’s University, Ontario University of Hannover

Urs Stäheli Thomas Voss

University of Bern University of Leipzig

Helmut Staubmann Gerhard Wagner

University of Innsbruck University of Frankfurt

Elaine Stavro Peter Wagner

Trent University, Ontario European University Institute, Florence

Nico Stehr Tony Walter

University of British Columbia University of Reading

Jochen Steinbicker Frank Webster

Humboldt University of Berlin City University London

Heinz Steinert Bernd Wegener

University of Frankfurt Humboldt University of Berlin


Siegfried Weichlein Malcolm Williams

Humboldt University of Berlin University of Plymouth

Johannes Weiss Monika Wohlrab-Sahr

University of Kassel University of Leipzig

Harald Wenzel Michaela Wünsch

Free University of Berlin Humboldt University Berlin

Ulla Wessels Anna Yeatman

University of Leipzig University of Alberta

Sam Whimster Karine Zbinden

London Metropolitan University University of Sheffield

Andrew Whitworth Reinhard Zintl

University of Leeds University of Bamberg

Iain Wilkinson Phil Zuckerman

University of Kent at Canterbury Pitzer College, California

list of entries


Austin Harrington Austin Harrington


Andrew Barry Hans-Peter Müller


Brian O’Connor Mark Haugaard

Stephen Katz Gertrud Nunner-Winkler


David Jary Craig Brandist


Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber Karine Zbinden


Richard Kilminster Frank Pearce


Frank Pearce Barry Sandywell


Andreas Hess Keith Tester


Andrew Whitworth Elaine Stavro


Richard Kilminster Iain Wilkinson


Robert Fine Piet Strydom


Helmut Kuzmics Jochen Steinbicker


Pierre Hassner Sam Whimster


Graeme Gilloch Engin F. Isin

BERGER, PETER AND LUCKMANN, THOMAS CITY See: Urbanism and urbanization
Richard Kilminster
BINARY Benjamin R. Barber
William Ramp
BLOCH, ERNST Steffen Sigmund
Vincent Geoghegan
Wes Sharrock
BODY See: embodiment Jason Hughes
Derek Robbins Michael Vester
Tilman Reitz
Alan How
William Ramp
Virág Molnár
Philip Hancock
Piet Strydom
Elaine Stavro
Werner Raub
Heiner Ganßmann
Piet Strydom
COLONIZATION See: post-colonial theory
Sekhar Bandyopadhyay
Jukka Gronow
Oliver Marchart

Stephen P. Turner Austin Harrington


Hans-Peter Müller Oliver Marchart

Arpad Szakolczai Robin Celikates


Wes Sharrock Gerard Delanty


Jens Brockmeier Peter Hägel

Monika Wohlrab-Sahr Dirk Baecker


Monika Wohlrab-Sahr Mary Pickering


CONFLICT DARWINISM See: evolutionary theory

Jürgen Mackert
Thomas Schneider
Duncan Kelly
CONSTITUTION Barry Sandywell
Günter Frankenberg
Armin Nassehi
Don Slater
Rudolf Stichweh
CONTRACT Thomas Khurana
Austin Harrington
CONVENTION Stephen P. Turner
Søren Jagd
COOPERATION Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg
Thomas Voss
CORPORATION Laureen Snider
Philip Hancock
Engin F. Isin
CRIME Lisa Adkins
Laureen Snider
CRISIS Uwe Schimank
Piet Strydom
Robin Celikates and James Ingram
Alison Sheldon
Derek Robbins
DISCIPLINE See: social control
Andreas Reckwitz DISCOURSE
David Howarth
Andreas Reckwitz DIVISION OF LABOUR See: differentiation

Armin Nassehi Mark Haugaard


Myra Hird Arpad Szakolczai


Catherine A. Morgan Patrick Baert



Phil Zuckerman Danielle Juteau


Frank Pearce Austin Harrington


Matthias Gross Patrick Baert

ECONOMY See: political economy EUROPE

Peter Wagner
Frank Webster EVERYDAY
Alan How
Dirk Baecker
Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber EXCHANGE THEORY
Karen S. Cook
Arpad Szakolczai
Stephen P. Turner
Jason Hughes
Vanessa May
Suzanne Keller
Nigel Gibson
Raymond A. Morrow
Maurizio Bach
FEMINISM See: women’s movement
Steffen Sigmund
Stevi Jackson
Annie Potts
Helmut Kuzmics
Jack Barbalet
Piet Strydom
ENLIGHTENMENT Helmut Staubmann
Thomas Osborne
Steve Fuller
EQUALITY Piet Strydom
Naomi Choi
EROTICISM Hauke Brunkhorst
Annie Potts
Myra Hird
ETHICS See: morality Michaela Wünsch



Klaus-Dieter Eichler Austin Harrington

John Holmwood Derek Robbins


Martin Riesebrodt Barbara L. Marshall


Alan How Joan Busfield


Werner Raub Brian O’Connor


Patrick Baert Jacob Torfing


Andreas Reckwitz Alan How


Austin Harrington
Karl-Siegbert Rehberg
Arpad Szakolczai
Ralph Schroeder
Arpad Szakolczai
Peter-Ulrich Merz-Benz
Robert Fine
Barbara L. Marshall
Karen S. Cook and Alexandra Gerbasi
Beate Fietze
Hauke Brunkhorst
Carlos Novas
GIDDENS, ANTHONY Austin Harrington
David Jary
GIFT EXCHANGE See: exchange theory Il-Tschung Lim
Darren J. O’Byrne Uta Gerhardt
Patrick Baert Brian O’Connor
Thomas Lemke Richard Jenkins
Jacob Torfing Lars Bullmann and Frank Ruda
Barbara M. Kinach Gerard Delanty

Jan Fuhse Marcus Llanque



Bjørn Thomassen Graeme Gilloch


Ulrich Beck
Keith Tribe
Johannes Berger
Frank Webster
Karl-Siegbert Rehberg
Hauke Brunkhorst
INTEGRATION Roland Axtmann
John Holmwood
Tilman Reitz
Wes Sharrock
INTERESTS Gideon Baker
Christian Brütt
LIBERATION See: emancipation
INTERSEXUALITY See: sex/gender distinction
LIBERTY See: freedom
Nick Crossley LIFEWORLD
Nick Crossley
Lynn Jamieson LIMINALITY
Bjørn Thomassen
Rom Harré
Anton Pelinka
Steven Grosby LITERACY
Cornelia Bohn
Christopher Adair-Toteff LOGICAL POSITIVISM See: positivism


Heiner Ganßmann Thomas Khurana

Bjørn Thomassen Caroline Arni


Nico Stehr Armin Nassehi



Helmut Staubmann Joan Busfield


Christine Pries Joan Busfield

MADNESS See: mental illness MENTALITIES

Siegfried Weichlein
Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber MERLEAU-PONTY, MAURICE
Nick Crossley
Volker Meja and Nico Stehr MERTON, ROBERT K.
Jürgen Mackert
Hauke Brunkhorst METAPHYSICAL
James Bohman
Malcolm Williams
Wolfgang Ludwig Schneider
Jürgen Mackert
Tim Butler
Charlotte Müller
Ralf E. Ulrich
Robert J. Antonio
Duncan Kelly
Robert J. Antonio
Raymond Lee
Jim McGuigan
Frank Pearce
Brian O’Connor Peter Wagner
Robert J. Antonio Helmut Kuzmics
William Ramp Emily Gilbert
Nick Stevenson Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber
Wes Sharrock Keith Tester
Wolfgang Ludwig Schneider Rainer Bauböck
Robert Adcock Craig Brandist


Eoin Devereux Patrick O’Mahony


NATION–STATE See: state and nation–state PARSONS, TALCOTT

Harald Wenzel
Piet Strydom PARTY
Sascha Kneip and Wolfgang Merkel
Matthias Gross PATRIARCHY
Rosemary Hennessy
Lawrence Hamilton PEACE
Rachel Kerr
NEO-KANTIANISM See: Kantianism and
Neo-Kantianism PEASANTRY
Göran Djurfeldt
NEO-LIBERALISM See: liberalism
Elaine Stavro
Dirk Baecker
Rom Harré
PETTY BOURGEOISIE See: bourgeoisie,
middle class
Annie Potts
Nick Crossley
James Bohman
Elaine Stavro PIAGET, JEAN
Jens Brockmeier
Austin Harrington PLANNING See: governance and governmentality


Rom Harré Barry Sandywell


Philip Catton Veit Bader

Philip Hancock Fabien Jobard


Philip Hancock Heiner Ganßmann

Feyzi Baban Marcus Llanque


Oliver Marchart Philip Catton


Steve Fuller Jim McGuigan


Maurizio Bach Raymond A. Morrow



Nigel Gibson Klaus Eder


Sonja Buckel
Jochen Steinbicker
David Lyon
Urs Stäheli
POVERTY Ralph Schroeder
John Veit-Wilson RAWLS, JOHN
POWER Lukas H. Meyer
Mark Haugaard REALISM
Stephen P. Turner REDUCTIONISM
PREFERENCES Raymond A. Morrow
Christoph Fehige REFLEXIVITY
PRESTIGE Iain Wilkinson
PRODUCTION Jens Dangschat
Austin Harrington REGULATION
PROFESSIONS AND Thomas Sablowski
Günter Burkart Alan Scott
Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg Raymond A. Morrow
Michael Vester Martin Riesebrodt
Reinhard Zintl Johannes Weiss
Klaus Eder Andrew Whitworth


Stephen Kalberg Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber


Michaela Wünsch Jens Brockmeier


Anna Yeatman Oliver Marchart


Duncan Kelly Annie Potts

RISK SIGNS See: semiotics

Iain Wilkinson
RITUAL Helmut Staubmann
Bjørn Thomassen
ROLE Barry Sandywell
Patrick Baert
ROMANTICISM Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber
Trevor Hogan
Robin Celikates
SACRED Hans-Peter Müller
Frank Pearce
SAID, EDWARD W. Heiner Ganßmann
Feyzi Baban
SANCTION See: social control Susanne Fuchs


Karsten Fischer Christian Schmidt-Wellenburg


Duncan Kelly Stevi Jackson


Richard Swedberg Tony Blackshaw


Nick Crossley EXCLUSION
Heinz Steinert
Steffen Mau
Martin Riesebrodt SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
Klaus Eder
Kevin J. Christiano SOCIAL RELATIONS
Armin Nassehi
Gert-Joachim Glaessner SOCIAL REPRODUCTION
Derek Robbins
Lisa Adkins SOCIAL STRUCTURE See: structure


Karine Zbinden Andrew Barry


Ulla Wessels Armin Nassehi


Myra Hird Oliver Marchart



Stevi Jackson
SURVEILLANCE See: social control
Armin Nassehi
Craig Brandist
Myra Hird
Wes Sharrock
William Ramp
Armin Nassehi
Peter Hägel
Bjørn Thomassen
Matthew Gandy
Robin Celikates
Frank Webster
Barbara L. Marshall TERRORISM
Friedhelm Neidhardt
Tony Blackshaw TILLY, CHARLES
Bernhard Giesen and Daniel Šuber
Rosemary Hennessy TIME
Patrick Baert
Sascha Kneip and Wolfgang Merkel TOCQUEVILLE, ALEXIS DE
Hans-Peter Müller
Guillermina Jasso TÖNNIES, FERDINAND
Peter-Ulrich Merz-Benz
Robert Fine
Rudolf Stichweh TOTALITY
Hauke Brunkhorst
Hans-Peter Müller TOURAINE, ALAIN
Nick Crossley
See: functionalism TRADE UNIONS
Anke Hassel
William Ramp TRADITION
Gerard Delanty
James Bohman
Charles Crothers TRANSEXUALISM See: sex/gender distinction

Jim McGuigan Bjørn Thomassen


Lisa Adkins Barbara A. Misztal



Peter-Ulrich Merz-Benz and Gerhard Wagner Harald Wenzel


Michaela Wünsch Hans-Peter Müller


Kirk Mann Robin Celikates


Martin Shaw
Gary Pollock
Keith Tribe
Robin Celikates
Stephen Kalberg
Engin F. Isin and Austin Harrington
Thomas Voss
WEST See: Occident
Rom Harré
Keith Tester
Ute Gerhard
Alan How
Ralph Fevre
Wilhelm Heitmeyer Michael Vester
Trevor Hogan Hans-Peter Müller
Günter Burkart Trevor Hogan


Arpad Szakolczai Oliver Marchart

ACTION structure also shapes, moulds or articulates
Action is the realization of the power of a action in some sense and thus ‘enables’ it to
person or thing to effect change in itself and a certain extent. The idea that action is
its environment. To act or to actualize is to ‘enabled’ by structure is sometimes referred
make real the potential or power that an actor to by the term ‘structuration’ (see struc-
possesses. In the language of Aristotle’s turation school). Structure is then said to
three modalities of possibility, necessity and be bound up with the agency of the actor,
actuality, action is the movement from ‘I where agency is defined as the ability of
can’ to ‘I do’, or from ‘I must’ to ‘I do’. I actors to act freely within the limits of a
cannot act if I lack the power or possibility medium of some kind.
to do so; though sometimes I must act, even Action is usually distinguished by philo-
if I lack the power to do so. To make actual sophers and social theorists from non-
or become actual thus is to move from a intentional behaviour, where ‘intentional’
state of possibility to a state of reality, or denotes representation of desires in the
from a state of the future (‘not yet’) to a state form of goals or purposes of action. It was
of the present (‘now’). in this sense that Max Weber defined
Most languages distinguish between (1) action in the opening paragraph of Economy
action as process or performance and (2) and Society as ‘behaviour to which the actor
action as completed phase, unit, result or attaches a subjectively intended meaning’
end-state of a course of acting. Thus English (Weber 1968: 4). I do not truly act, Weber
distinguishes ‘acting’ and ‘act’; French dis- argued, if I am only induced or stimulated
tinguishes agir and action, German distinguishes to behaving in a certain way by something
Handeln and Handlung, and so on. The that is external to me and that I cannot
result of acting is the deed, fait or Tat, and so recognize as my own reason for acting – for
on. An act of law, or an act of war, or an act example, by hypnotism or by a sudden
in the theatre, is the completed bounded phase noise that makes me jump in fright. To
or result or record of a process of acting, attach a subjectively intended meaning to
deliberating, playing or conspiring, and so on. my behaviour implies that I can account for,
Action in social theory usually contrasts and be responsible, for my conduct, in the
with the term structure. Structure is classically sense of my autonomy and moral responsi-
thought of as limiting or constraining action bility as an individual. According to Kantian
negatively, by reducing the range of possi- philosophy, I am at once a creature of nat-
bilities available to an actor or by pre- ure, bound to the laws of nature which
determining the actor’s possibilities and determine my impulses, and, at the same
deeds beyond the actor’s free choice. But time, a free being capable of determining

my own courses of action (see Kantianism question cannot itself function as a means
and Neo-Kantianism). This implies that because it is, for the actor, the ultimate end
when I act, the causes of my acting can be in life, represented as ‘salvation’, ‘election
my reasons for acting. The theme of reasons to the kingdom of God’, or ‘happiness’.
as causes of action was explored later in the Thus the concluding thesis of Weber’s
twentieth century by analytical philoso- study of the Protestant ethic and its rela-
phers of language, notably by Donald tion to the ‘spirit of capitalism’ in early
Davidson (1980), in opposition to earlier modern Europe was that over the courses
standpoints of behaviourism and positivism of processes of industrialization and
that had sought to reduce or ‘bracket off’ all bureaucratization, the Puritan’s value-
reference to a subject’s inner mental states rational beliefs that had once given spiritual
in favour of strictly observable physical pro- sense to the entrepreneur’s purposive-
cesses (see also reductionism and causality). rational calculations were now defunct:
In addition, Weber distinguished between where purposive-rational action had once
intentional action in a narrow sense of been embedded in value-rational action, now
action consciously oriented to ends by such action was left to spin around in its
deliberate calculation of appropriate means own moral void, like an ‘iron cage’ of
and a wider, more diffuse range of types of meaningless compulsions.
action guided by feelings and emotion, by Besides ‘action’ in general, the concept of
longstanding social customs and tradition, ‘social action’ in particular is foundational
and by ‘values’, especially ‘ultimate values’ for social theory. Social action in a strict
expressed in religion, ritual and myth. sense should be distinguished from gen-
Intentional action, in the narrow sense, erally socially conditioned action. Clearly
Weber termed ‘purposive-rational action’ all action by an individual is socially condi-
(zweckrationales Handeln). Purposive-rational tioned in a general sense: I cannot act pri-
action implies an ability to convert knowledge vately, keep secrets, lie to others, surprise,
of an objective causal relation between two manipulate, or dominate others, without
states of affairs into a subjective teleological the existence of others. But some actions I
relation: I know that fire causes water to can perform predominantly only in soli-
boil; I want to boil water; therefore I light a tude, while other actions I can perform
fire. But perfectly purposive-rational action predominantly only in concert with others.
of this kind is rarely found in social reality I can pray or urinate alone, and I can die
in any interesting and complex sense. For alone; I need not perform any of these
example, in the stock exchange traders actions with another person, though my
invariably fall short of this ideal, and a large performance of these actions – even the
part of their action is determined by emo- ultimate borderline case of death – is always
tions of fear or euphoria. Today, theorists socially structured, just as my every act of
of rational choice demonstrate at length speech, even when I talk to myself or think
the manifold ways in which actors seeking alone, is socially structured. However, only
rational strategies in pursuit of their inter- action in concert with others counts as ‘social
ests may also deviate from the most effec- action’ in the strict sense. Here again the
tive courses of action. Weber therefore canonical definition is provided by Weber
defined three other types of action: ‘affec- when he writes that ‘social action is action
tual action’, motivated by emotion, passion which on account its subjective meaning is
or impulse; ‘traditional action’, motivated oriented in its course by the action of
by conformity to social precedent; and another’ (Weber 1968: 4). Social action
‘value-rational action’, motivated by rational occurs only when I ‘orient’ or ‘relate’ my
pursuit of an end, but where the end in action to the action of another, who must

exist in some more or less definite spatio- economic action competing in a social
temporal relation to me, though he or she vacuum, in the image of homo oeconomicus,
or they may not be known to me personally, but vitally interdependent members of
indeed may be wholly anonymous to me. definite social groups. It followed that
A further requirement for Weber is that altruistic behaviour could not be explained
interaction must be informed by norms, solely by strategic mitigation of self-regard-
rules or conventions of some kind. A colli- ing interests, as when I concede some
sion between two cyclists is social action short-term profit to myself for the sake of a
only to the extent that the two cyclists fail longer-term security or when I elect to
to fulfill a prevalent convention to avoid support my family, kin and friends to the
one another by riding on alternate sides or extent that I see them as supporting my
to the extent that they swear at each other sphere of power. Later positivist thinking,
or argue about the collision’s causes. The culminating in the work of Pareto, sought
crashing of the two vehicles is not in itself to explain such behaviour by reference to a
social action but only a physical event. category of ‘irrational’ or ‘non-rational’
Similarly, it follows that a panic reaction in factors, covering the influence of religion,
a crowd of people in which each individual custom and tradition. The inadequacies of
is caused to react by the stimulus of others such thinking were exposed in the middle
without a chance to communicate or to decades of the twentieth century by three
deliberate with them also fails to count as schools of thought, each of them paralleling
social action in the strict sense of inten- the example set by Weber. These were (1)
tionally mediated, symbolically structured Alfred Schutz’s project of a phenomenol-
interaction. Crowd behaviour thus stands ogy of the social world; (2) George Herbert
on the borderline between collective Mead’s psychology of social behaviour
intentional action and mass affection or oriented to human interaction; and (3)
mass stimulus-and-response. Social action Talcott Parsons’s framework of socio-
may issue in conflict or non-cooperation, logical functionalism.
possibly even in war and militarism; or it Drawing on Henri Bergson’s conception
may be dominated by the egoistic or tyr- of the flow of time as a process of lived
annical action of one party in relation to ‘duration’ and on Edmund Husserl’s theory
another; but all such action is social if and of ‘internal time-consciousness’, Schutz
only if it is produced with a shared orien- emphasized two aspects of the quality of
tation to a code or body of norms – for action in society: first, the always unfin-
example, rules of engagement in a battle – ished processual character of courses of
even if the code or the rules are violated in acting relative to ends-in-view that can be
some way. continually revised and altered in the light of
The specifically social character of human experience; second, the essentially socially
action in general was poorly understood by constituted character of the actor’s ends.
the movements of eighteenth- and nine- Similar considerations underlay Mead’s ana-
teenth-century political economy and uti- lysis of the relationship between children
litarianism, although these movements and parents and other elementary bonds of
achieved spectacular results in applying primary interdependence. Parsons’s mag-
putative psychological laws about the num opus of 1937 The Structure of Social
springs of human motivation to economic Action incorporated this focus on the ele-
and strategic behaviour. The primary con- mentary particles of action – the ‘action
ceptual innovation of Marx’s critique of frame of reference’, as he called it – into
classical political economy was to demon- analysis of the total structures of social order
strate that human beings are not atoms of prevailing over and above the consciousness

of any one individual. Human societies Joas, H. (1996) The Creativity of Action. Cambridge,
consist both of multiple ‘unit acts’ by indi- UK: Polity Press.
Mead, G.H. (1934) Mind, Self, and Society. Chi-
viduals acting in multitudinous relations to cago: University of Chicago Press.
one another and of systems that integrate, Moya, C.J. (1990) The Philosophy of Action: An
order and structure these acts into coherent Introduction. Cambridge: Polity Press.
patterns (see social system). Parsons thereby Parsons, T. (1937) The Structure of Social Action.
sought to reconcile the aspect of free will New York: The Free Press.
Schutz, A. ([1932] 1967) The Phenomenology of
that is essential to human agency (see the Social World. Evanston: Northwestern
voluntarism) with the observation that actors University Press.
choose ends typically in contexts of pre- Weber, M. ([1922] 1968) Economy and Society.
structured expectation and not at random. Berkeley: University of California Press.
In the 1960s Parsons’s approach came AUSTIN HARRINGTON
under fire from a number of directions. Two
pertinent criticisms were, firstly, that the
concept of action tended to be swallowed up ACTOR–NETWORK THEORY
in his work into the concept of system, and, Many of the key ideas of what came to be
secondly, that the concept of action in his known as actor-network theory (ANT)
work appeared resistant to definite empiri- were first formulated in a 1981 paper by
cal application. There followed a renaissance Michel Callon and Bruno Latour. Their
of interactionist approaches in the spirit of work, along with that of John Law, has
the Chicago School of sociologists, been closely identified with the approach.
including the dramaturgical school led by Although ANT can be understood as a
Goffman and the programme of ethno- quite general approach to social theory, it has
metholology formulated by Garkinkel. In been particularly influential in social stud-
Europe Ludwig Wittgenstein’s linguistic ies of science, although in recent years
analyses led to a theory ‘speech-acts’ and there has been increasing interest in ANT
performatives propounded by the philoso- in political sociology, social geography, media
phers John Austin and John Searle, emphasiz- studies, social anthropology and other fields.
ing that language-in-use not only describes The idea of the actor-network derives
the world but actively constructs the world. some inspiration from semiotics. An actor
In different ways these ideas fed into Jürgen (actant) in this account is not an individual
Habermas’s theory of ‘communicative agent with a given identity, but rather an
action’ (see communication) and into Jac- entity whose identity is formed through its
ques Derrida’s conception of deconstruc- shifting network of relations with other
tion. For other theorists, including notably actors. In addition, as in semiotics, actors
Niklas Luhmann and Gilles Deleuze, the can be either humans or non-humans. In
concepts of action, consciousness and this way, ANT poses a radical challenge to
intentionality were redundant artifices of social theory in arguing that sociology
metaphysical thinking that had to be should be as much concerned with the
abandoned in favour of the terminology of agency and identity of non-humans as of
systems theory and cybernetics. humans. In conceiving of the identity of actors
as relational rather than essential, ANT has
much in common with post-structuralist
References and further reading approaches to social theory such as those
associated with the philosophy of Michel
Coleman, J.S. (1990) Foundations of Social Theory.
Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Foucault, Michel Serres and Gilles Deleuze.
Davidon, D. (1980) Essays on Actions and Events. While the central claims of ANT parallel
Oxford: Oxford University Press. arguments in philosophy, the approach has

been best developed through detailed writings on art and aesthetics, literature
empirical studies. Indeed, ANT draws some and music in relation to material social
inspiration from micro-sociological and eth- structures seek to validate the thesis of cri-
nographic work, such as that of Erving Goff- tical theory that society is not the sum of
man. There are also connections between its ‘appearances’, and that is not an unalter-
ANT and the sociology and philosophy of able given. Adorno’s aesthetic studies also
Gabriel Tarde. For Tarde, as for ANT, seek to reveal the ‘mimetic’ operations of
society is not conceived of as a structure or a the social in artworks. His theoretical work
system but as a multiplicity of associations can be understood in terms of a project to
between human and non-human actors. reveal the variety of ways in which experi-
ence has been diminished by modern forms
References and further reading
of capitalist rationality and rationalization
Callon, M. and Latour, B. (1981) ‘Unscrewing and instrumental reason.
the Big Leviathan: How Actors Macrostructure
Reality and How Scientists Help Them Do
So’, in K. Knorr-Cetina and A. Cicourel Major works
(eds), Advances in Social Theory and Methodol-
ogy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ([1947] 1972) (with Max Horkheimer) Dialectic
Callon, M., Law, J. and Rip, A. (eds) (1986) of Enlightenment. New York: Herder and
Mapping the Dynamics of Science and Technol- Herder.
ogy. London: Macmillan. ([1949] 1973) Philosophy of Modern Music. Lon-
Latour, B. (1993) We Have Never Been Modern. don: Sheed & Ward.
Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf. ([1951] 1974) Minima Moralia. London: NLB.
Latour, B. (2002) ‘Gabriel Tarde and the End of ([1956] 1982) Against Epistemology: A Metacri-
the Social’, in P. Joyce (ed.), The Social in tique. Oxford: Blackwell.
Question. London: Routledge. ([1966] 1973) Negative Dialectics. London: Rou-
Law, J. (1994) Organizing Modernity. Oxford: tledge.
Blackwell. ([1970] 1997) Aesthetic Theory. Minneapolis,
Law, J. and Hassard, J. (eds) (1999) Actor–Net- MN: University of Minnesota Press.
work Theory and After. Oxford: Blackwell.
Law, J. and Hassard, J. (2002) Aircraft Stories:
Decentering the Object in Technoscience. Dur- Further reading
ham, NC: Duke University Press. Cook, D. (2004) Adorno, Habermas and the Search
ANDREW BARRY for a Rational Society. London: Routledge.
Jarvis, S. (1998) Adorno: A Critical Introduction.
Cambridge: Polity.
ADORNO, THEODOR WIESENGRUND O’Connor, B. (2004) Adorno’s Negative Dialectic.
(1903–1969) Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
German theorist BRIAN O’CONNOR
A member of the Frankfurt School,
Adorno constantly engaged in polemical
disputes with what he termed ‘positivist
sociology’, arguing that it lacks methodo- Age is one of the most important and
logical self-reflection and falls short of a diverse yet least theorized principles of social
dialectical self-consciousness (see dialec- organization and stratification, spanning
tical). Positivism takes society as it is macro-structural and micro-experiential
given, and thereby fails to recognize the dimensions of social life. As a principle of
influence of the exchange structure on all social organization, age can be broken
social phenomena. Positivist sociology down into the four major analytical cate-
serves to perpetuate the notion of society as gories of life course, generation, cohort
an aggregate of indivualized atoms. Adorno’s and population. Beginning in the early

twentieth century, the nascent sciences of broadened the idea of generation to include
pediatrics, geriatrics and gerontology claimed factors of identity, consciousness, history
that the age groups of childhood, adoles- and location (1952). Today culturally
cence, adulthood and old age were distin- formed generations such as ‘Generation X’
guishable by their unique developmental or the ‘Woodstock Generation’ would fit
characteristics. As earlier stages of life well in Mannheim’s perspective. Especially
became associated with maturation and innovative in Mannheim’s work was the
socialization, later stages of life were pro- focus on the relationship between genera-
blematized and cast in terms of decline and tion and class, and their combined role in
role-loss. The psychologist G. Stanley Hall the intergenerational transmission of cul-
pioneered age studies with his two influ- ture (Edmunds and Turner 2002). In the
ential books, Adolescence (1904), and Senes- last quarter of the twentieth century a new
cence (1922), and later Erik Erikson political image of generations emerged,
theorized eight stages of development with depicting a competition between shrinking
each marked by specific identity crises and younger and growing older generations for
resolutions based on life course transitions. limited social provisions. Labelled by critics
Others followed who theorized the life an ‘apocalyptic demography’ (Gee and
course as a complex interplay between Gutman 2000), this image of intergenera-
social, psychological and physiological factors. tional conflict has proved to be an unkind
In the late twentieth century, social crit- ideological manifestation of the collapse of
ics pointed to the connection between welfare governments, the privatization of
research on the life course and the bureau- support services and increasing employ-
cratic standardization of age hierarchies in ment insecurity for younger generations.
legal, educational, military, industrial and Research demonstrates that more inter-
economic systems (Katz 1996). In the generational interdependence and coopera-
1980s, critical age studies emerged to high- tion exists than antagonism, and that older
light further problems with life course generations, whose needs are far from jeo-
thinking, in particular, the life course as a pardizing the stability of Western econo-
socially constructed universalizing model mies, believe in sustaining the viability of
based on white, masculine, heterosexual pan-generational welfare institutions.
and middle-class cultural patterns and The concept of generation is related to
regimes of embodiment. In reality, life theories of age cohorts, a key idea found in
course politics is an arena of struggle ethnographic research on age groups that
whereby race, gender, sexual, and class captures how individual biographies and
divisions intersect with those based on age, socio-structural events are intertwined.
while social order and power are con- Cohort is a static category signifying a point
stituted through a plurality of life course in time whereby wars, technological inno-
structures and experiences. For example, vations, revolutions, economic fluctuations
Dannefer links the lives and life courses of or other forms of social change define cer-
Third World child laborers, American tain age groups and characterize their out-
youth gangs, ‘trendy’ Amazonian shamans look. Cohort is also part of a qualitative
and Western consumer groups to the pro- methodological approach to aging that
duction, environmental and labor networks looks at the subjective expressions of social
of global commodity capitalism (2003). change within the chronological memories
Generation is a second organizational and narratives of specific groups, and his-
component of age, introduced into social toricizes the taken-for-granted norms and
thought by Karl Mannheim in his essay meanings associated with age. Both the
‘The Problem of Generations’, which categorical and methodological aspects of

cohort analysis provide an understanding of as ‘seniors’ are idealized as lifestyle specia-

how individual lives lived within specific lists whose social acceptability relies on
periods of time collectively structure the their wise investment choices and programs
experience of aging. A seminal cohort study of self-care.
is Glen Elder Jr.’s Children of the Great Age, along with race, class, gender and
Depression (1974). disability, often organizes social relations on
Life course, generation and cohort are the basis of social inequality, where age
clustered into populations. Populations groups are stratified chronologically and
appear to be naturally and statistically cal- structurally defined by their productive and
culable aggregations of age groups. The reproductive relationships to capitalist
young, the middle-aged and the old are economies. Critical literature in exchange
represented and measured in demographic theory and political economy examines
discourses where terms such as median age, how ‘interlocking systems of oppression’
fertility and mortality rates, dependency (Estes 2001) are created from the conjunc-
ratios, migration and immigration and life tion of the capitalist division of laboring age
expectancy characterize collective life. groups, ageist policy biases favoring privi-
Graphic ‘age pyramids’ portray the result- leged classes, the devaluation of domestic
ing shape of changing historical relation- and care work and the inequitable dis-
ships between age groups as some grow tribution of resources among different ages.
larger and others decline. Three important Complementing such literature, feminist
demographic trends in Western societies research tackles the social processes
today are the growth of aging populations, whereby gender and age create a ‘double
the decline in fertility rates and the long- jeopardy’ of oppression at each transitional
evity gap between women and men. These point in the female life course, thus bring-
have important future political and eco- ing to the study of age a focus on the body,
nomic implications; for example, women, sexuality and the exploitation of the private
because they outlive their spouses, are often sphere, especially where the family is a site
more alone, unsupported, marginalized and of gender and age conflict. Feminists who
poor. study young (Driscoll 2002), middle-aged
When populations are examined from a (Woodward 1999) or older groups of
more critical theoretical perspective, however, women (Calasanti and Slevin 2001), have
they can be seen as the political basis for the contributed incisive critiques of the patri-
historical division of peoples into govern- archal configurations of feminine identities,
able and knowable sectors, as Foucault such as girlhood, daughterhood, mother-
demonstrates in his work on the ‘bio-poli- hood and widowhood. Critical theoretical
tics of the population’ (1980). In this sense, perspectives on age, gender and inequality
one can genealogically trace each age also stress the agency of groups who, based
population and the state provisions created on their socially inscribed age identities,
for it to the modern political concerns lobby the state for social security, pension
about health, wealth, security, productivity and healthcare reforms.
and the regulation of the social sphere. In Finally, cultural and postmodern studies
today’s ‘risk society’, as conceptualized by of age caution that in the late twentieth and
Ulrich Beck, the public agenda to govern early twenty-first centuries, the temporal
dependent populations has shifted to a neo- and generational boundaries that had set
liberal emphasis on individual responsibility apart childhood, middle age and old age in
and risk management (see risk). Hence, the past, are now blurred and indetermi-
vaguely specified age groups such as ‘youth’ nate. New labour and retirement structures,
have been reinvented as risk categories, just the importance of leisure and consumerism

on a global scale and the medical, pharma- AGENCY

cological and commercial stretching of Referring usually to human agency, the
middle age into later life have created the term ‘agency’ typically conveys the voli-
paradoxical imperative to grow older without tional, purposive, and intentional aspects of
aging (Gilleard and Higgs 2000). Newly human activity as opposed to its more
identified age groups such as ‘boomers’ and constrained and determined elements. A
‘third agers’ are celebrated for pursuing general condition for agency (‘doing
personal and bodily lifestyle experiments something’) is that the agent possesses a
with timelessness, as age as a barrier to suc- degree of autonomy. A second idea is an
cessful living disappears from commercial associated reflexivity.
portrayals of permanently mature consumer The term ‘agency’ is far from being the
citizens, whether young or old. Thus, cri- only or main term referring to these aspects
tical anti-ageism is confused with cultural of human activity. What is central to agency
anti-aging, as the concept of age in con- is often dealt with under other terms. Thus
sumer capitalism becomes a fascinating agency can be synonymous with, or closely
problem of identity across the life-course related to action and ‘performativity’ (see
and between generations, cohorts and performative). A capacity for agency is usually
populations. part of what is central in conceptions of
self, person and personality, identity, sub-
ject and subjectivity – although it should be
References and further reading noted that unlike the term ‘agency’, ‘sub-
ject’ contains a central ambiguity between
Calasanti, T. and Slevin, K. F. (2001) Gender,
Social Inequalities and Aging. Walnut Creek,
active agency and passive subjection. There
CA: Altamira. is also a relation to embodiment, in that a
Dannefer, D. (2003) ‘Whose Life Course Is It, degree of ‘continuity’ between self-identity
Anyway?’, in R.A Settersten, Jr. (ed.), Invitation and the body is usually assumed, although
to the Life Course. Amityville, NY: Baywood. the implications of this relation raise com-
Driscoll, C. (2002) Girls. New York: Columbia
University Press.
plex questions about the nature of desire,
Edmunds, J. and Turner, B. S. (2002) Genera- rationality, imagination and emotion.
tions, Culture and Society. Buckingham: Open The primary use of the term, which has a
University Press. long ancestry in philosophy, refers to the
Elder, G. H. Jr. (1974) Children of the Great capacity possessed by an individual social
Depression. Chicago: University of Chicago
actor, or by collectivities of social actors, to
Estes, C. L. and Associates (2001) Social Policy choose between options and to affect out-
and Aging. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. comes, whether physical or social. In this
Foucault, M. (1980) The History of Sexuality. sense, human agency is regarded in terms of
New York: Vintage. ‘causal power’.
Gee, E. M. and Gutman, G. M. (eds) (2000) The
Debates about the nature and scope of
Overselling of Population Aging. Don Mills,
ON: Oxford University Press. human agency touch especially on debates
Gilleard, C. and Higgs, P. (2000) Cultures of about structure, and they relate centrally to
Ageing. Harlow: Prentice Hall. issues of determinism and voluntarism. While
Katz, S. (1996) Disciplining Old Age. Charlottes- in some sociological theories (e.g. symbolic
ville, VA: University Press of Virginia. interactionism and ethnomethodology)
Mannheim, K. (1952) Essays on the Sociology of
Knowledge. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. human agency is central, for others (e.g.
Woodward, K. (ed.) (1999) Figuring Age. Bloo- functionalism and structuralism) structural
mington, IN: Indiana University Press. determination is uppermost. In structuralist
and post-structuralist approaches, the claim
STEPHEN KATZ is often made for a wholesale ‘decentring’

and a dissolution of the subject, and the but it expresses these in the context of what
concept of the self and agency can seem to Giddens calls a ‘duality of structure’. In
dissolve in the determining or fragmenting contexts of domination and dependency,
power of discursive processes and structures there usually exists a ‘dialectic of control’ in
(see discourse). which the subordinated can exercise at
In the work of the structuration school, least some control. For example, even
the relation between agency and structure prisoners exercise a small degree of agncy
is a central topic, with various proposals for in relation to prison officers. This is a
a resolution in terms of an interaction viewpoint reflected in the way that agency
between agency and structure. Structure is reappears in post-structuralist and post-
here seen as both constituted by human modernist discourse, with such concepts as
agency and at the same time as the very ‘localized agency’. For Giddens, three
medium of this constitution. While classical levels of motivation exist: (1) what he calls
and modern sociological theorists are often ‘discursive consciousness’; (2) ‘practical con-
presented as one-sidedly emphasizing either sciousness’ (what actors do but do not
‘agency’ (e.g. Weber, Mead) or ‘structure’ usually put into words); and (3) the uncon-
(e.g. Durkheim), most approaches have in scious. Rationalizations and repressed
practice involved a subtle interrelation of motives, deep structural analyses of meanings
the two. and ‘unintended consequences’ can also be
Concerning issues of interpretation and potentially accommodated within such a
explanation associated with agency, Von framework.
Wright (1971) distinguishes between Aris- The concept of agency as involving rela-
totelian teleological understanding and tively autonomous, potentially ‘transforma-
Galilean causal explanation. For R. G. tive’ causal active powers is especially
Collingwood, conceptions of causality are central to realist social theory and the realist
seen as deriving historically from the idea of philosophy of social science (see realism).
human active powers. For Von Wright, It is particularly present in the work of
while usually modern scientific explanation Harré (1979), Bhaskar (1979) and Archer
is arrived at by asserting a nomological (2000), who advance a strong critique of
connection between cause-factor and reductionism, including agency-denying
effect-factors, a form of teleological social theories, such as behaviourism and some
explanation involves no reference to laws versions of Marxian theories of ideology.
but explains or understands human action For Bhaskar, as for Giddens, social struc-
by reference to actors’ beliefs and reasons. tures do not exist independently of the
For Max Weber, meaningful interpreta- conditions they govern; and society is both
tion was to be seen as at the same time a the ever present condition and the con-
form of causal explanation. For Weber, a tinually reproduced outcome of human
commitment to interpretive adequacy in an agency. On the other hand, neither do
account was not inconsistent with a wider individuals shape social action or construct
exploration of how and why particular social institutions in conditions entirely of
events occur or their wider – including their own making.
‘unintended’ – implications. For Bhaskar and Archer, human agency
For Giddens (1984) it is axiomatic that implies ontological realism. Human beings
individual agency as the capacity to inter- continually sustain relations with three
vene in the world or to refrain from action orders of reality: the natural, the practical
involves ‘causal power’. This does not rule and the social. ‘Reality claims’ are a pre-
out conceptions of agency as the property of condition for human activity. As Archer
social movements, collectivities or societies, puts it, whereas some theorists maximize

the distinction between social-scientific and References and further reading

natural-scientific analysis, others seek to
Archer, M. (2000) Being Human: The Problem of
minimize it. For Hollis and Smith (1994) – Agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University
who maximize difference – the ‘stuff of social Press.
worlds’ consists either of rules and meanings Barnes, B. (2000) Understanding Agency. London:
which are subjectively apprehended and Sage.
Bhaskar, R. (1979) The Possibility of Naturalism.
meaningfully understood, or of an indepen-
Brighton: Harvester.
dent environment objectively apprehended Castoriadis, C. (1989) The Imaginary Institution of
and causally explained. But for realist theorists, Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
causal powers are held as generative Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society.
mechanisms in both physical and social Cambridge: Polity.
Habermas, J. (1972) Knowledge and Human Inter-
spheres, notwithstanding some differences
ests. London: Heinemann.
between the social and physical sciences. Harré, R. (1979) Social Being. Oxford: Blackwell.
They can be potentially interrelated Hollis, M. and Smith, S. (1994) ‘Two Stories
within a single account in which hermeneu- about Structure and Agency’, Review of Inter-
tic understanding and scientific causal national Studies, 20: 245–50.
McNay, L. (2000) Gender and Agency. Cam-
explanation provide an overall account of
bridge: Polity.
the ‘causal efficacy of people’. The conditions Von Wright, G. (1971) Explanation and Under-
and consequences of action span both standing. London: Blackwell.
domains. Winch, P. (1963) The Idea of a Social Science.
A final dimension of agency requiring London: Routledge.
discussion concerns its relation to ‘emanci- DAVID JARY
patory’ knowledge and action (see emanci-
pation). As expressed by Archer, human ALEXANDER, JEFFREY C. (1947– )
agency involves ‘cares, concerns, commit-
ments, and rectifying goals’. In some respects, US sociologist
this looks back to a Marxism that is neither Alexander’s contributions have shaped the
purely humanistic nor purely structuralist. theoretical development of American
Compared with conceptions of Marxism in sociology and its historiography, standing
which actors are merely ‘supports for struc- for an amalgamation of the history of
tures’ or versions of structural-functionalism sociology with sociological theory building.
where actors figure only as ‘cultural dopes’, Following the early project of Talcott
conceptions of praxis in which actors make a Parsons, Alexander strove for a synthesis of
difference are involved. A more general classic and contemporary accounts of
emphasis in sociology on human agency and sociology which resulted in his four-
human interests can place the individual at volume series of works, Theoretical Logic in
the centre of any analysis and connect with Sociology (1982–83). Alexander links the
issues of moral choice, political capacity and approaches of Marx and Durkheim and the
social change. One example is Habermas’s interpretive approach, embodied in Weber,
(1972) version of critical theory. For Gid- to structural functionalism. He has pur-
dens, the goal is a reworking of social sued a path towards a ‘postpositivist’ theory
democracy via new areas of agency asso- via systematic synthetic reappraisals of clas-
ciated with new social movements. More sic themes concerning the relationship of
generally, differences in the agency of the structure and agency and culture. Since
powerful compared with the less powerful – his efforts in the late 1980s Alexander has
revolving around class, ethnicity, age, gender been emphatically engaged in the project of
and sexuality – are central in the more sub- a ‘strong programme’ of cultural sociology,
stantive exploration of agency. stimulated by the late work of Durkheim.

Major works philosophers, psychoanalysts, theologians

and Marxists as the problem of aliena-
(1982–83) Theoretical Logic in Sociology. Berkeley:
University of California Press. tion. The debate was further fuelled by the
(1985) Neofunctionalism. Beverley Hills: Sage. publication for the first time in 1932 of
(1987) The Micro–Macro Link. Berkeley: Uni- Marx’s analysis of alienation in his Economic
versity of California Press. and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. The
(1988) Action and its Environments: Toward a New
term is often linked with reification, which
Synthesis. New York: Columbia University
Press. was not used by Marx but by Georg
(1989) Structure and Meaning: Relinking Classical Lukács in his influential book History and
Sociology. New York: Columbia University Class Consciousness of 1923, which antici-
Press. pated the theme of human ‘objectification’
(1998) Neofunctionalism and After. Oxford:
discussed in the Manuscripts. For Lukács,
(2003) The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural reification is the extremity of the alienation
Sociology. New York: Oxford University of humans from their products which
Press. arises from the phenomenon of commodity
fetishism, through which social reality is
experienced as a tissue of images and illusions
Further reading (see commodity and commodification.
Joas, H. (1988) ‘The Antinomies of Neo- For Marx, alienated labour occurs when
functionalism. A Critical Essay on Jeffrey workers are alienated from: (1) their product,
Alexander’, Inquiry, 31(4): 471–94. which does not belong to them; (2) work
BERNHARD GIESEN itself, because it is only a means of survival,
DANIEL ŠUBER something forced on them in order to live;
(3) themselves, because their activity was
not their own, resulting in feelings of self-
estrangement; and (4) from other people in
ALIENATION the factory because each sells his or her
In the writings of Karl Marx, the historical labour power individually as a commodity.
process through which human beings have Economic egoism for Marx was a result
become estranged from non-human nature of alienated labour, as was private property.
and from the products of their activity Egoism did not express an enduring char-
(productive forces, capital, social institutions acteristic of human beings but was a pro-
and culture) is termed ‘alienation’. The duct of class societies in the capitalist phase.
cumulative results of the human productive The abolition of alienated labour meant
capacity confront subsequent generations as that labour would acquire its true collective,
an independent, objectified force, i.e. as an ‘species’ character and egoism in the above
alienated reality. Marx focused in particular sense would be superseded. For Marx, the
on the alienating effects of the labour organization of large-scale commodity
undertaken in large-scale, capitalist, indus- production and the individualistic wage
trial factories. The concept is also used in labour contract of the early capitalist fac-
the sociology of mass culture and mass tories of his time constituted a travesty of
society and urbanism to convey a cluster the species character that labour should have
of experiences, including depersonalization, if it were organized in a way truly congruent
powerlessness and lack of cohesion in peo- with the assumed nature of man. In Marx’s
ple’s lives, particularly in industrial societies. work, alienation is thus a ‘critical’ concept,
In the 1920s and 1930s the predicament to be used as a measuring rod for calibrating
of humankind in modern secular socie- the human costs of capitalist civilization
ties was widely discussed by existentialist (see critical theory).

Hegelian philosophy had already descri- laborans takes labour from the dominant
bed, in a metaphysical framework, human experience of factory work of his time and
history as a process of alienation through places it as the central, defining human
which humans have been increasingly characteristic. Around this idea are then
transformed from creative subjects into hung a number of further contestable
passive objects of social processes (see assumptions about human sociability, free-
Hegelianism and Neo-Hegelianism). Marx dom and control, self-realization and
insisted that liberation from alienation had collective labour as its own reward, derived
to be achieved in practice by real people from Rousseau and the French socialists.
and not apparently solely in the realm of Second, existentialists have suggested
consciousness or self-awareness, as in that while alienation may be exacerbated
Hegel. Marx’s secular humanism relied under capitalist production, in its basic form
heavily on Ludwig Feuerbach’s materialist it is symptomatic of something perennial in
theory of religion in which he claimed the human condition. Eliminating aliena-
that human beings have projected their tion at the point of production through
own essence and potentialities into God, workers’ self-management would leave the
who then confronts them in an alienated spheres of distribution and exchange
form (see materialism). In the Manuscripts, untouched, thus perpetuating further sour-
Marx argued that religious alienation was ces of alienation. Since Marx thought that
only one aspect of the propensity of economic alienation was the basis of all
human beings to alienate themselves from other aspects, the supersession of private
their own creations, which could be property would mark the end of expro-
explained as aspects of the economic aliena- priation by capitalists and hence the end of
tion arising out of the capitalist productive all alienation. But Marx did not foresee the
process. emergence of new forms of expropriation
This analysis was fused with the politics and the exploitation of people by each
of communism, as the future society into other and, hence, further forms of alienation
which Marx projected the ‘complete (Axelos 1976).
return of man himself as a social (i.e. Robert Blauner (1964) separated Marx’s
human) being – a return become conscious, concept into the four testable dimensions of
and accomplished within the entire wealth powerlessness, meaninglessness, isolation and
of previous development’ (Marx 1844: 95). self-estrangement in the workplace. In a
History is thus the simultaneous loss of study of various industrial settings in the
human beings in their own products and USA, he found that alienation was at its
their subsequent recovery of themselves, greatest in mass production and at its least
a real process of alienation that Hegel had in craft production. Some have argued
perceived in a mystified manner. In Marx’s that this kind of empirical approach misses
theory of history, the developing forces of the critical-philosophical intention of
production progressively outgrow their Marx’s concept, while others have argued
relations in a series of historical modes of that it is the only way to give precision to a
production as the realization of this concept which is quasi-metaphysical and
process. With the social formation of inherently indeterminate.
capitalism ‘the pre-history of human society
accordingly closes’ (Marx 1859: 22).
References and further reading
Two problems have dominated the
debate about alienation. First, the model of Axelos, K. (1976) Alienation, Praxis and Techne in
human beings at the heart of the theory is the Thought of Karl Marx. Austin, TX: Uni-
controversial. Marx’s conception of homo versity of Texas Press.


Blauner, R. (1964) Alienation and Freedom. Chi- practices constitute and reconstitute subjects
cago: University of Chicago Press. by interpellating them within particular
Lukács, G. ([1923] 1971) History and Class Con-
sciousness. London: Merlin Press. social relations. These latter are often – but
Marx, K. ([1844] 1967) Economic and Philosophic by no means necessarily – functionally
Manuscripts. Trans. M. Milligan. Moscow: integrated with each other. Althusser’s later
Progress Publishers. ‘aleatory materialism’ emphasized the neces-
Marx, K. ([1845] 1968) The German Ideology. sity of examining both the nature of differ-
London: Lawrence & Wishart.
Marx, K. ([1859] 1971) A Contribution to the ent practices and their articulation with
Critique of Political Economy. London: Lawr- each other, to discover which process is
ence & Wishart. ‘determinant in the last instance’. Tragi-
Meszaros, I. (1970) Marx’s Theory of Alienation. cally, in 1980, in a psychotic episode,
London: Merlin Press. Althusser killed his wife, Hélène Legotien.
RICHARD KILMINSTER Institutionalized, but then released, he ceased
to publicly participate in French intellectual
life although some of his unpublished works,
ALTHUSSER, LOUIS (1918–1990)
including anguished autobiographical writ-
French theorist ings, have become available posthumously.
Taught philosophy at L’École normale
supérieure. Well versed in Hegel and, of Major works
course, Marx, Althusser repudiated any
conflation of Hegelianism and Marxism ([1965] 1969) For Marx. London: New Left Books.
([1968] 1970) (with Étienne Balibar) Reading
(see Hegelianism and Neo-Hegelianism).
Capital. London: New Left Books.
Althusser rendered explicit Marx’s implicit (1971) Lenin and Philosophy. London: New Left
strategy of reading classical economics, to Books.
uncover the presence of more than one
discourse in the same text. Althusser illu-
Further reading
strated how such ‘symptomatic readings’
went beyond conventional dogmatic, or, Warren, M. (2003) Louis Althusser. London:
even, immanent critiques. Althusser argued Palgrave.
that Marx’s mature work differed radically FRANK PEARCE
from his early work, locating an ‘epistemo-
logical break’ in Marx’s thought as evi-
denced by the emergence, by the late AMERICA
1850s, of a radically new set of concepts America has fascinated since the time it was
produced and organized around a new first ‘discovered’ and named after the Italian-
‘problematic’. The humanist notion of a Spanish seafarer and discoverer, Amerigo
founding individual or collective subject and Vespucci. Since the conquest of the two
of society as its (imperfect) expression, was continents of the Americas by Europeans,
analytically displaced, primacy was assigned encounters between the Old and the New
instead to structured sets of social/material World have generated wide-ranging ideas
relations. Modes of production, of reproduc- about America’s symbolic identity. Yet
tion and exploitation, for example, are articu- America’s cultural history prior to its ‘dis-
lated through relations of production covery’ has only recently become an issue
connections and productive forces connec- of public debate, notably in the framework
tions; these in turn have conditions of exis- of post-colonial theory.
tence constituted by relatively autonomous As Tzvetan Todorow (1984) notes, for
economic, political and ideological prac- the European discoverers, America and its
tices (see modes of production). Ideological original inhabitants came to signify an idea of

otherness. Confronted with this Other, anti-Americanism is now a widespread

European reactions ranged from sheer ideological currency, particularly among
ignorance and negative reactions (Columbus), European, Latin American and Arab intel-
to brutal conquest (Cortes), to affection and lectuals but by no means limited to these.
religious conversion or assimilation (Las As James W. Ceaser (1997) emphasizes,
Casas). Confrontations were not limited to this contrasts with the predominantly opti-
the experience of first-wave European for- mistic tradition of thinking about America
ces encountering native Americans. Over inaugurated in the nineteenth century by
the course of centuries of colonization, Alexis de Toqueville. The development of a
settlement and later independence in which US intellectual elite in the late eighteenth and
original colonists and natives would eventually nineteenth centuries proved decisive in gen-
become nearly indistinguishable, two different erating a range of intellectual building blocks
Americas finally emerged, divided by lan- and political concepts that include in particular
guage. Yet, as Seymour Martin Lipset the concept of ‘American exceptionalism’, as
(1963) emphasized, language was not the discussed in such documents as the Federalist
only difference. The religious division of Papers, the frontier thesis of Fredrick Jackson
Catholicism in South and Central America Turner, as well as Tocqueville’s Democracy in
and Protestantism in the North (with the America. It has produced a distinct kind of
exception of Québec) proved to be decisive political theology, as well as re-inventing the
influences. And as with language and religious tradition of classical republican political
orientation, the different cultures, customs thought, as discussed by Hannah Arendt and
and political experiences of the original J. G. A. Pocock among others. It has articu-
European countries proved to be equally lated a newly defined liberalism – discussed
important. Influenced by English culture by Louis Hartz, Judith N. Shklar, and Stephen
and customs, the North American settlers Holmes among others – and is closely asso-
subscribed to ideas of the rule of law, free- ciated with the distinctively American tradi-
dom and administration of the community. tion of philosophical pragmatism, from C. S.
Driven by a commercial spirit, they learned Peirce to William James, John Dewey and
to trade, farm and reap the fruits of the new G. H. Mead.
environment. The inhabitants of New Later twentieth-century social and poli-
England entertained ideas of progress, edu- tical thinkers in the USA have since made
cation and scientific inquiry, while the entensive contributions to our under-
Spanish and Portuguese colonies remained standing of the nature of power, democ-
dominated by the legacies of absolute mon- racy, justice, pluralism, multiculturalism,
archy and feudalism, and by poorly devel- civil society and the task and role of intel-
oped agrarian economies. As Frederick Pike lectuals in a democratic society. Among
(1992) observes, such differences would some of the most influential authors in
eventually lead to a division, one which public debates and diverse academic fields
historians of ideas have described in terms of have been W. E. B. Du Bois, Talcott
a dichotomoy between a hegemonic North Parsons, Robert Merton, Barrington
America symbolizing civilization and Moore, C. Wright Mills, Robert A. Dahl,
material progress and a Latin America Sheldon Wolin, John Rawls, Michael
representing backwardness and primitivism. Walzer, and Ronald Dworkin, Nathan
At present, the US largely monopolizes Glazer, Anthony Appiah, Henry Louis
definitions of the symbolic meaning of Gates, Jeffrey C. Goldfarb, and Jeffrey C.
America. And not least an account of the Alexander.
USA’s rise to a position of near-global poli- Yet as Richard Hofstadter (1963) poin-
tical, economic and military hegemony, ted out in the 1960s, the development of

political and social thought in the US has organizations coordinate action while
been accompanied by a strong force of preserving individual autonomy? In parti-
anti-intellectualism in the wider American cular, anarchism addresses the question of
society. More recently, the debates sur- how action can be coordinated without the
rounding the attacks of September 11, emergence of leaders or hierarchy. Its core
2001, and subsequent US foreign policy belief is that autonomy is sacrosanct and
indicate an intellectual environment that cannot be legitimately delegated to repre-
has fought hard to sustain itself in the face sentatives or to a state (Wolff 1970). This
of far-reaching threats to civil liberties and need not result in all social controls being
powerful nationalist sentiments in the US dismantled: controls are legitimate if agreed
media and mass media. to by those subject to them. Determining
the scope and nature of these controls
References and further reading without eradicating autonomy requires a
firm commitment to democracy and mutual
Ceaser, J. W. (1997) Reconstructing America: The support. Thus rather than denoting chaos,
Symbol of America in Modern Thought. New ideal anarchy denotes order – but an order
Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Hess, A. (2001) American Social and Political arising only with the full consent and active
Thought: A Concise Introduction. New York: participation of all its members.
New York University Press. Anarchist thought developed particularly
Hofstadter, R. (1963) Anti-Intellectualism in in the nineteenth century. Where Social
American Life. New York: Vintage Books. Darwinism held that humanity was inher-
Lieven, A. (2004) America Right or Wrong: An
Anatomy of American Nationalism. Oxford: ently bestial and that life was a struggle in
Oxford University Press. which only the ‘fittest’ survived, Kropotkin
Lipset, S. M. (1963) The First New Nation: The (1902) argued that in both nature and
United States in Historical and Comparative Per- society ‘fitness’ depended on collaboration,
spective. New York: Penguin.
not competition. In his thesis, spontaneous
Mann, M. (2003) Incoherent Empire. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press. autonomous organization for mutual bene-
Pike, F. B. (1992) The United States and Latin fit was a natural and common occurrence.
America: Myths and Stereotypes of Civilization Over time, however, this impulse to colla-
and Nature. Austin, TX: University of Texas borate had been corrupted. Unproductive
castes, such as priesthoods, used charismatic
Shklar, J. (1998) Redeeming American Political
Thought. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. or traditional authority to command
Todorow, T. (1984) The Discovery of America: resources (see domination and authority).
The Question of the Other. New York: Har- Stratification and hierarchy were the
perCollins. abstract consequences, while church and
ANDREAS HESS state were the practical results. The appro-
priation of resources (as taxes and tithes) by
these hierarchies and their control over
education, government, and the military
not only deprived most people of auton-
For some social and political theorists, anar- omy but also provoked active conflict
chism is an overly idealist philosophy which between rulers and ruled. To maintain an
may have some moral validity but is unrea- unjust system, elites could not extend the
listic or dangerous when put into practice. people’s autonomy, but controlled and ulti-
However, it can be argued that anarchism is mately eradicated it via the modern bureau-
a theory – or a loose family of theories – cratic state and corporate organizations.
with continuing application. It addresses a Anarchists hold that society should be
central problem of democracy: how can comprised not of hierarchical organizations

but of networks which emerge sponta- Anarchist networks are fragile and often
neously and evolve dynamically, and in ephemeral, but this can be attributed as
which people participate voluntarily. The much to repression as to tensions within them.
domination of bureaucracies has condi- During the Spanish Civil War – which saw
tioned people to the idea that hierarchies a significant flowering of anarchist
and leaders are ‘natural’. It is assumed that practices – the anarchist militias were per-
without them there can be no effective secuted by both royalists and communists
action, and that outbreaks of uncontrolled, (c.f. Orwell 1951). Today, even apparently
spontaneous action are inherently danger- democratic elites may pass and enforce laws
ous. Against this assumption, anarchists designed to repress or diffuse democratic
hold that this is precisely the form that outbreaks. But anarchist movements always
‘outbreaks of democracy’ often take when remain a possibility because self-organizing
social control breaks down and people act networks are an inherent feature of com-
and organize spontaneously to address plex systems, including social systems.
democratic deficits and reassert their
autonomy (Blaug 1999).
References and further reading
Anarchism is a practice more than it is an
ideology or dogma. There are many anar- Blaug, R. (1999) ‘Outbreaks of Democracy’, in
chisms, each developed by its practitioners, L. Panitch and C. Leys (eds), Socialist Register
and the family of associated theories con- 2000. Rendlesham: Merlin.
tinues to evolve. Critiques are now as likely Bookchin, M. (1995) Social Anarchism or Lifestyle
to be focused not only on organized reli- Anarchism. Edinburgh: AK.
Do or Die, journal issues 1–10 (first published
gion and the state but also on capitalism 1992). Brighton: Do or Die.
and its corporations; on patriarchy; or on Edwards, S. (ed.) (1970) Selected Writings of
human relationships with the non-human Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. London: Macmillan.
world, as discussed by theorists of ecology Ferrell, J. (2001) Tearing Down the Streets:
and environmentalism. Adventures in Urban Anarchy. New York: Pal-
Like many radical philosophies, anar- Kropotkin, P. (1902) Mutual Aid: A Factor of
chism is confronted with problems of Evolution. London: Heinemann.
infighting over tactics and orthodoxy. This Merrick (1996) Battle for the Trees. Leeds: God-
is particularly evident in the debate haven Ink.
between Bookchin (1995), on the one Orwell, G. (1951) Homage to Catalonia. London:
Secker & Warburg.
hand, and Zerzan (1999) and Watson Watson, D. (1996) Beyond Bookchin: Preface for a
(1996), on the other. Bookchin observes Future Social Ecology. New York: Autonomedia.
that without a commitment to democracy Wolff, R. P. (1970) In Defense of Anarchism.
and mutual respect, anarchism can decay New York: Harper & Row.
into ineffectiveness, or into forms of Woodcock, G. (ed.) (1977) The Anarchist Reader.
Brighton: Harvester.
extreme economic libertarianism, especially Zerzan, J. (1999) Elements of Refusal. Columbia,
if private property is considered sacrosanct. MO: Columbia Alternative Library.
But unlike some other idealistic philosophies,
contemporary anarchism is constantly tested ANDREW WHITWORTH
and developed in the ‘laboratories’ of
worker co-operatives, anti-road camps, ANOMIE
pirate radio stations and other locations for
social activism (Merrick 1996; Ferrell In Emile Durkheim’s study Suicide (1897)
2001). These exist not only for specific and other writings, loss of the effectiveness
political ends but also to stimulate new of the moral framework that regulates people’s
forms of organizing. lives is termed ‘anomie’. Anomie literally

means lacking a moral law (nomos). When vague feelings of unease or apprehension.
the framework of norms which keeps peo- In Durkheim’s usage there are affinities
ple’s expectations, goals and desires within with later existentialist discussions of
realistic and manageable limits breaks human experience. At stake are profound
down, they begin to desire the unattain- feelings that have been described in terms
able. This condition produces continuous of horror, fear of absence and sickly dread.
unhappiness, one symptom of which is a rise If the normal assumptions governing peo-
in the suicide rate. Anomie is likely when ple’s lives at a fundamental level disappear,
industrialization or commercialization hap- an uncanny feeling of unreality arises.
pen quickly in a formerly traditional Anomie occurs not only in economic life
society. Expectations are raised and people but also in, for example, divorce or separa-
experience boundless opportunities for tion, which Durkheim refers to as ‘domes-
pleasure and excitement, causing uncer- tic or conjugal anomie’. Here individuals
tainty about values and goals. The concept can experience existential anxiety, ground-
was used by Durkheim to diagnose the lessness and loss of meaning. This kind of
social malaise of modern societies where the loss of grounding, or non-being, can also
economic system was one of contract, occur in, say, bereavement or the
exchange and economic individualism (see experience of being a refugee (see death
Individualism and Individualization). and mortality).
Durkheim distinguished two kinds of Robert K. Merton’s theory of deviance
anomie: acute and chronic. Acute anomie embodied a reformulation of the concept
arises typically from a sudden economic inspired by Durkheim’s conception of
boom, when aspirations rise and desires and chronic anomie. He argued that in indus-
appetites generally increase. An economic trial societies the legitimate means of
slump can also result in anomie. As people achieving the cultural goal of economic
are suddenly forced into a lower standard of success are unevenly distributed due to
living, they experience new and unac- inequalities of access to them. American
customed limits to their desires and goals, society was anomic because the cultural
for which their moral code has not adequately goal of success is unattainable for many
prepared them. people: there is a perennial disjuncture
Chronic anomie refers to the endemic between the goal and access to the legit-
condition of discontent generated by indus- imate means of achieving it. Most people
trial capitalism, which continually raises conform, but others adapt in various ways
expectations and desires. Limitless possibi- by finding alternative, illegitimate, means
lities arise which cannot be attained by all to achieve the same goal. Various critics
and a thirst for novelties produces new sensa- have seen in Merton’s influential formula-
tions which quickly lose their savour. People tion of anomie a loss of the concept’s ori-
want more and more in continuous cycles ginal moral and critical cutting edge.
of dissatisfaction and discontent. Neither a Controversy over two further issues has
sense of community nor established reli- continued. First, in Suicide, Durkheim did
gion can provide robust moral codes for reg- not systematically analyze the separate
ulating desires and goals within achievable effects of the two related phenomena of
limits, nor a solid moral foundation generally. anomie and egoism, which correspond to
For Durkheim, chronic anomie describes the two spheres of moral regulation and
the modern social condition of everyone. social integration. He only offered instances
At the individual level, experiences asso- where both conditions occurred together.
ciated with anomie, particularly the acute If the two concepts refer only to one social
kind, must not be understood as simply state, as he implied, then the independent
ARE NDT, HA NNA H ( 190 6–1 975 )

explanatory status of both, including elements of modern political life that made
anomie, becomes problematic. Second, it possible. These include secular anti-Semit-
the model of human nature implied in ism, imperialist violence, national exclusiv-
Durkheim’s work generally and in the ity in anti-imperial movements, and broadly
concept of anomie in particular, is that of the rise of European nihilism (see imperial-
homo duplex, which posits a dualism in ism). Unlike conventional theorists Arendt
humans between reason and passion. It is a saw the deficiencies of liberal democracy as
model classically associated with con- implicated in the origins of totalitarianism.
servatism, although in the case of Dur- Her intellectual project, however, was not
kheim, this association has been contested only to avert its repetition but to under-
in view of his liberal and socialist lean- stand freedom as the raison d’être of political
ings. The current Durkheimian revival in life. In The Human Condition she focuses on
sociology has given new credence to Dur- the importance of the public sphere for
kheim’s model of human nature, which has modern political life. Her controversial
also helped to bring the concept of Eichmann in Jerusalem questions the nature
anomie back onto the centre stage of social of evil in modernity and the role of inter-
science. national criminal law in combating it. On
Revolution, examines three streams of the
modern revolutionary tradition: French,
References and further reading
American and its ‘lost treasure’ – participa-
tory democracy. She explores why free-
Alexander, J. C. (ed.) (1988) Durkheimian Sociol-
ogy: Cultural Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge dom was denied and speculates on how the
University Press. revolutionary tradition might be reconfi-
Durkheim, E. ([1897] 1970) Suicide: A Study in gured. Between Past and Future, explores
Sociology. Trans. J. A. Spaulding and G. how teleological conceptions of historical
Simpson. London: Routledge. progress annul the freedom of the present.
Mellor, P. (2004) Religion, Realism and Social
Theory: Making Sense of Society. London: Sage. In Life of the Mind she addresses divisions
Merton, R. K. (1968) ‘Social Structure and between thinking, willing and judging
Anomie’, in Social Theory and Social Structure, that beset modern consciousness, and the
rev. edn, London: Collier Macmillan. threat to the activity of understanding that
Mestrovic, S. (1991) The Coming Fin-de-siècle: the modern age poses. Arendt was critical
An Application of Durkheim’s Sociology to Mod-
ernity and Postmodernity. London: Routledge. of social scientists for their failure to face
Orru, M. (1987) Anomie: History and Meanings. up to the evils of the modern age, but her
London: Allen Lane. determination to uncover human experi-
Shilling, C. and Mellor, P. (1998) ‘Durkheim, ence makes her work more like a social
Morality and Modernity: Collective Effer- theory of political life than a political the-
vescence, Homo Duplex and the Sources of
Modern Action’, British Journal of Sociology,
ory as such.
49(2): 193–209.


(1979) The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York:
ARENDT, HANNAH (1906–1975) Harcourt Brace.
(1958) The Human Condition. Chicago: University
German-born theorist of Chicago Press.
A Jewish émigré, Arendt spent most of her (1963) Eichmann in Jerusalem. London: Faber and
intellectual career in the USA. In Origins of (1961) Between Past and Future. London: Faber
Totalitarianism (1979), she offers a profound and Faber.
understanding of totalitarianism and of the (1978) Life of the Mind. Secker and Warburg.


Further reading (Lenski 1966). Only industrialization leads

Baehr, P. (2002) ‘Identifying the Unprece-
gradually to a more egalitarian form of
dented: Hannah Arendt, Totalitarianism, and stratification. The power dimensions of
the Critique of Sociology’, American Socio- aristocracies may be either physical (as with
logical Review, 67: 804–31. warriors) or administrative (as with
Canovan, M. (1992) Hannah Arendt: A Reinter- bureaucrats) or religious (as with priests) or
pretation of her Political Thought. Cambridge:
economic (as with patrician merchants in
Cambridge University Press.
Fine, R. (2001) ‘Understanding Evil: Arendt city-republics).
and the Final Solution’, in M. P. Lara (ed.) In Europe in the Middle Ages the com-
Rethinking Evil: Contemporary Perspectives. bination of military power and landed
Berkeley, CA: University of California property of vassals led to the rise of a feudal
aristocracy (see feudalism). According to
ROBERT FINE Max Weber, this seigneurial class acquires
a specific kind of charisma, transmitted
through the bonds of blood. In this context
ARISTOCRACY ‘hereditary charisma’ of noble families
Literally meaning ‘the rule of the best’ in means an objectification of an originally
classical Greek, the phenomenon of aris- purely personal gift of grace which
tocracy has a variegated history. Today we becomes relevant for the political structur-
can distinguish three aspects: (1) a social ing of states, as clan-states, feudal, patri-
stratum, generalizable across diverse cultural monial or even bureaucratic states (Weber
contexts after a certain level of social 1978: 250). An aristocracy may also func-
development; (2) European aristocracy; and tion as a military service class in an eastern
(3) decline among European aristocracies in absolutism of Russian coinage (c.f. Ander-
the wake of state-formation, democratiza- son 1974). Most often, aristocracy is tied to
tion and industrialization. the institution of monarchy with a prince
Aristocracy is a form of ‘nobility’, defined or king as primus inter pares, or it forms a
through hereditary rank, relatively closed dominating class operating in an oligarchic
against the more ‘common’ members of clans or city-patrician framework, electing its
or tribes. Aristocracy begins to be institu- leaders as doge or consul. In ancient
tionalized at the level of agrarian societies. Greece, the delicate and fragile relationship
With the establishment of chiefdoms, posi- between aristocracy, timocracy, democ-
tions of nobility come to be inherited rather racy, anarchy and tyranny was considered
than obtained directly through prowess in in terms of an ongoing circular process of
battle. The wealthier and more differentiated transition from one stage to the other.
planter-societies become, the more they The decline of the European aristocracy
develop powerful leading groups (for as a military nobility began in the late
example, the Maya). In agrarian societies, Middle Ages and became irreversible with
the limitation of available land prevents the rise of early modern states and their
lower strata from wandering away in dis- standing armies. In France, this develop-
content, thus facilitating their subjugation ment gave rise to a nursed and tamed court
(Harris and Johnson 1999). A food-producing aristocracy (c.f. Elias 1983), complemented
peasantry develops as chiefs turn into by a new ‘noblesse de robe’ of bourgeois
monarchs, and chiefdoms into states and bureaucrats joining the old ‘noblesse
empires, all in long-term unintentional d’épée’. Hermetic closure against the lower
chains of action. The distance between ranks had always been only theoretical, and
aristocracy and ‘the people’ increases and stages of closure have been regularly followed
reaches a maximum in absolutist monarchies by relative openness. Early modern England
ARO N, RA YMO ND ( 190 5–1 983 )

saw a commercially based, titled and unti- References and further reading
tled nobility becoming bourgeois, and the
Anderson, P. (1974) Lineages of the Absolutist
eighteenth century in England became – State. London: NLB.
somewhat paradoxically after civil war and Bourdieu, P. (1989) La Noblesse d’État. Paris:
revolution – the great era of aristocracy and Edition de Minuit.
gentry. In the German case, the eastern Cannadine, D. (1990) The Decline and Fall of the
British Aristocracy. New Haven, CT: Yale
class of Junkers retained a much more
University Press.
militarized position and mentality and thus Elias, N. ([1969] 1983) The Court Society.
was able partially to ‘feudalize’ the rising Oxford: Blackwell.
bourgeoisie. In Central Europe, aris- Elias, N. ([1989] 1996) The Germans. Oxford:
tocracies retained much of their political Blackwell.
influence by occupying the pillars of the Harris, M. and Johnson, O. (1999) Cultural
Anthropology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
army and state bureaucracy until 1914, Lenski, G. (1966) Power and Privilege. New York:
thus underlining the ‘ständischen’ (estate) McGraw-Hill.
character of these offices. But also in Eng- Sorenson, A. (1997) ‘On Kings, Pietism and
land, we find an overrepresentation of aris- Rent-Seeking in Scandinavian Welfare
tocrats in government far into the States’, Acta Sociologica, 41: 363–75.
Stone, L. (1965) The Crisis of the Aristocracy
twentieth century. Even as late as 1922, half 1558–1641. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
the members of the British Cabinet were of Weber, M. ([1922] 1978) Economy and Society.
noble origin (Cannadine 1990: 711). Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Although financial and industrial capital
since the twentieth century has greatly
reduced the social significance of aris-
tocracy in all European societies, aristocracy ARON, RAYMOND (1905–1983)
retains its influence in the formation of
French theorist
mentalities and in matters of taste. In
France since the nineteenth century, this Aron’s early work dealt with the episte-
has been achieved through the establish- mology of historical research and with
ment of ‘grandes écoles’ that seamlessly fuse German sociology. He introduced Max
bourgeois and aristocratic codes to a habi- Weber to France. Throughout his career,
tus of fine distinctions (see, especially, the he fought to overcome the gap between
work of Pierre Bourdieu). England in the sociology, philosophy and politics, reinter-
nineteenth century experienced an amalga- preting Montesquieu, Tocqueville and
mation of the gentlemen’s code of the landed Marx in this light. After World War II, his
property with the utilitarian Christian main interest turned to the interpretation of
reformism of the middle class. Formulated twentieth century society. He investigated
as the ideal of ‘muscular Christianity’, it the links between industrial society, social
became one of the motors of colonial struggles and political regimes and between
missionary movement. In Germany after war, revolution and totalitarianism. He
1871, the merging of the aristocracy and was a central figure in French ideological
the bourgeoisie led to a new ‘good society’ discussions, an outspoken critic of Jean-
of duelling fraternities (Elias 1996). Even Paul Sartres Marxism, and the most pro-
the ideas and origins of the European wel- minent critic of ‘secular religions’ (a term
fare state are not understandable without he coined) and of Marxism. But above all,
tracing its ethos to an aristocratic legacy he was France’s main international relations
that provides ‘protection’ and ‘care’ in theorist, as well as its most famous and
exchange for deference and loyalty (Sor- respected commentator on international
enson 1997). affairs. His diagnosis of the Cold War in

terms of ‘peace impossible, war improbable’ Museum of Modern Art, consisting of a

remained valid until 1989. His major treatise ceramic men’s toilet bowl, which appears
Peace and War (1967), and his monumental to be materially indistinguishable from a
study on Clausewitz provide an intellectual toilet bowl in any men’s cloakroom.
framework of lasting value (see War and Institutional theories of the arts gain
militarism). support from the observations by anthro-
pologists that societies that do not possess a
Major works formal institution or concept of art cannot
necessarily be understood as producing art.
(1954) The Century of Total War. London: Ver-
schoyle. It seems clear that not all societies can be
(1958) War and Industrial Society. London: Wei- understood as producing art in the sense in
denfeld & Nicolson. which art has been understood in Western
(1961a) The Dawn of Universal History. London: culture since Renaissance and the Enlight-
Weidenfeld & Nicolson. enment in Europe. Certainly few societies
(1961b) Introduction to the Philosophy of History:
An Essay on the Limits of Historical Objectivity. have seen art in terms of a special, quasi-
London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. sacred domain of expressive activity pur-
(1965) Main Currents in Sociological Thought. New sued for its own sake, without regard to
York: Basic Books. utility or practical purpose, aiming at an
(1967) Peace and War: A Theory of International ideal of autonomous aesthetic plenitude –
Relations. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
(1968) Progress and Disillusion. London: Pall Mall an ideal famously enshrined in the nine-
Press. teenth-century French slogan ‘art for art’s
(1983) Clausewitz, Philosopher of War. London: sake’, or l’art pour l’art.
Routledge & Kegan Paul. However, one general difficulty with
PIERRE HASSNER institutional theories that strive for ‘value-
neutral’ understandings of art, is that ‘art’ is
not only a classificatory term; it is also,
ART AND AESTHETICS intrinsically, a value-laden honorific term.
A central issue for social theorists and philo- It is for this reason that sociological studies
sophers of the arts is the question of whether of the arts cannot be dissociated from the
art consists in any universally recognizable discipline of aesthetics, defined as the study
perceptual qualities or whether the word ‘art’ of grounds for declarations of pleasure in
must be understood to refer simply to the perceptual experience. To understand
practices, attitudes and outlooks of different something as a work of art is to understand
cultural institutions that elect to classify it as embodying value of some kind; this
objects in the world in particular ways (see value rests on perceptually significant sen-
classification). Proponents of ‘institutional sory qualities that illuminate the spectator’s
theories’ of art argue that insofar as it pos- experience in some way (Wollheim 1980).
sible for one object to be accounted a work It is in this sense that experiencing an
of art and another physically indistinguish- object as an art object is not reducible
able object not to be accounted a work of merely to recognizing it as an instance of a
art, the only factor capable of distinguishing prevailing cultural and institutional fact,
art from non-art is the social fact of the convention or code of perception.
decision of a particular cultural institution – Evaluative appreciation of art need not
the ‘art world’ – to confer status on certain preclude a rigorous sociological consciousness
objects (Danto 1964; Dickie 1974). One of of the relativity of ideas of art and aesthetic
the most frequently discussed cases in this value to changing material contexts of cultural
connection has been Marcel Duchamp’s production and consumption. Sociological
Dadaist ‘ready-made’ Fountain at New York’s studies of the arts that emphasize the

imbrication of aesthetic value with political Contemporary French sociological studies

values of democracy and equality of access to of the arts are greatly influenced by Pierre
cultural acclamation are sharply critical of, but Bourdieu’s analyses of audience responses
not ultimately incompatible with, tradi- to works of art in terms of differential cul-
tional humanistic ideas of art as intrinsically tural, educational and socio-economic
valuable sources of humane self-under- backgrounds (Bourdieu 1984; 1996). These
standing and self-flourishing (see humanism). and other approaches continue to take their
Marxist approaches are represented by lead from Durkheim’s ideas about cultural
social historians of art such as Arnold Hau- classification systems, as well as from Max
ser and Lucien Goldmann and by the Weber’s conception of the emergence of
Hegelian-Marxist thinkers Georg Lukács, the aesthetic sphere as a relatively autono-
Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin, Siegfried mous field of cultural validity in the ratio-
Kracauer, Theodor Adorno, Max Hor- nalization processes of modern societies.
kheimer and Herbert Marcuse. These
authors emphasize correlations between
References and further reading
forms and contents of works of art and
Becker, H. (1982) Art Worlds. Berkeley, CA:
social class relations, especially insofar as University of California Press.
these revolve around the artist’s relation to Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique
a patron, or the market, or the state or any of the Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge.
other source of economic subsistence. Much Bourdieu, P. (1996) The Rules of Art. Cam-
of this work draws on the Marxian vision of bridge: Polity Press.
Chadwick, W. (1990) Women, Art and Society.
aesthetic forms as both vehicles of ideology
London: Thames and Hudson.
that may function to legitimate existing rela- Danto, A. (1964) ‘The Artworld’, Journal of Phi-
tions of class domination and as utopian losophy, 61(19): 571–84.
intimations or ‘fore-images’ of a future Dickie, G. (1974) Art and the Aesthetic. Ithaca,
communistic society (see utopia). NY: Cornell University Press.
DiMaggio, P. (1987) ‘Classification in Art’,
More recent approaches in post-Marxist
American Sociological Review, 52: 440–55.
cultural studies criticize the older writers’ Geertz, C. (1983) ‘Art as a Cultural System’, in
concentration on class relations at the Local Knowledge. New York: Basic Books.
expense of differences of gender and ethni- Gell, A. (1998) Art and Agency. Oxford: Oxford
city in the production of culture (Chadwick University Press.
Harrington, A. (2004) Art and Social Theory:
1990), as well as their neglect of the recep-
Sociological Arguments in Aesthetics. Cam-
tive activity of audiences in constructing and bridge: Polity Press.
recombining the contents of cultural pro- Huyssen, A. (1986) After the Great Divide: Mod-
ducts, including the contents of commercial ernism, Mass Culture, and Postmodernism.
media images. Particular objection has been Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
taken to the Frankfurt School’s unsympa- Witkin, R. (1996) Art and Social Structure. Cam-
bridge: Polity Press.
thetic attitude to mass culture and mass Wollheim, R. (1980) ‘The Institutional Theory
society and to its excessively bleak view of of Art’, in Art and its Objects, 2nd edn. Cam-
the ‘culture industry’. Adorno’s normative bridge: Cambridge University Press.
attachment to the modernist aesthetic form Zollberg, V. (1990) Constructing a Sociology of the
has been seen as undervaluing the subversive Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
and communicative resources of some kinds AUSTIN HARRINGTON
of popular culture – an issue discussed
among others by Fredric Jameson in rela-
tion to the emergence of a postmodernist ASSOCIATIONS
turn in the cultural practices of late capitalist Associations refer to the formation of people
modernity (see also Huyssen 1986). for a common purpose in a free and voluntary

manner. Associations are thus the organized confronted by a mass of unorganized indi-
correlates of human sociability. They vary viduals. In his view, this lack of societal
wildly in size and scope as well as in forms: organization with a powerful central state,
from business associations to unions to on the one hand, and disconnected indivi-
social movements, co-operatives and citi- duals, on the other, provided a true ‘socio-
zens’ action groups in civil society. Analy- logical monstrosity’ and was largely
tically speaking, associations belong to the responsible for the crisis of anomie in
space between social groups on the one France at the time.
hand (see group) and formal organizations on In German classical social theory it was
the other hand (see organization). Social not the historical-empirical lack of inter-
groups such as the family as a primary group mediate associations but rather the com-
are based upon intimacy, continuous con- plexity and plurality of organizational forms
tact, face-to-face-interaction and obligatory in modern society that inspired sociological
membership – one belongs to one’s family reflection. Ferdinand Tönnies tried to cap-
whether one likes it or not (see family and ture the main thrust of the transition from
household). Formal organizations are col- tradition to modernity by the distinction
lectivities made up of formal, voluntary and between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft
finite membership. A white-collar worker which was somewhat misleadingly trans-
in a large corporation applies for a job, is lated as community and association by C. P.
successful, and with the job comes a set of Loomis in 1955. For him, modern social
occupational role expectations and posi- relationships were based primarily upon
tional rights and obligations. Either retire- social contracts echoing the distinction by
ment or ‘firing’ finish the relationship Henry Sumner Maine between status and
between the individual and the organization. contract.
In classical social theory, associations Georg Simmel was, above all, interested
were conceptualized as a ‘bridge’ between in the social forms of life. Social life is based
individual and society. Tocqueville, for upon exchange which he conceptualizes as
instance, focused his analysis of modern ‘soziale Wechselwirkungen’ or as it was
society upon different forms of voluntary translated by Simmel’s American student,
associations, at the level of the community in Albion Small, as social interaction. These
his celebrated work Democracy in America. social interactions give rise to different
The American spirit of voluntarism leads to ‘Formen der Wechselwirkungen’ or forms
the spontaneous uniting of social forces in of association (see also form and forms).
order to tackle a problem collectively, no Simmel distinguishes, among others, social
matter how big or small. He contrasted this conflict, competition, power and domina-
American mentality of self-reliance with tion, the cross-cutting of social circles and
the European reluctance to get organized the web of group affiliations. This approach
and instead to rely on the action of the state to deciphering the forms of associations in a
(see state and nation-state). Emile Durkheim pure and abstract way was later called
followed in the footsteps of Tocqueville formal sociology by Simmel’s successors Leo-
when he proposed the institutionalization pold von Wiese and Alfred Vierkandt. This
of occupational associations in France dur- type of reasoning became the foundation
ing the Third Republic. According to his for contemporary network theory and
analysis, the demise of all intermediary also shows similarities with French struc-
corporations after the Revolution and the turalism.
prohibition of trade unions in the wake of Max Weber chose quite a different path
the Parisian Commune left French society in order to delineate the associational structure
in a situation where a centralized state was of modern society. In Economy and Society,

Weber sets out with the concept of ‘social Tönnies, F. ([1887] 1979) Gemeinschaft und
action’, moves on to ‘social relationships’ and Gesellschaft. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche
terminates his conceptual reflections with Weber, M. (1921) Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft.
the concept of order. Action, relationship Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck.
and order define the micro-, meso- and
macro-levels of social reality and it is
within these realms that forms of association
can be distinguished. Weber does so by a AUTHORITY
host of definitions and distinctions between
open and closed relationships, voluntary and In general, authority is a relational form of
compulsory association, enterprise and formal power that is exercised over social agents by
organization, communal and associative actors in positions of leadership, where the
relationships, political and hierocratic orga- source of compliance is either legitimacy or
nizations, types of order and domination. some other form of consent (see legitimacy
Starting from this analytical grid Weber was and legitimization). While authority may
able to develop a series of important con- entail command and obedience, it is to be
ceptual distinctions which we still employ distinguished from forms of domination
today: for instance, the triad of class, status based purely upon coercion. Conversely,
(or rather, Stand or estate) and party as while entailing consent, authority is also
different types of communal relationships; distinct from influence where compliance is
the distinction between church and sect derived from persuasion or argument.
within the realm of religion and hierocratic As argued by Arendt (1958), in classical
organization; or the distinction between Greece, authority was a right to command
household and enterprise which stood at the derived from true knowledge. Plato argued
cradle of the birth of the modern economy. that authority entailed knowledge of the
Classical social theory shows why associ- ‘forms’. In Thomas Aquinas, the classical
ation today means at least two things. view became transformed into the authority
Associations in the wider sense are almost of the church as the interpreter of God’s law.
coterminous with society as they comprise During the Enlightenment, the association
all forms of human sociability. Associations between authority and the dictates of reli-
in the narrower sense refer to the meso- gion led to a reversal of the classical view.
level of social life, and thus are located Authority represented the absence of truth
between the individual on the micro-level and reason. This is exemplified by Kant in his
and the state on the macro-level. In this essay, ‘What is Enlightenment?’, in which
sense they refer to all kinds of voluntary he argued that enlightenment is the courage
mobilization of social forces between inti- to think without dependence on external
mate groups and formal organizations. authority. This interpretation lies at the
heart of the distinction between authority
and influence. In conservative political
References and further reading
thought, the opposition between reason and
Durkheim, E. (1893) De la division du travail authority takes the form of an association
social. Paris: Alcan. between authority and tradition. Conse-
Durkheim, E. (1950) Leçons de sociologie: Physique quently, thinkers like Edmund Burke
des mœurs et du droit. Paris: Presses Uni- argued that legitimate government and
versitaires de France. authority should be based upon tradition, not
Simmel, G. (1908) Soziologie. Berlin: Duncker &
Humblot. on unconstrained reason. Conversely, but
Tocqueville, A. de (1835, 1840) De la démocratie from the same premises, radicals such as
en Amérique. Paris: Gallimard. Saint-Simon and Bakhunin saw the creation

of a just and rational society in terms of an authority derives legitimacy from tradi-
overthrow of both tradition and authority. tional action and is typical of traditional
In the seventeenth century, Thomas societies. Weber’s perception of traditional
Hobbes developed an essentially pragmatic authority is influenced by the Kantian view
view of authority. In his thesis, in order to of traditional authority as irrational,
overcome the inconvenience of the ‘state of whereas bureaucratic authority is seen as
nature’, individuals agree by social contract to rational. Both these forms of authority are
give their personal powers to a sovereign routine and stable.
who, in effect, becomes ‘author’ of their Weber’s third form of authority, based
actions. Consequently, the scope of sover- on charisma, is unstable, exceptional and
eign authority becomes virtually unlimited. also ‘irrational’. According to Weber, this
In classical sociology, Max Weber (1978) form of authority derives legitimacy from
is central to the debate on authority. affectual action. Leaders endowed with
Weber’s German term Herrschaft implies exceptional qualities such as Moses and Jesus
both authority and domination through gain legitimacy through the emotions of
coercion. Since Weber distinguished their followers. Because charismatic authority
between coercive and legitimate Herrschaft, is destabilizing to other forms of authority,
most sociologists have followed Parsons’s it is a source of social change. But as it is
interpretation of authority as ‘legitimate exceptional, it rarely lasts beyond the life-
domination’. However, there are excep- time of a charismatic leader: to be perpe-
tions to this approach. For example, Wrong tuated, it has to be routinized as traditional
(1995) argues for the concept of ‘coercive or legal bureaucratic authority. In modern
authority’. Wrong’s theoretical reason is democracies Weber considered parliament
that Weber would never have lost sight of as an important source of social change
the fact that most actual political authority because it provides leaders with the chance
is partly derived from coercion, even if to display charisma.
only historically so. However, as these Curiously, Weber did not develop a
terms are ideal types for Weber, it can be fourth type of authority corresponding to
argued that such actual empirical cases are ‘value rationality’. Willer (1967) suggests
not pure forms of authority and, further- this form should be called ‘ideological
more, that power may move from one authority’ and should derive its basis from
source to another. Over time, power that adherence to a system of value, for instance,
was once derived from coercion may religious movements, nationalism and, in its
become based upon legitimacy – coercive initial phases (before becoming routine),
domination can become authority. democracy. Like charismatic authority, this
Weber viewed legitimacy as entailing is an exceptional and dynamic authority,
consent based upon rules, practices and lasting only as long as ideological fervour is
beliefs, shared by ruler and followers (Bee- sustained (see nationalism).
tham 1991; Raz 1990). These have four Developing Weber’s analysis, Parsons
sources: (1) purposively rational action, (1958) argued that in social systems the
oriented towards means – ends efficiency and economy and polity should be considered
legality; (2) value rational action, justified in as working in parallel. On the one hand,
terms of ultimate values; (3) affectual action, the economy enables systems to adapt to the
derived from emotions; (4) traditional action, environment and, on the other, the polity
based upon age-old rules and customs. facilitates system goals. Within the econ-
Bureaucratic legal authority derives its omy, money is a circulating medium that is
legitimacy from purposively rational action based upon trust and consent and, analo-
and is associated with modernity. Traditional gously, the polity contains authoritative

power which derives its legitimacy from Echoing both Marx and Weber, Giddens
trust in the capacity of political leaders to (1981) argues that history should be inter-
realize collective goals. preted in terms of the twin evolution of
While Parsonian structural functionalism two types of resources. Allocative resources
has fallen out of favour, the comparison (Marx) entail the control of material things,
(and contrast) between money and power including raw materials, means of produc-
is suggestive. An actor in authority effec- tion and produced artefacts. Authoritative
tively ‘has’ power in much the same way resources (Weber) involve control over
as the wealthy ‘have’ money. However, people, including their positioning in time
money can be spent in a number of ways, and space and control over their lives and
while those in authority can use power life chances. In this view, the industrial
only for specific purposes. What is at issue revolution not only presupposed mechan-
is not the quantity of power (the equiva- ical advancements but equally the creation
lent of not being able to afford something) of a disciplined workforce. Capitalists need
but the use to which power can be put. labour which they have the authority to
The President of the USA has the author- situate in an exact position in space (next to a
ity to declare war on millions (a large amount machine) for a specified length of time
of power), yet does not have the power to (working day). The industrial revolution is
have a single political opponent assassinated premised upon the steam engine and the
(smaller quantity of power). When actors clock, on both allocative and authoritative
use their authoritative power appro- resources.
priately, it is not ‘spent’ or ‘used up’ like The work of Beck and Giddens (1991)
money, but rather, if it is exercised effec- on late modernity suggests the emergence of
tively, it increases through use. It is only another authority type. As risk society
through illegitimate use that authority is develops, actors continually seek assessment
‘spent’. However, while confined in scope, of risk based upon ‘expert authority’. This
authority is distinct from ‘delegation’ where applies both to global issues (where envir-
power is confined to specified decisions. onmentalists and their opponents appeal to
Authority entails the power to pursue col- the authority of experts) and in everyday
lective goals, although there is some flex- life (where actors routinely defer to them).
ibility concerning the means. It is this This idea of authority appears to represent a
quality which enables effective leaders to return to the classical view of authority as
increase their legitimacy and hence their legitimacy derived from knowledge.
In contrast to Parsons, Marxist sociologists
References and further reading
tend not to take the legitimacy of authority
at face value. It becomes theorized as ‘false Arendt, H. (1958) ‘Authority’, Nomos, I.
consciousness’, or as rationalizations (justi- Beetham, D. (1991) The Legitimation of Power.
fications used by elites), or as hegemony London: Macmillan.
(consensus as a manifestation of bourgeois Dahrendorf, R. (1957) Class and Class Conflict
in an Industrial Society. London: Routledge.
control over knowledge). One other view, Giddens, A. (1981) A Contemporary Critique of
defended by Dahrendorf (1957), is that Historical Materialism. London: Macmillan.
modern forms of social organization entail Giddens, A. (1991) The Consequences of Modernity.
distribution of authority among social roles Cambridge: Polity.
that define expectations of subjection and Lukes, S. (1978) ‘Power and Authority’, in T.
Bottomore and R. Nisbet (eds), A History of
domination, thus creating two distinct sets Sociological Analysis. London: Heinemann.
of positions or types of persons in constant Lukes, S. (1987) ‘Perspectives on Authority’,
conflict. Nomos, XXIX.


Parsons, T. (1958) ‘Authority, Legitimation and they want to determine their will (second-
Political Action’, Nomos, I. order volition) (Frankfurt 1988). Auton-
Raz, J. (ed.) (1990) Authority. New York: New
York University Press.
omy fails if the action is not motivated by
Weber, M. (1978) Economy and Society. Berke- reasons but determined by chance or by
ley, CA: University of California Press. non-willed causes. This may occur under
Willer, D. (1967) ‘Max Weber’s Missing the influence of uncontrolled drives,
Authority Type’, Sociological Inquiry, 37: addictions, unconsidered needs for con-
23139. formity, or, more broadly, by forms of
Wrong, D. (1995) Power: Its Forms, Bases, and
Uses. London: Transaction. social control, coercion or ‘manipulation’.
Another way of putting this is to say that
MARK HAUGAARD moral behaviour is first determined by
immediate desires, then by a second-order
desire to follow a norm which, in turn, is
supported by reason. According to Kantian
Autonomy means self-determination. It philosophy, autonomy is no longer justified
refers to the right of states or institutions to by God’s commands or natural law but by
regulate their affairs, or to the ability of the rational will of all concerned.
individuals to direct their lives by free will
and according to reason. On a first level, References and further reading
autonomy entails the freedom to do as one
wants. This freedom can be restricted by Elster, J. (1979) Ulysses and the Sirens. Cam-
external or internal barriers. For example, bridge: Cambridge University Press.
young children, lacking the ability of cog- Frankfurt, H. G. (1988) The Importance of What
We Care About. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
nitive and affective self-distancing, are in versity Press.
the grip of their immediate sensations or Habermas, J. ([1968] 1971) Knowledge and
desires. On a second level, autonomy Human Interests. Boston: Beacon Press.
implies being able to want as one wants. Kant, I. ([1784] 1970) ‘An answer to the Question:
What is Enlightenment?’ in Kant’s Political
This presupposes meta-cognitive and meta- Writings. Cambridge: Cambridge University
volitional abilities: individuals take a stance Press.
towards their spontaneous (first order)
desires and decide with reasons which ones

BAKHTIN CIRCLE a number of Soviet scholars of the time,
The Bakhtin Circle refers to a multi-dis- Bakhtin claims that this principle derives
ciplinary group of Soviet scholars including from the collective spirit of pre-class society
the cultural theorist Mikhail Bakhtin and, as such, challenges social inequities.
(1895–1975), the linguist Valentin Vološinov Discernible in Renaissance carnivals, the
(1895–1936) and the literary scholar Pavel principle permeates prose literature in the
Medvedev (1891–1938). The group com- form of certain folkloric and ‘carnivalistic’
bined Kantian philosophy, phenomenology, semantic clusters. The works of writers
Hegelian philosophy and Marxism to such as Rabelais and Cervantes are held to
develop a theory of language centred on an be particularly rich in such features.
idea of dialogue. This involved an account of In Bakhtin’s final works, monologism and
literary history based on a dialectic of nove- dialogism are explicitly linked to the methods
listic (critical) and poetic genres, and a the- of the natural and human sciences respec-
ory of critical culture as derived from a tively.
communally experienced festive laughter,
carnival. References and further reading
The language theory was chiefly devel-
oped by Vološinov in Marxism and the Phi- Brandist, C. (2002) The Bakhtin Circle: Philosophy,
Culture and Politics. London: Pluto Press.
losophy of Language ([1929] 1973) in which Brandist, C. et al. (eds) (2004) The Bakhtin Circle:
dialogue emerges as the discursive embodi- In the Master’s Absence. Manchester: Manchester
ment of intersubjective relationships (see University Press.
intersubjectivity). In the 1930s and 1940s Hirschkop, K. (1999) Mikhail Bakhtin: An Aesthetic
Bakhtin developed this idea according to for Democracy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Vološinov, V. N. ([1929] 1973) Marxism and the
idealist and juridical principles to argue that Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, MA: Har-
all languages are equally (in)capable of vard University Press.
approaching the ‘thing in itself’, that all
discursive forms have generic features, and CRAIG BRANDIST
that the individual is responsible for his or
her discursive acts. ‘Dialogism’ becomes the
BARTHES, ROLAND (1915–1980)
means by which spurious truth claims are
unmasked and their authoritarian (monologic) French theorist
motivations exposed. Laughter is held to be Barthes was the author of numerous works
the bearer of the critical spirit, structuring in literary theory and criticism and semiotics,
dialogic engagements with authoritarian today recognized as cornerstones in the
discourses. Drawing on ideas developed by discipline of cultural studies. His most
BA TAILL E, G EO RG ES (18 97– 196 2)

famous work, Mythologies (1993) is a series Further reading

of short vignettes debunking as so many Sontag, S. (ed.) (1993) A Barthes Reader. Lon-
‘myths’ the petty-bourgeois ideology that don: Vintage.
can be conveyed through popular culture
and the media and the mass media in var- KARINE ZBINDEN
ious forms of coding. Taking his cue
from the structural linguistics of Ferdi-
nand de Saussure and structuralist theory,
Barthes analyzed social structures on the French theorist, librarian, philosopher,
model of relations between linguistic ele- critic, and novelist
ments in texts (see structuralism). He also Bataille’s perennial concern – expressed in
developed a theory of the sign based on the all his life and works – was with an asym-
distinction between ‘denotation’ and ‘con- metrical dialectic encompassing the imma-
notation’ formulated by the Danish linguist nent development of the anguished
Louis Hjelmslev (1899–1963). In his major individual and his or her changing relations
work Elements of Semiology (1964), Barthes with different modalities of the awe-inspir-
examines the social significance of mate- ing sacred power of collectivities. His ear-
rial objects with the aid of the Saussurean liest work embraced the full range and
definition of the sign, the ‘signifier’ and the potential excesses of individual and inter-
‘signified’. personal experiences, emphasizing the
Among some of his most illuminating totality of emotions and bodily functions.
exercises are his analyses of fashion, dress He began a life-long relationship with a
code and eating etiquette. In other works, Kojèvean Hegelian Marxism and at the
including notably S/Z (1974), Barthes pre- same time, jointly with dissident Surrealists,
sents the text as a self-constituting entity began to develop a radical Maussian Dur-
actualized in the reading process, thematiz- kheimianism. Bataille argued that ‘society
ing the ‘writerly’ text, as opposed to the . . . combining organisms at the highest
‘readerly’ text which forecloses meaning by level, makes them into something other
conforming to established literary conven- than their sum’, and that transgression
tions. Barthes is best known for his con- transcends and completes an interdiction,
ception of the ‘death of the author’, where thereby enhancing the transgressive experi-
the author is polemically seen as no more ence. Bataille reinterpreted the categories of
than a function of discursive structures and the sacred and profane to refer to the
conventions, rather than as a unique crea- socially heterogeneous, where is found
tive individual. This conception became ‘expenditure without reserve’, and the
of central concern to other French thinkers socially homogeneous, the loci of utilitarian
loosely associated with post-structuralism, calculation. His later work explored the
including Jacques Derrida, Michel Fou- nature of, and the limits of the knowledge
cault and Julia Kristeva. of, allegedly bounded integral systems, such
as identities, conceptual systems, structures,
societies and historical development. These
Major works produce an unacknowledged excess, inex-
plicable within their own terms of refer-
(1964) Elements of Semiology. New York: Hill ence. In seeking to maintain themselves
and Wang. against potential disruption often associated
(1974) S/Z. Trans. R. Howard. Oxford: Black-
well. with their own internal logics, such systems
(1993) Mythologies. Trans. A. Lavers, London: need loss through excessive expenditure.
Vintage. All are ‘restricted economies’ locatable in
B A U D RI L L A R D , J E A N ( 1 9 2 9 – )

‘general economies’ which cannot be signs are displaced by media-generated

adequately conceptualized or controlled. simulacra (see consumption). Like the Ita-
Indeed, the sacred is now seen as the total- lian semiologist, Umberto Eco, Bau-
ity of the world and the profane as abstrac- drillard’s later thought is devoted to
tive practices vis-à-vis this totality. His ideas problems generated by the transition from
influenced Derrida, Foucault, Deleuze, industrial societies dominated by produc-
Lyotard and Baudrillard. tion, exchange-value, and political economy
to a civilization characterized by hyper-real
Major works sign-values, the mass production of culture,
and generalized communications technolo-
(1999) Visions of Excess: Selected Writings 1937– gies. Baudrillard writes about a modern
1939, Allan Stoekl (ed., tr.,) Minneapolis,
universe of hyper-communication in which
MN: University of Minnesota Press.
([1943] 1988) Inner Experience. Albany, NY: signifiers are totally ‘emancipated’ from the
SUNY Press. signified and the referential. Baudrillard’s
([1947] 1988) The Accursed Share. New York: work has had a wide-ranging impact upon
Zone Books. debates in postmodern theory and politics,
([1957] 1962) Erotism: Death and Sensuality. San
Francisco: City Lights.
media analysis, cultural studies, sociology,
and contemporary aesthetic theory (see
postmodernism and postmodernity).
Further reading
Surya, M. ([1992] 2002) Georges Bataille: An Major works
Intellectual Biography. London: Verso.
([1972] 1981) For a Critique of the Political Econ-
FRANK PEARCE omy of the Sign. St Louis, MO: Telos.
([1973] 1975) The Mirror of Production. St Louis,
MO: Telos.
([1976] 1993) Symbolic Exchange and Death.
London: Sage.
French theorist Baudrillard has contributed ([1981] 1983) Simulations. New York: Semi-
to a wide range of issues in philosophy, otext(e).
social theory, media analysis and cultural ([1990] 1993) The Transparency of Evil. London:
criticism. In a number of diverse and often
intellectually disparate texts, he has theo-
rized the present as a global consumer Further reading
society of simulation and simulacra shaped Kellner, D. (ed.) (1994) Baudrillard: A Critical
by the media and mass media and new Reader. Oxford: Blackwell.
information technologies (see simulacrum). Sandywell, B. (1995) ‘Forget Baudrillard’, The-
Baudrillard’s early writings are in the ory, Culture & Society, 12: 125–52.
Marxist tradition of the critique of capital- BARRY SANDYWELL
ism, the theory of everyday life (influenced
by Henri Lefebvre), and the ‘society of the
spectacle’ perspective associated with Guy
Debord. In Symbolic Exchange and Death BAUMAN, ZYGMUNT (1925– )
(1993) he fuses a Marxist analysis of con- Polish-born theorist resident in Britain.
temporary capitalism with a critical semio- Bauman’s work is a hermeneutics of the
tics of everyday life. The society of relationship between praxis and social
consumer capitalism is seen as inaugurating structures. Bauman’s commitment to
a new era of capitalism, dominated by an praxis as the striving for utopia means that
ever-expanding logic of sign values where his work is a version of critical theory,
BE AUVO IR, S IMONE DE (19 08– 198 6)

drawing on the early Marx, as well as Tester, K. (2004) The Social Thought of Zygmunt
Gramsci, Simmel, Bloch and Polish socio- Bauman. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
logical humanism (particularly Ossowski). KEITH TESTER
He also draws on European literature and
poetry, and because of this it is perhaps BEAUVOIR, SIMONE DE (1908–1986)
better to identify Bauman as a practitioner
of the sociological imagination than as an French novelist, essayist and
orthodox sociologist. Bauman argues that philosopher
praxis is utopian because it points towards a Drawing on Sartre’s existentialism and
world of autonomous human self-creation, Husserl and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomen-
but the insecurity that is associated with ology of the body, de Beauvoir has made
autonomy leads to reified social structures important contributions to feminism. The
that promise security and which are under- Second Sex (1949) is reputed to have
pinned by power (as both coercion and inspired second-wave feminism and initi-
consent). In modernity, security was ated the sex/gender distinction. Her infa-
established through ordering designs (i.e. mous statement, ‘Woman is not born but
Nazism and notions of ‘purity’) or through becomes one’, sees gender as a social and
notions of a perfect future (communism, cultural process (social constructionism)
particularly its Stalinist form), and in post- rather than mandated by sexed differences.
modernity it is established through con- Since woman’s inferiority has been coupled
sumerism (see postmodernism and with her biological weaknesses and the
postmodernity). Bauman seeks to recover inexorable logic of reproduction, this dis-
the utopian possibilities of praxis, which tinction provides an antidote to the fear that
he links to an ethics of being for the Other, biology is destiny. As a phenomenologist, de
irrespective of the demands of reified Beauvoir describes the phenomenon
social structures and power. Bauman initi- woman – analyzing the multiple meanings
ally identified this as a ‘postmodern eth- involved in this reality. This includes pro-
ics’, but it also motivates his discussions of blematizing our existing ideas of femininity,
globalization and ‘liquid modernity’. Bau- women’s subordination, sexuality, embodi-
man’s work has had a major impact on ment, self – other relations. This is not a
debates about the Holocaust, modernity, turn to the subject, or only in so far as it
postmodernity, morality, and consumer- sees the subject in relation to objects, pro-
ism. cesses and events in which it is enmeshed.
De Beauvoir explores the myriad situations
(political, social, cultural and psychological)
Major works
in which women are constituted as Other
(1973) Culture as Praxis. London: Routledge & to men – reduced to an object rather than
Kegan Paul. subject. Radical cultural feminists believed
(1989) Modernity and the Holocaust. Cambridge: de Beauvoir diminished women’s achieve-
Polity. ments and endorsed masculine activity as a
(1993) Postmodern Ethics. Cambridge: Polity.
goal for liberated women. The French dif-
(2000) Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity.
ferential post-structuralists (Irigaray, Kristeva)
believed her attention to equality involved
Further reading the inclusion of women in existing mascu-
line institutions and practices rather than for-
Beilharz, P. (2000) Zygmunt Bauman: Dialectics of
Modernity. London: Sage. ging a new feminine symbolic order. In the
Smith, D. (1999) Zygmunt Bauman: Prophet of cultural turn, de Beauvoir has been dis-
Postmodernity. Cambridge: Polity. missed as an Enlightenment humanist –
BE CK, ULRICH (19 44– )

overly optimistic about changing social and science of modernization so as to

reality through reason and revolution (see secure planetary survival. This thesis is ela-
humanism). Her notion of the lived and borated in relation to matters of reflexivity,
situated body saves her from these charges, ‘reflexive modernization’, individualism
for she manages to appreciate the sig- and individualization, globalization and a
nificance of everyday culture, the non- new cosmopolitan perspective on interna-
rational and history in the process of tional politics and law (see cosmopolitan-
becoming woman. ism).

Major works Major works

([1949] 1989) The Second Sex. Trans. H. M. (1992) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity.
Parshley, New York: Vintage. London: Sage.
(1976) The Ethics of Ambiguity. Trans. B. (1995a) Ecological Politics in an Age of Risk. Cam-
Frechtman, New York: Citadel. bridge: Polity.
(1995b) Ecological Enlightenment. Buffalo, NY:
(1995c) The Normal Chaos of Love (with E. Beck-
Gernsheim). Cambridge: Polity.
BECK, ULRICH (1944– ) (1997) The Reinvention of Politics. Cambridge:
German theorist (1998) Democracy Without Enemies. Cambridge:
Beck is known primarily for his ground- Polity.
breaking thesis on risk society. In this work (1999) World Risk Society. Cambridge: Polity.
he argues that a fundamental break is taking (2000a) What is Globalization? Cambridge:
place within the social history of modernity (2000b) The Brave New World of Work. Cam-
as we move away from an older ‘industrial bridge: Polity.
society’ towards a new ‘risk society’. He (2002) Individualization (with E. Beck-Gern-
claims that where it was largely the case sheim). London: Sage.
that earlier generations were blind to the
ecological hazards of modernization, in the Further reading
emergent risk society, a social consciousness
of large-scale industrial hazards (particularly Beck, U. and Willms, J. (2004) Conversations
with Ulrich Beck. Cambridge: Polity.
in relation to chemical pollutants, nuclear Mythen, G. (2004) Ulrich Beck: A Critical Intro-
technologies and genetic engineering) has a duction to the Risk Society. Andover: Pluto
great bearing upon people’s cultural atti- Press.
tudes and social behaviours. As a result, we
are reaching the point where politics is
more likely to be conducted as a response
to collective anxieties, risk, recognition, BEHAVIOURISM
public dialogue and social inclusion than as
a means to resolve age-old concerns of Behaviourism is the name of a philosophi-
material scarcity. At this point, Beck dis- cal and scientific doctrine, according to
cerns a ‘second’ or a new ‘radicalized’ which knowledge of human conduct can
modernity guided by the ideals of ‘ecolo- be obtained only if the concepts of mind
gical enlightenment’. He explores the pos- and consciousness are jettisoned in favour
sibilities that exist within contemporary of exclusive focus on externally observable
societies for humanity to respond to the behaviour. In its methodological version,
threat of global disaster with social move- behaviourism advocates bracketing of con-
ments to radically reform the technologies sciousness for purposes of the objective

study of behaviour and is therefore close to environmental events, such as speech or

empiricism. As a metaphysical position, it classroom teaching, and then influenced by
denies consciousness completely and is thus the ensuing consequences.
a variant of materialism. This objectivist Emerging in the early 1960s from this
and even reductionist doctrine made its first notion of a set of relations linking behaviour
appearance in American psychology but and environment, behavioural sociology
then spread to the wider social sciences, represented by Homans, Richard Emerson
leading to their renaming as ‘behavioural and others focused, within the context of
sciences’. Having met resistance in Europe, dyads and groups, on how the con-
it gained currency largely in the American sequences of behaviour, such as rewards
sphere of influence. Here, however, the and punishment, systematically modify its
diffusion of behaviourism was severely subsequent execution (see exchange the-
curtailed by the cognitive revolution and ory). In Homans’s (1961) view, sociology is
the emergence of the cognitive sciences, the study of individual behaviour and
including cognitive sociology (see cogniti- interaction rather than of institutions or
vism). Consequently, behavioural socio- social structures, yet at this level its focus
logy’s heyday came to an end in the 1970s. is not consciousness but the patterns of
Some commentators discover the roots of reinforcement or the history of rewards
behaviourism in ancient Greece and in and costs leading people to do what they
early modern Britain and France, but it is do.
more strictly an early twentieth-century Whereas the widespread hostile recep-
movement. Behaviourism is most closely tion of Skinner’s Beyond Freedom and Dig-
associated with the names of the American nity (1971) signalled the decline of
scientists John B. Watson, Burrhus F. behaviourism, inroads against the doctrine
Skinner and George C. Homans. had already been made by the cognitive
The immediate impetus to behaviourism revolution of the late 1950s, particularly but
came from the Russian physiologist, Pav- not only by the displacement of behavioural
lov, whose experiments on the salivary psychology by cognitive psychology.
reflex in dogs led to the central concept of George Herbert Mead (1962), the major
‘conditioned reflex’. The intellectual back- influence behind symbolic interactionism
ground against which Watson founded who in the 1920s borrowed the emphasis
behaviourism was broader, however. Sti- on the actor from Watson and even pre-
mulated positively by Pavlov, behaviourism sented his own work from what he called
was an extreme reaction to the widely held ‘a behavioristic point of view’, vehemently
introspective philosophy of the late nineteenth disagreed with Watson’s rejection of mind
century, particularly the introspective and consciousness. Mead insisted, by con-
school of psychology represented by Wil- trast, that perception, attention, memory,
helm Wundt in Germany and E. B. Titch- imagination, reasoning and emotion should
ener in the United States. be included as part of the act and that the
In the 1930s, Skinner introduced ‘radical act itself should be located in a broad social
behaviourism’ as a transformation of Wat- context, for only then would a creative and
son’s classical stimulus-response model. dynamic concept of the actor be possible
Instead of simple reflex or ‘respondent (see action).
behaviour’ in the sense of inherited This early criticism found clear formula-
responses to particular, pre-given stimuli tion in the vociferous arguments against
such as food or bright light, Skinner shifted behaviourism put forward by proponents of
the emphasis to voluntary, learned or cognitivism. In the 1960s, Jean Piaget
‘operant behaviour’ which is elicited by (1970) criticized ‘the myth of the sensory
BE LL , D A NIE L (1 919 – )

origin of scientific knowledge’ from the a mixed economy, and the welfare state,
standpoint of the ‘construction’ (see social but which also creates the possibility of new
constructionism) of knowledge. Central to conflict, particularly through a discontented
this for Piaget was the internal, unobservable young generation of intellectuals. In The Cul-
organizing principle that he called the tural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976) Bell
‘schema’ (see framing). Similarly Noam analyzes developments in American culture.
Chomsky (1968) attacked behaviourism in His main thesis is that due to rising mass
general, and Skinner in particular, for consumption, hedonism and self-indulgence
adopting a narrow perspective that occludes are spreading, standing in stark contrast to
the cognitive system of knowledge and the requirements of the overall economic
belief acquired through socialization system, and creating a contradiction which
which generates the kinds of behaviour we questions the integrity of the culture. In
observe. Today, vestiges of behaviourism The Coming of Post-industrial Society (1973)
survive in empiricist, rational choice and Bell identifies and analyzes the change in
micro-economic approaches. social structure from industrial to post-
industrial society, characterized by two
References and further reading central dimensions: the shift from manu-
facturing to services as the main economic
Chomsky, N. (1968) Language and Mind. New
York: Harcourt, Brace & World. sector, and the centrality and codification of
Guerin, B. (1994) Analyzing Social Behavior. knowledge as the new axial principle of social
Reno: Context Press. structure (see knowledge and knowledge
Homans, G. C. (1961) Social Behavior. New society).
York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Mead, G. H. ([1934] 1962) Mind, Self and
Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Major works
Piaget, J. (1970) Psychology and Epistemology. (1960) The End of Ideology. Glencoe, IL: Free
Harmondsworth: Penguin. Press.
Skinner, B. F. (1953) Science and Human Beha- (1973) The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A
vior. New York: Free Press. Venture in Social Forecasting. New York: Basic
Skinner, B. F. (1971) Beyond Freedom and Dig- Books.
nity. New York: Knopf. (1976) The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism.
Watson, J. B. ([1924] 1970) Behaviorism. New New York: Basic Books.
York: W. W. Norton.
PIET STRYDOM Further reading
Waters, M. (1996) Daniel Bell. London: Routledge.
US sociologist
Bell conceives of society as analytically dif-
BENDIX, REINHARD (1916–1991)
ferentiated into three relatively autono-
mous spheres: politics, social structure and German sociologist
culture. Influenced by Weber, Bendix’s widely read
In The End of Ideology (1960), Bell argues Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait (1960)
that party politics are no longer governed still remains one of the best expositions of
by the ideologies of the left and the right. Weber’s substantive ideas. Bendix’s own
Instead, a consensus shared by all the major intellectual legacy rests on his comparative
parties has emerged, which acknowledges studies of the state, authority and society.
the necessity and desirability of democracy, Class, Status and Power (1953), a reader
BE NJAMIN, WAL TER (18 93– 194 0)

jointly edited with Seymour Martin Lipset, Skocpol, T. (ed.) (1985) Vision and Method in
established stratification and power as a Historical Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
central concern of sociology at a time when
Parsonian normative consensus was the SAM WHIMSTER
orthodoxy. Work and Authority in Industry
(1956) compared the ideological justification
of managers in four different societal set- BENJAMIN, WALTER (1893–1940)
tings. Nation-Building and Citizenship (1964) German–Jewish theorist
and Kings and People (1978) started a golden Closely associated with the critical theory
age in historical informed accounts of the of the Frankfurt School, Benjamin drew on
development of power structures and motifs from Marxism, Judaism and literary
legitimacy in Western and non-Western modernism. He pioneered an idiosyncratic
societies (see legitimacy and legitimation). revolutionary politics of redemption embra-
In modern societies, power can no longer cing a wide range of contemporary cultural
rest on status inequality – an observation forms, including film and photography. His
Bendix credited to Tocqueville. The organi- abiding concern with recovering the critical
zation of work requires forms of managerial potential of marginal and anachronistic
ideology, and nation–states require forms of cultural phenomena brought him little
democratic legitimacy (see state and recognition in his own lifetime. The
nation-state). The content of these forms incomprehension which greeted his post-
in particular societies will draw upon spe- doctoral Habilitationsschrift, The Origin of
cific cultural traditions and contingencies of German Tragic Drama ([1928] 1985) ended his
nationhood. Bendix’s address in 1970 as hopes of an academic career. Benjamin lived
President of the American Sociological an impecunious existence as a freelance
Association deftly charted some of the bet- writer in Berlin, Frankfurt, and, from 1932,
ter places for sociology to position itself, across in exile in Paris. Some of his most important
the axes of scientific distance versus contributions to social and cultural theory
engagement, and hard-nosed scientism ver- were developed as part of his ultimately
sus naı̈ve humanism (Bendix and Roth unfinished study of mid-nineteenth-century
1971). Paris, The Arcades Project (1999). This Surreal-
ist-inspired ‘prehistory’ of modernity was
to explore the ‘dreamworld’ of consumption
Major works
formed by the city’s shopping arcades and
(1956) Work and Authority in Industry: Ideologies of fetishized commodity culture. Benjamin
Management in the Course of Industrialization.
Berkeley, CA: University of California came to focus on the writings of Charles
Press. Baudelaire, reading poetry and prose as
(1960) Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait. New expressions of modern metropolitan
York: Doubleday. experience (embodied in the flâneur) and
(1964) Nation-Building and Citizenship. New the commodification of art. Benjamin’s
York: John Wiley & Sons.
(1971) (with G. Roth) Scholarship and Partisan- essays on photography (A Small History of
ship: Essays on Max Weber. Berkeley, CA: Photography 1931) and film (The Work of Art
University of California Press. in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction 1935)
(1978) Kings or People: Power and the Mandate to argue for the radical potential of these media
Rule. Berkeley, CA: University of California in overcoming the traditional power or
(1984) Force, Fate, and Freedom: On Historical Sociol- ‘aura’ of the original artwork. His Theses on
ogy. Berkeley, CA: University of California the Concept of History (1940) challenged
Press. ‘historicist’ and Marxist readings of histor-
B E R GE R , P E T E R A N D L U C K M A N N , T H OM A S

ical progress and sketched a redemptive phenomenology’ of the later Schutz, which
politics based on the ‘dialectical image’. had attempted to correct for the egoism and
Unable to escape occupied France in 1940, tacit solipsism of classical phenomenology.
Benjamin committed suicide on the Span- The resulting synthesis claims to be a reor-
ish border. ientation of the classical Wissensoziologie of
Karl Mannheim away from ‘higher’ ideas
and ideologies towards the social situations
Major works
of everyday life, where taken-for-granted
([1928] 1985) The Origin of German Tragic knowledge had more importance for
Drama. London: Verso. ordinary people.
([1931] 1985) ‘A Small History of Photography’,
in One Way Street. London: Verso. The book describes the basic parameters
([1935] 1973) ‘The Work of Art in the Age of of the process whereby objective social
Mechanical Reproduction’, in Illuminations. reality comes to be confronted by a human
London: Collins. subject. The relationship between humans
(1986) ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’, in as producers and the social world, their
A. Hazard and L. Searle (eds) Critical Theory
Since 1965. Tallahassee, Florida: Florida State product, plays itself out in an ongoing
University Press. social dialectic of three ‘moments’ (derived
(1983) Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era from Hegel and the young Marx): externa-
of High Capitalism. London: Verso. lization, objectivation and internalization.
(1999) The Arcades Project. Cambridge, MA: Humans externalized themselves to create
social institutions and a stable environment,
which ‘kept chaos at bay’. In the course of
Further reading the socialization process, this objectivated
Buck-Morss, S. (1991) Dialectics of Seeing. Cam- world is internalized, thus completing the
bridge, MA: MIT Press. cycle. Hence, society is seen as both
Leslie, E. (2000) Walter Benjamin. London: objectified subjectivity (hence analyzable as
Pluto. social facts as Durkheim specified); and
Gilloch, G. (2002) Walter Benjamin. Cambridge: subjectified objectivity (hence meaningful,
as the phenomenologists maintained).
GRAEME GILLOCH The authors take for granted the ‘proto-
sociological’ (Luckmann) status of their
theoretical propositions. These are held to be
BERGER, PETER AND LUCKMANN, non-empirical, universal structures, not a
THOMAS description of any specific society. The
Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann’s ‘transcendental’ character of the book is not,
celebrated book, The Social Construction of however, always appreciated by commenta-
Reality (1996), draws upon European sociol- tors who have frequently criticized it for not
ogy (Marx, Weber, Durkheim) and philo- dealing with power, domination and inequal-
sophical anthropology (Plessner, Gehlen). ity in specific societies, when this was never
Concepts from those traditions are blended its purpose. But the charges of rationalism,
with American social-psychology (Mead, latent functionalism, positivism and con-
Cooley, Parsons). The inspiration of servatism are arguably better founded.
Alfred Schutz is also prominent in the
book, evidenced by the centrality of con-
Major work
cepts such as Lebenswelt, natural attitude,
finite provinces of meaning and methodo- (1996) The Social Construction of Reality: A Trea-
logical ‘bracketing’ (see lifeworld). In par- tise in the Sociology of Knowledge. New York:
ticular, the text draws upon the ‘genetic Doubleday and Co.

B LO C H, E R NS T (18 85– 197 7)

Further reading Western thought to absolutize binaries is

evident – despite Lévi-Strauss’s attempts at
Lafferty, W. (1977) ‘Externalization and Dialectics: ethnological distancing – in an ‘ethic of
Taking the Brackets off Berger and Luckmann’s
Sociology of Knowledge’, Cultural Herme- nostalgia for origins’ governing the latter’s
neutics, 4(2): 139161. treatment of the ‘culture/nature’ distinction.

References and further reading
Derrida, J. (1978) ‘Structure, Sign and Play in
the Human Sciences’, in Writing and Differ-
ence. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
‘Binary’ is a term used to describe pairs of Douglas, M. (2002) Purity and Danger: An Ana-
opposed elements which organize cultural lysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo.
categories in myth and ritual; associated with London: Routledge.
Fiske, J. (1990) Introduction to Communication
structuralist analyses of myths and folktales Studies. London: Routledge.
by Lévi-Strauss and Propp. It can be Leach, E. (1989) Claude Lévi-Strauss. Chicago:
traced back to Durkheim’s claim that a University of Chicago Press.
sacred/profane duality is central to religious Lévi-Strauss, C. ([1949] 1971) The Elementary
life; to Hertz’s work on left/right binaries; Structures of Kinship. Boston: Beacon.
Lévi-Strauss, C. ([1964] 1983) The Raw and the
and to the semiotic theory of de Saussure, Cooked. Chicago: University of Chicago
Jakobson and Troubetskoy. Lévi-Strauss Press.
proposed that myths articulate systems of Said, E. (1979) Orientalism. New York: Vintage
classification in which binary categories Books.
Segal, R. A. (1996) Structuralism in Myth: Lévi-
are combined according to specific rules Strauss, Barthes, Dumézil and Propp. New
(e.g., of exchange), producing a repertoire York: Garland Publishers.
of culturally specific variations. For example, Turner, V. (1970) Forest of Symbols: Aspects of
culinary and alimentary systems can be Ndembu Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Uni-
analyzed as variations on fundamental dualities versity Press.
such as raw/cooked or clean/unclean. Lévi- WILLIAM RAMP
Strauss claimed that the binary cognitive and
semiotic organization of human culture
reflects universals of human thought. Edmund BLOCH, ERNST (1885–1977)
Leach proposed that binaries find a source German theorist
in the ‘imperfect’ symmetry of the human Bloch’s central concern was to validate the
body. An emphasis on binaries does not concept of utopia in modern social theory
rule out the possibility of triadic classifica- and philosophy. His early work, culminat-
tions (as in Dumézil’s analyses of Indo- ing in The Spirit of Utopia (1918), combined
European mythology, or Lévi-Strauss’s own Expressionist aesthetics, messianic religious
raw/cooked/rotten triad), or even of qua- thinking, and radical social theory. Bloch
ternary distinctions composed of binary pairs. sought to analyze the malaise of con-
Analysis of binaries has been fruitfully temporary culture and the imagery of a
extended to popular culture and media, transformed capitalist world. Early theore-
and to critiques of ‘modern’ distinctions tical influences were Hegel and Marx,
(e.g., culture/nature, civilization/barbarity, Simmel and Lukács. With time, Bloch
normal/pathological, Occidental/Oriental), became more self-consciously Marxist,
but the idea that binaries might indicate though, unlike most of the humanist
cultural or mental universals has been criti- Marxists, he aligned himself politically
cized. Derrida claimed that a tendency in (until the late 1950s) with Soviet commun-
BL UMER, HERBE RT ( 190 0–1 987 )

ism. For the rest of his life he sought to Blumer’s conceptual contribution is
develop and refine a dynamic future- mainly set out in one book, Symbolic Inter-
orientated conception of the natural and actionism: Perspective and Method ([1969]
social world. The universe in this concep- 1986). Here he argues for the centrality of
tion is seen as unfinished; it is ‘not-yet’, and the process of ‘interpretation’ to sociological
its future is decisively in the hands of an understanding. Human beings react to
active humanity. His undoubted master- situations and to each other as they perceive
piece, The Principle of Hope (1959) is an or interpret them. Sociological theories and
account of the interrelationship between methodological devices often falsely
‘objective hope’, the concrete possibilities exclude interpretation from explicit attention,
of a particular time, and ‘subjective hope’, and therefore assign to many social phe-
embodied in simple daydreams, mass cul- nomena both a givenness and a permanence
ture and consumerism, as well as in the that, on closer inspection, they prove not to
complex visions of works of art and music. possess. Society as ‘symbolic interaction’ is a
With a great encyclopedic sweep, Bloch huge complex assembled through the for-
charts the presence of utopian yearning in mation and reciprocal articulation of the
culture, religion, philosophy and science, lines of action of many individuals. The
society and nature. Much of his work dis- corresponding methodological imperative is
plays similarities with the tradition of the for inspection of the process of interpreta-
Frankfurt School and critical theory. tion in its course, of the ways in which
people in interaction, through their actions
Major works and responses, shape and manifest the inter-
([1918] 2000) The Spirit of Utopia. Stanford, CA:
pretations that guide their conduct. Blumer
Stanford University Press. also conducted several substantive studies of
([1935] 1991) Heritage of Our Times. Oxford: cinema audiences, drug users, racial pre-
Polity. judices and the impact of industrialization
([1959] 1986) The Principle of Hope. Oxford: (often with an interest in policy questions).

Further reading Major work

Geoghegan, V. (1996) Ernst Bloch. London: ([1969] 1986) Symbolic Interactionism: Perspective
Routledge. and Method. Berkeley, CA: University of
Hudson. W. (1982) The Marxist Philosophy of California Press.
Ernst Bloch. London: Macmillan.

BLUMER, HERBERT (1900–1987) See: embodiment
US theorist
Blumer is regarded as the founder of the
BOURDIEU, PIERRE (1930–2002)
approach known as symbolic interaction-
ism, which has been closely associated with French sociologist
the work of the Chicago School of sociol- Bourdieu began his career under the influ-
ogists. Blumer’s conception of symbolic ence of phenomenology and French philo-
interactionism grew out of the legacy of the sophers of science. He was conscripted to
American pragmatist philosophers, includ- the army in Algeria in 1956. During the
ing John Dewey and especially George War of Independence he sought to carry
Herbert Mead (see pragmatism). out a phenomenological analysis of cultural

adaptation (what he called ‘Fieldwork in wealthy and the educated, or generally a mid-
philosophy’. In France in the 1960s and dle class between the aristocracy and the
under the influence of Lévi-Strauss, he first working class. Conflicting as these definitions
presented his work as social anthropology, may be, they all share the problem of
but then established himself as a sociologist accounting for the collective agent they name.
of education and of culture. During this This problem is essentially the question of
time he developed the concepts of habitus, what makes the bourgeoisie a unity, a ‘class’.
cultural capital, and social reproduction. When the fall of feudal absolutism left
Bourdieu sought to reconcile ontology open the discursive space of the ruling
and epistemology, social practices and group, the bourgeois was not much more
social theory, agency and structure, sub- than one among other members of the
jective lifeworld experience and scientific third estate; at best, in Rousseau’s view or
objectivity. His goal was to outline a theory Hegel’s definition, any persons privately
of practice which commended sociological enjoying the benefits of political society.
reflexivity. This meant that social theories The young Marx (1848) adopted this
and concepts have to be analyzed as com- conceptual tradition – with one crucial
ponents of the social situation which they turn: in his eyes, it was the logic of private
try to explain. A politically engaged intel- life, namely that of a privatized economy,
lectual, Bourdieu sought to democratize which dominated political life. A second
scientific intervention. His work has had a conceptual turn emerged when early nine-
major impact on the study of class, status, teenth-century French socialists identified
stratification and social inequality. the bourgeoisie as the specific group own-
ing and making capital. At this point, Marx
(1876) and his followers could precisely say
Major works who governed society through economy:
([1972] 1977) Outline of a Theory of Practice. the owners and controllers of industrial
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. production, accumulating capital by
([1979] 1986) Distinction: A Social Critique of the exploiting those who must work for wages.
Judgement of Taste. London: Routledge. Some predictions implicit in or associated
([1980] 1990) The Logic of Practice. Cambridge:
Polity. with this description have proved mis-
([1984] 1988) Homo Academicus. Cambridge: Polity. guided. Instead of a growing polarization
(1992) (with L. J. D. Wacquant) An Invitation to between bourgeoisie and proletariat, western
Reflexive Sociology. Cambridge: Polity. societies have seen the emergence of new
technocratic, state-bureaucratic and man-
Further reading agerial classes whose ‘bourgeois’ character is
at least questionable. Yet the non-Marxist
Robbins, D. M. (2000a) Bourdieu and Culture.
paradigms have also raised questions: should
London: Sage.
Robbins, D. M. (ed.) (2000b) Pierre Bourdieu, 4 the bourgeoisie be defined by work ethic
vols. London: Sage. (Weber [1903] 1976), by certain cultural
distinctions, or social ideals? As long as there
are privileged and ruling groups in capital-
ism, this matter remains to be solved.

References and further reading
The concept of bourgeoisie, originally a title
for the free inhabitants of the late medieval Marx, K. ([1844] 1975) ‘The Jewish Question’,
city, designates a major force in modern his- in Marx and Engels Collected Works. New
tory: the owners of means of production, the York: International Publishers.


Marx, K. (1876) Capital I, in Marx and Engels unconventionality or resistance to a dominant

Collected Works, vol. 35. New York: Inter- culture (as in youth culture or queer culture),
national Publishers.
Wallerstein, I. (1995) ‘Bourgeoisie’, in W. F. and often the subversion or de-centring of
Haug (ed.) Historisch-Kritisches Wörterbuch des essentialist claims to historical necessity,
Marxismus. Hamburg: Argument. universality, or primacy. Though used by
Weber, M. ([1903] 1976) The Protestant Ethic and Lévi-Strauss to describe basic, universal
the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Scribner. procedures of thought, the term is now
TILMAN REITZ often linked to deconstructionist or post-
colonial social or cultural theories.

BRICOLAGE References and further reading

‘Bricolage’ means literally the cobbling Chandler, D. (2004) Semiotics: The Basics. Lon-
together of disparate elements. It is a term don: Routledge.
used by Lévi-Strauss (1966) to describe a De Certeau, M. (2002) The Practice of Everyday
Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California
characteristic procedure of mythical thought Press.
in which heterogeneous items from differ- Dyer, R. (1987) Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and
ent cultural or practical contexts are re-used Desire. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
and juxtaposed in ways that give them new Hebdige, D. (1981) Subculture: The Meaning of
meaning. Bricolage illustrates the limi- Style. London: Routledge.
Lévi-Strauss, C. (1966) The Savage Mind. Chi-
tations as well as the creativity of myth, cago: University of Chicago Press.
which trades on existing cultural repertoires Segal, R. A. (1996) Structuralism in Myth: Lévi-
and re-uses them in novel ways. The re- Strauss, Barthes, Dumézil and Propp. New
ordering of cultural elements is ‘pre-con- York: Garland Publishers.
Willis, P. (1990) Common Culture. Milton Keynes:
strained’ by their ‘original’ meanings, but
Open University Press.
also displaces those meanings. Lévi-Strauss
employed the term in studies of myth in so- WILLIAM RAMP
called ‘primitive’ societies, but did so to
propose the existence of a basic and uni-
versal procedure of human thought. His BUREAUCRACY
argument thus resembles the discussion of Bureaucracy commonly refers to a hier-
‘elementary’ social forms by Durkheim and archical system of management or adminis-
Mauss, but Lévi-Strauss referred to a tration. Reputedly coined by the seventeenth-
capacity of mind rather than to forms of century French Administrator of Commerce,
social organization. In its application to con- Jean Claude Marie Vincent de Gournay
temporary life, the term now has a broader with somewhat sarcastic overtones, the
range of meaning, referring to the assembly term has its modern origins in the combi-
of existing cultural material into new styles nation of the French bureau and the Greek
or fashions, e.g., in postmodern archi- kratia. While it has long suffered from
tecture, but also in popular culture: musi- negative cultural associations – inefficiency
cal styles, video and film, and material on and an irrational obsession with rules and
the World Wide Web. In each of these regulation – its organizational origins are to
instances, available cultural items are re- be found in a largely progressive attempt to
contextualized in relation to each other to overcome such administrative problems.
produce an ensemble that, with repetition That is, bureaucracy emerged as a mode of
and variation, becomes recognizable as a predominantly rational, impartial practice,
new style, or identity, in its own right. integral to the modern aspiration for a more
These uses of bricolage imply a degree of efficient organizational order.

Our contemporary understanding of a benchmark by which the efficiency, of

bureaucracy is that largely bequeathed by organizational administration can be judged.
the historical and sociological work of Max During the 1950s and 1960s the concept of
Weber (1978). Central to Weber’s con- bureaucratic efficiency came under parti-
ception is his proposition that a bureaucracy, cular scrutiny. Robert Merton (1949)
in its ideal form, establishes a structural indicated what he considered to be poten-
context for the exercise of legal-rational tial dysfunctions arising from the bureau-
authority embedded within a relationship cratic model. Most notable was the
between officials and their subordinates tendency of bureaucratic officials to follow
premised upon the following elements: rules and procedures in an uncritical and
rights and responsibilities enshrined in inflexible manner, leading not only to a
written rules and regulations; the systema- lack of overall organizational creativity but
tic structuring of authority relations; also to a situation where adherence to reg-
appointment and promotion based upon ulations came to take priority over the
contract and formalized procedures; tech- pursuit of organizational goals in them-
nical or academic qualifications as condi- selves. Studies by Peter Blau (1955), among
tions of appointment; monetary payment as others, recognized, however, that such
salaried; differentiation of the incumbent inertia was only one possible outcome of
official from the office held; and establish- the bureaucratic form. Of equal prevalence
ment of the work of the incumbent as a was the tendency of officials to ignore or
full-time occupation (see also profession circumvent regulations by establishing their
and professionalization). own informal procedures for dealing with
While Weber judged the bureaucracy to the demands of the job in a more respon-
characterize the most technically superior sive and often more satisfying manner.
means by which the most advanced insti- Such a focus on the presence of informal
tutions and activities of both the market practices in the formalized structure of
and state could be administered, he never- bureaucracy led to a number of studies of
theless displayed a marked ambivalence to possible variations in the type of bureau-
what he considered to be the inevitable cracy that might operate in differing set-
expansion of bureaucracy as an organizing tings. Alvin Gouldner’s (1954) study of an
principle concomitant with a more general American gypsum mine provided a notable
process of social rationalization (see example of the ways in which degrees of
rationality and rationalization). On the bureaucratization differed across operations
one hand, he considered its greatest virtue in the plant. Most notable was the initial
to be that it provided an institutional means lack of bureaucratic formality among
by which general rules could be applied to miners who operated in a far more uncer-
specific cases, thereby ensuring fair and tain environment and who were dependent
predictable treatment of the individual by on both individual initiative and mutual
government and associated institutions. On support and cooperation. This, and the
the other hand, Weber was deeply pessi- modes of practice associated with it, then
mistic about the deleterious effect that became a source of tension and ultimately
bureaucracy’s iron cage would have on the dispute when new management attempted
spiritual and creative aspects of human life, to impose the more formal bureaucratic
creating a world of ‘specialists without spirit, norms associated with the administrative
sensualists without heart’ (Weber 1930). dimension of the operation. More sys-
Weber’s analysis of bureaucracy in terms tematic typologies emerged in the work of
of an ideal type of rational administration Burns and Stalker (1961), Pugh et al.
led subsequent sociologists to interpret it as (1963), and, in particular, Henry Mintzberg

(1983) who popularized the idea of the McDonaldization – as a manifestation of soci-

‘adhocracy’  or ‘rule of ad hoc’  which he etal rationalization processes – exhibits many
derived from Toffler. Mintzberg characterizes of its key characteristics, predominantly the
this as a reversal of the bureaucratic form of pursuit of efficiency through the standardi-
organization and administration based zation of practice and procedure, and the
upon the informality of project work and limitation of creativity and ingenuity. Rit-
decentralization of formal hierarchies. zer here re-visits the iron cage metaphor
The idea of the adhocracy is particularly deployed by Weber, charting its relevance
pertinent in the face of a range of recent for contemporary consumer relations.
assaults on bureaucratic principles in an age In an age in which bureaucracy has been
of global markets, advanced information challenged both for its alleged inadequacies
and production technology and an ever as a mode of organizing in a flexible glo-
more demanding consumer public. In the balized economy and for its potentially
wake of the idea of a post-bureaucratic dehumanizing consequences, it has, how-
mode of administration (Nonet and Selz- ever, remained strikingly resilient. Cer-
nick 1978) and a series of popular manage- tainly there has been little serious
rial texts such as Peters and Waterman’s questioning of the principle that organiza-
(1982) In Search of Excellence, an increasing tions cannot operate adequately without at
emphasis in organizational thinking has least some degree of bureaucratic input in
been placed on the value of radical decen- the form of codified procedures, hier-
tralization. Great weight has been placed on archical management structures and the
the creation of flatter administrative struc- like. And while the label ‘bureaucrat’ may
tures, erosion of status differentials, and use continue to carry pejorative connotations
of performance-based rewards to encourage  for example, in Licence refer to the
operational flexibility and increased proce- European Union, there is little sign of a
dural autonomy. credible alternative to the role played by
Yet despite much of the evangelical bureaucrats in the foreseeable future.
rhetoric surrounding the demise of bureau- Indeed, there has recently emerged a reva-
cracy, several studies suggest that assump- lorization of the bureaucratic ethos, as a
tions of the disappearance of hierarchical governing principle of public service orga-
structures associated with bureaucracy and nizations. One author, Paul Du Gay
their concomitant status differentials are pre- (2000), defends the value of public admin-
mature. Within many public and private istration based upon principles such as the
sector organizations, increasing state reg- equality and universality (see universalism)
ulation has resulted in a consolidation of for- of treatment and the role of the bureaucrat
mal procedure and the universal as impartial agent of the democratic state in
enforcement of codified frameworks of the face of continuing calls for greater flex-
practices. These, combined with the per- ibility and entrepreneurialism.
vasive influence of culture management
technologies, have arguably served to fur-
ther rationalize organizational activity in line References and further reading
with the underlying principles of bureau- Blau, P. M. (1955) The Dynamics of Bureaucracy.
cratic command control. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
According to George Ritzer (1996), Burns, T. and Stalker, G. M. (1961) The Man-
bureaucracy is not only alive and well but is agement of Innovation. London: Tavistock.
Du Gay, P. (2000) In Praise of Bureaucracy. Lon-
increasingly ubiquitous in the form of don: Sage.
‘McDonaldization’. While not entirely Gouldner, A. (1954) Patterns of Industrial Bureau-
reducible to the logic of bureaucracy, cracy. New York: Free Press.

BUTL ER, JUDITH (1 956 – )

Merton, R. (1949) Social Theory and Social Struc- among the first to propose queer theory.
ture. New York: Free Press. Following Foucault, she uncoupled the
Mintzberg, H. (1983) Structure in Fives. Engle-
wood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. connections between sex, gender and
Nonet, P. and Selznick, P. (1978) Law and desire, challenging the feminist focus on
Society in Transition. New York: Harper reproduction and ahistorical biological dif-
Colophon. ferences. She does not deny biological dif-
Peters, T. and Waterman, R. (1982) In Search of ferences, but rather is interested in the
Excellence. New York: Random House.
Pugh, D. S. et al. (1963) ‘A Conceptual Schema discursive and institutional conditions
for Organizational Analysis’, Administrative under which biological facts become sali-
Science Quarterly, 8(3): 289–315. ent. Hence biology is discourse-dependent.
Ritzer, G. (1996) The McDonaldization of Society. The voluntarist implications of her work
Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge. have troubled materialist, realist and psy-
Weber, M. ([1904] 1930) The Protestant Ethic and
the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: Charles
choanalytic feminists. Butler stresses the
Scribner’s Sons. importance of using the media to dis-
Weber, M. ([1922] 1978) Economy and Society. seminate alternative queer images and
Berkeley, CA: University of California symbols. Many of the traditional left are
Press. critical of her version of cultural politics
PHILIP HANCOCK which, they claim, has both fragmented and
diluted left political strategies. Turning
away from analyzing socio-economic issues
BUTLER, JUDITH (1956– ) she has focused on representational issues
American cultural theorist, Professor at instead. Butler contests this formulation of
University of Berkeley, CA. Her work is the problem and argues that the cultural
influenced by Derrida, Foucault and turn is not merely cultural.
Lacan. She has had a major impact on
debates about power, gender, sexuality Major works
and identity. In Gender Trouble (1990), her
most influential book, she criticized fem- (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subver-
inists for essentialism, assuming that sion of Identity. London: Routledge.
women had stable attributes and common (1993) Bodies that Matter. London: Routledge.
(1997a) Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Perfor-
interests and hence perpetuating existing mative. London: Routledge.
binary gender relations (male and female). (1997b) The Psychic Life of Power. Stanford, CA:
This denied differences and unwittingly Stanford University Press.
contributed to compulsory heterosexuality. (1998) ‘Merely Cultural’, New Left Review,
Since gender is an achievement – 3344: 227.
(2000) Antigone’s Claim: Kinship between Life and
performative – she calls for women to Death. New York: Columbia University
refuse stable gender identities and invent Press.
new ones. Calling for the transgression of
dominant heterosexist norms, Butler was

CAPITALISM as they buy the means of production and
Capitalism is a mode of organizing economic labour power, organize a production pro-
life dominated by the profit-oriented use of cess and sell the resulting products for a
wealth. Its precondition is a monetary profit (see mode of production). This mode
economy, since only money as abstract of organizing production became dominant
wealth drives the desire for continuous and with the industrial revolution (see indus-
unlimited gain typical of capitalism. How- trialization). Its major precondition in
ever, the use of money is only a necessary, terms of social structure was the availability
not a sufficient condition for capitalism. As of labour power as a commodity; in other
Marx (1967) pointed out, typical transac- words, the creation of a labour market. For
tion chains in a simple monetary economy this to happen, on the one hand, workers
can be described as C-M-C, that is, must not be able to produce their means of
exchanging a commodity C for money M subsistence on their own; they must be
in order to attain a different, more useful separated them from the land. On the other
commodity (see commodity and commo- hand, workers must be able to form con-
dification). By contrast, the typical capital- tracts as legally fully recognized persons,
ist transaction chain is M-C-Ḿ, using even though their only property is their
money to buy commodities in order to sell ability to work.
them for more money, or making a profit. Whereas Marx emphasized this social
But again, the drive for maximizing profits structural condition of workers being ‘free
is only a necessary, not a sufficient condi- in a double sense’, Max Weber’s empha-
tion for modern capitalism, the form that sized the gains in rationality achieved by
has revolutionized economic life since the capitalist organization and made possible by
seventeenth century. Capitalist traders and precise monetary calculation. The ability to
venture capitalists maximizing profits abstract from concrete products and needs
already existed in antiquity. In contrast, that underlies the evaluation of goods and
occidental capitalism, as Max Weber (1978) services in terms of money is the major
called it, started only once the M-C-Ḿ cultural precondition of capitalism and its
transaction was applied not only to trade specific ‘formal rationality’. A quantity of
and credit, but also to production. Indus- money defines the starting point of the
trial capitalists spend money to buy means capitalist enterprise. Its success is measured
of production and to hire workers. Their periodically by comparing the returns in
combined efforts result in products which terms of the money gained in sales to the
can be sold with a profit. In Marx’s terms: initial outlay. Such a calculation is possible
the owner of M become capitalists as soon as a sustained and rational operation only

under the condition – external to the indi- into pressures on workers to work as much
vidual enterprise – that trade on markets as possible for as little pay as possible.
and the use of money are widespread and This constellation resulted in widespread
effective prices are generated for the most poverty among the working classes in early
important goods and services. The forma- capitalism until workers started to organize to
tion of effective prices presupposes a com- better resist such pressures. Both the orga-
petitive struggle that moves traders away nization of labour unions (see trade unions)
from purely subjective and arbitrary eva- and the introduction of universal suffrage
luations to socially objective evaluations. helped to secure better legal and bargaining
This condition of rationality – external to positions of workers. Nonetheless, it
the individual enterprise – is complemented remains a characteristic feature of the capi-
by an internal condition, namely that work talist mode of production that it involves
in the factory is subject to the discipline conflict both over working conditions and
required to make wage costs calculable. In the distribution of the net product or sur-
both Marx’s and Weber’s view, this dis- plus (the proceeds of the production process
cipline is achieved, on the one hand, by the minus the outlays for means of production).
threat of dismissal, of non-renewal of the Typically, these conflicts are softened during
labour contract which leaves workers periods of strong growth and become
without means of subsistence, and on the harsher during periods of recession, their
other, by domination, that is, by hier- strength thus varying with economic cycles
archical organization and top-down control typical of capitalist development.
of work performance (cf. Tilly 1998). The three classes of landowners, capitalists
and workers receive money incomes –
rents, profits and wages – which enable
Competition, reproduction and growth
them to buy their share of the surplus. The
Competition is important not only because resulting circular flow turns the capitalist
of the formation of the effective prices that economy into a self-reproducing system to
underpin precise calculation. Capitalist the extent that it produces its own inputs as
firms produce for exchange, and thereby outputs. Self-reproduction implies (1) that
also compete to attract buyers who hold means of production expended are
money to spend when and on what they replaced, and (2) the revenues of the three
choose. This competition operates in two classes induce their members to reappear
basic ways: one can offer prices lower than continuously in sufficient numbers on the
those for similar products, or one can offer respective markets. These conditions mean
better or new products. In both ways, the that both real and monetary magnitudes,
capitalist system puts a premium on inno- products and prices, have to fulfil complex
vation, either in terms of process or product requirements of proportionality. To deter-
innovations. This arrangement results in the mine these conditions of reproduction was
uniquely dynamic properties of capitalist one of the major problems of classical poli-
economies. Striving for maximum profits tical economy since Quesnay, culminating
induces a constant search for new ways to in Sraffa’s (1960) demonstration that the
produce things, be it new means of produc- prices enabling reproduction cannot be
tion or new forms of organizing production, determined independently of distribution.
and a constant search for new things to This implies that the capitalist economy is
produce. Joseph Schumpeter famously not only a self-reproducing, but also a self-
spoke in this connection of ‘creative referential system: its decisive rules and
destruction’. The competitive pressure on norms of operation cannot be derived from
the capitalist to keep costs low is translated the physical world.

Growth, that is, expanded reproduction, Finance capital and globalization

comes about insofar as part of the surplus is
not consumed but used to expand the pro- A major change in the development from
ductive apparatus. In monetary terms, those early industrial to contemporary capitalism
individuals or households able to save parts came about through two related institu-
of their current income face competing tional innovations: the evolution of the
attractions: either spend on consumption banking and credit system, and the estab-
now or increase future income by saving lishment of the modern corporation. Both
and accumulating wealth. In the early pha- involved not only a change in the nature of
ses of capitalism, the drive to accumulate at money, but also the crowding out of
the cost of current consumption was sup- industrial capital from centre stage by
ported by the religious beliefs emerging from finance capital (see post-industrial society).
the Protestant Reformation, as Weber On the one hand, practically all savings
demonstrated in his study of the Protestant were channelled into the banking system by
ethic. But Weber, as well as Marx, observed offering interest payments to savers. On the
that once the capitalist system stands on its other hand, any actor could turn to the
own feet, maximizing money income turns banking system for financing additional
into a general propensity which replaces the consumption or an investment. Most
habit of seeing money income merely as a importantly, capitalist entrepreneurs no
means to consumption. This subjective longer had to rely solely on their own
response to money as the ‘absolute means’, financial resources but could, in theory, be
in Georg Simmel’s phrase corresponds to a as propertyless as the worker, as long as
systemic property of a capitalist economy they could convince a money-holder or a
insofar as firms continuously strive to financial intermediary, most likely a bank,
improve their market position by expan- to lend them the money required to build
sion. As most investment is financed by the or extend an enterprise.
incomes of the wealthy, the trade-off between The possibility of financing an investment
profits and wages in a dynamic perspective by borrowing implies a historically new and
turns into a trade-off between current and crucial role of the rate of interest: the rate
future consumption. If wages are too high, of interest now becomes the benchmark for
investments will be depressed so that cur- the minimum returns on any investment.
rent high wages translate into lower Profits come to be defined as the excess of
growth, thus into lower future income for all. such returns over the interest due on the
However, depressed investments imply capital borrowed. Since the nation–state
declining employment. Since workers’ bar- competes with private investors for funds,
gaining power is inversely related to unem- and lending to the state, with its power to
ployment, wages will decline. The resulting tax, becomes the lowest risk investment,
increases in profits will feed higher invest- the rate of interest on the public debt
ments which, in turn, imply increasing becomes a parameter for money holders
employment. The workers’ bargaining posi- deciding what assets to hold (see state and
tion improves again – and the whole cycle nation–state). Financial markets thus offer a
can start again (Goodwin 1967). This type of choice between a range of assets so that
argument demonstrates that the processes of perceived risks and expected returns come
capitalist reproduction and growth involve to be proportional (see risk). At the same
complicated balancing conditions which, in time, the volatility of financial markets due
a self-regulated system with decentralized to the speculative element involved in cal-
decision-making, can be fulfilled only at culating risks implies a premium on liquidity:
the cost of periodically returning crises. the more money-like an asset is, the quicker

the possibility to adjust to perceived market The dominant role of financial markets
changes, and the lower the chance of being has been further enhanced since the last
locked into a bad asset or missing the oppor- decades of the twentieth century by glo-
tunity to reap windfall profits. balization and the associated public
The modern corporation emerged in the emphasis on so-called shareholder values.
context of financial markets. It is built on The withering away of socialist economic
the separation of ownership and management. systems has been accompanied by a world-
Any money-holder can become an owner wide opening of markets, increasing the
by buying shares in the corporation. The mobility chances of capital, and above all,
entrepreneurial function is taken over by of financial capital. The ease of investing
managers who are paid for their performance. abroad in turn increases the credibility of
While firms can satisfy their needs for funding the exit threat used by firms in their bar-
by offering shares, money-holders can invest gaining both with employees and with
in such shares without excessive risks. Their states. As a consequence, capital has reaf-
liabilities are limited so that, in the case of firmed its decisive role not only in eco-
bankruptcy, the value of their shares will be nomic matters but also in the sense of
annihilated but no further obligations result. stronger selective effects on culture and
Expected returns on capital in relation to the politics. Globalization therefore has been
rate of interest drive the price of shares. interpreted as driving the convergence of
Such expectations are speculative since they historically quite different, nation–state-
have to be formed in an environment with based capitalist economies towards a uniform
limited and asymmetric information. system governed more and more by market
Despite this speculative component, relations only.
share prices today have become the major However, research on varieties of capitalism
indicator of a firm’s performance, implying demonstrates that, mostly, capitalist firms have
that management is more and more pre- remained embedded in institutional frame-
occupied with the way the firm is observed works shaped by the political and cultural
by financial markets, observations which traditions associated with societies defined
are not necessarily tightly coupled to the by nation–states (see embedding and dis-
firm’s actual performance. As Keynes embedding). This is because, in their busi-
(1936) and Kalecki (1943, 1954) argued, ness strategies, firms try to make use of
this constellation implies a hierarchy of ‘comparative institutional advantages’ (Hall
markets different from industrial capitalism and Soskice 2001), thereby at least partially
where product markets took centre stage. strengthening rather than abolishing insti-
Now, financial markets, governed by the tutional differences. Since nation–states,
interests of wealth owners and firms com- cultures and most of the people involved in
peting for their funds, are dominant. The them remain relatively locality-bound and
rates of interest generated in these markets immobile compared to the supranational
determine which investments in produc- coordinating capacities of markets and the
tion are feasible. Such investments in turn mobility of capital, the tensions between
are linked to the demand on product mar- capitalist economies and their social envir-
kets in a self-referential manner so that, as onment remain as relevant as ever. But
Kalecki put it, ‘Capitalists earn what they equally as relevant remain attempts to instru-
spend while workers spend what they earn.’ mentalize capitalist economies, with their
Thus the employment generated by a innovative and disciplining capacities, for
modern capitalist economy is a residual. the well-being of all, whether with the help
Financial markets dominate product mar- of welfare states (Esping-Andersen 1990)
kets which dominate labour markets. or not.

References and further reading social formation has changed significantly

over time and currently varies so widely in
Albert, M. (1993) Capitalism vs. Capitalism. New
York: Four Walls Eight Windows. different parts of India that it is difficult to
Dobb, M. (1963) Studies in the Development of think of a universal definition.
Capitalism. London: Routledge. The ancient Indian society since about
Esping-Andersen, G. (1990) The Three Worlds of 1000 BC was divided into four varnas
Welfare Capitalism. Cambridge: Cambridge
defined in terms of occupational specializa-
University Press.
Goodwin, R. (1967) ‘A Growth Cycle’, in C. tion, i.e., the Brahmanas or the priests, the
H. Feinstein (ed.) Socialism, Capitalism and Kshatriyas or the warriors, the Vaisyas or
Economic Growth. Cambridge: Cambridge the farmers, traders and producers of
University Press, pp. 54–8. wealth, and the Sudras or the people who
Hall, P. A. and Soskice, D. (eds) (2001) Varieties
served these three higher groups. Even-
of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University
Press. tually, towards the fifth century CE, people
Kalecki, M. (1943) ‘Political Aspects of Full outside these four groups came to be con-
Employment’, in E. K. Hunt and J. G. sidered untouchables, constituting a fifth
Schwartz (1972), A Critique of Economic The- category, known variously as Panchamas,
ory. Harmondsworth: Penguin, pp. 420–30.
Ati-Sudras or Chandalas.
Kalecki, M. (1954) The Theory of Economic
Dynamics. London: George Allen & Unwin. However, the varna system subsequently
Keynes, J. M. (1936) The General Theory of lost its relevance and provided only a civi-
Employment, Interest and Money. London: lizational model to conceptualize social
Macmillan. rank across the regions. In the real world,
Marx, K. ([1867] 1967) Capital, vols 1–3. New
more important were the jatis, or localized
York: International Publishers.
Schumpeter, J. A. (1942) Capitalism, Socialism occupational groups, which were often
and Democracy. New York: Harper. further subdivided according to professional
Soskice, D. (1999) ‘Divergent Production specialization. These groups were develop-
Regimes: Coordinated and Uncoordinated ing alongside the varnas and social historians
Market Economies in the 1980s and 1990s’, and sociologists commonly refer to them as
in H. Kitschelt, P. Lange, G. Marks, and J.
D. Stephens (eds) Continuity and Change in castes. The jatis are occupational groups,
Contemporary Capitalism. Cambridge: Cam- whose membership is defined by birth, and
bridge University Press, pp. 101–34. whose exclusiveness is maintained by strin-
Sraffa, P. (1960) Production of Commodities by gent rules of endogamy and restrictions on
Means of Commodities: Prelude to a Critique of commensality. Each and every caste is
Economic Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. ascribed a ritual rank, which places its
Tilly, C. (1998) Work Under Capitalism. Boulder, members in an elaborate hierarchy that
CO: Westview Press. encompasses the entire Hindu society, and
Weber, M. ([1904/5] 1958) The Protestant Ethic at the bottom of this structure are located
and the Spirit of Capitalism. New York: the untouchables. However, given the cul-
Weber, M. ([1920] 1978) Economy and Society. tural diversities of India, this ‘book-view’ of
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. caste may not be found everywhere. And
because of this localized nature of caste,
most of these groups still prefer to express
their rank by identifying with one of the
broader civilizational categories of varna.
CASTE What determines the rank of a caste is a
The word caste, derived from the Portuguese matter of intense controversy among
word castas, was used by Western observers sociologists. Louis Dumont (1972) thought
to identify the social units among the that in Indian society where the sacred
Indian Hindus. However, the nature of this supposedly encompasses the secular, making

the Brahmana priest more powerful than great deal of ambiguity in the middle
the Kshatriya king, the religious notions of region’, where various peasant castes vie
purity and pollution determine the ritual for superiority of status (Beteille 1991: 43)
rank of a caste. The Brahmana, as the (see peasantry). Modernity and economic
supreme embodiment of purity, remains at development have further weakened the
the top of the hierarchy, while the link between caste and hereditary occupa-
untouchable, being totally impure, occu- tion, leading to limited social mobility. But
pies the bottom, and in the middle there such discrepancies between caste-irrelevant
are groups with varied grades of purity and roles and caste-ascribed status are gradually
impurity. Such cultural notions of caste resolved, as the system tolerates limited
ranking have been questioned by others positional readjustments in order to main-
like Nicholas Dirks (1987), who has poin- tain its hierarchical structure. In modern
ted out that caste was integrally connected India, however, the hierarchical notions of
to power relations in pre-colonial society. caste have lost legitimacy in the public
The king was not subordinate to the priest; domain. But in private spheres, castes are at
the crown was never as hollow as it was the same time ‘substantialized’ as groups
made out to be by the western colonial with cultural distinctiveness, which has eva-
observers. On the contrary, caste ranking luative meaning (Fuller 1996). Thus, while
was determined by distance from the castes have become more differentiated
crown, legitimated by royal authority and internally because of social mobility, the
associated notions of honour. In other cultural assertion of their distinctiveness as
words, there was and always has been a signifier of status has prevented the demise
positive correlation between caste rank, of the caste system. But these are rein-
wealth and power. vented ethnicized castes, often the focal
Each caste in this social order is assigned points for political mobilization and
a jati dharma or a moral code of conduct, demands for social justice, having little
the performance or non-performance of relevance to the religious notions of purity
which, or their karma, supposedly deter- and pollution (see ethnicity).
mines their caste status in the next life.
The temporal power of the king in tandem
References and further reading
with the spiritual authority of the priest
maintained social discipline in this caste Bandyopadhyay, S. (2004) Caste, Culture, and
society, which is often thought to be a Hegemony: Social Domination in Colonial Bengal.
rather rigid social hierarchy. But in reality, New Delhi: Sage.
there were powerful social movements Beteille, A. (1991) Society and Politics in India:
from the fifteenth century onwards, which Essays in Comparative Perspective. London:
Athlone Press.
effectively interrogated the ideological Dirks, N. (1987) The Hollow Crown: Ethnohistory
hegemony of the caste system. The rigours of an Indian Kingdom. Cambridge: Cambridge
and rigidity of caste society therefore vary University Press.
significantly from region to region. Dirks, N. (2001) Castes of Mind. Princeton, NJ:
Being associated with a hereditary occu- Princeton University Press.
Dumont, L. (1972) Homo Hierarchicau. London:
pation, caste has also been functionally sig- Paladin.
nificant, indicating some sort of a social Fuller, C. J. (ed.) (1996) Caste Today. Delhi:
division of labour. But being a closed Oxford University Press.
group, caste is different from class, and the Gupta, D. (2000) Interrogating Caste: Under-
functional specialization is organically standing Hierarchy and Difference in Indian
Society. New Delhi: Penguin.
linked to hierarchy (see status). In other
words, it is a system of gradation, with ‘a SEKHAR BANDYOPADHYAY

CAS TORIA DIS , CO RNELIUS (19 22– 1997 )

CASTORIADIS, CORNELIUS (1922–1997) Further reading

Greek-born French theorist Busino, G. (ed.) (1989) Autonomie et auto-
Co-founder of the French political group transformation de la société: La philosophie mili-
tante de Cornelius Castroriadis. Geneva: Droz.
and journal Socialisme ou Barbarie, Castor-
Curtis, D. A. (1992) ‘Cornelius Castoriadis’, in
iadis advanced an internal critique of P. Beilharz (ed.) Social Theory: A Guide to
Marxism together with a critique of Central Thinkers. North Sydney: Allen and
bureaucracy in both socialism and capit- Unwin.
alism. In his later writings, Castoriadis
develops a theory of the ‘imaginary institu-
tion of society’. Rather than being deter-
mined by a transcendent ground, every CAUSALITY
society autonomously institutes its unity by
There are many models of causal reasoning
way of creating a relatively coherent set of
in social theory, drawn from a variety of
imaginary significations irreducible to the
sources such as natural science, the law,
‘rational’ or the ‘real’ (see institution and
statistics, and the model of intentional
neo-institutionalism). The role of these
action, along with more specific analogies
significations is to provide answers to fun-
to such things as organisms and feedback
damental questions concerning the nature
mechanisms, as well as to underlying forces.
and purpose of social life allowing society
In 1900, the term ‘social causation’ usually
to constitute an identity for itself. At the
referred to underlying defining forces in
same time, society’s institutions are con-
society, and there were many candidates –
stantly subverted by processes of creative
earth, hunger, energeticism, and libido.
self-alteration. Politics is the conscious
Human action itself provides another
attempt to alter society’s institutions, an
model of causal explanation. We might think
attempt that is ontologically based on soci-
of this as the intervention model, since
ety’s transformative potential which Cas-
actions are made or not made, performed or
toriadis terms the ‘radical imaginary’.
not performed, in the context of some
Castoriadis’s political project may be
ongoing state of causal activity into which
described as a form of libertarian socialism
individual acts intervene to shift it in one
oriented towards popular autonomy and
direction or another. One curious causal
direct democracy (see democracy and
concept, the idea of an omission as a cause,
democratization). His writings from the
figures in connection with legal responsi-
Socialisme ou Barbarie period (1949–65)
bility and is also systematically applied to his-
exerted considerable influence on the
torical responsibility. If I fail to put on the
French student movement of May 1968.
brake on my car and it rolls down the hill, I
have caused the car to roll down the hill,
Major works though my only action was to omit a normal
([1975] 1987) The Imaginary Institution of Society. Causality is important in social theory
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
(1988–93) Political and Social Writings, 3 vols. because of the difficulty of constructing
Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota suitable in-filling or connecting mechan-
Press. isms between supposed causes and effects.
(1991) Philosophy, Politics, Autonomy. New York: The situation of the social theorist contrasts
Oxford University Press. with the commonplace situation in the
(1997a) World in Fragments. Stanford, CA: Stan-
ford University Press. natural sciences, where broad well-established
(1997b) The Castoriadis Reader. Oxford: Black- correlations, such as between cancer and
well. smoking, can eventually be accounted for

in terms of causal mechanisms that directly law-like and are assumed to operate behind
connect the fact of smoking to the outcome the façade of ordinary decision-making and
of cancer. If we consider, for example, the human action and to account for connec-
rise of science and the rise of democracy, tions between large-scale observed facts.
we might come up with a theory which This produces an ongoing problem about
explained why democratic regimes, though the nature of the relationship between these
initially less likely to provide the circum- explanatory constructions, notions such as
stances for achievement in science, even- ‘class consciousness’, for example, and the
tually became part of the conditions for the mass of known, understandable and causal
advancement of science as a major publicly knowledge of actions, decisions and beliefs
funded activity of the kind it is today. To that are part of the intentional world of
answer such questions would require some historical actors, as well as a problem about
sort of mechanism connecting these large the status of these kinds of explanations.
facts about democracy with science. There is a notion of causality that has played
One kind of answer would be to appeal an especially important role in the statistical
to a general law stating a causal relationship, social sciences as well as in the conception
on the model of physics, but generally of the social as a medium of causation. The
speaking, such appeals have not succeeded – concept was introduced initially by G.
there are no plausible, non-tautological Udny Yule (1895, 1896) who accounted for
laws; and those which seem to be candi- variations in poverty in the UK under differ-
dates for law status require a considerable ent welfare regimes. Yule suspected that
amount of additional knowledge to apply. generous welfare measures had the effects of
Usually this knowledge, the pragmatics, is disinclining people to work, thus increasing
insufficient to do the work of the explana- poverty. The data available for these
tion on its own. hypotheses, however, were, as is typical in
Why is this so? In constructing such a social science cases, entangled with a large
connection, what one has to work with is a number of other variables which might
mass of historical material, much of which themselves have produced the observed dif-
is a record of decisions made by democratic ferences, such as differences in the relative
and aristocratic politicians and citizens well-being of the regions in question.
under very complex circumstances and in The problem was to remove the effect of
terms of a wide variety of beliefs about all of these possible confounding variables
science, along with a great many individual and determine what effects of welfare
facts about particular scientists and scientific regimes remained. This leads to a concept
institutions and their funding, which will of causality as effect that persists after other
not reduce to a simple pattern. While one causes are corrected for. This is not a pri-
can, as in this case, describe what appears to mary conception of causality since the cau-
be a causal relationship, it is not a relation- sal relationship that remains is itself
ship that seems explicable in terms of a understood as the other effect, as a correla-
single common mechanism describable by a tional relationship which can be understood
law. This is characteristic of large-scale his- in terms of some sort of mechanism.
torical and social processes. On the level of
individual action and circumstance, the
References and further reading
mechanisms appear to be governed by a
wide degree of contingency, and there are
Hempel, C. (1965) ‘The Function of General
often exceptions. The fact of complexity Laws in History’, in Aspects of Scientific
leads social theorists to posit intermediary Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy
mechanisms of abstract kinds which are not of Science. New York: Free Press.


McIver, R. M. ([1942] 1964) Social Causation. system (see world systems theory). This
New York: Harper & Row. useful distinction is widely applicable and
Weber, M. ([1905] 1949) ‘Critical Studies in the
Logic of the Cultural Sciences’, in The our contemporary world knows many
Methodology of the Social Sciences. New York: centres and peripheries (see classification).
Free Press.
Yule, G. U. (1895, 1896) ‘On the Correlation
of Total Pauperism with Proportion of Out- References and further reading
relief ’, Economic Journal, 5: 603–11 and Eco-
Blau, P. M. (1977) Inequality and Heterogeneity.
nomic Journal, 6: 614–23.
New York: Free Press.
STEPHEN P. TURNER Greenfeld, L. and Martin, M. (eds) (1988) Cen-
ter: Ideas and Institutions. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
Kreckel, R. (1992) Politische Soziologie der sozia-
CENTRE AND PERIPHERY len Ungleichheit. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.
Asymmetrical relationships in social theory Müller, H.-P. (1992) Sozialstruktur und Lebens-
are expressed in two ways: on a vertical stile. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Shils, E. (1975) Center and Periphery. Chicago:
dimension and on a horizontal dimension. University of Chicago Press.
Vertically, social difference is understood as Wallerstein, I. (1974) The Modern World System.
inequality, in the image of a hierarchy. New York: Academic Press.
This is the typical image of class analysis,
gender analysis and social stratification.
White collar and blue collar, bourgeoisie
and proletariat, men and women, upper
and middle class, are examples. Horizon-
tally, it is possible to speak of ‘centre’ and The term ‘charisma’ was introduced into
‘periphery’. Here, some theoretical approa- sociology by Max Weber. Literally it denotes
ches treat horizontal social differences also ‘the gift of grace’. According to Weber, it
as inequalities, while others do not. If they implies ‘a certain quality of an individual
do not and instead consider differences as personality by virtue of which [one] is con-
heterogeneity, we are confronted with sidered extraordinary and treated as endowed
what was once called consensus theory in with supernatural, superhuman, or at least
the 1950s and the 1960s. Edward Shils specifically exceptional powers or qualities’
(1975) used a Weberian frame of reference (Weber 1978: 216, 241; see also Eisenstadt
in a Durkheimian vein and saw the centre 1968; Sennett 1975). The term was taken
as the seedbed of action, values, symbols from the theology of the New Testament,
and ideals of society. It is typically the cen- denoting the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It is
tre where economic, political and cultural derived from Greek charis, a term looking
developments take off while in one way or back to the archaic social network of gift
the other the periphery, lagging behind, exchanges (Meier 1987).
profits from the centre. If, however, social In Weber’s sociology, charisma forms
differences are regarded as social inequality, one of the three ‘pure’ or ‘ideal’ types of
we face conflict theory. Here the power legitimate domination or authority (Weber
asymmetry between centre and periphery is 1978: 212–16). However, in Weber’s
stressed. Most notably, Immanuel Waller- work, charisma also plays a much wider
stein (1974) demonstrates that core capital- role, connecting the three main typologies
ist countries since the seventeenth century of social action, legitimate order and legit-
such as Britain, the Netherlands, France, imate domination. While preserving some
Germany, the USA or Japan, systematically of its theological affinities, Weber gave the
exploit the periphery in the capitalist world term a different twist. Charisma is best

manifested by individuals who successfully (Weber 1976: 182) Given that the popular
resolve extraordinary situations that threaten vote is cast for persons and not for parties or
a community. The two main types of such movements, the charismatic qualities of
situations are threats posed by other human politicians play a dominant role in con-
communities and natural disasters such as temporary politics, and are emphasized by
floods, droughts, storms or earthquakes. the media and mass media.
The two main charismatic types are thus It is here that some problems with
the hero and the magician. Weber’s concept appear. Weber takes for
While charismatic qualities appear in granted the link between mobilizing appeal
extraordinary situations, with things and the ability to solve problems. Yet
returning to normality after the emergency widespread attractiveness can be gained by
has passed, there is a tendency for temporary political personalities of quite questionable,
arrangements to become transformed into a even sinister, character. The application of
permanent office, or what Weber called the the term ‘charismatic’ to political leaders
‘routinization’ of charisma. This leads to such as Lenin, Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler
the emergence of ritualized, sacrificial reli- creates more confusion than clarity. In
gion (see also ritual), on the one hand, and order to discriminate between various types
centralized rule over territories, on the of political leaders with non-rational and
other. non-traditional appeal, it has been sug-
Charisma, however, might return even gested that charisma as a type should be
in the context of large entities, and this is complemented by and contrasted with the
where the concept becomes interesting for figure of the ‘trickster’, as studied by
Weber. In the context of priestly religion, anthropologists and mythologists (Radin
the reappearance of charisma is associated 1972; Horvath 1998).
with the figure of the prophet. It is in this This problem becomes especially serious
connection that Weber speaks of the ‘great when combined with another shortcoming.
process’ of demagification or disenchant- Weber assumes that crisis situations calling
ment and the rise of the modern world (see for charismatic action are derived from
secularization). In the context of secular external threats when there is clear con-
rule, charisma is fundamental for the rise of sensus about the desirable outcome. How-
politics in Greece, as embodied in the per- ever, the model does not work for internal
son of Pericles as the law-giver. Here dissolutions of order, when the entire
Weber’s concept of prophetic charisma in community is divided, and when furthermore
ancient Israel can be compared with Michel the opportunities for divisive, demagogic,
Foucault’s interest in political and philoso- ‘trickster’-type politicians are particularly
phical parrhesia in classical Greece (Szakolczai ripe. Here the model should be com-
2003). plemented by approaches such as René
Weber connects the rise of the modern Girard’s theoretization of the ‘sacrificial
capitalist market economy and democratic crisis’ and the ‘scapegoating mechanism’
politics to the further routinization of charis- (Girard 1989; see Szakolczai 2003: 18–22).
matic renewals, in the direction of legaliza- Weber offered a series of important clar-
tion and rationalization (see rationality and ifications of the concept of charisma. He
rationalization). However, he leaves open made a distinction between primary or
the possible return of charisma in religion natural charisma, due simply to personal
or politics. While being cautious about the characteristics, and artificial charisma,
possible appearance of new prophets, Weber induced by ascetic techniques or possibly
assigns an important role to charismatic by drugs (Weber 1978: 400). He furthermore
leadership in democratic mass politics differentiated between the source of charisma

in individual qualities, and the eventual experienced by the city of Chicago through
recognition of charisma by the followers or industrialization and through urbanization
the general public, considered decisive for of a rapidly expanding immigrant popula-
the validity of charismatic authority (ibid.: tion (see urbanism and urbanisation). The
242). A closely related distinction is potential for conflict and exploitation in
between charismatic people and charismatic this situation showed that policy innovation
communities, elaborated especially in was needed and that this was to be based on
Weber’s ‘Ancient Judaism’ and further scientifically sound research. The aim was
developed by Norbert Elias as ‘group not to rise above the tensions, inequalities
charisma’. and conflicts constitutive of the transform-
ing city but to engage with them through
direct research into the situation and
References and further reading
experience of those who were subordinated
Eisenstadt, S. N. (ed.) (1968) Max Weber on and marginalized within the processes of
Charisma and Institution Building. Chicago: change. One necessity was to disseminate
University of Chicago Press.
Girard, R. ([1982] 1989) The Scapegoat. Balti-
an awareness of the diversity of viewpoints
more, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. brought into co-existence and contact
Horvath, A. (1998) ‘Tricking into the Position within the same urban space, and to
of the Outcast’, Political Psychology, 19(2): understand the dynamics of their inter-
331–47. relationships with a view to understanding
Meier, C. (1987) La politique et la grâce. Paris: Seuil.
Radin, P. (1972) The Trickster: A Study in Amer-
the ways in which potential conflicts
ican Indian Mythology. New York: Schocken. between them could be minimized. This
Sennett, R. (1975) ‘Charismatic De-legitima- was not undertaken as a matter of the dis-
tion: A Case Study’, Theory and Society, 2(2): passionately technical management of
171181. social change, but from the point of view
Szakolczai, A. (2003) The Genesis of Modernity.
of attaining greater social justice.
London: Routledge.
Weber, M. ([1904–5] 1976) The Protestant Ethic The approach taken to research was not
and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Allen and at first methodologically self-conscious, and
Unwin. it readily used data materials of all kind. But
Weber, M. ([1921–22] 1978) Economy and it was marked by an emphasis (owing much
Society. Berkeley, CA: University of California
to journalistic traditions of finding out by
first-hand investigation) on fieldwork-style
ARPAD SZAKOLCZAI investigations in which researchers sought
to get close to those living the lives they
were investigating – often concealing the fact
CHICAGO SCHOOL that they were researchers. A large number
The Department of Sociology at the Uni- of studies of different groups were pro-
versity of Chicago was a pioneering host duced, collectively pioneering the idea of
for American sociology. After the founding ‘understanding the actor’s point of view’. It
of the department in 1892, the ‘Chicago is a persistent idea in sociology that doc-
School’ received considerable impetus with umenting the way in which members of
Robert E. Park’s career relocation from society themselves experience their social
journalism to academic life after 1913. world and respond to it is a primary task.
Encouraged by W. I. Thomas, who con- W. I. Thomas, together with Florian Zna-
tributed the concept of the ‘definition of niecki, produced a monumental body of
the situation’ to sociological discourse, Park papers drawing on personal documentation
sought to make sense of the social con- such as letters and on the archives of Polish
sequences of the rapid transformation newspapers in order to capture and record
C H OM S K Y , N O A M ( 1 9 2 8 – )

the often dislocating experience of Polish codes and practices, that they were orga-
Peasants. Their study The Polish Peasant in nized on the same sociological bases as
Europe and America (1918–21) analysed more eminent and respectable communities
migration from the culture of a traditional (see community).
peasant society into the alien environment The heyday of the Chicago School
of American values and the American city. extended from the 1910s through to the
Other notable studies explored the lives of 1930s. After this period, research was
homeless hobos, of members of boys’ gangs motivated and practised in much the same
and of criminal delinquency, as well as of way, and was equally attentive to the lives
young women who worked as dancers for of subordinate and marginalized group.
hire (see crime and deviance). However, it did so under the influence of a
The orientation of these studies was changed set of sociological ideas, particu-
toward identifying the points of view larly those elaborated from the teachings of
which would be largely unknown to middle- the Chicago-based philosopher G. H. Mead
class academic constituencies. They sought by the sociologist Herbert Blumer. These
to criticize the perception of these ways of ideas became known as symbolic inter-
life as merely symptomatic of social dis- actionism. The development of this tradi-
organization and moral breakdown. The tion from the late 1930s into the 1960s
aim of the studies was to challenge such occasions talk of a ‘second Chicago School’.
judgements, to emphasize, first of all, the This second phase also focused on the actor’s
way in which the circumstances one finds point of view to highlight how courses of
oneself in alter the way in which one per- action which might otherwise seem irrational
ceives things and impose a set of practical and ineffective may instead be rational in
necessities to which adaptation must be relation to circumstances. The later phase of
made. Thus, seen in context, the behaviour the Chicago School is associated with the
of disparaged types would no longer appear work of Anselm Strauss, Howard Becker,
as manifestations of the waywardness of Tamotsu Shibutani and others.
individuals, but as an embodiment of a
collective response, expressive of the cul- References and further reading
ture to which the individual belonged, with
the culture itself having been formed in Bulmer, M. (1984) The Chicago School of Sociol-
ogy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
response and adjustment to the conditions
Fine, G. A. (ed.) (1995) A Second Chicago School?
under which its bearers must live. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Much of Chicago’s sociology both during
the heyday of the School and after can be WES SHARROCK
understood as reacting against the idea of
‘social disorganization’ which had been a
CHOMSKY, NOAM (1928– )
powerful idea in American social and political
thought. It concentrated on distinguishing US theorist
between the lives of independent commu- Chomsky redefined linguistics as a natur-
nities, such that the standards of one should alistic and science-oriented theory of a
not be made the a priori standards imposed biologically endowed ‘language faculty’,
as a framework for the understanding or postulating a ‘universal grammar’ that
moral evaluation of the other. The empirical manifests itself in the development of more
studies repeatedly showed that the lives of specific transformational grammars (see
the under-privileged and the deviant (see language). This led to a paradigm shift,
deviance) were not literally disorganized away from behaviourism, and was highly
but were conducted according to their own influential for psychology and cognitive

science. Chomsky considered his enterprise CHRISTIANITY

to be part of the rationalist tradition fol- In tracing the historic origins of Christianity,
lowing a Cartesian idea of innate mental we depend largely on scriptures written by
structures. In this view, language acquisi- early Christian believers. According to the
tion is the unfolding of a biologically New Testament, Christianity started with a
endowed mental propensity, triggered once group of men gathering around a charis-
the child (or perhaps more precisely, the matic leader (see charisma) named Jesus,
brain) is exposed to ‘linguistic experience’. who was wandering through Galilee during
Chomsky has often revised his theory, but the Roman occupation preaching and
has always held some key convictions: a healing (Theissen [1977] 1978; Weber
focus on syntax, strictly separated from [1919] 1978). Originally, Jesus’ message was
semantics, pragmatics, and any functional directed exclusively to the Jews. He refer-
considerations of social language use or red positively to the framework of Judaism
discourse, which he excluded from the (see Judaism). Convinced however, that
scientific study of language; and an indivi- the end of time was close, he taught his
dualist, mentalist, and internalist under- disciples to cut their bonds with their families
standing of language. As a consequence, only and occupations and to follow him. The
‘I-languages’, i.e., languages that are part of charismatic group of disciples gained finan-
a speaker’s individual mental make-up, are cial support from a wider assembly, among
a proper object of study, rather than public them several women who were closely
‘E(xternal)-languages’ used by social groups. related to Jesus until his death. The social
An outspoken critic of imperialist US foreign context of the charismatic group, the
policies from Vietnam to Iraq, Chomsky is expectation of the imminent end of time,
an ardent proponent of the rights of the and the contents of his teachings led to an
public intellectual to intervene in the field egalitarian structure among his followers, who
of politics and the media and mass media. ignored differences in status and gender.
Yet curiously, his ideas of the scientific After Jesus’ crucifixion, the movement
study of language and the mind seem to spread into the Hellenistic world through
have been untouched by his social activism. proselytizing, notably through the organi-
zational agency of Paul. In the second and
Major works third centuries, the hierarchical structure of
a church with professional clerics and a
(1957) Syntactic Structures. Hague: Mouton and Co. monarchical episcopate developed. This
(1965) Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge:
MIT. organizational structure is distinctively dif-
(1966) Cartesian Linguistics. NY: Harper and Row. ferent from other religions. After a period
(1968) Language and the Mind. NY: Harcourt Brace. of persecution, Christians were tolerated by
(1980) Rules and Representations. Columbia Uni- the Roman Empire. In the fourth century,
versity Press.
Christianity finally became the state religion
(1981) Lectures on Government and Binding. Dor-
drecht, Netherlands: Foris Publishers. of the already weakened empire.
(1995) The Minimalist Program. Cambridge: MIT. During the Middle Ages, church and state
were closely linked, supported by the uni-
versalistic ideal of a homogeneous Christian
Further reading
kingdom and culture in which both powers –
McGilvray, J. (ed.) (2005) The Cambridge Com- church and state – worked together as the
panion to Chomsky. Cambridge: Cambridge ‘two swords of Christianity’. The other side
University Press.
of this ideal was the harsh consequences for
JENS BROCKMEIER those who seemed to threaten it. This led to

persecutions of heretics, but also to the med- the decisive factors in the shaping of a
ieval Crusades, originally motivated to defend modern culture of individualism and indi-
Jerusalem against Muslim invaders. In 1054, vidualization. Troeltsch also argued that
the profound differences between Eastern before the rise of of the Protestant sects,
and Western Christianity resulted in a schism. Christianity had remained an essentially
Both developed separately with strong dif- conservative social force, resigned to com-
ferences that continue even today, making promise and acquiescence in the dominance
social scientists talk of different civilizations of the secular ruling powers of the monarch
(Eisenstadt 1982; Huntington 1996). Chris- and the emperor. Against the Marxist view
tian Orthodoxy up to the present has been of Karl Kautsky, Troeltsch argued that
less influenced by Enlightenment ideas, Christianity from its earliest inception until
with consequences for the use of the Bible the seventeenth century was never an
and the understanding of the priest’s office. instrument of any class struggle and never
In the sixteenth century Martin Luther’s generated any social emancipation move-
theology of ‘sola fide, sola gratia, sola ment, despite its early association with the
scriptura’, emphasized the individuality of revolt of the slaves against Roman oppression.
every persons relationship to God, inaugurat- This thesis was for the most part confirmed
ing the Protestant Reformation. His teaching by Karl Mannheim in his work Ideology and
must be considered an early expression of Utopia of 1929, although it was contested
modern subjectivity and Enlightenment. by Ernst Bloch in his work of 1918 Geist der
His concept of the two reigns of god Utopie, a portrait of Thomas Münzer and the
became important as an early theory of the peasants’ revolt in sixteenth century Ger-
distinction between church and state and of many. Most classical sociological analyses of
the differentiation of religious and political Christianity thus alternate between posi-
roles. With reference to Calvin’s theology tions that stress either (1) its affinity tp indi-
and its impact on Ascetic Protestant sects, vidualism, liberalism and conservatism
Max Weber developed his influential Pro- (Weber, Troeltsch), or (2) its immanent
testant ethic thesis ([1904–5] 1930) about normative relationship to fraternity, com-
the religious foundation of the ‘spirit’ of munity, collective liberation and social jus-
modern capitalism. Max Weber also pointed tice. The latter diagnosis was particularly
out the specific development of Western important to Georg Lukács in History and
Christianity as compared to other civiliza- Class Consciousness (1922), which built on
tions. In this thesiss, it was only the Occi- Hegel’s dialectic of master and slave (see
dent where the combination of several masterslave dialectic) and the early phi-
rational developments – in religion, science, losophical Marx of the Theses on Feuerbach,
bureaucracy, economy, the law and other thematizing Feuerbach’s conception of the
areas – enabled the differentiation of value self-alienation of man in God that turned
spheres and enforced a general process of the relationship between creature and crea-
rationalization (see rationality and ratio- tor on its head. This world-view also
nalization). He was convinced that remains central today to Liberation Theol-
Christianity – especially ascetic Protestantism – ogy in Latin America and was fundamental
was the major factor in this process. to the struggle against slavery among Afri-
Similarly, his close colleague Ernst can Americans in the nineteenth century.
Troeltsch argued in The Social Teachings of With respect to functional differentiation
the Christian Churches (1912) that Protes- between politics and religion, the inves-
tantism, closely followed by religious tol- titure contest in the eleventh and early
eration and religious pluralism in parts of twelfth century over the emperor’s right to
Western Europe and North America, were install bishops was of relevance (Blumenthal

1991). But it was only in the early twentieth in the United States is also different in
century that most of the European nations another respect. Due to the religious and
truly separated church and state. Some – cultural mixing in the course of immigra-
like France and Switzerland – did it in the tion, the institutional shape of Christianity
strict way of laı̈cité. Others – like Germany – was – unlike Europe – not dominated by
maintained close relations between state the major confessions and churches of
and church, but abolished the system of a Catholicism or Lutheran and Reformed
state church. In the Scandinavian countries Protestantism, but rather by smaller denomi-
and in England, this system survived much nations with characteristic entrepreneur-
longer, with the consequence that Swedish like activities in local churches.
citizens were automatically members of the The secularization process that has dis-
Church of Sweden by birth. It was particularly tinctly changed the ideological landscape in
the philosophical Enlightenment movement Western Europe, as well as the politically
that questioned the strong position of Chris- enforced secularization processes in many
tian churches in Europe. In France, after the Eastern European countries, has resulted in
Revolution this eventually led to the French a situation in which Europe – at least in
system of laı̈cité: the strict separation of statistical terms – is no longer the heartland
church and state. For the emerging European of Christianity. Today, South America and
nation–states in nineteenth-century Eur- Asia, especially Korea, are the most
ope, it was the French Revolution as well dynamic regions of Christianity, and they
as the Christian heritage that served as are developing their own kind of Chris-
material for the construction of national tianity, which in many respects differs from
myths. For this reason, historians have con- the European variety.
sidered the European nation–states as
daughters of religion and of revolution.
References and further reading
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
the Christian churches in many Western Bloch, E. (1918) Geist der Utopie.
European countries faced severe processes Blumenthal, U. (1991) The Investiture Con-
of secularization (Bruce 1999), defined as troversy: Church and Monarchy from the Ninth to
separation between church and state as well the Twelfth Century. Philadelphia, PA: Uni-
versity of Pennsylvania.
as the decline in individual participation in Bruce, S. (ed.) (1999) Religion and Modernization:
church activities and church membership. Sociologists and Historians Debate the Secular-
This process was more thorough-going in ization Thesis. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
countries with a predominantly Protestant Eisenstadt, S. N. (1982) ‘The Axial Age: The
population, but since the 1960s it has also Emergence of Transcendental Visions and
the Rise of Clerics’, European Journal of
affected the Catholic Church in many Sociology, 23: 294–314.
European countries (Martin 1978). Secu- Hamilton, M. (1998) Sociology and the World’s
larization had the least effect in Poland and Religions. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Ireland where national identity is closely Huntington, S. (1996) The Clash of Civilizations.
linked to Catholicism. But the population New York: Simon & Schuster.
Lukács, G. ([1923]) 1971) History and Class
of the United States of America also has Consciousness. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
maintained high levels of subjective religiosity. Mannheim, K. (1929) Ideology and Utopia. New
Among American sociologists of religion, this York: Harcourt Brace.
has been interpreted as the result of a com- Martin, D. (1978) A General Theory of Secularisa-
bination of church–state separation and high tion. Oxford: Blackwell.
Marx, K. (1845) Theses on Feuerbach.
religious plurality, which has emphasized the Stark, R. (1996) The Rise of Christianity: A
competition between different religious Sociologist Reconsiders History. Princeton, NJ:
agents in a vital religious market. The situation Princeton University Press.


Theissen, G. ([1977] 1978) The First Followers of communities that have gathered around a
Jesus: A Sociological Analysis of the Earliest charismatic leader. This process was analyzed
Christianity. London: SCM.
Troeltsch, E. ([1912] 1931) The Social Teachings by Max Weber ([1919] 1978) in terms of
of the Christian Churches. New York: Macmillan. the routinization of charisma. In order to
Weber, M. ([1904–5] 1930) The Protestant Ethic survive the founder’s death and the succes-
and the Spirit of Capitalism. London: Allen & sion of different leaders, the charisma
Unwin. which was originally attached to the person
Weber, M. ([1919] 1978) Economy and Society.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. of the founder needs to be associated with
Wuthnow, R. (1985) ‘State Structures and the church as an institution and especially
Ideological Outcomes’, American Sociological with the office held by its representatives.
Review, 50: 799–821. Weber called this Amtscharisma. The latter is
MONIKA WOHLRAB-SAHR of specific importance for the Catholic
Church which continues to the present day
to justify the exclusion of women from
priesthood with the charisma of the priest’s
office. Priests are thought to stand in direct
The term ‘church’ has at least three different succession to the original apostles. Accord-
dimensions: (1) a communal dimension inas- ing to this logic, male priests need to follow
much as it refers to the gathering of religious male apostles.
(see religion) – usually Christian – commu- Weber proposed that a church develops
nities; (2) a religious dimension inasmuch as when a hierocracy turns into a regulated
it refers to a specific self-understanding of profession of priests; when the hierocracy’s
such communities with more or less explicit expectations towards possible followers
eschatological connotations; and (3) an become universal, irrespective of ethnic
institutional (see institution) and organizational and national ties; when dogma and ritual
(see organization) dimension inasmuch as practice are rationalized, written down,
it refers to a specific social form that religious commented and taught in a systematic way;
communities have taken. From the socio- and when all of this is enclosed in an insti-
logical perspective a church is mainly looked tutionalized community. Referring to
upon as a type of religious organization – Weber, Thomas O’Dea (1961) and others
although the other two meanings of the term (Yinger 1961) started a discussion about
come into play as well. When the organi- certain dilemmas that arise in the process of
zational aspect of the church is too prominent, institutionalization. Such dilemmas may
the other dimensions may lead to conflicts in cause conflicts in churches and, in the long
which members stress the importance of lived run, may lead to schisms and to the forma-
face-to-face meetings and an orientation tion of sects which stress the ‘original’
towards religious instead of organizational religious purpose as opposed to ‘secondary’
matters, and vice versa. organizational matters.
Looking at the church as an organization, Niklas Luhmann (1972) underlined the
two perspectives are of relevance: (1) How complex relationship between different
are religious communities transformed into types of church membership. In his analysis,
church organizations and with what con- a large group of members is mainly inter-
sequences?; (2) How does the organiza- ested in the continuation of the church and
tional type of the church differ from other give it general support (and money). These
possible types of organization, within and members do not necessarily seek to fulfil
outside Christianity? religious needs there, yet they depend on
As organizations, churches develop in the members whose religious activities symbolize
course of the institutionalization of religious the continuation of the church as a religious

organization. The relationship between gen- state representatives over religious issues
eral support and active religious involve- such as religious education in schools and
ment appears to be of specific relevance for burial rites.
the remarkable differences between churches
in Europe and North America. References and further reading
Ernst Troeltsch ([1912] 1931) and Max
Weber distinguished between the church Coser, L. (1967) ‘Greedy Organizations’,
and the sect as different organizational Archives européennes sociologique, VIII: 196–
types. In contrast to the sect-type, the church Demerath, N. J. III, Hall, P. D., Schmitt, T. and
is seen as a community that people are Williams, R. H. (eds) (1998) Sacred Compa-
usually born into, rather than becoming nies: Organizational Aspects of Religion and
members voluntarily; which is inclusive rather Religious Aspects of Organization. Oxford:
than exclusive in its religious offerings and Oxford University Press.
Luhmann, N. (1972) ‘Die Organisierbarkeit von
demands; and in which charisma is asso- Religionen und Kirchen’, in J. Wössner (ed.)
ciated with religious offices rather than Religion im Umbruch. Stuttgart: Enke.
with personalities. In addition, churches, in Niehbuhr, H. R. (1929) The Social Sources of
contrast to sects, usually behave much more Denominationalism. New York: World Pub-
in accordance with the values of the society lishing.
O’Dea, T. F. (1961) ‘Five Dilemmas in the
and with the state (see state and nation- Institutionalization of Religion’, Journal for
state). Troeltsch thought of mysticism as a the Scientific Study of Religion, October: 207–13.
third religious form, which focuses on per- Troeltsch, E. ([1912] 1931) The Social Teachings
sonal religious sentiments and is critical of of the Christian Churches. Louisville, KY:
organization-building. Westminster John Knox.
Weber, M. ([1919] 1978) Economy and Society.
This church–sect typology has, however, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
been regarded as an inadequate account of Wilson, B. R. (1959) ‘An Analysis of Sect
the North American situation. Richard Development’, American Sociological Review,
Niebuhr (1929) first elaborated the term 24: 3–15.
‘denominationalism’. In this analysis, Yinger, M. (1961) ‘Comment’, Journal for the
Scientific Study of Religion, October; 40–4.
denominations are voluntary associations,
but, unlike sects, they are much more MONIKA WOHLRAB-SAHR
inclusive, as well as bureaucratic, and they
accept the values of the secular society and
the state (Wilson 1959). CITIZENSHIP
Weber in his typological approach also Citizenship is a complex political, legal,
used the term ‘church’ for Islamic and some social and cultural institution that governs
Buddhist institutions (see Islam). However, both who are to be considered members or
the organizational type of the church has citizens of a particular polity, who are to be
developed most clearly within Christianity. considered quasi-members (strangers, out-
In countries with a predominately Christian siders) and non-members (aliens) and how
population, churches have been the key these people are to conduct themselves and
complementary and legitimizing institution each other in a given polity. Being a citizen
of the state. But churches have also served almost always means not only being a
as the organizational ‘address’ to which the member of the polity but also involves
state turns in order to deal with religious mastery of modes and forms of conduct
matters. For this reason, in some European appropriate to being a member (see civic
countries it has become necessary for other education). Just what constitutes membership
religions such as Islam, to develop church- and its appropriate modes and forms of
like institutions which can negotiate with conduct are always objects of struggle among

subjects with claims to citizenship. It is when citizenship became associated with

through these claims to citizenship that nationality and was understood as membership
citizenship becomes a locus of rights and of the state rather than the city. It was then
obligations. These claims and the combination that the principles of jus sanguinis (by blood)
of rights and obligations that define it have and ius soli (by territory) were rearticulated
worked themselves out very differently in through the state and reinscribed in the
different moments of history. nation (Brubaker 1992) (see nationalism).
The ancient Greeks are credited with If each of these historical moments
inventing the institution of citizenship articulated the figure of the citizen rather
roughly around the eighth century BC by differently, what explains the ostensible
giving a certain new meaning to the city: unity of this concept? The answer lies
the idea of the polis (Manville 1990). Until partly in the fact that every dominant group
then, the city, it is said, was governed by reinscribed and reinvested itself in that ori-
god-kings and, after that, by the citizens. ginal figure as the real foundation of its
What happened at that particular moment? symbolic and imaginary constitution. It also
It seems that a new figure entered the stage lies in the fact that the original elements of
of history who was a male and a warrior citizenship – property, war and masculinity –
and who owned property (not the least of remained the foundational elements that
which included the means of warfare). differentiated citizens from strangers, out-
Those who were not male and did not own siders, and aliens (Smith 1997) (see stranger).
property such as women, slaves, merchants, But the future may well remember the
craftsmen, or sailors found themselves cast twentieth century for having dismantled the
as the Others of that figure. The male figure foundational elements of citizenship. It was in
had the right to govern his city (belonging) this particular century that property was no
and to bequeath that right to his son longer tied to citizenship, while women
(blood). By governing himself by the laws became at least formal if not substantive
of his city, the citizen also governed the claimants to it, and the nature of war and
strangers, outsiders, and aliens of the city. warriorship was fundamentally altered by
The figure of the Roman citizen played being fought by special kinds of mercen-
itself out under quite different conditions. aries and technological weaponry (Janoski
Being a Roman citizen meant being a mem- 1998). Moreover, it was in the twentieth
ber of an empire that stretched beyond the century that the universal figure of the
city of Rome (Gardner 1993; Sherwin- citizen was shown to be predominantly
White 1973). Yet being male, a warrior and made up of attributes of a particular social
owning property were still the elements group: Christian, heterosexual, male, white
that differentiated a Roman citizen from and adult (Young 1989).
strangers, outsiders, and aliens. These elements Does this realization mean the end of
persisted well into the age of the state and citizenship today? Judging by the seemingly
nation–state. It is possible to hold, with inexorable rise of another figure – namely,
Max Weber, that a change occurred during the consumer – it may appear to us as
the twelfth to fifteenth centuries in Europe though citizenship has come to some kind of
when being a citizen gradually ceased to be an end. This, however, need not imply the
associated with prowess in war and military end of citizenship as a normative idea cap-
virtue. Yet still at this time, being a citizen able of continuous reconstruction. What is
involved owning property and being male. at least clear is that the gradual spread of civil
Therefore, arguably the most significant fea- rights in the eighteenth century, towards
ture of citizenship occurred in the late political rights in the nineteenth century, was
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries consolidated in the twentieth century by the

establishment of social rights, as T. H. Mar- CITY

shall (1992) notably argued. Today, while See: Urbanism and urbanization
we witness the dismantling of the traditional
elements of citizenship (property, warrior-
ship, masculinity), we also observe the CIVIC EDUCATION
emergence of a new kind of citizen figure. Civic education is as old as the Greco-
New historical narratives are being told about Roman ideal of the democratic citizen and
citizenship that make it appear less a bastion hence as old as democracy itself. From the
of property, warriorship and masculinity time of the ancients when democracy was
and more about the struggles of redistribu- understood to rest on the participation of the
tion and recognition by those who formerly educated cives, democratic advocates argued
were its strangers, outsiders and aliens that citizens were made rather than born,
(Kymlicka 1995; Isin and Wood 1999). and had to be educated into the responsi-
bilities of civic participation. Plato’s argument
in The Republic for Philosopher Kings can
References and further reading
be understood as an aristocratic version of
Beiner, R. (ed.) (1995) Theorizing Citizenship. this position (only the learned can rule),
Albany, NY: State University of New York. while the Greek ideal of padaeia (like the
Brubaker, R. (1992) Citizenship and Nationhood later concepts of Bildung in German and
in France and Germany. Cambridge, MA: Formation in French) linked education to
Harvard University Press.
the virtues of autonomy, self-government
Gardner, J. F. (1993) Being a Roman Citizen.
London: Routledge. and the well-ordered commonwealth.
Heater, D. B. (1990) Citizenship: The Civic Ideal Modern democratic philosophy, beginning
in World History, Politics, and Education. Lon- with social contract theory, forges vital links
don: Longman Group. between democratic constitutionalism, com-
Isin, E. F. (2002) Being Political: Genealogies of
petent citizenship and civic education. It
Citizenship. Minneapolis, MN: University of
Minnesota Press. presupposes John Locke’s modern doctrine
Isin, E. F. and Wood, P. K. (1999) Citizenship of knowledge as a function of experience
and Identity. London: Sage. rooted in the interaction of a ‘blank tablet’
Isin, E. F. and Turner, B. S. (2002) Handbook of mind with a sensory worldly environment.
Citizenship Studies. London: Sage.
When knowledge is the story experience
Janoski, T. (1998) Citizenship and Civil Society: A
Framework of Rights and Obligations in Liberal, writes on character, character and behavior
Traditional, and Social Democratic Regimes. can be seen as vulnerable to manipulation,
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. modification and education. Locke’s Second
Kymlicka, W. (1995) Multicultural Citizenship. Treatise of Government (1976) and his Letter on
Oxford: Oxford University Press. Education both depend on his Essay Concerning
Manville, P. B. (1990) The Origins of Citizenship
in Ancient Athens. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Human Understanding ([1690] 2000) with its
University Press. empiricist rational psychology, just as
Marshall, T. H. ([1950] 1992) Citizenship and Rousseau’s The Social Contract (1993a) finds a
Social Class. London: Pluto. companion piece in his educational tract
Sherwin-White, A. N. (1973) The Roman Citizen- Emile (1993b).
ship, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Smith, R. M. (1997) Civic Ideals: Conflicting In both the English and the French
Visions of Citizenship in U.S. History. New Enlightenment traditions, it is posited that
Haven, CT: Yale University Press. while homo oeconomicus (the autonomous,
Young, I. M. (1989) ‘Polity and Group Differ- interest-pursuing individual) may forge the
ence: A Critique of the Ideal of Universal social contract, only citizens are capable of
Citizenship’, Ethics, 99, January: 250–74.
sustaining the democratic constitutions the
ENGIN F. ISIN social contract yields (see constitution).

Natural men and natural women are and more interested in voters than in citi-
endowed with natural rights, but citizenship zens, in individual interests than in common
is artificial rather than natural. Given that ground, did the social science preoccupa-
human nature is acquired rather than innate, tion with civic education lose some of its
citizenship must be learned and earned. vibrancy. Even as it became more impor-
The American founding fathers predicated tant in post-war Europe and Asia where the
the success of the new American Constitution founding of new democracies in the rubble
on the development of a citizenry capable of German fascism and Japanese imperial-
of enacting and defending in practice the ism focused on civic training and re-
‘natural rights’ whose protection that con- education, it was hobbled by notions of the
stitution guaranteed in theory. John Adams professionalization and vocationalization of
in Massachusetts argued in the 1780s for schooling in America. The earlier triumph
institutions of public schooling that would of the German model of the Research
afford all who were to be citizens an edu- University (first practiced at Johns Hopkins
cation that was, in the first instance, civic. at the end of the nineteenth century) gra-
Thomas Jefferson made clear in his epitaph dually displaced the model of the liberal arts
that his founding of the University of Vir- college (the liberal arts understood as the
ginia was part and parcel of his authorship ‘arts of liberty’ by which free men and
of the Declaration of Independence and the women acquired the skills and competences
Virginia Bill of Religious Freedom, giving of liberty) and helped erode the idea of a
clear expression to the indissoluble linkage ‘civic mission’ for education.
between rights and the educated citizen. Nevertheless, both in historical political
Nineteenth-century common schools theory and in American history, there has
and land grant colleges were conceived been a close connection between the
with civic education among their primary robustness of democratic practices and the
missions, and America’s public education devotion to civic education. The weak or
system has always gained an important part thin representative system is less concerned
of its legitimacy from its devotion to inte- with civic education, with a tendency to
grating immigrants into American life and assume that voters are little more than pri-
teaching practicing that ‘apprenticeship of vate political consumers expressing private
liberty’ which for Tocqueville was the most political preferences. Those wedded to a
necessary if most ‘arduous of all appren- more participatory or deliberative approach
ticeships’. To a degree, civic education has, mirroring strong democratic arrangements
as a result, become an ‘American’ idea. are compelled to argue for a strong civic
John Dewey’s pragmatist insistence at the education curriculum in which the respon-
beginning of the twentieth century on the sibilities of active citizenship (far more than
ties between education and democracy gave voting) are diligently acquired.
its American character vital impetus (see
pragmatism). Celebrating the experiential
References and further reading
character of all knowledge and the affinities
between ‘problem solving’ in politics and Boyer, E. (1983) A Nation at Risk. Washington:
in thought, Dewey’s Democracy and Educa- National Committee on Excellence in Edu-
tion argued that democracy was first of all cation.
about the education of citizens, and that edu- Dewey, J. ([1916] 2000) Democracy and Educa-
cation was about the sustaining of democracy. tion: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Edu-
cation. Bristol: Thoemmes.
Only following World War II with the Friedman, M. ([1962] 2000) Capitalism and
emergence of a new political science Freedom. Chicago: University of Chicago
focused on elections rather than participation Press.


Locke, J. (1976) The Second Treatise of Govern- Originally used by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,
ment: (An Essay Concerning the True Original, Robert Bellah gave this concept its central
Extent and End of Civil Government) and A
Letter Concerning Toleration. Oxford: Blackwell. sociological meaning, especially (but not only)
Locke, J. ([1690] 2000) Essay Concerning Human with reference to the USA. Bellah identified
Understanding. London: Routledge. three key dimensions. First, biblical themes
Locke, J. ([1693] 2001) Some Thoughts Concern- are compatible with national traditions and
ing Education. Oxford: Clarendon Press. national churches (see church). It in this
Moe, T. M. and Chubb, J. E. (1990) Politics,
Markets and America’s Schools. Washington, perspective that ideas of America as ‘God’s
DC: Brookings Institution. new Israel’ are rooted. Second, there is a
National Commission on Excellence in Education relevant aspect of a process of seculariza-
(1984) A Nation at Risk: The Full Account. tion and a tendency towards religious indi-
Cambridge, MA: USA Research. vidualism and privatism. Third, there is the
Rousseau, J. J. (1993a) The Social Contract and
Discourses. London: Dent. more institutional aspect of the American
Rousseau, J. J. (1993b) Emile. London: Dent. Puritans’ commitment to religious liberty
and toleration of religious pluralism.
BENJAMIN R. BARBER Other studies have indicated ways in
which this concept by no means need be
limited in its application to the USA. Dur-
CIVIL RELIGION kheim’s analysis of religion, secular educa-
Civil religion has been defined by Robert tion and civic humanism suggests universal
Bellah (1975: 3) as ‘that religious dimension, possibilities of civil religion. Many societies
found . . . in the life of every people, express their political unity in religious-
through which it interprets its historical political terms. As a result, we find many
experience in the light of transcendent rea- studies of civil religion over a wide range of
lity’. The concept of civil religion refers to national contexts. Many of these con-
a unique relationship between religion and centrate on matters of symbolic action and
politics, typically in reference to the nation rituals, rather than on the more institutional
(see state and nation-state). For example, structures of the nation–state. It is also
we might see it in the use of biblical quo- necessary, however, to attend to the role
tations in presidential addresses or in reli- of organizational constraints, resources,
gious jeremiads directed at government and interest groups. Social cleavages often
policies. The interplay between civil reli- determine the relations between state and
gion and the nation – state has been seen as religion. Civil religion in the context of
contributing to the pacification of civil secularized nation–states becomes an
strife and conflict, and hence as an important increasingly important ideological factor of
mechanism of social integration in modern national mobilization processes, an impor-
secular societies. Normally, it includes secular tant part of the ‘imagined community’ of
symbols and rituals that provide some social entities (see nationalism).
sense of belonging and solidarity, espe-
cially a ‘myth of origin’ which relates or
References and further reading
reconstructs the nation’s history, ‘purpose’ or
‘destiny’ in the world. Civil religion may Bellah, R. (1967) ‘Civil Religion in America’,
also function to define legitimate membership Daedalus: Journal of the American Academy of
of a nation, indicating taboos that define Arts and Science, 96: 1000–21.
the national society’s external boundaries Bellah, R. (1975) The Broken Covenant: American
Civil Religion in a Time of Trial. New York:
and differentiating it from others. Civil reli- Seabury.
gion confers legitimacy on social order by Bellah, R. and Hammond, P. (eds) (1980) Varieties
evoking commitment and consensus. of Civil Religion. San Francisco: Harper & Row.


Dobbelare, K. (1986) ‘Civil Religion and the such as private businesses. If the early
Integration of Society: A Theoretical modern conception of civil society was an
Reflection and an Application’, Japanese
Journal of Religious Studies, 13(2–3): 127–45. attack on the positive liberties of inter-
Müller, H.-P. (1988) ‘Social Structure and Civil mediary institutions that had been built
Religion: Legitimation Crisis in a Later over a long time since the twelfth century,
Durkheimian Perspective’, in J. Alexander the modern conception of civil society was
(ed.) Durkheimian Sociology, Cambridge: articulated in terms of negative liberties
Cambridge University Press. pp. 129–59.
Richey, R. and Jones, D. (eds) (1974) American over against the state. The emerging mod-
Civil Religion. New York: Harper & Row. ern conception of civil society understood
Wuthnow, R. (1998) The Restructuring of Amer- the older intermediary institutions as ves-
ican Religion and Faith since World War II. tiges and fragments of the past where spe-
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. cial privileges hindered the capacities of
STEFFEN SIGMUND bourgeois citizens and their relationship to
the state. Civil society in the eighteenth
century was increasingly constituted as
CIVIL SOCIETY being made up not of intermediary institu-
Civil society is a modern concept that has tions but of bourgeois citizens engaged in
various origins and incarnations. In the early activities beyond the regulatory institutions
modern period in Europe between the 1650s of the state. Civil society stood for rela-
and 1770s, it corresponded to all inter- tively autonomous spheres of economic,
mediary institutions such as guilds, associ- political and social activities of citizens of a
ations, organizations, cities and corporate state. However, because the French state
bodies such as universities and churches that became the most centralized and con-
stood between the increasingly centralizing solidated in Europe, French thought and
state and the isolated individual. The pri- practice also sensed the dangers of con-
mary focus of the concept was the suspect if ceiving civil society only as negative liberties
not seditious nature of these intermediary of citizens from the state. From Jean-Jacques
institutions in the eyes of the state. The Rousseau and Montesquieu to Alexis de
consolidation of the state meant usurpation Tocqueville a strand of thought emerged
and abolition of the special privileges of that, while emphasizing civil society as a
these institutions and the centralization of relatively autonomous sphere of the activ-
their administration and jurisdiction. The ities of citizens, was also aware of some of
state increasingly came to see itself as the its limitations. This new strand of thought
guarantor, superior and governor of such articulated the need for positive liberties of
institutions, and those that resisted such intermediary institutions such as associ-
consolidation were deemed ‘seditious’. As ations, cities, organizations, societies and
such, civil society and the institutions that unions. In the late nineteenth century,
made up its character were by and large Otto von Gierke (1866) and Emile Dur-
understood to be opposed to the state. kheim (1984; 1992) became the most sig-
From approximately the 1770s onwards, nificant social theorists of civil society by
civil society was increasingly understood as urging the necessity of intermediary insti-
a sphere independent from the state. The tutions to mediate between the citizen and
institutions that made up such an independent the state.
or autonomous (see autonomy) sphere Since the 1990s the concept of civil
were not understood in the same way as in society has re-emerged as a mantra to describe
the preceding period. They were now numerous practices in diverse societies. The
deemed to be free from the encroachment initial impetus for its renewed currency was
of the state, and they included institutions the democratic revolutions in Eastern Europe

and the former member states of the Warsaw References and further reading
Pact. Many writers argued that under the
Alvarez, S. E., Dagnino, E. and Escobar, A. (eds)
communist regimes there were almost no (1998) Cultures of Politics/Politics of Cultures:
intermediary and relatively autonomous Revisioning Latin American Social Movements.
institutions and spheres left between the Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
communist subject and the state. The result Black, A. (1984) Guilds and Civil Society in Eur-
opean Political Thought from the Twelfth Century
of the rise of civil societies in these states
to the Present. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University
after communism was an unmistakable con- Press.
nection made between the importance of Cohen, J. L. and Arato, A. (1992) Civil Society
civil society and democracy (Keane 1998). and Political Theory. Cambridge, MA: MIT
In recent years, civil society has also Press.
become an operative concept in the emer- Durkheim, E. ([1890] 1992) Professional Ethics
and Civic Morals. London: Routledge.
ging democracies in Latin America, Africa, Durkheim, E. ([1894] 1984) The Division of
the Middle East and Asia. Here it is under- Labor in Society. New York: Free Press.
stood as referring primarily to intermediary Ehrenberg, J. (1999) Civil Society: The Critical
institutions that resist non-democratic ten- History of an Idea. New York: New York
dencies of states and multinational business University Press.
Hall, J. A. (ed.) (1995) Civil Society: Theory,
corporations. In this picture, the democra- History, Comparison. Cambridge: Polity.
tization of previously authoritarian states Kaviraj, S. and Khilnani, S. (eds) (2001) Civil
(see authority) and the neo-liberal opening Society: History and Possibilities. Cambridge:
of markets have been seen as proceeding Cambridge University Press.
hand in hand in a process of resistance to Keane, J. (ed.) (1988a) Civil Society and the State:
New European Perspectives. London: Verso.
the centralizing tendencies of states and Keane, J. (1988b) Democracy and Civil Society.
business monopolies (Alvarez et al. 1998; London: Verso.
Sajoo 2002; Schak and Hudson 2003). Keane, J. (1998) Civil Society: Old Images, New
But the rise of civil society institutions Visions. Stanford, CA: Stanford University
and discourses has not been limited to Press.
Keane, J. (2003) Global Civil Society? Cambridge:
developments within sovereign states. Also Cambridge University Press.
evident is the rise of various intermediary Laxer, G. and Halperin, S. (2003) Global Civil
institutions such as non-governmental Society and Its Limits. New York: Macmillan.
organizations, associations, aid groups and Sajoo, A. B. (ed.) (2002) Civil Society in the
numerous other groups that operate across Muslim World: Contemporary Perspectives.
London: I. B. Tauris.
various states, leading some commentators
Schak, D. C. and Hudson, W. (eds) (2003) Civil
to talk of the emergence of a ‘global civil Society in Asia. Aldershot: Ashgate.
society’ and its limits (Keane 2003; Laxer Von Gierke, O. F. (1866) Das Deutsche Genos-
and Halperin 2003). Since there is no glo- senschaftsrecht. Berlin: Weidmann.
bal state and global governance is made up
of a multitude of intersecting, overlapping
and transversing jurisdictions, organizations
and movements, it is perhaps improper to
consider the emerging spheres as acting CIVILIZATION
against the state as such. Nevertheless, the ‘Civilization’ is clearly a heavily value-laden
actions of some transnational global orga- term, imbued with problematic notions of
nizations, such as Médecins Sans Frontières, ‘progress’ and cultural superiority. In aca-
Amnesty International, Human Rights demic sociology, however, the term has
Watch to Greenpeace, have been crucial in acquired a more scientific and relatively
fostering democratizing tendencies in the value-neutral mode of application, notably
policies and practices of some states. due to the influential work of Norbert

Elias. Elias published his magnum opus or what he called human figurations, and
The Civilizing Process ([1939] 2000), on the processes of change in the structure of
eve of the Second World War. The title of human affects and personality (see person
this work appears profoundly at odds with and personality). In order to study this link
the events that were then unfolding. In between sociogenesis and psychogenesis, Elias
fact, however Elias saw its origins in what studied long-term shifts in codes of eti-
he called ‘the crisis and transformation’ of quette expressed in books or good man-
Western ‘civilizations’, and the quest to ners. Texts such as Erasmus’s De civilitate
understand ‘why we actually torment our- morum puerilium (‘On Civility in Boys’)
selves in this way’ (ibid.: 368). For Elias, the contained advice and guidance intended for
term ‘civilization’ pointed neither to the children and young adults of the secular
progressive triumph of rationality, nor upper classes on everything from how to
necessarily to a doomed form of human behave at the dinner table to how one
existence. Instead, it denoted a set of long- should approach and curb emotions and
term social processes that could be studied bodily functions. Examining such evidence,
both theoretically and empirically. Elias constructs a picture of social life in the
There are parallels in Elias’s work with Middle Ages that later came to be regarded
the ways in which anthropologists and as ‘vulgar’, ‘distasteful’ or ‘uncivilized’, such
sociologists have come to deploy the term as urination and defecation in public. Elias
‘culture’ – also a highly value-laden term in showed how it was normal for people in
lay usage. Significantly, Elias starts The the Middle Ages to eat from a common
Civilizing Process by considering the ‘socio- dish with unwashed hands, or to spit on to
genesis’ or social generation of the terms the floor, or to break wind at the table
Zivilisation and Kultur. He traces the emer- (ibid.: 72–109). In stipulating what one
gence of the former term to members of should not do, the Renaissance manners
the French court in the early modern era texts gave a strong indication of what was
who originally used it to express distinction commonplace. For example, it was recom-
and refinement. He traces the latter to the mended that one should not use the table-
German bourgeoisie during the same per- cloth to blow one’s nose (ibid.: 122). Elias
iod who used this term to stress their was able to demonstrate that the restraints
uniqueness and difference from other Eur- on behaviour, which we today take for
opean powers. Thus for Elias, ‘civilization’ granted as self-constraints, have emerged
is a term that over time has come to express gradually over time.
the self-consciousness of Western Europe. Elias’s analysis reveals an overall direction
While the word’s ‘-ization’ component of change in the development of Western
signals a process, most lay uses of the term societies, namely a set of civilizing processes
tend to imply a state or a ‘final destination’, involving an increasing ‘social constraint
a fully ‘developed society’. It is important towards self-restraint’. His work illustrates
to distinguish, therefore, between ‘civilization’ how a growing range and number of
as a normative term and Elias’s technical aspects of human behaviour have come to
concept of ‘civilizing processes’. In Elias’s be regarded as distasteful and pushed
account, it refers to processes in which ‘behind the scenes of social life’. In indis-
certain groups come to understand themselves soluble relation to this shift, Elias argues,
as ‘civilized’ and ‘others’ as ‘uncivilized’. people have increasingly come to experi-
Through studying processes of civilization, ence an advancing threshold of shame and
one of Elias’s central objectives was to build repugnance in relation to their bodily
an understanding of the link between long- functions. Social constraints towards self-
term shifts in patterns of social relationships, restraint become ‘internalized’ as ‘second

nature’, so that in certain contexts we feel Van Krieken, R. (1998) Norbert Elias: Key
embarrassment and nausea. Sociologist. London: Routledge.
Some critics have argued that Elias JASON HUGHES
ignores examples of people with seemingly
highly-developed ‘civilized controls’ during
the very earliest stages of the period he CLASS
examines. In fact, Elias was well aware of
such cases, discussing extreme forms of Social class denotes divisions by unequal
asceticism and renunciation in certain sec- distribution of power, and life chances in
tors of medieval society. However, he society, intersecting with divisions by gender,
noted that these stood in contrast to equally status, age, and ethnicity. Class divisions
extreme forms of behaviour involving the also correspond to different ways of life and
indulgence of pleasure. For Elias, therefore, visions of society.
processes of civilization involve a gradual First used for taxation in ancient Rome,
stabilization of human behaviour, processes the term is especially used for societies based
characterized by ‘diminishing contrasts and on rational capitalist market economies. In
increasing varieties’ (ibid.: 382). They are Western Europe, since the late eighteenth
particularly related to the rise of stable power century, it replaced the terms ‘estates’,
monopolies, notably through the rise of cen- ‘ranks’ and ‘orders’, as a consequence of the
tralized nation–states and unified national French political revolution and the English
cultures (see state and nation–state). industrial revolution. During this transition,
In his later work Elias examined the the dominant power of the estates of aris-
causes of what he called ‘de-civilizing pro- tocracy and clergy, based on inherited
cesses’, particularly with respect to the case rank, was contested by a ‘third estate’ of the
of Nazi Germany (1994). Since Elias’s ‘people’, based on productive functions in
death, several sociologists have developed the division of labour. After the 1790s, this
forms of comparative ‘civilizational analysis’ ‘productive class’ (so named by Saint
influenced by his approach, including Simon) came to be further divided into the
notably Shmuel Eisenstadt. bourgeoisie and working class. This gave
The idea of civilization and its relation to rise to the concept of three conflicting
violence, control and self-control, desire, classes, elaborated by Ricardo in 1817 and
sublimation and sexuality, was also a cen- dominating social thought from Marx to
tral theme for Freud (in Civilization and its Weber: the old upper class of the landed
Discontents (1930)), for Marucse (in Eros aristocracy, living from rent; the new
and Civilization (1955)), for Talcott Par- ‘middle class’ of the industrial bourgeoisie,
sons, and for many other theorists of the living from capital returns; and the working
socialization process. class, living from manual labour. In the
twentieth century, new structural shifts
motivated deep controversies, often against
References and further reading
the background of the Marxist antagonism
Elias, N. ([1939] 2000) The Civilizing Process, of bourgeoisie and proletariat. Today, less
rev. edn. Oxford: Blackwell. strongly antagonistic concepts of class are
Elias, N. (1994) The Germans. Oxford: Black- more prominent. Common terms have
well. been social milieu (Durkheim), ‘stratum’
Mennell, S. (1998) Norbert Elias: An Introduction. (Geiger), ‘social divisions’, or ‘institutiona-
Dublin: University College Dublin Press.
Loyal, S. and Quilley, S. (2004) The Sociology of lized class conflict’ (Dahrendorf), as distinct
Norbert Elias. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- from ‘naked’ or ‘deregulated’ class conflict
versity Press. (Esping-Andersen 1999).

Since the origins of sociology in the late ‘property classes’ (living from rent) and two
nineteenth century, there has been much types of ‘acquisition classes’ living from the
dispute about whether class distinctions and productive utilization either of capital
identities can unequivocally be deduced (bourgeoisie) or of work (working class), in
from a single causal source. Marx, in parti- commodity and labour markets. Using the
cular, has been regarded as placing exclusive term ‘chance’, Weber insists that although
emphasis on the economic causes of class. defined by common class situations, classes
In reality, however, the classical thinkers all are not communities but merely represent
employed relational or field ways of thinking, possible bases for communal action. Com-
aiming at the complex historical whole. mon class situations may result in ways of
Max Weber’s approach is exemplary. acting which need not necessarily take the
Weber divided the phenomena of class into form of rational representation of interests
three levels, all linked in different ways to (such as through associations) but may be
the distribution of power. He dis- reactive and amorphous.
tinguished: (1) ‘classes’, placed within the In Weber’s definition, ‘class situations’
economic order; (2) ‘estates’ (narrowly primarily depend on market positions, in
translated as ‘status group’), placed within contrast to a pre-modern ‘estate-based
an order of social ‘honour’; and (3) ‘poli- society’ (ständische Gesellschaft) where social
tical ‘parties’, struggling for domination in situations primarily depend on distributions
the political order (see party). All three of social ‘honour’ by conventions of conduct
orders influence each other but act in and by juridical privilege. However, the
‘relative autonomy’ from one another. market-based propertied classes themselves
Subsequent theories have further elaborated adopt estate-like strategies ‘with extra-
these three levels of (1) socio-economic ordinary regularity’ to control access to
class situation; (2) socio-cultural class beha- their privileged class situation. This may
viour; and (3) socio-political struggle for rights occur either (1) through intermarriage and
and domination. Prominent contributors social intercourse, largely limited to those
have been Geiger, Parkin, Bourdieu and who conform to the conventions of honour
Giddens, among others. How class ‘in itself’ and to a distinct way of ‘life conduct’
translates from a mere nominal entity into (Lebensführung); or (2) through striving to
social identities and actions (‘class for itself’) secure their life chances through legal pri-
is especially answered on the non-economic vilege. Both mechanisms of ‘closure’
levels. against newcomers support ‘monopolies’
over specific material or non-material goods
Max Weber on class and chances, including the regulation of
property and higher education.
Weber defines class primarily as a group of In his chapters on classes and on religion
persons sharing the same ‘class situation’ in Economy and Society, Weber (1968)
(Lage) or the same ‘life chances’. These denies any unequivocal determination of
comprise typical chances of access to goods conduct and beliefs by class situation, but
as well as external standing (Stellung) and admits that a common economic situation
internal life experiences (Lebensschicksal). implies a probability for typical behaviour.
Weber distinguishes different types of classes In his analysis of this correspondence
by the means by which a class situation is between class situation and cultural conduct
reached; that is, by the kind and extent of of life, Weber filled a gap left by Marx.
control over goods by work qualifications Durkheim’s work has also helped to fill this
and by the respective returns from a given gap. According to Durkheim’s concept of
economic order. Weber distinguishes milieu, lasting solidarity is not produced by

commodity exchange but by the moral ties to developing countries (see especially
developed in the elementary subdivisions of Bendix and Lipset [1953] 1966; Joyce
society. These include the familial, terri- 1995; Grusky 2001; Crompton 1998).
torial and occupational milieus, which dis-
tinguish themselves by slowly developing a Class transformations
‘corpus of moral rules’ that are internalized
in individuals’ moral habitus. Weber and In the early twentieth century, scholars
Durkheim have since prompted many discussed the decline of the old middle estate
scholars, especially Geiger (1932), Bourdieu of small owners which, contrary to Marx’s
(1984) and their followers, to seek con- expectations, did not join the ranks of the
sistent relations between occupational clusters proletariat but formed a new middle estate of
and habitus types. service employees, retaining conservative
Weber’s two basic concepts have been attitudes (Geiger 1932). Debates then shif-
elaborated further with regard to the com- ted from private to manager capitalism. Some
plex socio-political struggles of classes and expected a ‘regime of managers’ replacing
groups. A party, describing any political old dominant classes in capitalist as well as
faction struggling for influence or domina- communist countries. Others understood
tion in planned ways, may represent and this as a ‘horizontal’ modernization of class
mobilize the interests of ‘classes’ or ‘estates’, fractions (Bourdieu), expressing the func-
but often does not do so. Many political tional differentiation between ownership
sociologists underline ways in which mod- and control of capital (Geiger, Dahrendorf).
ern party politics intersects not only with Together with higher professionals, adminis-
class but also with regional, ideological and trators and officials, the dominating class
religious cleavages (Lepsius 1993). The transformed into what Goldthorpe (1980)
concept of closure explains the politics of grouped together as the upper service class
juridical distribution of power, life chances (see middle class).
and educational chances among classes. It From the 1940s to the 1960s, horizontal
also includes new and countervailing pow- shifts accelerated. The rise of communist and
ers in the corporate negotiation system fascist regimes had shown the risks of
which contest established privileges – most intensified class conflicts. Thus in the
notably trade unions. advanced Western societies of the post-war
On all three Weberian levels, the twentieth period, changes came to be embedded into
century has seen deep changes. Debates new societal models of institutional regulation
pointed especially to three types of problems: of class situations, designed to direct the
first, structural differentiations, including working-class majority towards improved
increasing class depolarization, deindus- life chances (sometimes described as ‘de-
trialization, education and skill standards; proletarization’). This operated on all three
second, increasing autonomies of life con- of Weber’s levels (see especially Geiger
duct, including in some cases outright 1949; Esping-Andersen 1999). Growing
decoupling from class structuration; and productivity radically decreased agrarian
third, the return or renewed rise to promi- and, partly, industrial employment, leading
nence of non-class cleavages based on gender, to rapidly expanding skilled service occu-
age, ethnicity and religion. Debates have pations. The remaining working class divided
oscillated between abandoning class con- into skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled frac-
cepts and developing more complex para- tions. To contain the risks unleashed by
digms. They have also considered the role these transformations, social-democratic and
played by different national paths and by conservative welfare states extended insti-
the spread of industrial and service structures tutional guarantees, social security, health

and educational opportunities to the middle 1970s proposed by Althusser and Poulantzas.
and working classes, including an extension Postindustrial theories refer to horizontal
of civil, political and social citizenship and shifts from industrial to a ‘service society’ or
improved employment rights – notably ‘knowledge society’ (see knowledge and
examined by T. H. Marshall. Collective knowledge society), with the optimistic
bargaining or ‘institutionalized class conflict’ vision of decreasing constraints of class
allowed for the historic rise of mass income domination and alienation at work and of
and consumption. As a consequence of open- the weakening of property elites by a rising
ing options, the importance of life style and knowledge elite (see Daniel Bell). Educa-
‘postmaterialist values’ increased. tional degrees and training certificates were
This rise of a broadly integrated middle seen as ‘new forms of property’ that would
class together with the discrediting of give rise to intellectuals as a ‘new class’
(Eastern) Marxism supported the ‘orthodox (Gouldner).
consensus’ of harmonistic theories of stra- Postmodernist theories have pushed the
tification defended by Parsons and others, argument about weakening class identities
as well as the conception of an industrial still further. Structural differentiation has
class society with open chances in a plurality been seen as encouraging cross-cutting or
of contexts defended by Dahrendorf and bricolage identities (Hall; Pakulsky and
others. However, in opposition to this liberal Waters). Identity has been seen as becom-
consensus (and to dogmatic Marxist posi- ing independent (‘decoupled’) from the
tions), more open class concepts were structural constraints of need, class dom-
developed by other theorists, notably by ination and milieu ties, allowing a reflexive
Bendix and Lipset ([1953] 1966) who choice of lifestyle and milieu. These theories
revisited elements in the thinking of of ‘individualization’ and ‘reflective mod-
Weber, Marx and Durkheim (see Bendix). ernization’ have been formulated notably
In Britain the early pioneers of what came by Ulrich Beck and Anthony Giddens.
to be known as Cultural Studies – Raymond Political action has been seen by some as no
Williams, Richard Hoggart, E. P. Thompson, longer predominantly concerned with
Paul Willis – re-discovered the working-class material redistribution but instead with
life through its active cultural practices (see ‘post-materialist’ values, such as the rights
culture and cultural turn). John Goldthorpe of citizens, women, ethnic groups and
(1980) examined the new ‘affluent work- ecology and environmentalism.
ers’, developing a concept of occupational
classes in the Weberian tradition and con-
Class reproduction
firming the persistence of vertical inequalities.
Goldthorpe’s statistical analyses confirmed a Post-materialist theories of class refer to
substantial absolute rise of material and important real increases of personal auton-
educational standards, but revealed a strikingly omy, reflexivity, education and differentia-
disproportionate difference in the relative tion in present-day society. However,
chances of working-class children to move while they are not compatible with mono-
up into the service class. lithic class concepts, the ‘horizontal’ chan-
The more ‘horizontal’ differentiations of ges and movements they identify should be
class have been discussed in the context of seen as going together with more open and
post-industrial and postmodern theories of complex concepts of vertical class divisions.
restructuring or destructuring of class (see post- ‘Heterogeneity’ is obvious in large employ-
industrial society). These have been influ- ment aggregates (such as those of Gold-
ential in part as a reaction to the short-lived thorpe) which embrace many subgroups,
structuralist-Marxist class schemes of the but when analysis touches on elementary

subgroups, there is ample evidence of more In the study of social class change, the
consistent experiences and mentalities. Grusky institutional theory of stratification of Esping-
and Sörensen found a return of ‘occupational Andersen (1999) is helpful, as it includes all
habitus’, as did Geiger in the 1930s. In the the complex interrelations of Weber’s levels.
1970s Bourdieu (1984) developed a com- Institutional regulations are here seen to
plete panorama of class fractions in France, follow different national ‘paths’ in the
confirming a significant correspondence social-democratic (Scandinavian), liberal
between occupation, life style and class (Anglo-Saxon) and conservative (Continental
habitus, reproduced by the mechanisms of European) and other welfare states. All these
distinction operating to reinforce inter- models are challenged by new develop-
generational continuity of class privilages ments, resulting from rising productivity
and chances (for the German case, see also and world market deregulation. The shift
Vester 2001). This parallels Goldthorpe’s towards services, re-skilling and new tech-
notion of the intergenerational ‘demographic nologies has not produced an expected
continuity’ of class, as privileges impede decline of inequality. Instead, it has pro-
meritocratic competition for life chances. duced decline in the middle ground, as ser-
Many theories have seen education as the vices now expand both into higher skilled
principal cultural mechanism sorting indi- technical-professional jobs and into low-
viduals into occupational and class contexts. skilled low-end services – with both seg-
But exactly how this happens is open to ments showing a substantial increase in
debate. For some authors, human capital female membership. Contemporary debates
replaces economic capital as the principal have centred on retarded economic
stratifying force today. But, for Bourdieu, growth, social inclusion and social exclu-
cultural capital only supports bourgeois sion, precariousness and unemployment as
privileges, insofar as it transmits economic, well as pressures on the well-qualified
cultural and social capital accumulated by for- middle groups. Findings confirm that con-
mer generations and relies on social selection cepts of social justice have not disappeared.
in the education system. Similarly, Hart- Although they no longer follow direct class
mann (2004) finds that, internationally, the lines, they crystallize around socio-political
self-recruitment of business elites has not ‘camps’ that are still oriented towards basic
changed. More open identities of the new welfare concepts – liberal, conservative and
fractions of the ‘bourgeois’ or ‘service class’ social-democratic (Lepsius 1993; Vester
have been found by Savage et al. (1992) who 2001).
distinguish public sector professionals, man-
agers and government bureaucrats in Britain.
References and further reading
In studying class reproduction, the concept
of closure, helps to identify the mechanisms Bendix, R. and Lipset, S. M. (eds) (1966) Class,
of juridical, institutional and cultural privile- Status and Power: Social Stratification in Com-
ging of life chances. This allows sociologists parative Perspective. New York: Free Press.
to focus on those fractions of the dominant Bourdieu, P. ([1979] 1984) Distinction: A Social
Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge,
class who do not directly reproduce by MA: Harvard University Press.
‘property’ (see property and property Crompton, R. (1993) Class and Stratification: An
rights), ‘exploitation’ or ‘domination’ and Introduction to Current Debates. Cambridge:
‘authority’ over employees, but instead rely Polity.
on institutional privilege – as with the Durkheim, E. ([1893/1902] 1933) The Division
of Labor in Society. New York: Macmillan.
nomenklatura in the former communist states Esping-Andersen, G. (1999) Social Foundations of
and the holders of professional credential Postindustrial Economies. Oxford: Oxford
advantages in capitalist societies. University Press.


Geiger, T. (1932) Die soziale Schichtung des deut- discipline had no need of them as it would
schen Volkes. Stuttgart: Enke. proceed scientifically, verifying or falsifying
Geiger, T. (1949) Die Klassengesellschaft im
Schmelztiegel. Cologne: Kiepenheuer. hypotheses (see positivism). The work of
Goldthorpe, J. (1980) Social Mobility and Class the founders would be of no greater value
Structure. Oxford: Clarendon Press. than of any other empirically testable mate-
Grusky, D. B. (ed.) (2001) Social Stratification: rial. However, sociology has not developed
Class, Race and Gender in Sociological Perspec- along positivist lines but has become pri-
tive. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Hartmann, M. (2004) Elitesoziologie. Frankfurt marily a discursive discipline, proceeding on
am Main: Campus. the basis of reasoned argument from evi-
Joyce, P. (ed.) (1995) Class. Oxford: Oxford dence, rather than prediction from causal
University Press. connections. This is because the sociologist
Lepsius, M. R. ([1966] 1993) ‘Parteiensystem is invariably faced with evidence that is
und Sozialstruktur’, in M. R. Lepsius,
Demokratie in Deutschland. Göttingen: Van-
both empirical and normative, so that fac-
denhoek & Ruprecht. tual description and interpretive evaluation
Savage, M., Barlow, J., Dickens, P. and Field- are bound up together. When sociologists
ing, T. (1992) Property, Bureaucracy and Cul- use concepts such as rationalization, com-
ture: Middle-Class Formation in Contemporary modity fetishism or patriarchy, they
Britain. London: Routledge.
necessarily imply an evaluation of the material
Savage, M. (2000) Class Analysis and Social
Transformation. London: Sage. to which these concepts refer. Moreover,
Vester, M. (2001) ‘The Transformation of Social such terms entail reference to the states of
Classes: From ‘‘Deproletarianization’’ to mind of the actors and sociologists involved
‘‘Individualization’’?’, in G. Van Gyes and H. and thereby to the discursively contestable
de Witte (eds) Can Class Still Unite? Alder-
nature of these ideas in everyday life.
shot: Ashgate, pp. 37–78.
Weber, M. ([1922] 1968) Economy and Society. More recently, the challenge to classic
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. texts has come from a post-positivist, social
constructionist quarter (see social con-
structionism). On the basis that classic
texts, no less than other artifacts, are a pro-
duct of the ideological conditions from
which they emerged, they deserve no spe-
Classics are those earlier texts or authors cial respect. To assume they are beyond the
that have gained exemplary status within effects of history is to bestow on them a
contemporary sociology. Collectively, the quasi-sacred status akin to that attributed to
works of Weber, Marx and Durkheim, texts in a religious canon. Connell (1997)
sometimes along with those of Simmel, argues that the work of the European
Mead and Parsons, form a canon of classics founders of sociology, written between
through which sociology understands itself. 1840 and 1920, reveals elements of ideol-
The concepts developed by these authors ogy in its distinctions between pre-modern
provide verbal shorthand for communicat- and modern societies, tacitly valorizing the
ing and developing ideas, while also serving latter and naı̈vely celebrating colonial Eur-
to integrate an often bewilderingly varied ope’s own sense of progress.
discipline. However, beyond this function The drive to debunk the authority of
they have a privileged position because cur- classics has also, sometimes contradictorily,
rent sociologists often find in them insights been accompanied by a desire to extend the
that illuminate present situations. canon. If it is restricted to the work of a few
Interest in recent years has focused on the dead white European males, its intellectual
justification for having classics. Sociology’s possibilities are limited, as is its relevance to
early positivist aspirations suggested the a contemporary audience. The role of

institutional life in the creation of classics has Baehr, P. (2002) Founders, Classics, Canons.
been considerable. The influence of Parsons’s London: Transatlantic.
Campbell, C. (1989) The Romantic Ethic and the
work and his preference for Durkheim and Spirit of Consumerism. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Weber over Simmel and Marx shaped how Connell, R. (1997) ‘Why Is Classical Theory
the discipline was conceived during the Classical?’, American Journal of Sociology, 102:
1950s and the 1960s. More recently and in 1511–57.
opposition to this exclusionary impulse, Deegan, M. J. (2003) ‘Textbooks, the History of
Sociology and the Sociological Stock of
Parker (1997) argues for a more multi- Knowledge’, Sociological Theory 21: 298–305.
cultural canon that would include W. E. Gadamer, H. G. (1989) Truth and Method. London:
B. Du Bois, while Deegan (2003) has made Sheed and Ward.
a case for the importance of nineteenth- Guillory, J. (1993) Cultural Capital. Chicago:
century feminist, Harriet Martineau. University of Chicago Press.
How, A. (1998) ‘That’s Classic! A Gadamerian
There is, however, a distinction to be Defence of the Classic Text in Sociology’,
made between the role of historical and Sociological Review, 46: 828–48.
institutional life in the creation of a canon Parker, D. (1997) ‘Viewpoint: Why Bother with
and the nature of ‘classic-ness’ itself. The Durkheim?’, Sociological Review, 45: 122–46.
usual criticism levelled against advocates of ALAN HOW
the classic is that they mistakenly believe its
greatness is inherent and thus wrongly
think its insights are supra-historical. How-
ever, in Truth and Method (1989), Gadamer
argues that it is precisely the ability of a Classification refers to the sorting of
classic text to resist efforts at explaining it objects, people, events, emotions, actions
solely in terms of context that draws us and tasks into categories based on their
back to it again and again. The reason that perceived similarities and differences. Humans
classic texts persist is because the claims have a strong propensity to classify, as classify-
they make on us continue to reverberate in ing promises to bring order in social life and
the present. He is not arguing that classic reduce social complexity. Social theorists
texts are ‘above’ history, but that their have at the same time asserted that the
eminence springs from history; it is history resulting classifications are themselves roo-
that allows us to see ourselves more clearly ted in the social and moral order of society.
in the classic. The apparent timelessness of a To borrow a phrase of Pierre Bourdieu, this
classic text is, as he puts it, ‘its mode of premise implies that classifying ‘classifies the
historical being’. It appears timeless only classifier’ (Bourdieu 1984: 6). Students of
because history permits us to see its con- classification have set out to map the rela-
temporary significance. History, in Gadamer’s tionship between social organization, sym-
account, is not a linear sequence of events bolic representations and conceptual systems.
but an ongoing fusion of the horizons of Their theories have focused on exploring
past and present. The classic text shines out classification as the symbolic inscription of
because it renders that relationship clear, social relations, on the construction of
allowing us to see how much we continue boundaries between classificatory categories,
to share with the past. the cognitive aspects of classification, and
the analysis of large-scale classification systems.
The origins of research on classification
References and further reading
can be traced back to the work of Emile
Alexander, J. (1987) ‘On the Centrality of the Durkheim, who in his seminal writing, The
Classics’, in A. Giddens and S. Turner (eds), Elementary Forms of Religious Life and Primi-
Social Theory Today. Cambridge: Polity. tive Classification (with Marcel Mauss),

expounded the idea that classification is approach investigates various properties of

socially determined. Anthropologists such classificatory boundaries such as their sal-
as Mary Douglas, Claude Lévi-Strauss and ience, permeability, or degree of natur-
the sociolinguist Basil Bernstein built on alization.
Durkheim’s initial insights to expand the The study of large-scale classification
analysis of the structured and categorical systems, made up of interrelated sets of
nature of social reality. They argued that categories exemplified by the census, racial,
classification generally proceeds through disease, and occupational classifications, has
the construction of binary oppositions, revolved around three themes: the politics
such as sacred and profane, purity and of classification, the communicative func-
impurity, good and evil, light and dark, tion of classification, and the discrepancies
home and work, that correspond to under- between official and everyday classification
lying social distinctions. schemes. Classification schemes appear to
A growing body of literature has placed have a putatively functional or scientific
the definition and construction of bound- quality, despite being socially and politically
aries between classificatory categories, that constructed (Foucault [1966] 1994). The
is ‘boundary work’, at the centre of socio- state and dominant social actors have the
logical analysis (see Lamont and Molnár power to construct and impose categories
2002, for a review of this literature). These on other social groups, thereby shaping,
studies have moved beyond the rigid reinforcing, and even obscuring social
structuralism of Durkheim and his fol- hierarchies (Bourdieu 1984). In fact, sys-
lowers that assumed a perfect homology tems of classification, including the very
between social structure and classification logics of such systems, constitute an
schemes; they have shown that the corre- important stake in power struggles between
spondence results from more contingent, social groups. While acknowledging that
contentious and complex social and sym- classification always reflects ethical and
bolic processes. They have pointed out that political choices and institutionalizes dif-
classification systems not only mirror social ference, others stress that classification sys-
relations but also are instrumental in con- tems are important interfaces enabling
stituting them. This approach has also communication across communities (Bow-
emphasized that the study of classification is ker and Star 2000). They constitute an
central to understanding a broad range of important communication infrastructure
social phenomena in modern societies, that helps to develop and maintain coherence
from identification processes (Jenkins 1997) across social worlds; for instance, through
and knowledge production (Gieryn 1999) standardization. Finally, researchers point to
to the symbolic reproduction of social the incongruity between official classifica-
inequalities (Bourdieu 1984; Lamont 2000) tions and ‘folk taxonomies’ (D’Andrade
(see inequality). 1995). They argue that ordinary people
Another strand of research has examined have room to manoeuvre in using highly
classification from a cognitive perspective. institutionalized categories. They can
It argues that the cognitive processes that deploy these categories strategically and
underlie the emergence of classificatory infuse them with informal meanings. They
categories are themselves neither simply may also develop alternative classification
personal nor ‘logical’, but intersubjective schemes that can be mobilized to subvert
(Zerubavel 1991). Though classification official categories.
may be a human universal, the nature of the The diverse theoretical traditions
constructed categories varies significantly reviewed here betray the profoundly dia-
across groups and locales. In addition, this lectical nature of classification: classificatory

categories are the product of social rela- century developments in cognitive science
tions, historical, cultural and structural have social scientists embraced it. Previously,
constraints, but simultaneously, people use realism, empiricism, positivism and beha-
them to construct society, to make and viourism provided bases for opposition
remake, to reinforce but also to contest against cognitivism, as they partially still do.
prevailing social realities. In sociology, leading theorists such as Peter
Berger, Harold Garfinkel, Erving Goff-
man, Alain Touraine, Jürgen Habermas,
References and further reading
Pierre Bourdieu, Niklas Luhmann and
Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique Anthony Giddens cleared the way for the
of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: approach, which is most strongly associated
Harvard University Press.
Bowker, G. C. and Star, S. L. (2000) Sorting
with the work of Aaron Cicourel (1973),
Things Out: Classification and Its Consequences. Ron Eyerman and Andrew Jamison (1991),
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. and Eviatar Zerubavel (1997).
D’Andrade, R. G. (1995) The Development of Kant’s writings on ‘schematism’ founded
Cognitive Anthropology. Cambridge: Cam- a tradition that has provided a basis for
bridge University Press.
developments in epistemology, psychol-
Foucault, M. ([1966] 1994) The Order of Things.
New York: Vintage Books. ogy, neuroscience and linguistics, making
Gieryn, T. F. (1999) Cultural Boundaries of possible the so-called ‘cognitive revolution’
Science: Credibility on the Line. Chicago: Uni- of the 1950s. Until the 1980s, the cognitive
versity of Chicago Press. sciences matured on the basis of the infor-
Jenkins, R. (1997) Rethinking Ethnicity. London: mation processing model which took cog-
Lamont, M. (2000) The Dignity of Working Men: nition as analogous to the computer.
Morality and the Boundaries of Race, Class, and However, following criticisms, an alter-
Immigration. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Uni- native connectionist model of parallel dis-
versity Press. tributed processing gained currency. This
Lamont, M. and Molnár, V. (2002) ‘The Study broadening of cognitive science in the early
of Boundaries in the Social Sciences’, Annual
Review of Sociology, 28: 167–95. 1980s was followed by a further step
Zerubavel, E. (1991) The Fine Line: Making towards the environment of cognition,
Distinctions in Everyday Life. New York: Free resulting in cognition being regarded as
Press. embodied activity situated in real-world
contexts. Here anthropology and sociology
began to exert a remarkable impact on
cognitive science theory and methodology.
A link was also established with dynamical
COGNITIVISM theory, so that cognition became understood
Cognitivism is the concern with processes as a complex process of dynamic interaction
of knowing, their structuring and outcomes, within a situation among different cogni-
including the production, organization and tive systems borne by individuals and
use of knowledge. While traditionally groups in mutual communication. In relat-
understood as involving mental phenomena ing to objects and tools, such individuals
and thus associated with philosophy and and groups are seen as drawing different
psychology, this area is also a serious social cognitive orders or models of reality from
scientific concern. Here it is dealt with as the available cultural repertoire and as the-
linking the individual, institutional and cul- matizing them through different media, thus
tural levels. The modern cognitive lineage contributing to the constant transformation
is traceable to Kantian philosophy, but of the relational complex to which they
only since the culmination of twentieth- belong.

Well before cognitive science emerged in scientific and cultural knowledge and asso-
reaction to behaviourism, the early impulses ciated cognitive and communicative pro-
signalled by Kant, Hegel, Peirce and their cesses. Meanwhile, schema theory made
followers were incorporated into different strides in cognitive science, with Goffman
strands of social theory which both anticipated and Touraine introducing the equivalent
and supported the new departure. Karl concepts of ‘frame’ (see framing) and ‘cul-
Mannheim significantly introduced the tural model’, yet the analysis of cognitive
sociology of knowledge, while the cogni- processes in these terms at group and
tive dimension was clearly present in early sociocultural levels had to await the third
critical theory. It was more explicitly treated, phase in the late 1980s. Here a cognitivist
however, by Alfred Schutz and George concept of culture, replacing the traditional
Herbert Mead through their phenomen- unitary one, advanced the analysis of the
ological and pragmatist concerns with cul- structuration of such processes. Yet differ-
turally structured social knowledge, action- ences remain among the respective currents
oriented cognition, socio-cognitive processes founded by William Gamson and Haber-
and expectation structures. Phenomenol- mas, as well as American repertoire theory
ogy, social constructionism, symbolic and French pragmatic sociology. Simulta-
interactionism, and ethnomethodology a neously, the shift in cognitive science from
became established in the 1960s against the ‘computationalism’ to ‘connectionism’ made
background of the critique and decline of available the concept of ‘network’ for the
positivism and functionalism, and coin- analysis of higher-order collective agents
cided with an increasing interest in the and cognitive systems. Since the late 1990s,
cognitive revolution in the context of the the focus has been on how cultural schemas
growing importance of communication. It dynamically relate to action, social struc-
was at this time that cognitive sociology ture, physical objects and external forms in
gained a distinct profile. This occurred social processes.
most explicitly in the work of Cicourel
(1973) and Helga Nowotny (1973). In
References and further reading
1981, Knorr-Cetina and Cicourel could
speak of a ‘cognitive turn’ in sociology. Cicourel, A. V. (1973) Cognitive Sociology. New
While the cognitive concern resonates York: Free Press.
DiMaggio, P. (1997) ‘Culture and Cognition’,
strongest with interpretative and critical Annual Review of Sociology, 23: 263–87.
traditions, there are both some inter- Eyerman, R. and Jamison, A. (1991) Social
pretative social scientists who reject it as a Movements: A Cognitive Approach. Cambridge:
reductive scientific enterprise, on the one Polity.
hand, and, on the other, strong naturalists Knorr-Cetina, K. and Cicourel, A. V. (eds)
(1981) Advances in Social Theory and Metho-
(Turner 2002) who seek to base social the- dology. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
ory on neural processes. Nowotny, H. (1973) ‘On the Feasibility of a
Thus far, cognitive sociology has passed Cognitive Approach to Science’, Zeitschrift
through four phases. Initially, it focused on für Soziologie, 2(3): 282–96.
the organization of experience and social Strydom, P. (2000) Discourse and Knowledge.
Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.
relations with a view to decomposing rei- Turner, S. P. (2002) Brains/Practices/Relativism:
fied or abstract concepts of social structure, Social Theory after Cognitive Science. Chicago:
culture, language and knowledge by University of Chicago Press.
appealing to cognitive processes and Zerubavel, E. (1997) Social Mindscapes: An Invi-
communication. Second, conversation tation to Cognitive Sociology. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press.
analysis and discourse analysis emerged,
concentrating in different ways on everyday, PIET STRYDOM

COL EMA N, JA MES S . (19 26– 1995 )

COLEMAN, JAMES S. (1926–1995) Lindenberg, S. (2000) ‘James Coleman’, in G.

Ritzer (ed.) Blackwell Companion to Major
US theorist Social Theorists. Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Coleman was a student of Merton, Lipset, Marsden, P. U. (2005) ‘The Sociology of James
and Paul Lazarsfeld. His main fields of Coleman’, Annual Review of Sociology, 31:
substantive social research have covered Sorensen, A. and Spilerman, S. (eds) (1993)
education, the family and household, Social Theory and Social Policy: Essays in Honor
stratification, mass communication, poli- of James S. Coleman. Westport, CT: Praeger.
tical sociology, and organizations. His
pioneering contribution to the develop-
ment of mathematical sociology aims to
provide tools to generate theoretical insights COLLECTIVISM
based on a rigorous form of methodological
Collectivism is a doctrine stressing the sig-
individualism (see methods and methodol-
nificance of macro-level concepts thus giv-
ogy). The derivation of policy implications
ing priority to groups, institutions, and
from theory and empirical research is a
structures, rather than to the individual or
characteristic feature of his work. Coleman’s
individual dispositions and conduct (see
research strategy attempts a synthesis of
micro-, meso- and macro-levels). It
Durkheim’s programme of studying social
appears in different forms: (1) an ontological
structures and Weber’s programme of study-
version, for which reality consists essentially
ing macro-level social outcomes of indivi-
of collective social phenomena; and (2) a
dual action. Coleman thus focuses on macro-
methodological version accepting that col-
micro-macro transitions, using rational
lective phenomena possess authority over
choice assumptions as a micro-theory of
the individual but denying that such phe-
action (see micro-, meso- and macro-
nomena preclude the importance of the
levels). Coleman shaped an approach to
individual. Early social thinkers such as
sociology that aims at the systematic inte-
Vico and Montesquieu defended forms of
gration of theory, empirical research, and
collectivism, while idealist philosophers
statistical methods. In his work, theory is
such as Hegel stimulated its subsequent
regarded not as a system of concepts with-
development. Collectivism is typically asso-
out empirical content but as an empirically
ciated with authors such as Comte, Marx,
informed system of propositions implying
Durkheim, and Lukács. O’Neill (1973)
testable hypotheses and statistical models.
documents the vehement opposition of
Major works ‘methodological individualism’ against col-
lectivism, particularly as represented by
(1961) The Adolescent Society. New York: Free Hayek, Popper and Watkins, inspired by
(1964) Introduction to Mathematical Sociology. New Max Weber. In the late twentieth and early
York: Free Press. twenty-first centuries, Jon Elster, James
(1966) Equality of Educational Opportunity. Coleman, Colin Campbell and Stephen
Washington, DC: Government Printing Turner have continued this criticism in
Office. some form or another (see individualism
(1982) (with T. Hoffer and S. Kilgore) High
School Achievement. New York: Basic Books. and individualization). Older attempts to
(1990) Foundations of Social Theory. Cambridge, resolve the issue of the relation between
MA: Belknap. collectivism and individualism by over-
coming the limitations of both, for example,
Further reading the attempts of Simmel and Cooley, have
Clark, J. (ed.) (1996) James S. Coleman. London: been followed by new proposals such as
Falmer. ‘relational sociology’ (Bhaskar 1979),

‘structuration theory’ (Giddens 1984) and which makes social relations mysterious, like
‘methodological situationalism’ (e.g. the religious fantasy worlds of primitive peo-
Knorr-Cetina 1988). ple who accord magical powers to things.
From the value form of the commodity
Marx further deduced the form of money
References and further reading
and capital forms. By showing that the
Bhaskar, R. (1979) The Possibility of Naturalism. wage labourer sells not his labour per se but
London: Harvester. more precisely his labour power, Marx
Domingues, J. M. (1995) Sociological Theory and
Collective Subjectivity. London: Macmillan. revealed the source of surplus value and the
Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society. secret of capitalist exploitation. As a result
Cambridge: Polity. of the inner dynamics of capital accumula-
Knorr-Cetina, K. (1988) ‘The Micro-Social tion, capitalist relations gradually expand
Order: A Reconsideration’, in N. G. Field- and take over new fields and areas of pro-
ing (ed.) Actions and Structure. London: Sage.
O’Neill, J. (ed.) (1973) Modes of Individualism and duction, trade and service, thus leading to
Collectivism. London: Heinemann. increasing commodification and reification
of social relations.
Today, economic theorists have reserva-
tions about Marx’s analysis of the inner
contradictions and dynamics of capitalism,
but many cultural theorists and critics still
See: post-colonial theory appeal to his ideas of commodification and
reification in relation to late modern or
postmodern culture. These interpretations
COMMODITY AND COMMODIFICATION begin from Lukács’s seminal work History
The idea that commodities and commodi- and Class Consciousness ([1923] 1971) which
fication are important to our understanding combines Weber’s theory of rationalization
of modern society originates in Marx’s with Marx’s idea of reification. Lukács’s
conception of the capitalist mode of pro- thinking had a strong influence on the cri-
duction. His Capital ([1867] 1959) begins tical theory of the Frankfurt School both
with an analysis of the social form of com- in their more specific analyses of the impact
modity (see capitalism). The products of of capitalist mass production on works of
labour take on this specific form whenever art and aesthetics and, more generally, in
they are produced for exchange, meaning their interpretations of capitalist modernity
that labour ceases to be social in itself and and modernization as one-dimensional
henceforth is only social when mediated processes, and as a betrayal of real human
through exchange. Labour’s products no reason (see mass culture and mass
longer have any use value to their produ- society).
cers, but henceforth only to the anonymous Haug’s ([1973] 1986) analysis of com-
representatives of the market. Therefore, modity aesthetics and advertising was a
in a capitalist economy, social riches appear systematic effort to develop the basic ideas
as a huge collection of commodities. The of Marx’s theory of commodity exchange.
commodity is the key to the understanding As Haug argued, one result of the basic
of the entire capitalist society in which distinction between the use value and
social relations between human beings take exchange value is the development of a
the form of relations between things, or are third form of value in late capitalism, the
reified (see reification). To emphasize the illusory value of consumer appeal which
strangeness of this state of affairs Marx founds the entire realm of marketing and
speaks of the fetish character of commodities advertising, based on the creation of cultural

signs and symbols (see consumption). Bau- social theory has two leading contemporary
drillard’s ([1972] 1981) argument here was exponents: Jürgen Habermas and Niklas
that Marx’s critique of commodity pro- Luhmann. In addition, it is possible to
duction was based on a nineteenth century speak of a distinct kind of postmodernist
idea of universal objective human needs attitude to communication, reflecting ideas
which failed to grasp adequately the role of in the deconstructive and anti-consensualist
signs and symbols in the construction of thinking of French theorists such as Der-
consumer desires. rida and Jean-François Lyotard (1988). A
Examples of cultural analyses today multitude of more concrete analyses of
employing the concept of commodification communication appears in contemporary
are Zukin’s (1995) studies of the impor- theories of the media and mass media.
tance of cultural symbols in city landscapes, These in turn adopt and adapt strands of
Ritzer’s (1996) thesis of McDonaldization, thought in philosophies of language, in
and Kellner’s (2003) analyses of media and theories of linguistic pragmatics (see also
commodity spectacles, as well as Bauman’s pragmatism), semantics and semiotics,
(2000) reflections on the effects of modern discourse analysis, conversation analysis, social
consumption on postmodern identities. psychology, ethnomethodology, socio-lin-
Similarly, Jameson’s (1991) diagnosis of guistics, theories of the nature of meaning
the fragmented nature of postmodernism and symbols, and ancient ideas about
has its roots in his understanding of the role rhetoric and oratory since Plato, Aristotle
of commodity relations in late capitalism. and Cicero.
Habermas’s major theoretical project of
the 1970s and the 1980s, published as The
References and further reading
Theory of Communicative Action (1984, 1987),
Baudrillard, J. ([1972] 1981) For a Political Econ- elaborates ideas about language, socialization,
omy of a Sign. St. Louis, MO: Telos. rationality and rationalization, morality
Bauman, Z. (2000) Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: and cognitive development in the writings
Haug, W. F. ([1973] 1986) Critique of Commodity of G. H. Mead, Durkheim, Chomsky,
Aesthetics. Cambridge: Polity. Piaget, Lawrence Kohlberg and Anglo-
Jameson, F. (1991) Postmodernism, or the Cultural American analytical philosophy. Haber-
Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso. mas’s key starting-point is J. L. Austin’s and
Kellner, D. (2003) Media Spectacle. London: John Searle’s theory of ‘speech-acts’, build-
Lukács, G. ([1923] 1971) History and Class Con- ing on the later Wittgenstein’s under-
sciousness: Studies in Marxist Dialectics. Lon- standing of linguistic meaning in terms of
don: Merlin. practical use. According to Austin (1962)
Marx, K. ([1867] 1959) Capital: A Critique of and Searle (1969), speech is active or per-
Political Economy. Moscow: Progress Publish- formative in the sense that it consists not
Ritzer, G. (1996) The McDonaldization of Society.
only of propositional contents that purport
London: Sage. to describe states of affairs in the world but
Zukin, S. (1995) The Cultures of Cities. Oxford: also of a variety of pragmatic moments
Blackwell. which have no semantic valency (and
hence no ‘truth conditions’) but which
nevertheless imply definite conditions of
correct or ‘successful’ usage. Austin
observed that the utterance ‘I promise to
COMMUNICATION pay you ten dollars tomorrow’ is ‘felicitous’
The concept of communication as a term (even if the speaker in fact defaults on the
of generalized thematic importance in promise) in a way that the utterance ‘I

promise you that it will rain tomorrow’ moment of social life, seeing only a tragic
cannot be (unless, say, we imagine that the ‘dialectic of enlightenment’ in which a
speaker is God). Habermas interprets this highly emasculated order of instrumental
and other similar observations as demon- reason carried by capitalism and technoc-
strating that speech and language carry certain racy comes to objectify or reify the tissues
rational rules of adequate and appropriate of sociality.
construction. The ‘communicative compe- In a very different direction, Niklas
tence’ that every speaker of language begins Luhmann (1995) sees the concept of
to acquire from the earliest days of child- communication as pertaining not only to
hood consists of abilities to generate well- intentional, linguistically mediated interac-
formed syntactic structures (as in Choms- tion between individuals but also, and
ky’s ‘linguistic competence’) capable of eli- especially, to relationships between abstract
citing assent or dissent from an interlocutor. social systems. Luhmann contends that
Even radical disagreements between speak- meaning in Edmund Husserl’s phenomen-
ers presuppose bedrock norms of discursive ological sense of noetic acts of conscious-
intersubjectivity, in the absence of which ness is best thought of simply in terms of
the speakers would not even be able to properties of relations of differentiation
recognize themselves as disagreeing with and integration between two or more
each other. Habermas sees this structure of social systems and their functionally sub-
rational mutual expectation between servient ‘sub-systems’ – whether these are
speakers as revealing a basic resource of personality systems (individuals) or complex
communicative rationality in the everyday economic systems (markets), eco-systems,
lifeworld of ordinary people which can and political systems (states, polities and their
should be drawn upon in the forging of laws), or cultural systems (e.g. religious
open, inclusive, uncoerced and unmanipu- belief systems, education systems). Systems
lated consensuses in the decision-making communicate with one another in a
processes of civil society and the public cybernetic sense by transmitting informa-
sphere. Speakers are normatively moti- tion to one another in a binary code of
vated to give reasons or arguments for the ‘yes’/‘no’ reactions. For example, an over-
validity-claims they routinely attach to heating economy ‘communicates’ with the
their utterances – whether these be theoretical state or the political system insofar as it
truth-claims (typical of scientific communi- sends a signal to the finance minister or the
cation) or practical rightness-claims (typical head of the national bank to raise interest
of moral communication) or expressive rates. Following Parsons, Luhmann here
authenticity claims (typical of aesthetic sees money and power as belonging among
communication) (see also Brandom 1994). the foremost ‘communication media’ of
Communication, for Habermas, demon- social systems. In Luhmann’s work, the
strates that social actors are necessarily concept of communication is deployed in
‘interested in reason’ (a phrase he adopts from an essentially functionalist sense, very dif-
Kant’s moral and political philosophy) and ferent from the strongly normative use of
are therefore necessarily predisposed to the term advocated by Habermas.
Enlightenment and to emancipatory social Postmodernist ideas about communi-
projects that strive to remove domination, cation typically begin from Jacques Derri-
violence and ideology from the spaces of da’s interventions in speech-act theory.
public and private life. Habermas also Crucial for Derrida (1978) is the insight
argues that the earlier members of the (emphasized by Wittgenstein) that language
Frankfurt School failed sufficiently to is misconceived when it is thought of
appreciate this specifically dialogical merely as an instrument for the transmission

of mental contents from one speaker to COMMUNISM

another (as in John Locke’s seventeenth- The term communism refers to an egalitarian
century ‘representationalist’ theory of lan- society built on voluntary association and
guage). Insofar as language is a medium and on the basis of communally held rather than
not simply a means of communication, any private property (see property and property
utterance is liable to signify something dif- rights). The idea implies that goods should
ferent from what a speaker may intend it to be distributed to people according to their
signify. Even when a speech-act is well need, not according to class position or the
formed, or ‘felicitous’ in Austin’s sense, it blind forces of the market. In so-called
may always fail to elicit an expected type of state communism, the ideal of communal
response from the hearer. Therefore property was supposedly realized in the
communication qua transmission of inten- form of public ownership of the means of
tional contents is never guaranteed: production and central state planning.
communication is always susceptible to While ill-fated state communism came into
ambiguity, instability or excess or chronic existence in the twentieth century, the term
deferral of sense, exemplified by irony or communism as such has a strong utopian
sarcasm and or by many other kinds of underpinning (see utopia). For the early
quotational ‘iteration’. Derrida here writes Marx, following in the footsteps of both
famously of différance or difference. Similar Hegelian philosophy and early socialism,
ways of thinking appear in Jean-François communism describes a society in which
Lyotard’s (1988) reflections on failures of man’s subjection to the system of the division
communication across ‘language-games’, as of labour and man’s alienation from his
well as in Michel Foucault’s reflections on natural ‘essence’ will eventually be trans-
regimes of discursive power in definite cended. This implies the ideal of a harmonious
social and historical worlds. community in which not only poverty but
all forms of disharmony, such as crime,
conflict, inequality, and nationalism, will
References and further reading be eradicated. In particular, it implies the
‘withering away’ of the state, which is seen
Austin, J. L. (1962) How to Do Things with as guaranteeing private property and class rule
Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brandom, R. (1994) Making It Explicit: Reason-
(see state and nation–state).
ing, Representing and Discursive Commitment. Marx and Engels used ‘communist’ as a
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. term of self-designation after 1845, most
Derrida, J. (1978) ‘Structure, Sign and Play in famously in their Communist Manifesto written
the Discourse of the Human Sciences’, in for the League of Communists in 1848. Yet
Writing and Difference. London: Routledge.
the term was not coined by them. In cir-
Habermas, J. (1984) The Theory of Communicative
Action, vol. I: Reason and the Rationalization of culation since the beginning of the 1840s, it
Society. Cambridge: Polity Press. was ascribed to the programmes of François
Habermas, J. (1987) The Theory of Communicative Noël Babeuf (1760–97) and Étienne Cabet
Action, vol. II: Lifeworld and System. Cam- (1788–1856), who both advocated the col-
bridge: Polity Press. lectivization of property. In his novel Voyage
Luhmann, N. (1995) Social Systems. Stanford,
CA: Stanford University Press. en Icarie (1840), Cabet outlined the life and
Lyotard, J.-F. (1988) The Differend: Phrases in institutions of an industrialized communist
Dispute. Minneapolis, MN: University of utopia, an idea that won a large number of
Minnesota Press. followers, some of whom tried to establish
Searle, J. (1969) Speech Acts. Cambridge: Cam- ‘Icarien’ model communities in the United
bridge University Press.
States. While Cabet argued for a peaceful
AUSTIN HARRINGTON transition to communism, Babeuf’s politics

directly connected to the Jacobin tradition an ironic way Engels’s utopian ideal of a
of the French Revolution, instigating a society in which rule over men was replaced
revolutionary rather than what later would by the ‘administration of things’ (an expression
be called a ‘reformist’ tradition. Although borrowed from the utopian socialist Saint-
his own ‘conspiracy of equals’ failed, his Simon), only that the latter turned out to
method of conspirational insurrection was be just another form of rule over men.
kept alive by other communists, most pro- In the years after World War II, western
minently Louis-Auguste Blanqui (1805– European communist parties turned
81), the arch-revolutionary of nineteenth- towards so-called ‘Eurocommunism’, a
century France who, next to Marx, was term associated with the leader of the Ita-
one of the main early propagators of the lian Communist Party Palmiro Togliatti
idea of the proletariat as the subject of (1893–1964) who drew significantly on the
social transformation. political and intellectual heritage of
While the question concerning the exact Gramsci. Communism was now defined as
nature of the passage from capitalism to a nationally specific and, in Togliatti’s
communism became decisive in later words, ‘polycentric’ project (rather than a
debates between ‘revolutionaries’ and project oriented towards the Soviet
‘reformists’, in the nineteenth century, the Union). From the 1950s onwards, Western
terms socialism and communism were most communist parties came to accept liberal
often used interchangeably. Marx himself institutions and the parliamentary system
introduced a difference when referring to and entered political alliances with other
communism as the realm of man’s freedom, democratic parties – with sometimes sig-
and to socialism as the name for the transi- nificant electoral success. Yet the dissolu-
tional period leading to communism. tion of the Soviet Union and the
Nonetheless, the differentiation became subsequent world-wide hegemony of the
politically relevant only in the aftermath of Western liberal model of democracy seem
World War I when revolutionary-oriented to have signalled, for the time being, the
communist parties were established in end of communism as a political or intel-
opposition to the more reformist socialist lectual force to be reckoned with.
parties. This differentiation was prefigured
in a split in Russian social democracy in
References and further reading
1903 between Bolsheviks and Mensheviks,
as the former, led by Lenin, argued for the Cabet, E. ([1840] 2003) Travels in Icaria. New
model of an avant-garde party of profes- York: Syracuse University Press.
sional revolutionaries, while the latter Cole, G. D. H. (1953–60) A History of Socialist
opted for the open model of a mass party. Thought, 5 vols. London: Macmillan.
Johnson, C. H. (1974) Utopian Communism in
After the October Revolution of 1917 and France: Cabet and the Icariens, 1839–1851.
the subsequent establishment of a ‘com- Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
munist’ Soviet state, the passage towards Lichtheim, C. (1961) Marxism. London: Rou-
communism came to be conceived along tledge & Kegan Paul.
the lines of the Marxian model of a transi- Pierson, C. (ed.) (1996) The Marx Reader.
Oxford: Polity.
tional yet necessary ‘dictatorship of the
proletariat’, a concept originally coined by OLIVER MARCHART
Blanqui. However, rather than approaching
the ideal of a classless society, state com-
munism brought about the emergence of COMMUNITARIANISM
state bureaucracy as the new ruling class. Communitarianism as a current of moral,
In this sense, state communism realized in social and political thought emerged in the

early 1980s as a critical reaction to John values and traditions of a particular com-
Rawls’s A Theory of Justice ([1971] 1999). It munity, not in abstract principles (Walzer).
is associated with the work of Alasdair The related methodological claim of holism
MacIntyre (1981), Michael Walzer (1983), or collectivism is that communities and
Michael Sandel (1982) and Charles Taylor other collective social entities are not
(1995), although there are some important reducible to individual actors.
differences between these authors. Inspired Third, normatively, communitarianism
by Aristotle, Rousseau and Hegel, these stresses the intrinsic value of community
authors’ philosophical writings should also and of communal commitments, obligations
be distinguished from the political move- and allegiances that come with membership
ment promoted by Amitai Etzioni and and are not individually chosen. This eva-
journals like The Responsive Community, luative background supports a critique of
which found some sociological support in the disintegrating and delegitimizing effects
the research conducted by Robert Bellah of liberal individualism, which is seen as
and others. eroding the moral resources on which
The different theories referred to as modern societies are depending. Alienation
‘communitarian’ share at least one assump- and the erosion of values and social bonds
tion: that contrary to the liberal understanding are often seen by communitarians as social
of society as a voluntary association of pathologies that result from the premium
individuals, community is the central refer- placed on individual freedom and rights in
ence point for any viable political, moral Western societies. From this diagnosis they
and social theory. This claim has implica- infer that social integration is dependent on
tions on several levels. shared emotions, beliefs, ideals, values and
First, ontologically, communitarians argue histories. Setting contextualism and parti-
against the ‘atomism’ and individualism of cularism against universal norms and pro-
liberal theory and its underlying conception cedures means that principles of justice can
of the person. They stress the social nature only be justified with reference to particular
of individuals and their identities. The historical communities and their specific
‘unencumbered self ’ (Sandel) which precedes self-understandings which are embodied in
its social roles and values presupposed by institutions and practices as a distinct ‘way
liberal theory does not exist. of life’.
Second, methodologically, commu- Liberalism tends to emphasize individual
nitarianism stresses the importance of historical rationality, freedom of choice and auton-
and social contexts in explanation and jus- omy and sees the protection and enforce-
tification. This contextualism leads to a ment of individual rights as the primary aim
critique of the liberal claim to neutrality of the state, while relegating questions of
and universality which communitarians the good life to the private domain for fear
regard as concealing a deep individualist of paternalism. Communitarianism, on the
bias. Differences in culturally mediated other hand, understands the individual as a
interpretive schemes preclude the possibility socially embedded agent, whose values are
of neutrally justified and universally valid not purely private not merely matters of
norms, in the sense of Kantian universalistic individual taste or preference – but shaped
concepts of political thought. The content by the community. Accordingly, the primary
of norms is indissolubly linked to their aim of the state should be the promotion of
particular and local contexts. This affects the common good and a shared identity, a
the possibility of social criticism: to be particular and substantive vision of how a
politically effective, normative content has community wants to live. The emphasis has
to be internally rooted in the concrete shifted from rights, justice and procedures

to duties, responsibilities and a vision of the Kymlicka, W. (2001) Contemporary Political Phi-
good which is guiding individual and col- losophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
MacIntyre, A. ([1981] 1985) After Virtue. Lon-
lective choice. Communitarianism takes up don: Duckworth.
the older republican ideal of positive free- Mulhall, S. and Swift, A. (1992) Liberals and
dom and civil society, according to which Communitarians. Oxford: Blackwell.
the participation of citizens in the political Rawls, J. ([1971] 1999) A Theory of Justice.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
life of the community is a good in itself. It
Sandel, M. (1982) Liberalism and the Limits of
should be clear that one can hold a com- Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University
munitarian position on one of these levels Press.
without necessarily being committed to any Taylor, C. (1995) Philosophical Arguments. Cam-
of the others. bridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Walzer, M. (1983) Spheres of Justice. New York:
Liberal counter-critiques of commu- Basic Books.
nitarianism have primarily attacked the
validity of the communitarian conception ROBIN CELIKATES
of ‘community’. They have argued that the
boundaries of the ‘We’ invoked by com-
munitarians are essentially contestable. The
limits and the character of most commu- Community, which derives from the Latin
nities are not easily defined. The ideal of word com (meaning ‘with’ or ‘together’)
Gemeinschaft (as opposed to Gesellschaft) is and unus (the number one), is a widely used
no longer a viable option for modern term, but is also a contested one. It features
complex and heterogeneous societies under in sociological, anthropological and philo-
conditions of cultural and religious plural- sophical works, often with quite different
ism. In emphasizing the importance of meanings. The idea of community has
belonging and recognition, the reaction of witnessed a revival in recent years, with
communitarians to multiculturalism tends several new books bearing the title ‘com-
to vacillate between a certain acceptance of munity’. Where the older literature on
difference and a longing for lost cultural community was predominantly within
homogeneity. Communitarians also have classical sociology, the recent revival of
problems adopting a clear stance towards community has largely stemmed from
illiberal or authoritarian communities. They developments in other disciplines, such as
seem to be trapped in an inherently con- anthropology and philosophy. With this
servative and relativist position which pre- recent cultural turn in theories of com-
cludes the possibility of cross-cultural critique. munity comes a new emphasis on ‘imagined
Today there is less of a strict dividing line communities’ and ‘symbolic communities’.
between hard-boiled liberals and tradition- Ferdinand Tönnies’s Gemeinschaft und
alist communitarians. Considerable agree- Gesellschaft (1887) is the classic account of
ment now prevails between the two camps; community in sociological theory. In this
but key differences and disagreements still theory, community is based on face-to-face
remain. relations but is in decline and replaced by
individualism in a societal move that can be
characterized as one from status to con-
References and further reading tract, from the village to the city, from
tradition to modernity and moderniza-
Avineri, S. and De-Shalit, A. (eds) (1992) Com- tion. One of the main themes in mid-
munitarianism and Individualism. Oxford:
Oxford University Press. twentieth-century sociology concerned the
Forst, R. (2002) Contexts of Justice. Berkeley, survival of community under the conditions
CA: University of California Press. of industrialization and urbanism and

urbanization. Later sociological theories of and global community (see cosmopolitan-

community, such as those of the Chicago ism). With the Internet have come new
School, have generally focused on the small ideas of virtual or cyber-community. Post-
group, such as neighbourhoods or the small modernism has introduced the idea of
town. For sociologists, community usually community beyond unity. A postmodern
designates social interaction in local contexts. community is not based on a common ‘we’
Within sociology, especially British sociol- but on the desire for belonging and, more-
ogy, the subfield of community studies has over, such expressions of community are
made some important contributions to the not based on secure reference points.
study of community in terms of notions Typically a postmodern community refers
such as community regeneration and com- to life-style communities, to sects, New
munity health. Most sociologists no longer Age communities and various kinds of
accept Tönnies’s characterization of com- alternative communities.
munity as a settled world of tradition. Some of the main debates in social theory
Community can be the basis of political today on community concern three issues.
action and can be enabled rather than eroded The first is the relationship of community
by individualism and individualization. to tradition and modernity. In this context
Anthropological approaches stress the a central question concerns the nature of
cultural nature of social groups. In an post-traditional community. A matter of
influential book, Cohen (1985) argued that some importance is the relation of indivi-
community is a symbolic construction dualism to community and the possibility
based on boundaries which define the rela- of communities of dissent.
tion of self to other. For Cohen, commu- The second issue is the symbolic nature
nity is a cluster of symbolic and ideological of community. Are communities real or
map references with which the individual is imagined? According to some critics, the
socially oriented. This largely cultural idea of community being constructed in
approach to community also appears in the symbolization of boundaries leads to an
Benedict Anderson’s (1983) idea of ‘ima- overemphasis on the need for exclusion as a
gined communities’. The idea of commu- condition of community. The reality of
nity has also figured in political philosophy most societies is some degree of multi-
and in particular in communitarianism. In culturalism, with the result that few com-
this tradition, community designates citi- munities are entirely homogenous.
zenship. The rise of communitarianism, The third issue is the rise of notions of
which is based on a political philosophy of ‘community beyond propinquity’ leading
community, is to be understood in the to debates about how important locality is
context of criticisms of liberalism and for community and belonging and whether
could be described as a move from contract it is possible to sustain community without
back to community. With communitarian- a shared sense of place. The tendency in the
ism a conception of community as social recent literature is to stress networks as the
capital has also come to the fore: commu- basis of community, leading to notions of
nity is seen as an essential dimension of the personalized communities and communi-
working of democratic society based on cation communities. Some critics, on the
public virtues such as voluntarism. other hand, argue against such conceptions
The new interest in community can also of community, claiming that they never
be explained by globalization and post- express what community is really about,
modernism. Globalization has opened up namely, belonging in everyday situations.
new conceptions of community beyond While there is much disagreement as to
locality, such as cosmopolitan community whether community is rooted, bounded

and territorial, there is general agreement that methods and methodology have also raised
community can take post-traditional forms questions of comparative methods, though
and is not endangered by individualism. mostly these have been pursued within the
frameworks of (neo-)positivism or scien-
References and further reading tific realism. Comparative methods vary in
the degree to which they rest on explana-
Amit, V. (ed.) (2002) Realizing Community: tion or on Verstehen and on the degree to
Concepts, Social Relationships and Sentiments. which they involve ‘middle-range’ theories
London: Routledge.
Amit, V. and Rapport, R. (eds) (2002) The or ‘grand theory’. Their main aim is to
Trouble with Community: Anthropological establish and test statements about causality
Reflections on Movement, Identity and Collectiv- in macro-social affairs (see micro-, meso-
ity. London: Pluto. and macro-levels). A central question is
Anderson, B. (1983) Imagined Communities: which cases to compare. Especially in
Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nation-
alism. London: Verso. comparisons with few cases, selection biases
Cohen, A. (1985) The Symbolic Construction of can lead to flawed conclusions. Biases can
Community. London: Routledge. be minimized by comparing ‘most similar’
Delanty, G. (2003) Community. London: Rou- or ‘most different’ cases that share either
tledge. many or few properties, which controls the
Keller, S. (2003) Community: Pursuing the Dream,
Living the Reality. Princeton, NJ: Princeton sample selection (Przeworski and Teune
University Press. 1970). Since the 1950s, a division between
Mayo, M. (2000) Cultures, Communities, Iden- variable-oriented and case-oriented strate-
tities. London: Palgrave. gies has dominated comparative inquiry,
GERARD DELANTY with methodological divergences referring
to the different approaches of Durkheim
and Weber (Smelser 1976).
The methods of variable-oriented com-
parative research attempt to examine causal
With comparative methods, researchers relations quantitatively among a limited
interpret and explain the empirical varia- number of variables across a large number
tion of social phenomena over time (dia- of cases. They measure the effects of inde-
chronic comparison) or at points in time pendent variables on dependent variables
(synchronic comparison). If a case study through statistical analysis and control. As
indicates that X causes Y, comparisons can few robust macrosocial correlations have
discern whether and why this holds true been found, many quantitative comparisons
more generally. While nearly all social focus on testing theoretical arguments and
science employs some form of diachronic producing statements like ‘X and Y corre-
comparison of cases over time, comparative late with an average probability of N per
methods principally stand for macrosocial cent’. On the other hand, some powerful
research across societies and states in rela- statistical correlations appear to exist; for
tively simultaneous periods of time. Since example, between economic development
Tocqueville’s study of the social pre- and democracy (Lipset 1959), or between
requisites and effects of democracy in democracy and peace (Ray 1998). Strong
America, which he contrasted with socio- correlations indicate causal effects without
political orders in Europe, comparative proving them. They constitute veto posi-
methods have continuously been refined tions that need further explanation and tend
and advanced. to spur lively debates. Key problems of
Debates in the philosophy of social variable-oriented comparisons concern the
science, concerning epistemology and measurement and the comparability of data

across macrosocial units and over time explanations and general theory, and case-
(Ragin 1987: 57–68). oriented qualitative methods with inductive
The methods of case-oriented compara- interpretation and context-sensitive argu-
tive research try to investigate similarities ments, no method is intrinsically superior.
and differences of historical outcomes qua- Depending on research subject and objec-
litatively across a small number of cases, tives, both approaches offer distinct and
frequently leading to typification (see type sometimes complementary advantages.
and typification). Barrington Moore’s Whereas an investigation of social
(1967) landmark study, for example, mechanisms across a few cases will profit
demonstrates comprehensively why and from qualitative methods, quantitative
how modernization led to three different methods are better for a focus on social
outcomes – democracy, fascist and com- effects across many cases. Frequently, com-
munist dictatorships – in eight major binations of both approaches tend to
countries. Case-oriented comparisons are improve the quality of comparative social
affiliated with historical sociology and the research (Ragin 1987; Rueschemeyer et al.
major works of Eisenstadt, Skocpol, Tilly, 1992).
Bendix and Mann. While the latter two are
highly sceptical about general arguments,
References and further reading
many researchers advocate that qualitative
comparison should be oriented towards King, G., Keohane, R. O. and Verba, S. (1994)
causal accounts and theory (King et al. Designing Social Inquiry. Princeton, NJ: Prin-
ceton University Press.
1994; Kiser and Hechter 1991). Often, J. S. Kiser, E. and Hechter, M. (1991) ‘The Role of
Mill’s deductive-nomological methods of General Theory in Comparative-Historical
agreement and difference guide case-oriented Sociology’, American Journal of Sociology,
comparative research (Ragin 1987: 36–44). 97(1): 1–30.
These researchers propose searching for an Lipset, S. M. (1959) ‘Some Social Requisites of
Democracy: Economic Development and
explanatory variable that is the only common Political Legitimacy’, American Political Science
element across several different instances of Review, 53(1): 69–105.
a comparable social phenomenon. Thus, if Mahoney, J. and Rueschemeyer, D. (eds) (2003)
two similar revolutions share no prior con- Comparative Historical Analysis in the Social
dition except agrarian poverty, then this has Sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University
to be their cause. Or, if one state turns Moore, B. (1967) Social Origins of Dictatorship and
democratic and not the other, and the only Democracy. Boston: Beacon.
different prior condition in the first case is Perry, W. D. and Robertson, J. D. (2002)
industrialization, then this has to cause Comparative Analysis of Nations: Quantitative
democratization. These methods are highly Approaches. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Przeworski, A. and Teune, H. (1970) The Logic
problematic because multiple causation is of Comparative Social Inquiry. New York:
ignored and it is impracticable to consider Wiley-Interscience.
all potential explanatory variables. There- Ragin, C. (1987) The Comparative Method. Ber-
fore, Mill’s methods serve merely as pre- keley, CA: University of California Press.
liminary means to facilitate the Ray, J. L. (1998) ‘Does Democracy Cause Peace?’,
Annual Review of Political Science, 1: 27–46.
identification of possible routes of explana- Rueschemeyer, D., Stephens, E. and Stephens,
tion. As they cannot establish a link J. (1992) Capitalist Development and Democ-
between cause and effect, they have to be racy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
supplemented by efforts to examine social Smelser, N. (1976) Comparative Methods in the
mechanisms through historical processes. Social Sciences. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice
While variable-oriented quantitative meth-
ods have been associated with deductive PETER HÄGEL


COMPLEXITY The biological and social idea of control

Complexity is one of the most distinctive through information suggests a double
constructs of scientific discourse in the principle of the operation of memory in
twentieth century. It refers to a conscious- dealing with complexity. Complexity the-
ness of the constitutive overtaxing of ory realizes that constraints on selection
observers in the observation of something. bear on both sides of the relationship that
In the face of complexity, social theory and produces knowledge: on the part of the
other forms of theory seek ways in which phenomenon observed and on the part of
observation can proceed and cope with the observer observing. The observer is as
complexity aiming at the reduction or complex as the phenomenon under obser-
management of its scope. vation; yet while the observer lacks the
Scientific epistemology attributes com- requisite variety of observational apparatus
to comprehend the complex phenomenon,
plexity not to the observer but to the phe-
the observer nevertheless attempts to deal
nomenon observed. Complex phenomena
with it (von Hayek 1967; Morin 1974).
consisting of many – i.e. of more than three
Observers are inherently selective in their
or four – organized heterogeneous ele-
choice of elements of perception, language
ments defy both causality and statistics
and terminology, just as the phenomenon
(Weaver 1948). Complexity may be mea-
itself is inherently selective in its choice of
sured in terms of the number of hetero-
elements and relations. Control by infor-
geneous elements, the number of possible
mation defines the quality of information as
relations between these elements, and the
a selected message from a set of possible
variation of these relations depending on
other messages (Shannon and Weaver [1949]
context and time. Yet the outcome of this 1963). All selections are considered reduc-
measure is a description that at any time tions, as much on the part of the observer as
will appear to fall short of its mark. Another on the part of the phenomenon, and all
way of putting this is to say that observers reductions are considered with respect to
lack sufficient variability in their perceptual their scope. The question of scope refers to
tools, language, or terminology to account the observer’s ability to account for com-
for the actual variety of phenomena. plexity while having to reduce it in order
Observers have to switch from under- to select action and default.
standing to control, and in order to compensate Where complexity in scientific theory
for the shortcomings of control, from deals with the description of phenomena ‘at
error-control to information-control. They the edge of chaos’ (Waldrop 1992), com-
have to rely on a form of ‘operational plexity in social theory suggests research
research’ (Ashby 1958), which consists of into the production and handling of selec-
comparing acceptable with non-acceptable tion, contingency and risk via the intro-
results, in seeking to observe what occurs duction of delay, ambivalence and
without giving reasons for what occurs; in oscillation (Leach 1976). Complexity forces
never collecting more information than meanings to assume forms that can account
necessary for the task in hand; and always for both selection and the space of possible
assuming that the system may change, and other selections. Social theory therefore
hence accepting that the only problems that looks for operations in communication and
can be solved are problems of the moment. culture that are able not only to indicate by
In the face of complexity, attention is distinction but also to turn attention to the
focused on the selection of options of two sides of the distinction that is thereby
action and default, not on attempts to provide produced (Luhmann 1984). Social theory
comprehensive accounts of phenomena. dealing with complexity learns to include
COMTE , AUG US TE ( 1798 –18 57)

the fact of exclusion produced by distinc- science of society, which Comte dubbed
tions, both with respect to phenomena ‘sociology’ in 1839. Comte’s main socio-
under observation and with respect to the- logical principle, the Law of Three Stages,
oretical architecture. expressed his belief that there were three
eras of history: the theological, the meta-
physical, and the positive. Divided into
References and further reading
social statics (the study of order) and social
Ashby, W. R. (1958) ‘Requisite Variety and its dynamics (the study of progress), sociology
Implications for the Control of Complex was the keystone of the positivist system
Systems’, Cybernetica, 1: 83–99.
Burke, K. ([1945] 1969) A Grammar of Motives. because it made all the sciences focus on
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. the idea of Humanity (see progress). In the
Leach, E. (1976) Culture and Communication: The Système de politique positive (1851–54),
Logic by which Symbols are Connected. Cam- Comte introduced a new secular religion
bridge: Cambridge University Press. to orient feelings toward the worship of
Luhmann, N. ([1984] 1995) Social Systems.
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Humanity. He called this the ‘Religion of
Morin, E. (1974) ‘Complexity’, International Humanity’. He devised a Positivist Calen-
Social Science Journal, 26: 555–82. dar, new sacraments, and a cult of Woman
Shannon, C. E. and Weaver, W. ([1949] 1963) to cultivate a religious culture that would
The Mathematical Theory of Communication. help spread ‘altruism’ (a word he also
Urbana, IL: Illinois University Press.
von Hayek, F. A. (1967) ‘The Theory of Com- coined), consolidate society, and usher in
plex Phenomena’, in Studies in Philosophy, the new positive era. With followers in
Politics and Economics. London: Routledge. France, England, the United States, and
Waldrop, M. M. (1992) Complexity: The Emer- Latin America, Comte influenced politics,
ging Science at the Edge of Order and Chaos. sociology, the history of science, literature,
New York: Simon & Schuster.
Weaver, W. (1948) ‘Science and Complexity’, philosophy, and historiography.
American Scientist, 36: 536–44.
DIRK BAECKER Major works
([1851–54] 1875–77) System of Positive Polity.
London: Longmans & Green.
COMTE, AUGUSTE (1798–1857) ([1853] 1896) The Positive Philosophy of Auguste
French theorist Comte. Ed. H. Martineau, 2 vols. London: Bell.

Comte is the founder of the terms ‘sociology’

and ‘positivism’. Tormented by the turmoil Further reading
emanating from the French Revolution and Pickering, M. (1993) Auguste Comte. Cambridge:
the Napoleonic era, Comte sought to cre- Cambridge University Press.
ate a new, harmonious society by unifying Scharf, R. (1995) Comte after Positivism. Cam-
people’s beliefs and emotions. He designed bridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wernick, A. (2001) Auguste Comte and the Reli-
positive philosophy – ‘positivism’ – to gion of Humanity. Cambridge: Cambridge
establish an intellectual consensus. Rejecting University Press.
explanations based on God, first causes, and
metaphysical essences, such as Nature, MARY PICKERING
positivism embraced scientific knowledge
based on empirical observations of concrete
phenomena (see science). Outlined in the CONFLICT
Cours de philosophie positive (1830–42), posi- Conflict is a crucial feature of all societies.
tivism included mathematics, astronomy, It can be defined as struggle over power,
physics, chemistry, biology, and the new scarce resources or values in which conflicting

parties seek to realize their interests. The to enable them to live in peace. In the
size of the parties involved in conflicts may nineteenth century, Darwin’s The Origin of
range from two persons or more to groups Species (1897) was an important step
or whole nations. Conflicts may range from towards a modern idea of conflict. In Social
latent oppositional interests to manifest Darwinism the evolutionary notion of a
conflicts like war (see war and militarism), ‘survival of the fittest’ was applied to
where actors are collectively organized. Far human history and society. As conflict and
from being an exclusively negative or competition were seen as driving forces of
destructive factor for social relations, con- social change, bourgeois society appeared
flicts are an essential feature of all kinds of to be characterized by anarchic laissez-faire
social relations and may contribute to social markets. It seemed that individual human
integration. In modern societies this posi- survival depended on the realization of
tive function can be seen as an effect of the individual interests in conflictual relation-
institutionalization of violent social conflicts. ships through the market.
In pre-modern societies social conflicts With the advent of advanced industrial
were perceived as illegitimate, as they societies conflict becomes a chronic feature
threatened a divine order of societal of everyday social life. From their incep-
arrangements. However, secularization tion, modern societies are inherently con-
after the Renaissance decoupled human flictual insofar as they emerge from
conduct from religious and moral demands, revolutionary transformations. The indus-
transforming the idea of social conflict. trial revolution radically transformed pre-
This process finds its expression in the modern society. The loosening of feudal
works of early modern thinkers such as bonds and the beginnings of industrializa-
Niccolò Macchiavelli and Thomas Hobbes, tion set free huge numbers of peasants who
as well as Charles Darwin in the nineteenth then formed the ranks of the industrial
century. In the sixteenth century, Mac- proletariat. According to classical Marxism,
chiavelli interpreted politics and war as early capitalism revolved around forms of
rational enterprises that had to be decou- deprivation and exploitation that generated
pled from religious and moral demands. In class struggles between bourgeoisie and
The Prince ([1513] 1968) he defined conflict proletariat. Conflict between capital and
as a social medium governed by strategic labour still fundamentally characterizes
rationality. Conflicts were conceptualized capitalist societies today, though class conflict
in terms of strategic games between rational has for the most part been institutionalized
actors. Writing against the background of in the economic and the political spheres.
violent civil war in seventeenth-century While the industrial revolution triggered
England, Thomas Hobbes identified the fierce social struggles, the French Revolu-
origin of conflict in human nature. In tion of the late eighteenth century put an
Leviathan, Hobbes held that in a state of end to the conflicts between aristocracy
nature man is a wolf to man since human and an emerging bourgeoisie in the period
beings seek to fulfil their own interests. In of the rule of absolute monarchy. The
order to bring an end to war and devastat- struggle for political participation led to the
ing conflict, a theory of social contract institutionalization of both the rights of
must be devised. Individuals are to concede man and the rights of the citizen. However,
their right to violence to the sovereign, as a civil, national, democratic and state-
whose duty is to protect them and guaran- building revolution, the French Revolution
tee their survival. The sovereign’s laws and also institutionalized some of the crucial
decisions are to channel conflicts by estab- cleavages in modern societies, such as those
lishing binding rules for all individuals and between citizens and non-citizens.

The conflictual nature of modern society sociation, stressing that ‘a certain amount of
is central to the ideas of the founding discord, inner divergence and outer con-
fathers of modern social theory. In the troversy, is organically tied up with the
Communist Manifesto, Marx saw history as a very elements that ultimately hold the
history of class struggles, affirming the cen- group together’ (ibid.: 17–18). Simmel
tral precept of historical materialism that argued, first that conflict creates social rela-
structural contradictions of a certain mode tions where no relations existed before,
of production translate into class struggles thus itself being a kind of social relation and
that lead to a revolutionary transformation second, that conflict generates rules and
of society: social conflicts are thus con- norms arising out of the expectations that
ceptualized as the driving forces of history. each party forms of the other’s actions.
In Economy and Society ([1921] 1978), Max These contrasting interpretations of the
Weber introduced conflict (Kampf ) as a functions of social conflict divided modern
basic sociological term. Not only class social theory in the twentieth century. In
struggle but also a variety of conflicts in The Social System ([1951] 1991) Talcott
different value spheres and societal terrains Parsons followed the Durkheimian per-
make conflict between classes, status spective stressing the significance of insti-
groups, parties or communal groups a cru- tutionalized values and norms upheld by
cial feature of Weber’s class theory and of socialized actors who are motivated to live
his sociology of authority. Further, Weber’s according to certain role requirements, thus
conception of open and closed social rela- securing the consensual operation of the
tions allowed for ways to analyze struggles social system. Ralf Dahrendorf criticized
over the monopolization of resources of Parsons for stressing consensus as an effect
social groups through the exclusion of oth- of the normative integration of modern
ers. This was seen by Weber as the driving society (Dahrendorf 1961). In opposition to
mechanism of stratification. consensus theory, Dahrendorf developed a
While Marx and Weber analyzed social middle-range theory that allowed a way to
conflicts and their effects as inevitable analyze all kinds of social conflicts as essen-
aspects of society, Durkheim and Simmel tial for the survival of societies. He argued
focused on positive or negative functions of that social life is inherently conflictual, that
conflicts for society. For Durkheim, conflicts conflicts are not only necessary but are
are a pathological phenomenon, a certain essential for society and are the driving
sickness of the social body resulting from forces of social change.
unregulated spheres of society, thus posing Lewis A. Coser criticized both Parsons
a threat to its normative integration. In The and Dahrendorf for their one-sided con-
Division of Labor in Society ([1902] 1977), ceptions of social conflicts. Coser (1956)
Durkheim analyzed both class struggle and was concerned with the role played by
the conflicts between employers and conflict for social stability. In The Functions
employees in the capitalist enterprise as two of Social Conflict he reinterpreted Simmel’s
abnormal forms of the division of labour approach in a functionalist perspective in
(see normal and pathological). order to detect the productive effects of
In contrast, Simmel in Conflict ([1908] conflicts in the triggering of structural
1955) stresses the positive functions of change, or the interplay of social change
conflict and their social productivity; that and stability.
is, the way groups construct oppositional The end of the Cold War and the demise
perspectives and the way conflict generates of the Soviet Union did not mean the end
identities among members of the groups of conflict in history. Since the last decade
involved. Simmel saw conflict as a form of of the twentieth century, fierce racial, ethnic

and religious conflicts have led to ethnic in American sociology, who regard conflict
cleansing and genocide. New conflicts and as the organizing principle of social reality,
wars have been triggered by strategic and typically associate the concept of consensus
geopolitical interests at the beginning of the with structural-functionalist thinking,
twenty-first century, as disruptive conflicts which they see as representing a ‘consensus
for the distribution of natural resources model’. However, like ‘conflict’, ‘con-
have only just begun. To understand and sensus’ is a mostly descriptive term, and
explain these new conflicts of both interests therefore cannot be considered an organizing
and values and to find institutional principle or ultimate explanation of reality.
arrangements for their solution is today’s Conflict and consensus represent the two
task for conflict sociology. ends of a continuum along which human
relations may be seen as varying at all times.
But the postulation of one or the other end
References and further reading
as dominant at any moment, even if
Collins, R. (1975) Conflict Sociology: Toward an empirically accurate, only describes the sit-
Explanatory Science. London: Academic Press. uation; it does not explain it.
Coser, L. A. (1956) The Functions of Social Con-
The most detailed treatment of the idea
flict. Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
Dahrendorf, R. (1961) ‘Elemente einer Theorie of consensus is to be found in the writings
des sozialen Konflikts’, in R. Dahrendorf, of Edward Shils. According to Shils (1975),
Gesellschaft und Freiheit. München: Piper, pp. consensus is agreement in regard to the
197–235. beliefs constitutive of the value centre of a
Darwin, C. (1897) The Origin of Species: By society and propagated by its institutional
Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of
Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. London: centre. It is a necessary element of social
John Murray. integration and therefore a salient char-
Durkheim, E. ([1902] 1977) The Division of acteristic of any existing society. Only
Labor in Society. New York: Free Press. complete disintegration of a social entity
Hobbes, T. ([1651] 1997) Leviathan: The Matter, can be characterized exclusively by dissent,
Form and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesias-
ticall and Civill. New York: W. W. Norton.
and only in a society in the process of dis-
Huntington, S. P. (1996) The Clash of Civiliza- integration may dissent or conflict pre-
tions and the Remaking of World Order. New dominate over consensus. Consensus,
York: Simon & Schuster. however, is rarely complete, constant or
Macchiavelli, N. ([1513] 1968) The Prince. New fully articulated or involving the entire
York: Da Capo.
membership of the society in question.
Marx, K. and Engels, F. ([1848] 1998) The
Communist Manifesto. New York: Verso. Rather, it is partial, intermittent, vague,
Parsons T. ([1951] 1991) The Social System. and uneven across different social groups. It
London: Routledge. is most developed and uniform in modern
Simmel, G. ([1908] 1955) Conflict and the Web of societies whose members have a clear sense
Group Affiliations. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. of nationality (see nationalism). Indeed,
Weber, M. ([1921] 1978) Economy and Society.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. according to Shils, inclusive national iden-
tity or ‘the sense of unity’, is both a pre-
JÜRGEN MACKERT condition and an essential component of
consensus. In contrast, ‘underdeveloped
countries’ are characterized by ‘consensual
CONSENSUS underdevelopment’, and their ‘dissensual
‘Consensus’ in sociology refers to a condition state’ is attributed to the lack of ‘a bond
of active or passive agreement between constituted by their residence in the larger
several parties. Its antonyms are dissent and bounded territory’, and to the fact that at
conflict. Proponents of the ‘conflict model’ best only elites have ‘a sense of common

nationality’. Shils’s structural-functionalist ideas on which integration is based, Shils

orientation is relevant here insofar as he stresses the measurable, quantitative aspect
explains the low level of national con- of their combination, relationship, or
sciousness in underdeveloped societies by structure – the degree of their uniformity.
reference to lack of ‘ecological integration’,
and a lack of ‘commonly held body of cul-
References and further reading
ture’, sponsored by an effective centralized
state.This account can be compared to Durkheim, E. ([1902] 1977) The Division of
some extent to the work of Karl Deutsch Labor in Society. New York: Free Press.
Giegel, H. -J. (ed.) (1992) Kommunikation und
and Ernest Gellner on nationalism Konsens in modernen Gesellschaften. Frankfurt
Structural functionalism is also evident in am Main: Suhrkamp
Shils’s account of the processes by which Parsons, T. and Shils, E. A. (eds) (1951) Toward
consensus is formed, and hence in his a General Theory of Action. Cambridge, MA:
account of social change in general. But Harvard University Press.
Shils, E. (1975) ‘Introduction’ and ‘Consensus’,
there are also some affinities between his in E. Shils, Center and Periphery: Essays in
structural-functionalist approach and Macrosociology. Chicago: University of Chicago.
Marxian historical materialism. Weber, M. ([1921] 1978) Economy and Society.
From this angle, consensus is a function Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
of the structure of opportunities and mate- THOMAS SCHNEIDER
rial interests underpinning them, making it
comparable to ideological superstructure,
although it lacks the rigorously coherent
pattern of explicitly held and systematically
espoused beliefs characteristic of ideology Outwardly conservative writers typically
in a specific sense. suggest that conservatism is nothing as vul-
At the same time, when Shils writes that gar as a political ideology. Conservatism is
‘consensus maintains public order. . .by fos- often outlined as a particular disposition
tering of a readiness to accept peaceful that favours what is known and trusted,
modes of adjudicating disagreements among over and above that which is unknown.
those who have a sense of their mutual Central to any political and social under-
affinity or identity’, it appears that he is standing of conservatism, therefore, is a
depicting what Durkheim referred to as concern with managing political change,
‘pre-contractual elements’. In agreement though it would be incorrect to say that
with Durkheim, Shils regards modern conservatism opposes change itself. Equally
societies as better integrated than traditional central to this assumption, as various
ones. However, for Shils, the stronger authors have noted, is an understanding of
integration of modern societies is a function the extra-human origins of the social order.
of their greater consensuality, i.e. of the Traditionalist conservatism has often distilled
degree of agreement in regard to central this through the lens of a God-given hier-
beliefs, whereas for Durkheim, such archy, which could, on the one hand, justify
consensuality – the uniformity of the conscience obedience to earthly powers because by so
collective – is the characteristic of traditional doing, one was really obeying the biblical
societies, reflected in the mechanical nature injunction that earthly obedience will lead
of their solidarity based on the integration to heavenly reward (see tradition). Such
of more or less identical segments. The arguments about hierarchy have often also
differences between the two theorists and been couched in more naturalist terms,
their concepts here rests on the fact that effecting comparisons between the hierarchies
where Durkheim emphasizes the nature of of the natural world and the position of a

particular class of heroic leaders or gover- that politics can be rationally planned and
nors, capable of knowing or representing can overcome irreconcilable conflicts of
the interests of society at large. interests is, on this reading, nothing more
Within these broad schemas sits an than a chimera. This is why many writers
account not only of natural inequality, but who have been interpreted as conservative
also a more strongly focused assessment that are portrayed as reactionary, because often
human beings are both imperfect and one finds in such writers’ work a relatively
imperfectible. This lends itself to what backward-looking social philosophy that
Anthony Quinton (1982) termed a con- paints an idealized picture of the past as
servative concern with the politics of something to be longed for.
imperfection. A corollary of this is the According to most conservatives, there is
often-noted hostility to rationalism and no end state, however desirous or other-
rationalist planning within conservatism. wise, whether behind us or in the future,
This should not be confused with the that is capable of being achieved or being
argument that conservatism is irrational; on reinstated. Here, the classical metaphor of
the contrary, it is often the case that con- the ship of state is usually discussed to sug-
servatism tends to view other political gest that all that politics and government
ideologies as themselves irrational, for should be concerned with is keeping the
neglecting the fundamental relationship ship afloat; there is no final destination.
between change, hierarchy and imperfec- Michael Oakeshott, typically understood as
tion. One can therefore delineate particular a major British conservative philosopher,
strands within conservatism that have been outlined this famously in an essay entitled,
important in terms of thinking about a ‘On Being Conservative’ (Oakshott, 1991).
genealogy of this set of ideas. His own position, however, was more
The most elementary forms of con- subtle than this, and he is probably best
servatism discuss the religious basis of the thought of as a sceptic in politics, rather
social and political order. Developing and than a conservative. Similarly, a critique of
modifying a Christian argument about the rationalist political planning played a major
corrupted soul after the fall from paradise, a part in the writings of Edmund Burke,
profoundly pessimistic view of the human typically portrayed as the founding father of
condition can be derived from a basis in modern conservatism for his coruscating
original sin, which lends itself to the idea polemic against the French Revolution. Yet
that humans stand in need of a redeemer. Burke was a Whig, interested in the rela-
Alone we are weak and corrupted. The tionship between property, democracy and
corruption and degradation of humans in liberty. In much the same way as many
society, rather than in one’s properly nat- French liberals after the Revolution, Burke
ural state, were themes noticeably devel- questioned the validity of applying an
oped by Rousseau, whose own work ‘ancient’ model of politics alongside a dis-
contained, among other themes, Stoic and tinctly ‘modern’ model of a commercial
Augustinian elements. But when one sees and economical society. Only a few years
how politics develops when underpinned before, he had been a keen supporter of the
by such a set of beliefs, it is clear that poli- American colonists in their struggle for
tical activity will tend to try to reconcile independence. What this means is that the
the hugely divergent interests of the genealogy of conservatism is more complex
human community. Rousseau’s solution to than the attribution of overly simplified
this was the social contract. It is precisely positions to many of its apparent advocates.
such a type of politics that conservatism What is typically understood by con-
suggests can never be achieved. The idea servatism is a clear opposition to liberalism,

which writers from Joseph de Maistre and Counter-posed to these ideal types,
Thomas Carlyle to Carl Schmitt have Hirschman suggests that progressive political
decried for its apparent individualism and thinkers have opposed conservatism by
political promiscuities. What is needed in simply pursuing a politics based on the
this variation of conservatism is, instead, a necessity, desirability and possibility of reform.
strong leader, typically a monarch, capable One of the key differences between lib-
of maintaining traditional hierarchies. eralism and certain variants of conservatism,
Nevertheless, although writers such as de however, and which represents another
Maistre were hostile to the idea that a political major strand of conservative thinking, is a
constitution could be created a priori, many focus on the organic unity of political
of the touchstones of liberal political phi- society. In some ways, one can trace this
losophy, such as the rule of law, separation organicism through the more recent
of powers, political independence, defence of debates between liberalism and commu-
private property, and individual and group nitarianism, where the legacy of Hegelian-
rights, are similarly foundational to con- ism and Neo-Hegelianism is particularly
servatism. Where writers such as de Maistre important. In the conservative tradition,
differed from Burke was in the providential organicism is associated with writers such as
interpretation of the French Revolution, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who perceived
and the subsequent descent into terror the idea of a natural social balance main-
conceived of as divine retribution. tained by a national educated class, which
Conservative or ‘aristocratic’ liberals, by was itself underpinned by an organic idea of
contrast, tend to highlight the dangers of the constitution of a nation that grows and
the development of political equality under develops according to the dictates of rea-
a modern liberal society in particular, and it son. Similarly, in Burke’s focus on the natural
is this wariness that has made students of J. relationships between the dead, the living
S. Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, in par- and the not yet born, one finds other
ticular, think about the relationship important organicist assessments. As Nöel
between conservatism and liberalism in O’Sullivan (1976) has suggested, such
more subtle terms than a binary opposition organicism remained a profoundly impor-
(see binary). But binary oppositions have tant legacy for conservatism as it developed
tended to structure the nature of modern through various Romantic writers (see
political debate between conservatism and romanticism). In the British tradition, con-
liberalism since the French Revolution. As servatism has mainly presented itself as a
Albert Hirschman (1992) has noted, political pragmatic, sceptical and (most unconvin-
rhetoric since 1789 can be analyzed in cingly) as a non-ideological mode of
terms of rhetorics of intransigence, which thinking about modern politics.
pit broadly conservative and reactionary
politics against progressive movements for
References and further reading
change. Reactionary rhetoric, according to
Hirschman, comprises three distinct ele-
Burke, E. ([1789] 1982) Reflections on the Revo-
ments. First, the futility thesis suggests that lution in France. London: Penguin.
to attempt to undertake political change is Carlyle, T. ([1837] 1868) The French Revolution.
futile because it neglects the natural order London: Everyman.
of social life. Second, the jeopardy thesis, Coleridge, S. T. ([1830] 1976) On the Constitu-
which fears change because of its dangers; tion of Church and State. Princeton, NJ: Prin-
ceton University Press.
and third, the perversity thesis, which states De Maistre, J. ([1797] 1994) Considerations on
that change will always lead to unanticipated France. Cambridge: Cambridge University
and most likely unfavourable situations. Press.


Femia, J. (2001) Against the Masses. Oxford: identify their polity according to republican
Oxford University Press. and democratic principles based on the rule
Freeden, M. (1997) Ideologies and Political Theory.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. of law (see republic; democracy).
Hirschman, A. (1992) The Rhetoric of Reaction. Historically four constitutional arche-
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. types can be distinguished: constitutions as
Mannheim, K. ([1925] 1986) Conservatism: A (1) contract, (2) manifesto, (3) programme,
Contribution to the Sociology of Knowledge. and (4) law.
London: Routledge.
Muller, J. Z. (1997) Conservatism. Princeton, NJ: With respect to constitutions as contract,
Princeton University Press. one must distinguish between the social
Oakeshott, M. (1991) Rationalism in Politics. compact as a virtual social union and
Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. establishment of government in the realm
O’Sullivan, N. (1976) Conservatism. London: of political philosophy (notably Hobbes,
Quinton, A. (1982) The Politics of Imperfection: Locke, and Rousseau), on the one hand,
The Religious and Secular Traditions of Con- and ‘real contracts’ structuring the pouvoir
servative Thought in England from Hooker to constituant as a legal relationship between
Oakeshott. London: Faber and Faber. the different contracting parties (‘We, the
Vincent, A. (1994) ‘British Conservatism and Undersigned’), such as states, on the other
the Problem of Ideology’, Political Studies,
42(2): 204–27. hand. While philosophical contractualism
focuses on constitutional rights and princi-
DUNCAN KELLY ples, real (federal) contracts tend to regulate
the institutional modalities of government
and the distribution of powers between the
CONSTITUTION member states and their union, such as the
The concept of a ‘constitution’ in Western Constitution of the United States (without
civilization dates back 2500 years, initially its amendments) or the German Imperial
referring to the divine legal order, which Constitution of 1871.
contained not only political institutions and With respect to constitutions as manifesto
powers but also social and economic struc- political manifestos, such as the French
tures including basic ethical norms. The Declaration of Rights of 1789, strictly
historical variety of constitutions as ‘lex speaking, do not qualify as constitutions
fundamentalis’, ‘status’ and ‘res publica’, because according to the understanding of
still present in Montesquieu’s Spirit of the their authors, they are not meant to con-
Laws (1748), come to be narrowed down stitute something new, but rather solemnly
under the conditions of modernity to the declare an established truth (‘That all men
basic legal order of a polity. Since the are by nature equally free and independent,
introduction of written constitutions in and have certain inherent rights’) or they
the era of the democratic revolutions of assert an assumed consensus about civil and
the USA and France, the concept has been political rights, basic common values or a
limited to its legal connotations: the for- form of government. Compared to other
mation and organization of the state or constitutions, the normative speech act of a
government, the distribution and balance of constitutional manifesto is limited to
powers, and the guarantee of fundamental declaring common values and principles,
human and civic rights of individuals. The rather than specific laws. Constitutions as
turn of the nineteenth century marks the programme or plan are germane to the
beginning of modern constitutionalism. socialist world of the former communist
Since then constitutions have developed states. Constitutions were linked to the laws
and proliferated as a widely copied and of scientific socialism and functioned as
varied pattern for societies to design and reflections of the socio-economic and political

development at a given developmental and control the democratic state, its insti-
stage and, therefore, had to be revised tutions, personnel and decision-making
according to the imperatives of political procedures. Fourth, the constructive ele-
ideology. Programmatic socialist constitu- ment of modern constitutions refers to
tions can be described as semantic conces- those provisions which relate to the
sions to modern constitutionalism and amendment and revision of constitutions
contained catalogues of rights devoid of any and to their validity, including the con-
meaningful function as guarantees of free- stitutional review of laws and the judicial
dom and limitations of state power. redress of constitutional grievances. With
Finally, constitutions as law or supreme these provisions constitutions refer to
law of the land has come to dominate themselves as authoritative texts, thus
modern constitutional history. Constitu- establishing the reflexivity and modernity
tions as law must be considered the superior of constitutions, the relative sanctity of
archetype because they can easily be inte- their text in a secularized cultural environ-
grated into a legal order and may integrate ment, and the potential prestige of con-
elements of the other three archetypes – stitutional courts.
notably manifesto speech acts, as embodied
especially in preambles, and programmatic
References and further reading
norms such as the promotion of gender
equality or the protection of the natural Arendt, H. (1963) On Revolution. New York:
environment. As a matter of rule, the con- Viking.
Frankenberg, G. (1996) Die Verfassung der
stitutional elites invoke the People as pou- Republik. Baden-Baden: Nomos.
voir constituant (e.g. ‘We the People’) and Gough, J. W. (1955) Fundamental Law in English
the constitution-making process anticipates Constitutional History. Oxford: Clarendon
the republican-democratic body of legisla- Press.
tive rules which it seeks to constitute, thus Grimm, D. (1990) ‘Verfassung II’, in: O. Brun-
ner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck (eds),
trying to solve the paradox of a ‘creatio ex Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe: Historisches Lex-
nihilo’. ikon zur politisch-sozialen Sprache in Deutsch-
With regard to their structure, modern land vol. 1 VI. Stuttgart: Klett-Gotta.
constitutions follow a similar format, which Preuß, U. K. (ed.) (1994) Zum Begriff der Verfas-
is designed to address the essential problems sung: Die Ordnung des Politischen. Frankfurt
am Main: Suhrkamp.
of social coexistence and self-government Schmitt, C. (1928) Verfassungslehre. München/
in and through a nationally organized poli- Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot.
tical system. First, bills of rights, com- Van Caenegem, R.C (1995). A Historical Intro-
plemented by rule of law principles and duction to Western Constitutional Law. Cam-
procedures, answer questions of justice by bridge: Cambridge University Press.
establishing equal freedom for individual GÜNTER FRANKENBERG
and collective self-determination and by
limiting the legitimate powers of govern-
ment. Second, constitutional values and
duties respond to the question of the good CONSTRUCTIVISM
life in society, thus delineating the always Constructivism is not a clear-cut but a
contested contours of a commonweal or rather unspecific and variegated concept.
shared public interest. Third, provisions for Strictly speaking, all sociological thinking has
political organization usually constitute the a constructivistic nucleus. Insofar as sociol-
dominant structural element. They answer ogy always underlines the importance of
the central question of practical political cultural and historical relativity and is con-
wisdom concerning how to establish, run cerned in a general sense with dismantling

normative ideas of the autonomous subject, of reality. The main subject of this thinking
then social reality is always conceptualized is the position of observers, who construct
in sociology as a constructed reality. In a reality through observation, even as they
narrower sense, however, constructivism react to changes in their environment.
represents a way of thinking which expli- Since Karl Mannheim’s reconstruction of
citly thematizes cognitive operations and different types of knowledge as being con-
social practices as processes of construction ditioned by the class positions or interests of
(see also social constructionism). different actors, the sociology of knowledge
One of the most widespread versions of has been attacking the idea of knowledge as
social constructivism stems from Peter something independent of social processes
Berger’s and Thomas Luckmann’s The of knowledge formation. Whereas the
Social Construction of Reality (1966)(see Ber- sociology of knowledge focused at first on
ger and Luckmann). The thesis of the political attitudes or on everyday knowl-
book is that all social reality is to be regar- edge in the tradition of Alfred Schutz,
ded as a construct of everyday practices and more recent interests have been directed
routines. Berger and Luckmann explain towards scientific knowledge. The sociol-
how a social order that is manifestly con- ogy of scientific knowledge has shown
structed by human practices can be experi- empirically how science not only produces
enced as an objective, external, and in some its own subjective perspectives, but also
sense ‘natural’ reality. Central notions for produces the objects of observation in
Berger and Luckmann are processes of measuring devices, oscillographs or in the
institutionalization, objectivation and modelling of theories. Therefore the main
legitimation. subject of this research is the laboratory as a
Epistemological constructivism refers to social reality in which a scientific reality
different sources. One thread starts from comes to be constructed (Knorr-Cetina
the Kantian idea of reality as a cognitive 1981, 1999; Latour and Woolgar 1986)(see
process and cognitive construction. Ernst science and social studies of science).
von Glaserfeld’s (1987, 1995) ‘radical con- The most ambitious challenge of con-
structivism’ emphasizes this Kantian theme structivism for social theory is the problem
that we cannot observe any reality empiri- of self-application. If all knowledge is to be
cally without cognitively salient acts of regarded as an effect of the observer, this
observation. Another extension of this must also be true of the sociological obser-
approach is Jean Piaget’s empirical cogni- ver. Therefore, social theory must consider
tive psychology. A further thread leads to that the sociological apparatus of observa-
biological theories of autopoiesis (Maturana tion produces the very reality it deals with.
and Varela 1980) in cybernetics (von
Foerster 1981) and to systems theory
References and further reading
(Luhmann 1995). The connecting theme
of these approaches is the idea of cognitive Berger, P. and Luckmann, T. (1966) The Social
closure as taking into account the position Construction of Reality. Garden City, NY:
of the observer. Cognitive or operative Foerster, H. von (1981) Observing Systems. Sea-
closure means that any contact with reality side, CA: Intersystems.
in cognitively operating units such as Knorr-Cetina, K. D. (1981) The Manufacture of
brains, consciousness, organisms, or social Knowledge: An Essay on the Constructivist and
systems is cognitive contact. Epistemolo- Contextual Nature of Science. Oxford: Perga-
mon Press.
gical constructivism in this regard does not Knorr-Cetina, K. D. (1999) Epistemic Cultures:
reject the idea of the independence of reality How the Sciences Make Knowledge. Cambridge,
but it questions the idea of the accessibility MA: Harvard University Press.


Latour, B. and Woolgar, S. (1986) Laboratory modern West came to define itself as a
Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts, 2nd consumer culture or consumer society. The
edn. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Press. underlying claim here is that, as a result of
Luhmann, N. ([1984] 1995) Social Systems. modernization, involving processes such as
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. marketization, the decline of traditional
Maturana, H. R. and Varela, F. J. (1980) status systems and the rise of cultural and
Autopoiesis and Cognition. Dordrecht: D. political pluralism, private market-based
Von Glasersfeld, E. (1987) The Construction of choice has become increasingly central to
Knowledge: Contributions to Conceptual Seman- social life (see market).
tics. Seaside, CA: Intersystems. Third, it is partly through the study of
Von Glasersfeld, E. (1995) Radical Constructivism: consumption that we have come to better
A Way of Knowing and Learning. London: understand the role of culture in the con-
Falmer Press.
stitution of economic processes and institu-
ARMIN NASSEHI tions. Consumption is not a cultural
endpoint or addition to ‘truly’ economic
processes of production or formally mod-
CONSUMPTION elled market exchange, nor can it be
While consumption has featured sig- reduced to quantitative measures of ‘demand’.
nificantly in modern Western thought since On the contrary, the study of consumption
at least the eighteenth century, it is only in cultures leads us to examine the construc-
the past few decades that it has been regar- tion of objects, exchanges and relationships
ded as a socially consequential object of across a wide range of interconnected sites
study. Contemporary interest in consump- and processes.
tion rests on three broad premises, each of Today, consumption has come to repre-
which places culture at the centre of social sent the site at which culture and economy
processes, and in ways that have made most dramatically converge. Historically,
consumption studies almost paradigmatic of however, consumption has marked a cen-
the cultural turn in social thought. tral point of division between economy and
First, consumption is central to social and culture – indeed, the critical stalemate that
cultural reproduction (see social reproduc- stymied thinking about consumption until
tion). All acts of consumption are pro- quite recently was structured by an opposi-
foundly cultural. Even ostensibly ‘natural’ tion between economy and culture. On the
and mundane processes such as eating invoke, one hand, liberal traditions (including neo-
mediate and reproduce those structures of classical economics) assumed the autonomy
meaning and practice through which social of consumption processes from economic
identities are formed and through which ones. On the other, critical traditions – of
social relations and institutions are main- both the right and left – have tended to
tained and changed over time (see identity). regard consumption as the site of major
The second premise has been a concern incursions of economic processes into cul-
with the ‘consumer culture’ as a character- ture and everyday life. For them, modern
ization of the modern market society (Sla- consumer culture marks the dominance of
ter 1997; Slater and Tonkiss 2001), and market exchange and industrial process
more specifically as an increasingly central over human life and meanings, apparently
feature of what has come to be known as rendering them inauthentic. In such per-
the postmodern (Featherstone 1991) (see spectives, the market drives a wedge
postmodernism and postmodernity). through the previously organic relation
Consumption as a cultural process may be between production and consumption, and
central to all human society, but only the monetary values become the only ones that

now adjudicate social worth and distribute Second, in the tradition of material culture
social goods. studies in anthropology, function is only
The most commanding formulation of one aspect of the meaning of goods.
market-mediated culture as alienation is Rather, goods and their uses reflect, com-
undoubtedly that of Marx’s analysis of municate and are instrumental in reprodu-
‘commodity fetishism’ (see commodity and cing cosmologies (Douglas 1979). Third,
commodification). A critique or elabora- we might point to the tradition of cultural
tion of the processes of commodification, studies, in many respects a development of
fetishism has grounded much of the sub- both semiotics and of the anthropological
sequent work on consumption. This is notion of culture as the meaningful pat-
obvious in the case of the theme of reifi- terning of a whole way of life.
cation in western Marxism – for example Consumption is therefore always an
in Lukács’s or Adorno’s conception of the active cultural process. It was Thorstein
social landscape appearing to individuals as Veblen ([1899] 1953) who pointed out the
a consumable spectacle, rather than as an strategic role of consumption practices in
historical product of human action. Less establishing social distinction. For Veblen,
obviously related to commodity fetishism the entire point of a status symbol was that
are more recent postmodern approaches, it was a pure sign, serving no function
such as that of Baudrillard, in which con- other than to indicate one’s wealth (see
sumption appears as a spectacle of signs status). As often noted (e.g. Miller 1987)
detached from other social relations and this argument is reflected in the work of
processes. Bourdieu, in which battles to legitimate
Post-Fordism represents another mode particular criteria and hierarchies of cultural
of articulating and stabilizing the relation value and taste are central to the exercise of
between economy and culture, production power. Bourdieu, however, treats cultural
and consumption. The idea of post-Fordism consumption as part of the constitution of
converges with broader characterizations of class and power difference, not just as
socio-economic change in the direction of reflecting existing class structures rooted in
increasing ‘dematerialization’ in which economics.
commodities are defined, produced and For Baudrillard, as for Veblen and Bour-
distributed more in relation to their sig- dieu, the crucial aspect of consumption is
nification than their materiality. The the object as sign and hence as a marker of
upshot is the increasing centrality of cul- social distinction. ‘Function’ itself becomes
tural processes and logics within both pro- just another sign, rather than the location of
duction and consumption and their the object’s authenticity. Ultimately what
articulation. we really buy into in any act of consump-
The contemporary research agenda that tion is not the object and its uses but rather
is explicitly concerned with cultures of the overall system of representations and
consumption has drawn on traditions and our position in the matrix of differences it
methodologies for thinking about how maps out and signals to others. Baudrillard
meaningful goods play a part in the repro- might be interpreted as fitting in well
duction of everyday life. Three major tra- within the older traditions of mass culture
ditions are important here. First, the various critique, as in the end it points to the
schools of semiotics provided a methodol- complete dominance of a totalistic ‘specta-
ogy for treating all objects as signs within a cle’.
social circulation of meaning, and ones Whatever contemporary consumption
capable of bearing significations that were studies might owe Baudrillard, they have
irreducible to the functionality of goods. tended to develop in a different direction,

treating the ‘aestheticization of everyday have been marked by a more general stress on
life’, the fragmentation of identity and the enculturation of the economy and on
apparently decreasing relevance of older notions of the information or network
social divisions as the opportunity to treat society.
consumer culture as a kind of ironic and It has been accepted, that consumption is
hedonistic playground. Bauman (1990) and a significant issue of cultural, social and
Maffesoli (1996), for example, emphasize economic reproduction, not to be treated
the neo-tribalism of consumer culture in as private, trivial or natural. Contemporary
which densely meaningful goods are like research on consumption displays an
costumes in which people dress up in order increasing concern with consumption as
to enact their current elective but flexible habitual, routine and embedded in the
social memberships and allegiances. The practical reproduction of everyday life, and
very profusion and motility of signs have has renewed concern with the relationship
more generally been taken to suggest the between consumption and persistent social
opening of spaces for consumer creativity, structures of power and inequality.
or resistance and rebellion. Consumption is Having asserted consumption as a sig-
an always active process of assimilation, nificant social instance in its own right,
hence also one that is unpredictable and particularly against the ‘productivist bias’ in
undetermined. much previous social thought, the research
Contemporary work on global consumer tendency is now to reconnect consumption
cultures has developed new conceptualiza- and production, focusing on continuities
tions and agendas. Early arguments about a and interconnections, not least through
global consumer culture echoed the struc- more integrated accounts of markets and
ture of mass consumption/mass culture market behaviours (e.g. du Gay 1997; Sla-
theories, often in the form of ‘American- ter and Tonkiss 2001). This tendency has
ization’ theses, which were concerned with been given a considerable impetus by the
homogenized global culture. Like earlier rise of the Internet and e-commerce which
arguments about mass consumption, some evidences blurred boundaries between
assumed the existence of ‘authentic’ indi- production and consumption as well as an
genous cultures existing before the intru- ever more globalized reach for both.
sion of consumer culture. More recent
work has emphasized that globalization of
consumer culture is often heterogeneous References and further reading
and uneven, and that supposedly pristine
Appadurai, A. (1990) ‘Disjuncture and Differ-
consumption cultures are always entangled
ence in the Global Cultural Economy’, The-
in wider social networks. The older image ory, Culture & Society, 7: 295–310.
of American domination has given way to a Baudrillard, J. (1981) For a Critique of the Political
concern with competition between regional Economy of the Sign. St Louis, MO: Telos.
blocs (for example, the power of Asian Bauman, Z. (1990) Thinking Sociologically.
Oxford: Blackwell.
production and consumption) and conflict
Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique
directly provoked by consumerism as a of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA:
value system (see e.g. Castells 1997, on the Harvard University Press.
resurrection of traditionalist identities). Castells, M. (1997) The Power of Identity. Oxford:
Appadurai (1990) offers a complex attempt Blackwell.
to map the different economic, social, Douglas, M. (1979) The World of Goods: Towards
an Anthropology of Consumption (with Baron
political and cultural flows that generate this Isherwood). New York: Basic Books.
unevenness. Finally, contemporary approa- du Gay, P. (ed.) (1997) Production of Culture,
ches to the globalization of consumption Cultures of Production. London: Sage.


Featherstone, M. (1991) Consumer Culture and philosophy a different understanding of

Postmodernism. London: Sage. contingency. Contingency then means the
Maffesoli, M. (1996) The Time of the Tribes.
London: Sage. double negation of randomness and neces-
Miller, D. (1987) Material Culture and Mass sity. To call something contingent means
Consumption. Oxford: Blackwell. that it is neither necessary or accidental.
Slater, D. R. (1997) Consumer Culture and Mod- Such an understanding of contingency may
ernity. Cambridge: Polity Press. qualify as a substantial self-understanding of
Slater, D. R. and Tonkiss, F. (2001) Market
Society: Markets and Modern Social Thought. modernity and Luhmann consequently
Cambridge: Polity Press. postulated (1992) that contingency is the
Veblen, T. ([1899] 1953) The Theory of the Lei- distinguishing feature or Eigenwert of modern
sure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions. society.
New York: Mentor.

DON SLATER References and further reading

Luhmann, N. (1976) ‘Generalized Media and
the Problem of Contingency’, in J. J. Loub-
CONTINGENCY ser et al. (eds) Explorations in General Theory in
The concept of contingency was established Social Science. New York: Free Press.
Luhmann, N. (1984) ‘Doppelte Kontingenz’, in
in social theory as a concept for the depen- N. Luhmann, Soziale Systeme. Frankfurt am
dency of variables on other variables and the Main: Suhrkamp.
dependency of actions on other actions. Luhmann, N. (1992) ‘Kontingenz als Eigenwert
Cross-tabulations were often called con- der modernen Gesellschaft’, in N. Luhmann,
tingency tables. In 1951, Talcott Parsons Beobachtungen der Moderne. Opladen: West-
deutscher Verlag.
added the concept of ‘double contingency’. Parsons, T. and Shils, E. (1951) Toward a General
This meant that satisfaction in interaction Theory of Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
depends on one actor’s choice from alter- University Press.
natives which again depends on another
actor’s complementary choice from alter-
natives. Through this, the possibility of
indeterminacy – of a reciprocal blockade of
action – was introduced into social theory. CONTRACT
Parsons sought to resolve this indeterminancy Debates in the history of modern social and
by postulating common symbols or a com- political thought about contracts or con-
mon normative orientation of ego and alter. tractual relationships between members of a
The concept of double contingency was social group begin with the advent of theories
renewed by Niklas Luhmann (1976, 1984) of natural rights in seventeenth-century
who challenged the solution via normative Europe. With differing nuances, Hugo
commonalities. Instead he postulated that, Grotius, Samuel Pufendorf, Thomas Hobbes
in a situation of indeterminacy from any and John Locke all sought to account for
minimal event or minimal action, the the bases of political obligation to sovereign
beginnings of a process of system formation powers in ways that dispensed with tradi-
may arise. Norms and symbols are a late tional medieval teachings about the divi-
result of such a process of system formation. nely ordained authority of monarchs. The
There is also a second decisive shift in conception of a contract, or ‘covenant’, was
Luhmann’s concept of contingency. He held to describe the reasons of individuals
dissolves the affinity of contingency and for surrendering their power to preserve
dependency and introduces from the the- and protect their own life and liberty to a
ory of modalities germane to scholastic constituted sovereign agency. Hobbes

famously wrote of a ‘state of nature’ marked an understanding of contracts in terms of

by a ‘war of all against all’ from which simple conventions by which individuals
individuals depart once they recognize the come to coordinate their actions and purposes
superior efficiency of a unified sovereign (in his Treatise of Human Nature, Hume
power in protecting their own life and liberty wrote of the labour of coordination needed
against external threats. by two men rowing a boat). Montesquieu’s
The seventeenth-century natural rights Spirit of the Laws pointed to the salience of
theorists all wrote against the background contingent historical customs in the fram-
of threats to social order posed by religious ing of beliefs in original contracts. The later
factions claiming ultimate divine warrant eighteenth- and nineteenth-century move-
for acts of seizure of political power (Tuck ments of political economy and utilitar-
1979). But where Hobbes’s solution to ianism presaged an essentially sociological
what later became known as the problem of understanding of contracts in terms of
the separation of church and state was functional agreements serving the satisfac-
implicitly authoritarian, Locke’s doctrine of tion of individual interests and needs,
religious toleration involved the implicitly especially through the economic exchange
libertarian proviso that a people’s or system of the market. Sir Henry Maine’s
nation’s contract with its sovereign could Ancient Law of 1861 saw laws and legal
be legitimately broken by rebellion on arrangements in societies as evolving from
grounds of interference with the private relations of ‘status’, based on received cus-
rights of individuals to freedom of con- tomary sources of authority, to relations of
science. Jean-Jacques Rousseau famously ‘contract’, based on formal codified rights
radicalized Locke’s proto-typical political and responsibilities between contracting
liberalism in a more collectivist direction partners. This narrative was paralleled in
by speaking of a ‘social contract’ that many respects by Ferdinand Tönnies’s
expresses not merely the sum of the private dichotomy of Gemeinschaft and Gesell-
interests of individuals (the ‘will of all’) but schaft) and by Marx’s conception of the
the ‘general will’ of the people, based on a system of contractually obligated ‘wage-
collectively affirmed consensus. This con- slaves’ with which capitalist relations
sensus was to be reached through the active replace feudal relations of personal bondage
participation of citizens in a common polity to the lord.
(see citizenship), thereby giving direct Today, however, the single most com-
democratic warrant to executive power pelling sociological analysis of contractual
without any intermediary stratum of poli- relations continues to be Durkheim‘s dis-
tical representatives (see democracy and cussion in The Division of Labour in Society
democratization). of 1893. Durkheim’s key criticism of Maine
Rousseau’s and the natural rights theor- and of all previous accounts in the French
ists’ contractarianism underlies much of the and British positivist traditions was that
exercises in normative liberal political phi- contractual relations cannot be explained
losophy undertaken by American political solely by one individual’s readiness to
and legal theorists since the early 1970s, cooperate with another for the sake of satisfy-
most notably John Rawls, Robert Nozick ing of his or her own self-interest. One
and Ronald Dworkin. From around the individual’s willingness to cooperate depends
middle of the eighteenth century, however, on the trust of another, and trust cannot
a range of intellectual movements began to itself be explained in contractual terms
suggest less openly normative ways of without an infinite logical regress. Trust in
understanding the social meaning of contracts. contracts is possible, Durkheim argued, only
David Hume’s historical scepticism suggested to the extent that it is ‘underwritten by the

moral force of society’. Contracts only institution of a ‘sacrament’. Generalizing

crystallize in the form of strategic attitudes a from this case, it may be observed that the
more primordial bond of moral solidarity very concept of a contract is itself a product
between contracting parties as holders of a of cultural and intellectual secularization –
common conscience collective. Durkheim’s just as the seventeenth-century natural
sociological thinking here preserved the rights theories originally began life as secu-
Kantian normative precept that a condi- larized transformations of the medieval
tional ‘hypothetical imperative’ (I must respect Judaeo-Christian theological conception of
others as means to my ends) presupposes a ‘natural law’.
more basic unconditional ‘categorical
imperative’ (I must respect others as ends in
References and further reading
themselves). In this way, Durkheim
demonstrated that self-interest can at most Darwall, S. (ed.) (2003) Contractarianism, Con-
explain specific contingent contracts between tractualism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Pateman, C. (1988) The Sexual Contract. Stan-
individuals but not the binding obligatory ford, CA: Stanford University Press.
force of contracts in general. Scanlon, T. M. (2003) The Difficulty of Tolerance.
It in this sense that the return of the Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
normative contents of natural rights the- Tuck, R. (1979) Natural Rights Theories. Cam-
ories in the contemporary neo-Kantian bridge: Cambridge University Press.
political and legal thought of Rawls and AUSTIN HARRINGTON
Dworkin marks a more intelligent under-
standing of the nature of contracts than that
offered by the neo-utilitarian approaches of
rational choice theory and game theory. CONVENTION
The latter paradigms run aground in The concept of convention refers to an
attempting to explain contracts by recourse agreement or to a social regularity such as a
purely to the interests of a ‘rational egoist’ usage, custom or rule of conduct. For
in cooperating with another – because the David Hume ([1740] 1978) a convention is
reasons that make such interests ‘rational’ based on the anticipation of reciprocity of
are not ones that can be understood in behaviour between individuals. A conven-
purely instrumental terms. Analysis of con- tion is an instrumental agreement with the
tractual relationships in other spheres of life function of coordinating interaction between
beyond the economy and the formal polity two or more parties. For Max Weber
brings this shortfall of understanding into (1978), a convention is not followed spon-
even sharper relief. In the sphere of inti- taneously but rather on account of the
macy, for example, ideas of contract and existence of social sanctions of disapproval
consent raise a question of the deeper following non-respect of the convention.
reserves of moral trust and love that give The concept of convention was reintroduced
reason to parties to bind themselves to into social theory in the 1960s by the phi-
others in ways that, by definition, exceed losopher David Lewis (1969). Following
the possibility of definite negotiation and Lewis, the concept has been widely applied
prediction or calculation of consequences. in evolutionary game theory, highlighting
The case of marriage in modern society (see the importance of collective factors such as
marriage and divorce) is here only one tradition for individual rationality. An
instance of a type of social relation whose institutional perspective on conventions
symbolic meaning exceeds explanation in was introduced by the French economists
terms of an instrumental contract because it Favereau and Lazega (2002). Three char-
owes its historical origins to the religious acteristics of conventions are stressed by

these authors. First, conventions are arbi- cooperation in a Prisoner’s Dilemma yields
trary, and usually carry implicit, rather than pay-offs that are superior to the pay-offs of
explicit, sanctions. Second, conventions mutual defection. The dilemma results
may operate at the level of representations, from the fact that every actor has an incentive
where they function as repertoires of eval- to unilaterally deviate from cooperation.
uation. Third, above the level of repre- This gives the deviating agent the highest
sentations, they may also operate at the pay-off. Besides the Prisoner’s Dilemma,
level of rules, where they form rules of many other problematic situations or ‘social
conduct. dilemmas’ share the characteristic that indi-
vidually rational action produces a sub-
optimal social outcome (Raub and Voss
References and further reading
1986). These dilemmas may comprise two-
Favereau, F. and Lazega, E. (2002) Conventions person interactions but also interactions
and Structures in Economic Organization. Chel- among more than two participants. A pro-
tenham: Edward Elgar.
Hume, D. ([1740] 1978) A Treatise on Human
minent example of a multi-person coop-
Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. eration problem is public goods production
Lewis, D. K. (1969) Convention: A Philosophical which is relevant in the research on collec-
Study. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University tive action (Olson 1965).
Press. Many different mechanisms are prone to
Weber, M. (1978) Economy and Society: An Out-
line of Interpretive Sociology. Berkeley, CA:
generate cooperation in problematic social
University of California Press. dilemma situations. First, the social dilemma
can be repeated indefinitely among the
SØREN JAGD same participants. Then it can be rational to
cooperate if one assumes that today’s
cooperation may induce others’ coopera-
COOPERATION tion in future interactions. This is because
Cooperation means that actors contribute defection can be punished if interactions
to a common goal or good. The common are repeated. Consider, for example,
good that can be produced via cooperation Rapoport’s celebrated ‘tit for tat’ strategy in
may be context-specific: social order or the iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma (Axelrod
solidarity within a society, group solidarity 1984) where a participant may respond in
in intentional communities and organiza- once instance with the strategy used by the
tions, trust and reciprocity in economic other in a previous round. Thus, ‘tit for tat’
and social exchange. may be ‘friendly’ (cooperates in the first
Modern analyses of cooperation are round) and ‘provokable’ because of even-
inspired by rational choice and game the- tual defection. Second, in addition to
oretic ideas. In terms of game theory, repeated interactions, multilateral reputa-
cooperation is problematic if rational agents tion via social networks is a structural con-
have incentives to choose actions or stra- dition that fosters cooperation (Greif 1994).
tegies in such a way that an inefficient or This mechanism can be effective if informa-
suboptimal outcome is realized. Efficiency tion about a partner’s defection spreads to
or optimality is meant in Pareto’s sense as third actors (potential partners). Third,
an outcome that cannot be improved many social institutions provide solutions to
without decreasing the payoffs of at least cooperation problems. Coleman (1990)
one participant. The Prisoner’s Dilemma argues that actors sometimes construct
game (Axelrod 1984), where each of two institutional arrangements which change
players is given the option of cooperating their incentive structure and reduce the
or defecting, is a case in point. Mutual temptation to deviate from joint cooperation.

To illustrate, rational actors who take a Coleman, J. S. (1990) Foundations of Social The-
hostage may create a credible commitment ory. Cambridge, MA: Belknap.
Diekmann, A. (2004) ‘The Power of Recipro-
to cooperate even under conditions of a city’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 48: 487–505.
one-shot dilemma situation (Raub and Fehr, E. and Gächter, S. (2000) ‘Cooperation
Keren 1993). Other institutions such as and Punishment in Public Goods Experi-
informal social norms also create incentives ments’, American Economic Review, 90: 980–
to cooperate. Cooperation norms are based 94.
Greif, A. (1994) ‘Cultural Beliefs and the Orga-
on threats to punish deviant behaviour nization of Society’, Journal of Political Econ-
directly and not merely indirectly by refus- omy, 102: 912–50.
ing future cooperation (Voss 2001). Olson, M. (1965) The Logic of Collective Action.
Work on cooperation also focuses on the Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
evolution of other-regarding preferences. Raub, W. and Keren, G. (1993) ‘Hostages as a
Commitment Device’, Journal of Economic
Altruistic preferences imply that an agent’s Behavior and Organization, 21: 43–67.
utility increases with increases in the wel- Raub, W. and Voss, T. (1986) ‘Conditions of
fare (or utility) of other actors. Clearly, Cooperation in Problematic Social Situa-
altruists can be motivated to cooperate in a tions’, in Diekmann, A. and P. Mitter (eds)
one-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma. Another Paradoxical Effects of Social Behavior: Essays in
Honor of Anatol Rapoport. Vienna: Physica.
type of preference that accounts for one- Sober, E. and Wilson, D. S. (1999) Unto Others:
shot cooperation is the aversion to The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish
inequality (fairness). Fairness preferences Behavior. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Uni-
are closely related to ‘altruistic reciprocity’. versity Press.
Positive reciprocity is the tendency to Voss, T. (2001) ‘Game Theoretical Perspectives
on the Emergence of Social Norms’, in M.
respond cooperatively towards expected or
Hechter and K.-D. Opp (eds) Social Norms.
actual cooperation. This may explain con- New York: Russell Sage.
ditional cooperation. Negative reciprocity
means the punishment of defections with THOMAS VOSS
retributive sanctions. Notice that negative
reciprocity occurs even under the condition
of costly (‘altruistic’) punishments. Empiri- CORPORATION
cal evidence on altruistic reciprocity (Fehr ‘Corporation’ refers to a form of public or
and Gächter 2000; Diekmann 2004) sug- private organization endowed with legal
gests that cooperation and the enforcement rights and responsibilities akin to those
of cooperation norms are not only based on ascribed to the individual subject or citizen.
social structural conditions such as repeated Corporations possess legal standing separate
interactions and networks but also on from their owners. Unlike traditional part-
‘internalized’ preferences to cooperate nerships, which they have in large part
conditionally. Ideas from evolutionary the- supplanted in most areas of commerce and
ory (Sober and Wilson 1998) imply that trade, corporations are generally character-
group segregation, selective mating and simi- ized by the separation of ownership and
lar structural conditions may in the long run management, the latter function being car-
favour biological or cultural ‘group selec- ried out by salaried professionals. After
tion’ processes that shape ‘altruistic’ pre- ‘incorporation’, the identity and legal status
ferences among populations of egoists. of the corporation are not dependent on a
continuation of any particular memberships
or share holdings.
References and further reading
Corporations are generally constituted
Axelrod, R. (1984) The Evolution of Cooperation. either (1) as private limited liability com-
New York: Basic Books. panies, which protect those individuals

who constitute its management or hold cular, it was the expansion of the railways
shares in it from being personally liable in across the USA and Europe that fuelled the
the event of the corporation being sued; or growth in corporate activity as the need for
(2) as public corporations. Public corpora- ever increasing levels of capital investment
tions are generally – though not exclusively – caused a significant expansion in the num-
owned and funded by the state, their status bers of middle-class share owners. In the
being enshrined in statute. In the UK, the mid to late nineteenth century the final
BBC is one such corporation which, while obstacle to corporate dominance of the
managed by its Board of Governors, is economy was lifted with the gradual intro-
financed by the television licence fee which duction of limited liability, by which
is collected by the Treasury and is ulti- shareholders could only be legally held
mately answerable to Parliament for its liable to third parties to the limit of their
activities. In general, the arrangements by shareholding.
which corporations are governed and the Today, the global economy is dominated
relationship between the state, shareholders by transnational or multinational corpora-
and principal representatives of corpora- tions operating in more than one country.
tions are often determined by national legal Around 63,000 multinational corporations
and other institutional arrangements, although currently operate in the global market,
moves towards international standards are accounting for approximately two-thirds of
increasingly impacting on such arrangements. global trade. Some of them generate eco-
Modern commercial corporations nomic outputs larger than many small and
emerged historically during the seventeenth some medium-sized countries. In many
century, most notably in Britain with the instances, such corporations are effectively
formation of the East India Company. able to negotiate with national govern-
Originally a trade association acting as an ments the terms on which they are pre-
umbrella for merchants, and thus non- pared to invest in a nation’s economy.
profit in character, it quickly evolved over Such dominance has led to a degree of
the course of the century into the first public uncertainty about corporate power,
commercial corporation generating profit spawning a number of high profile pub-
for what was to become its shareholders. By lications, media events and protests opposed
the end of the century, however, corpora- to the perceived lack of democratic
tions were banned by English law due to accountability (see Bakan 2004) (see gov-
the activities of those agents then known as ernance and governmentality). Often
jobbers, who sold stocks and shares at the these have linked corporate behaviour to
coffee houses of London. After the collapse environmental damage or to sweatshop
of the South Sea Company in 1720 which labour conditions, especially in developing
led to the ruination of the majority of its countries. There is also an increasing num-
investors, the British government passed ber of legal challenges to the supposed
the Bubble Act, which outlawed corpora- immunity of corporations from prosecution
tions that may harm the public wealth, as for criminal acts, the most prominent of
well as the speculative selling and buying of these being corporate manslaughter.
shares which were to be limited to those
actively taking part in the company’s affairs.
References and further reading
By 1825 the Bubble Act had been
repealed, however. Henceforth, commer-
Bakan, J. (2004) The Corporation. London: Con-
cial corporations increasingly came to be stable and Robinson.
viewed as vital to the expansion of indus- Chandler, A. D. (1977) The Visible Hand. Cam-
trial enterprise around the globe. In parti- bridge, MA: Harvard University Press.


Kanter, R. M. (1977) Men and Women of the how far citizenship has fallen short of its
Corporation. New York: Basic Books. aspirations (Dallmayr 2003). Whether
Supple, B. E. (1992) The Rise of Big Business.
Brookfield, VT: E. Elgar. articulated as a hope for a cosmopolitan
democratic order (Held 1995) or a plea for
PHILIP HANCOCK the state of the dispossessed (Nyers 2003), it
remains a crucial component of our nor-
mative political life.
In its broadest meaning, cosmopolitanism
References and further reading
stands for an orientation or aspiration.
Being cosmopolitan means to orient or Dallmayr, F. (2003) ‘Cosmopolitanism: Moral
aspire toward an ideal that transcends the and Political’, Political Theory, 31(3): 421–42.
Derrida, J. (2001) ‘On Cosmopolitanism’, in On
immediate boundaries of being and
Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness. London:
belonging somewhere. According to Der- Routledge.
rida (2001) such transcendence involves a Heater, D. B. (1990) Citizenship: The Civic Ideal
double movement of hospitality: being in World History, Politics, and Education. Lon-
hospitable to the other while urging the don: Longman Group.
other to aspire to the same hospitality. Heater, D. B. (2002) World Citizenship: Cosmo-
politan Thinking and Its Opponents. London:
While cosmopolitanism is often con- Continuum.
trasted to citizenship, understood as being Held, D. (1995) Democracy and the Global Order:
and belonging somewhere, cosmopolitan- From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Gov-
ism does not necessarily mean being or ernance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University
belonging nowhere. Citizenship has always Press.
Irigaray, L. ([1999] 2002) Between East and West:
embodied cosmopolitan aspirations in the
From Singularity to Community. Trans. S. Plu-
sense that it has been oriented toward hacek. New York: Columbia University
transcending the immediate boundaries of Press.
social entities such as tribes, villages or clans Linklater, A. (1998) The Transformation of Political
(Heater 1990; 2002). That citizenship itself Community: Ethical Foundations of the Post-
became trapped in the boundaries of first Westphalian Era. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Moellendorf, D. (2002) Cosmopolitan Justice.
the city, then the empire, then the state, Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
and then the nation reminds us of its Nyers, P. (2003) ‘Abject Cosmopolitanism: The
inherent yet unfulfilled aspiration of cos- Politics of Protection in the Anti-Deporta-
mopolitanism. tion Movements’, Third World Quarterly,
We receive images of cosmopolitanism 24(6): 1069–93.
Schofield, M. (1991) The Stoic Idea of the City.
from various sources. If one source is the Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stoic ideal of the Hellenic world of waning
cities (Schofield 1991), Confucianism and ENGIN F. ISIN
Buddhism also provided images of such
hospitality (Irigaray 2002). The aspirations
of cosmopolitanism have been articulated CRIME
in diverse ways by Zeno of Citium, Dante Crime can be defined as behaviour that
of Florence, Rousseau of Geneva, Kant of violates criminal law, which is liable to
Königsberg and today Derrida of Paris. In public prosecution and punishment (Sacco
each case, these voices remind citizens how and Kennedy 1994: 9). It is governmental
a citizenship of limits may harden into social control, law backed by coercive
limits of citizenship. (state) power. Although crime is a narrower
Today the urgency of the idea of cos- concept than deviance (despite overlaps,
mopolitanism consists in its reminding us of much criminal behaviour is seen as deviant

and vice versa), there are significant differ- punishment, was required to mend the
ences. First, the consequences for the indi- breach and restore equilibrium. Punish-
vidual thus designated can include state- ment did not have to be vengeful – in fact,
sanctioned lifetime incarceration or legally Durkheim thought retributive sanctions
prescribed death (see death and mortality). characterized non-industrial societies whose
Second, by labelling an act a crime, the solidarity depended on the similarity of
state makes a key public statement: it their members (mechanical solidarity). Com-
declares the designated act harmful to all plex, industrialized societies, bound
citizens. This is why the state initiates through interdependence in multifaceted
action against the offender, regardless of the divisions of labour (organic solidarity), would
wishes of those it names ‘victim’ and focus on restitution. Although Durkheim’s
‘offender’. Third, while all societies distin- prediction was wrong – developed societies
guish deviant from normative behaviour in with substantial inequality are more puni-
the project of social control, only those tive than simpler societies, and levels of
with state systems have crime. punishment have been increasing in recent
Behaviours proscribed as crime vary decades (Garland 2001) – his contribution
across time, by culture and nation–state. endures.
Early concepts were heavily influenced by In 1938 Robert Merton’s theory of
religious doctrines which ascribed evil to anomie or strain theory applied Durkhei-
supernatural forces. Those who practiced mian concepts to devise a sociological
witchcraft, for example, were allied with explanation of crime in America. Crime
the devil or possessed by demons. With the was seen as a rational response to socially
advent of modernity, states sought expla- induced strain caused by restricted access to
nations through science, and the discipline legitimate opportunity structures. American
of criminology emerged. Its goal, to society, Merton argued, promised success
understand, predict and control criminal (wealth) for all. However, the socially
behaviour, was first sought (and thought) approved means to obtain success – good
through the discipline of medicine, parti- schools, membership of prestigious clubs,
cularly psychiatric theories of pathology executive positions – were unavailable to
and insanity. Today clinical psychology lower-class youth. Four adaptations were
dominates sciences which examine crime at possible: innovation, retreatism, ritualism
the level of the individual. Sociological and rebellion. Innovators devise illegitimate
concepts see crime as a social and legal means to attain culturally approved goals.
construction (see constructionism). Within During Prohibition, for example, first gen-
sociological thought, positivist schools look eration immigrants succeeded through
for traits that distinguish criminals from innovative means such as racketeering.
‘law-abiding’ individuals. Interpretive and Retreatists reject both goals and means
critical schools ask how social conditions (hobos and drug addicts), ritualists accept
and institutions produce crime and crim- means but not goals (petty bureaucrats who
inals, and how power is implicated in the rigidly follow rules), rebels reject existing
definitional process. goals and means, and substitute new ones.
Of the positivist founding fathers of The theory was subsequently altered to
sociology, Emile Durkheim ([1893] 1964) accommodate discoveries that access to ille-
paid most sustained attention to deviance gitimate opportunity structures also varies by
and crime. Durkheim saw crime as an neighbourhood, ethnicity and class (Clo-
offence against a society’s fundamental, ward and Ohlin 1960).
sacred values, a threat to moral authority Control theory shifts focus from societal
and social solidarity. A collective response, defects, back onto the individual. Control

theories start with the assumption that working class (proletariat) is appropriated
people will break rules if it is in their inter- by the upper classes (bourgeoisie) to max-
ests to do so, and that crime is a pleasurable imize profits. Crime occurs when the
short-cut to achieving human desires. oppressed strike back against those who
Conformity, then, becomes problematic: exploit them, and is repressed by the state
why do most people obey the law? Travis to preserve class rule. This reworking of
Hirschi (1969) argued that criminal acts Marx explains the over-representation of
occur when an individual’s bond with the poor in prisons, and state preoccupation
society is weak or absent. People are bon- with crimes of the powerless at the expense
ded to their society through attachment, of white-collar and corporate crime. In the
commitment, involvement and belief. 1980s radical criminology was criticized for
Crime is less likely when individuals are romanticizing crime and ignoring victims.
emotionally attached to others, and care Moreover, surveys revealed that victims
about their opinions and judgments. Com- were more likely to be the girlfriend,
mitted individuals have a stake in conventional Pakistani immigrant, or local pensioner
activities, and something to lose through than the privileged classes. In response, Left
criminality. Non-criminal, conforming Realism took crime seriously. Its studies of
people are more likely to be involved in policing showed police priorities skewed by
conventional activities at the behavioural class, gender and race bias. Working-class
level. Finally, the more people believe in offenders were targeted for coercive control
conventional values and norms, the less while working-class victims, especially women
likely they are to engage in crime. and visible minorities, were ignored.
The assumption that crime is a rational Interpretive approaches were also more
choice has spawned new studies, industries important in earlier decades than today.
and policies. If criminals are rational beings Labelling theory, rooted in symbolic inter-
always seeking opportunities to offend, actionism, argues that the imposition of a
cities must be redesigned to create ‘defen- criminal label increases the likelihood of
sible’ space. Robbery rates can be cut by criminal behaviour. Criminal justice pro-
switching to exact fares on buses, and fit- cessing or ‘signification by Leviathan’
ting park benches with rigid armrests to (Matza 1969) sets a process in motion
prevent homeless people from sleeping on where ‘criminal’ becomes a person’s master
them. Houses in affluent suburbs, deserted status or identity. For example, people
all day by owners commuting to jobs in the charged as thieves come to see themselves
distant city, need Neighbourhood Watch this way when significant others and pro-
programmes, surveillance, and all manner spective employers expect and reinforce
of private security. Citizens must constantly thief-like traits, thereby making conform-
monitor risk. A later version of control ing behaviours more difficult for the ‘thief’
theory argues that criminals cannot defer to display. Processes of exclusion may lead
gratification, due to inadequate training, to membership in a deviant subculture
discipline or nurturing. Lacking in self- which transmits this identity, and associated
control, they are ‘impulsive, insensitive, skills and techniques, to new recruits.
physical. . .risk-takers, short-sighted and non- Feminist theories have corrected patri-
verbal’ (Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990: 90). archal concepts which saw female crime in
Critical definitions of crime have been terms of sexuality, and female criminals as
less influential in recent decades. In the hormonal black holes (see feminist theory).
1970s New or Radical Criminology (Tay- Feminist arguments for amelioration and
lor et al. 1973) argued that capitalism is empowerment have been ignored, while
essentially criminogenic: the labour of the arguments which increased punishment

through redesigned legislation on domestic Snider, L. (2003) ‘Constituting the Punishable

and sexual assault have produced policy Woman’, British Journal of Criminology, 43:
change (Snider 2003). Critical post-struc- Taylor, I., Walton, P. and Young, J. (1973) The
turalist theories, influenced by Foucault New Criminology. London: Verso.
(1977), problematize criminology itself,
situating claims to knowledge in relations
of power. They examine how criminology
and other discourses constitute the modern
human subject, who constantly monitors,
regulates and disciplines him/herself, and Crisis refers to a time of danger and suspense, a
the mechanisms of the surveillant state. turning-point. In medical contexts crisis
Positivist, modernist concepts of crime denotes the stage in an illness when a patient
dominate Anglo-American criminology may either live or die. Some see sociology
today. Where strain theories located the as a crisis science insofar as it arose amidst
causes of crime in structural, societal defi- the dissolution of traditional society and the
ciencies, and critical perspectives question emergence of its modern successor. Episte-
power–knowledge linkages and the role of mologically, crisis creates conditions in
race, gender and class, control theories have which social scientists are able to discern
popularized the criminal as rational pre- trends more clearly. An idea of crisis was
dator, flawed in morality, in socialization, first used to refer to the French Revolution,
or in the ability to defer gratification. This by de Bonald in a negative sense, and by
resonated with neo-liberal state agendas in Saint-Simon in a positive sense (see Koselleck
the 1980s and the 1990s, justifying cutbacks [1973] 1988). Later it was applied to the
in social programmes and dramatic increa- consequences of capitalism. The classical
ses in inequality. sociologists all employed the concept, but
Marx more emphatically than either Dur-
kheim, whose concept of ‘anomie’ was
References and further reading
related to it, or Weber who kept it at arm’s
Cloward, R. and Ohlin, L. (1960) Delinquency length. Marx focused on the possibility that
and Opportunity: A Theory of Delinquent the periodic economic crisis cycle would
Gangs. New York: Free Press.
Durkheim, E. ([1893] 1964) The Division of eventually spiral into a ‘universal crisis’ ending
Labour in Society. New York: Free Press. capitalism.
Foucault, M. (1977) Discipline and Punish. New In contemporary social theory Niklas
York: Vintage Press. Luhmann comes closest to Weber in tireless
Garland, D. (2001) The Culture of Control. Chi- warning against over-use of the concept of
cago: University of Chicago Press.
Gottfredson, M. and Hirschi, T. (1990) A Gen- crisis, although Luhmann does emphasize
eral Theory of Crime. Stanford, CA: Stanford the vulnerability of modern social systems.
University Press. Jürgen Habermas (1976) captured this
Hirschi, T. (1969) Causes of Delinquency. Berke- vulnerability by analyzing a chain of ‘crisis
ley, CA: University of California Press. tendencies’ potentially leading to the loss or
Matza, D. (1969) Becoming Deviant. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. transformation of social identity. What
Merton, R. (1938) ‘Social Structure and Habermas called the ‘legitimation crisis’, his
Anomie’, American Sociological Review, neo-conservative counterparts reinterpreted
3:67282. as the crisis of the welfare state culminating
Morrison, W. (1995) Theoretical Criminology: in ‘ungovernability’ (Offe 1984). Since the
From Modernity to Post-Modernism. London:
Cavendish Press. 1980s uncertainty about macro-processes
Sacco, V. and Kennedy, L. (1994) The Criminal and their outcomes has strengthened, with
Event. Scarborough, ON: Nelson. the ecology crisis symbolizing this anxiety.

Consequently, risk has become the focus of Critical theory’s original programme was
conflicting interpretations of this developing set out in essays by Horkheimer and Mar-
crisis consciousness, as theorized by authors cuse after Horkheimer took the helm of the
such as Beck (1999) and Giddens (1999). Institute for Social Research in 1930. The
notion of ‘critical theory’ was developed in
distinction to ‘traditional theory’. Modeling
References and further reading
itself on natural science, traditional theory
Beck, U. (1999) World Risk Society. Cambridge: seeks knowledge about specific social phe-
Polity. nomena in the form of law-like, explanatory,
Giddens, A. (1999) Runaway World. London:
Profile. predictive generalizations. It reflects the
Habermas, J. ([1973] 1976) Legitimation Crisis. modern reduction of reason to a subjective
London: Heinemann. standpoint and to technical, means–ends
Koselleck, R. ([1973] 1988) Critique and Crisis: rationality. Against this, critical theory is
Enlightenment and the Pathogenesis of Modern guided by a substantive conception of rea-
Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Offe, C. (1984) ‘Ungovernability’, in C. Offe, son that includes reflection on the ends of
Contradictions of the Welfare State. London: social development and the possibility of a
Hutchinson. more rational society (see rationality and
Strydom, P. (2000) Discourse and Knowledge: The rationalization). Questioning its pre-
Making of Enlightenment Sociology. Liverpool: suppositions and considering the social and
Liverpool University Press.
historical conditions of knowledge, it criti-
PIET STRYDOM cally examines how categories and ideas
emerge from and support the social order.
Above all, it is guided by the goal of social
CRITICAL THEORY transformation, whose obstacles and possi-
Critical theory can refer broadly to theoretical bilities it seeks to discover with the help of
approaches on art or literary criticism, or to the social sciences. Critical theory thus
any theory that aims at the criticism of inherits from Marxism the aim of over-
society. In social theory, however, it is most coming the division between theory and
often applied to the Frankfurt School. practice (see praxis and practices).
Critical theory began in inter-war Germany Like other varieties of Western Marxism,
as an unorthodox effort to renew Marxism critical theory’s central questions in the
by integrating philosophical reflection with 1930s were posed by the workers’ failure to
empirical social science. Its key features overthrow capitalism and the rise of Stali-
derive from this moment: the attempt to nist and Nazi totalitarianism. In inter-
forge a self-reflexive, interdisciplinary, mate- disciplinary fashion, the Frankfurt School
rialist theory of society oriented towards undertook investigations ranging from the
human emancipation. It is now common economy and politics to culture and the
to speak of three generations of critical psyche. Combining the insights of Marx,
theory: the first (from the 1930s to the Weber, and Freud, it tried to establish
1960s) centering on Max Horkheimer and connections between capitalist exploitation,
Theodor Adorno, but also including Friedrich the reduction of reason to instrumental
Pollock, Walter Benjamin, Herbert Mar- reason, and the effects of psychic repres-
cuse, and Erich Fromm, among others; the sion. Noting parallel developments in the
second (from the 1960s to the 1990s) Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and the liberal-
identified with Jürgen Habermas; and a capitalist West, Friedrich Pollock, Franz
third (emerging since the 1980s) associated Neumann, and Otto Kirchheimer suggested
with the work of Axel Honneth and some that the state and the economy were fusing
other theorists. into a single system, a centrally-planned

‘state capitalism’ that overcame the crisis played a major role as critical intellectuals
tendencies observed by Marx through ever opposing the repression of the past in the
more efficient and subtle mechanisms of conservative climate of post-war Germany.
social integration. Adorno and Benjamin Beyond this, writers who had broken with
argued that culture no longer provided a the School in the 1940s, most notably
point of resistance to social control and a Marcuse, continued to maintain the possi-
locus for the development of autonomous bility of social transformation through a
forms of individuality and sociality. In the ‘libinal revolution’, anticipating the protest
age of mass culture and mass society, it movements of the late 1960s.
instead became what Horkheimer and In the early 1960s Jürgen Habermas, then
Adorno described as a manipulative, affir- Adorno’s assistant, emerged as the most
mative ‘culture industry’. And as they, important theorist of what came to be
Marcuse and Fromm sought to show, the called second-generation critical theory.
decline of the paternalistic bourgeois Beginning with the Structural Transformation
family led to a weakening of the person- of the Public Sphere (1962), which traces the
ality, producing conformist individuals emergence of the ideal of free and rational
who were increasingly vulnerable to the discussion in bourgeois civil society, Haber-
appeal of authoritarianism (Adorno et al. mas’s work constituted a break not only
1950; Marcuse 1964)(see authority). with the ‘pessimism’ but also with the basic
As the political situation darkened in the methodological and substantial premises of
1930s and 1940s, so did Horkheimer and the first generation. His aim has been to
Adorno’s diagnosis of modernity. Their elaborate a broader, universalist conception
best-known work, the Dialectic of Enlight- of reason opposed both to positivism and to
enment (1944), written during the war in Adorno and Horkheimer’s focus on instru-
exile in Los Angeles, turned increasingly to mental rationality. In Knowledge and Human
the philosophy of history. Locating the Interests (1968), he argues that science is
roots of the Enlightenment in ancient always based on knowledge-constitutive
Greece, they argue that the liberatory interests, whether they are technical, prac-
potential of reason had been betrayed as it tical or emancipatory. Rooting critical the-
was used to dominate nature, others, and ory in the latter, Habermas finds its
the self. Reason is reduced to instrumental normative bases in the rational potential of
reason; Enlightenment becomes its oppo- intersubjective communication.
site, myth and heteronomy. This bleak The implications of this ‘communicative
assessment carried over into their post-war turn’ are elaborated in his magnum opus,
return to Frankfurt. The later Adorno saw the two-volume Theory of Communicative
the only possibilities of escape from an Action (1981). Linking a reconstruction of
‘administered society’ in modernist art and Durkheim, Weber and Parsons with more
dialectical, non-identificatory thinking contemporary approaches from pragma-
against reason’s oppressive tendency to tism to speech-act theory, Habermas dis-
totality (Negative Dialectics 1966). tinguishes between two fundamental modes
The Institute nevertheless contributed to of action and rationality: instrumental or
the development of German social science strategic rationality and communicative
by encouraging interdisciplinary research. rationality, the latter characterized by
In the ‘positivism dispute’ of the 1960s, it agents’ orientation towards understanding
defended a reflective, self-critical conception and consensus. Habermas argues that all gen-
of sociology, drawing on a theoretical uine communication presupposes a dom-
account of the whole of society (see posi- ination-free speech situation as a
tivism). Adorno and Horkheimer also counterfactual ideal. This ideal then serves

as a normative standard to criticize actual of individual flourishing and non-distorted

social relations. Using this distinction to social relationships. In the United States,
develop a two-level theory of society, critical theory has been taken up by theor-
Habermas grants to systems theory that ists influenced by feminist theory, notably
modern societies reproduce themselves Seyla Benhabib and Nancy Fraser. Their
through relatively autonomous economic aim is a social theory that is more sensitive to
and administrative systems, but insists that issues of identity-formation, cultural and
the legitimacy of the social order has to be gender differences, power and equality.
grounded in the communicative interac- Approaches in the Frankfurt School tra-
tions of a shared lifeworld, the social world dition are not, however, the only ones that
seen from the participants’ perspective. understand themselves as critical theories.
Under late capitalism, this lifeworld is Two especially fruitful alternatives are
increasingly colonized by systems, with represented by Michel Foucault and Pierre
destructive effects on social integration and Bourdieu. Whereas the former focuses on
personal identity. the interrelations of power and discourse
Habermas’s later work develops the which produce the modern notions of rea-
practical implications of this conception. son, the subject and well-ordered societies,
His neo-Kantian discourse ethics appeals to the latter has elaborated a self-reflexive
the idea of the ideal speech situation to theory of the reproduction of social
assert the priority of the morally right, inequalities in different social fields.
consisting in a procedure of universaliza- Although in its traditional Frankfurt
tion, over competing definitions of the School mode critical theory may belong to
good. In Between Facts and Norms (1992), the twentieth century, the expansion of
communication forms the basis for an global capitalism, the crisis of the welfare
internal connection between law and state and questions of new media, tech-
democracy in the modern constitutional nology and identity suggest that its original
state: citizens must be able to understand tasks will continue to be taken up by
themselves as the authors as well as the approaches that define themselves as critical
subjects of the law, with civil society con- in the twenty-first century.
stituting the indispensable link between
lifeworld and political system (see law and
References and further reading
legality). The idea of rational consensus
formation is then further developed into a Adorno, T. et al. (1950) The Authoritarian Perso-
model of deliberative democracy appro- nality.New York: Harper and Row.
priate to conditions of modern pluralism. Adorno, T. W. ([1966] 1973) Negative Dialectics.
New York: Seabury.
Habermas’s apparent reconciliation with Benhabib, S. (1986) Critique, Norm, and Utopia.
capitalism and the liberal state, as well as his New York: Columbia University Press.
relative neglect of social and psychic Geuss, R. (1981) The Idea of a Critical Theory.
pathologies, has set the stage for an emerging Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
third generation of critical theory. Critical Habermas, J. ([1968] 1971) Knowledge and
Human Interests. Boston: Beacon.
theory today is not a unified movement but Habermas, J. ([1981] 1984/1987) Theory of
a range of different approaches situating Communicative Action, 2 vols. Cambridge,
themselves in the Frankfurt School tradition. MA: MIT Press.
In Germany, Axel Honneth reformulates Held, D. (1980) Introduction to Critical Theory.
critical theory as a theory of recognition. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
Honneth, A. ([1992] 1996) The Struggle for
He seeks to identify those forms of Recognition. Cambridge: Polity.
recognition – love, legal and moral respect and Horkheimer, M. and Adorno, T. ([1947] 1972)
social esteem – that constitute the conditions Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Herder.


Ingram, D. and Ingram, J.-S. (eds) (1992) Critical Bourdieu, P. (1979) ‘Les trois états du capital
Theory: Essential Readings. St. Paul, MN: culturel’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales,
Paragon. 30: 3–6.
Jay, M. (1973) The Dialectical Imagination. Ber- Bourdieu, P. (1980) ‘Le capital social: Notes
keley, CA: University of California Press. provisoires’, Actes de la recherche en sciences
Marcuse, H. (1964) One-Dimensional Man. Bos- sociales, 31: 2–3.
ton: Beacon. Bourdieu, P. and Coleman, J.S. (eds) (1989)
Wiggershaus, R. ([1986] 1994) The Frankfurt Social Theory for a Changing Society. Boulder,
School. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. CO: Westview Press.
Martin, B. and Szelenyi, I. (2000) ‘Beyond
ROBIN CELIKATES Cultural Capital: Toward a Theory of Sym-
JAMES INGRAM bolic Domination’, in D. M. Robbins (ed.)
Pierre Bourdieu, vol. I. London: Sage.
Cultural capital is one of the nexus of con-
cepts developed by Pierre Bourdieu. There CULTURAL TURN
are some social and cultural dispositions As an event in intellectual history, the cultural
which we inherit and these constitute our turn took place in the 1960s and 1970s,
habitus, but there are also cultural com- both in social theory and in disciplines
modities which are not integral parts of our ranging from sociology to anthropology
background. These are tokens which oper- and history. It followed in the wake of a
ate as currency in our position-taking ‘linguistic turn’ in the philosophy of science
society. Markets of cultural goods assign and embraced an ‘interpretative turn’ in sci-
value and actors buy and sell in these mar- entific analysis. Against the background of
kets to gain social distinction. The concept diverse theoretical strands such as structur-
was first developed in the educational context alism, semiotics, post-structuralism, her-
to explain the processes of exclusion within meneutics, pragmatism and Wittgensteinian
the schooling system. It challenged the linguistic philosophy, the turn to culture
notion of ‘giftedness’ or innate intellectual contributed to an understanding of social
superiority and questioned the assumptions life as fundamentally dependent on struc-
of ‘meritocratic’ procedures. Although tures of meaning and symbolic orders (see
Bourdieu appropriated economic discourse, symbol). From an anti-universalist, ‘his-
he was insistent that the acquisition and toricist’ point of view, these cultural codes
deployment of cultural capital are part of and their discourses and social practices are
the strategic behaviour of all social agents. regarded as localized and historically spe-
He opposed human capital discourse because cific, and thus as expressions of con-
it encouraged managerial control and gov- tingency (see discourses). In epistemology
ernmental manipulation. He also extended and the historiography of science, the cul-
the concept of cultural capital to include tural turn has sought to undermine positi-
social capital. Bourdieu’s concept of social vist approaches and to interpret intellectual
capital is distinctive and demonstrates his and scientific activities themselves as con-
different approach to the function of social tingent social practices (see praxis and
science, apparent in the debate with James practices) working against a background of
Coleman at the end of the 1980s. ‘paradigms’ (Kuhn 1962). In connection
with the debate on postmodernism and
References and further reading postmodernity, cultural theories have con-
tributed to scepticism towards linear the-
Bourdieu, P. ([1964] 1979) The Inheritors. Chi- ories of modernity and modernization,
cago: University of Chicago Press. pointing out immanent cultural differences

and heterogeneous paths within modernity cultural codes. Thus ‘culture’ in these theories
itself. In the 1960s and 1970s, the cultural is not a limited object of study but a general
turn was closely linked to anti-bourgeois conceptual perspective which has trans-
socio-political movements, including those formed a number of empirical fields of
of gender and post-colonialism, as well as study. Culture from this perspective has
to neo-avant-garde and postmodernist aes- challenged traditional sociological concepts
thetics. Since the 1990s, the debates on of the social as a pre-cultural structure or
cultural globalization and theories of new material basis, together with positivist self-
communication media have given a new images of science and narratives of moder-
impulse to the turn towards culture. nity in classical (see classics) functionalist
and classical Marxist
In the context of Enlightenment thought
References and further reading
and in bourgeois theories of culture of the
Bonnell, V. and Hunt, L. (eds) (1999) Beyond the nineteenth century (for example, in Mat-
Cultural Turn. Berkeley, CA: University of thew Arnold’s Culture and Anarchy), culture
California Press.
Foucault, M. ([1966] 1970) The Order of Things. was primarily defined as the normative
London: Tavistock. ideal of a moral and educated form of life, a
Giddens, A. (1976) New Rules of Sociological universalist model partly based on the bin-
Method. London: Hutchinson. ary opposition prevalent in Germany
Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representations. London: Sage. between Kultur as expressive artistic
Kuhn, T. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revo-
lutions. Chicago: University of Chicago uniqueness and authenticity and zivilisation
Press. as technological industrial progress.
Lyotard, J. F. ([1979] 1984) The Postmodern Romantic thought, prominently in J. G.
Condition. Minneapolis, MN: University of Herder, developed a particularistic concep-
Minnesota Press. tion of ‘cultures’ in the plural, presenting
Rabinow, P. and Sullivan, W. (eds) (1979)
Interpretive Social Science. Berkeley, CA: Uni- cultures as locally and historically distinct
versity of California Press. groups sharing common customs. At the
Rorty, R. (1989) Contingency, Irony, and Solidar- end of the nineteenth century, the new
ity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. discipline of cultural anthropology extended
ANDREAS RECKWITZ this idea of the distinct traditions and pat-
terns of behaviour of ‘a people’. In contrast
structural functionalism in the twentieth
century narrowed down the meaning of
culture, reducing it to a specific subsystem
Since the cultural turn of social theory and of modern society which contains ‘cultural’
sociology in the 1970s, culture has developed institutions such as art, the church or uni-
into a key concept of social inquiry. It has versities. This notion of institutionalized
transformed the sociological conceptions of culture as a discrete field of study found a
action, social structure and modernity. supportive audience in post-war sociology
Cultural theories understand the social in its and its conception of a ‘sociology of culture’.
core as a complex of symbolic forms and Since the 1960s and the 1970s a broad
structures of meaning, anchored in schemes, and heterogeneous field of influential the-
discourses and practices (see praxis and ories has emerged in social theory which
practices). Cultural theories regard both has given culture a strong explanatory status
the social and the natural sciences as them- in the form of theories of meaning and of
selves interpretative activities, and they the symbolic, understood as the very pre-
analyze ‘modernity’ in terms of a non-linear condition of social life. It includes figures
sequence of conflicts between powerful such as Roland Barthes, Pierre Bourdieu,

Jacques Derrida, Mary Douglas, Michel individual control and therefore ‘decentres
Foucault, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Clifford the subject’. Like language, culture forms a
Geertz, Harold Garfinkel, Erving Goff- system of differences in which any single item
man, Stuart Hall, Jacques Lacan, Claude receives its identity as a carrier of meaning
Lévi-Strauss, Paul Ricoeur, Alfred Schutz, only in its difference from other items of
Charles Taylor and others. In different the system. These systems of differences are
ways, all these authors endeavour to pro- ‘arbitrary’; they are social conventions,
vide a culturalist alternative to traditional which do not reflect an intrinsic order of
vocabularies in the social sciences. They things but provide contingent representa-
seek to avoid the reduction of the symbolic tions according to an immanent logic.
and the meaningful to a residual category, Since the 1970s, the structuralist concept
typical of some materialist theories of of culture has influentially been trans-
structural sociology and functionalism and formed by post-structuralist authors.
typified by the utilitarian concept of homo Michel Foucault ([1969] 1972) detects cul-
oeconomicus. tural codes not in categories of mind but in
In neo-Kantian and neo-Hegelian historically specific discourses, i.e. in sys-
thought – for instance, in the work of Max tems of regulation in utterances and texts.
Weber, Wilhelm Dilthey and Ernst Foucault regards these discourses as pro-
Cassirer – we find early attempts to sketch a ductive carriers of social power which
theory of culture as basis of the social sci- mould the shape of the person or subject
ences and the humanities. However, cul- (see subject and subjectivity). Jacques
turalist theory-building and culturalist Derrida temporalizes and destabilizes the
empirical analyses from the 1960s until the idea of cultural codes by turning systems of
first decade of the twenty-first century are differences into the incalculable sequences
largely not situated in this context. For the of différance. For Pierre Bourdieu ([1972]
most part, they are anchored in two bodies 1977), cultural codes reside in social practices,
of thought that are products of twentieth- i.e. in bodily patterns of behaviour, which
century intellectual development: struc- depend on the incorporated schemes of
turalism and semiotics, on the one hand, disposition called habitus and ‘practical
phenomenology and hermeneutics, on the sense’. A further branch of cultural theory,
other. developed by Laclau and Mouffe (1985),
and by British Cultural Studies, seeks to tie
Culture in structuralism and post-structuralism to a neo-Marxist theory
hermeneutics of domination, revitalizing the concepts of
ideology and hegemony. Similarly, large
The first influential theoretical background parts of contemporary gender theory – such
of contemporary cultural theory is to be as in the work of Judith Butler – and post-
found in structuralism and semiotics. Fer- colonial theory – such as in the work of
dinand de Saussure’s Course in General Lin- Edward Said and Stuart Hall – develop
guistics outlines key concepts of a elements of post-structuralist culturalism,
structuralist theory of language which were analyzing ‘gender’ and ‘race’ as contingent
transferred to a structuralist and semiotic products of specific discursive systems of
theory of culture, notably in the work of differences.
Lévi-Strauss and Barthes. Like language, A second influential branch of culturalist
culture forms an immanently structured theorizing can be found in the ‘inter-
system of codes that determine which pretative’ tradition (see Rabinow and Sullivan
utterances and actions are possible. The 1979), originating in phenomenology and
structure of culture thus takes effect beyond hermeneutics, together with Wittgensteinian

linguistic philosophy. Rather than viewing An issue that has emerged independently
culture as a subject-transcending structure of the distinction between structuralism and
of codes, culture in this tradition is seen as interpretative approaches concerns the
referring to the meaning-ascribing activity exact status or ‘place’ of culture: in mind, in
of subjects in their everyday taken-for- discourse and texts or in practices (see also
granted world. Influenced primarily by Reckwitz 2000). Both classical structuralism
Edmund Husserl’s phenomenological the- and phenomenology used to treat meaning
ory of consciousness and of the lifeworld structures as mental schemes, a model
and by Martin Heidegger’s ontological which seems to have been outmoded since
hermeneutics, the interpretative perspective the 1970s. The two most prominent alter-
regards specific acts of understanding and natives are textualist and praxiological the-
interpreting the world as mobilizing sources ories of culture, which transcend the
of tacit taken-for-granted knowledge and as distinction between the two theoretical
thus making up core elements of the camps: approaches such as discourse analy-
human world of culture. Scientific under- sis, semiotics, text hermeneutics, ‘new his-
standing turns out to be only a specific case toricism’ (Greenblatt) or a ‘culture as text’ –
of understanding in general (see Verstehen). approaches (Geertz 1973) that situate sym-
Erving Goffman analyzes the interpretative bolic forms on the level of textual units,
work necessary ‘to make sense of’ everyday from conversation to visual surfaces. Ver-
situations, above all in social interactions. sions of a ‘practice theory’ – from Bourdieu
Harold Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology and late Foucault to Garfinkel and Theodor
motivates reconstruction of context-sensitive Schatzki – situate structures of meaning in
everyday understanding and practical know- bodily patterns of behaviour and their
how, embedded in the skilful accomplishment background of a culturally coded tacit
of social practices, a theoretical idea which knowledge. Culture is here seen in terms of
in recent discussion has been further elabo- routinized performative activities and
rated by Luc Boltanski and Laurent Théve- implicit stocks of knowledge which are
not’s (1991) theory of situative fields of carried by ‘material’ units: by bodies and
action. artefacts. Thus, in cultural theory since the
This dichotomy between post-structur- 1990s, the relation between cultural codes
alist and hermeneutic theories of culture in and their incorporation in the body, on the
some way copies the classical distinction one hand, and the relation between codes
between ‘structure’-orientated and ‘agency’- and the materiality of technical artefacts on
orientated approaches. Consequently, a the other, have been the key focus of con-
number of attempts have been developed ceptual work. The issue of the relation
to create a specific ‘structure–agency link’ between culturalism and materialism here
for cultural theory, such as in the work of arises in new ways.
Bourdieu, Boltanski and Thévenot or Jef-
frey Alexander (see also Silverman 1997).
Culture and post-modernity
This problem of how to conceptualize
meaning both as a socio-historical product Cultural theories offer new perspectives on
of systems of differences and as an agent’s classical (or less classical) phenomena of mod-
tool to interpret specific situations of action ern societies. Social classes now are analyzed
is linked to the issue of how to combine the as communities of life-style and of impli-
‘structuralist’ determining force of cultural citly shared dispositions and schemes. Eco-
codes with the ‘post-structuralist’ incalcul- nomic organizations are seen as depending
abilities of cultural shifts, variations, con- on variable ‘organizational cultures’ while
texts and subversions. modern politics is seen as revolving around

political discourses and specific techniques illustrated by the archaeological and genea-
of ‘governmentality’. Both work and con- logical approach of Michel Foucault ([1976]
sumption are seen to presuppose a specific 1978) which has inspired a number of works
culturally moulded subject of work and a across the social sciences and humanities on
specific subject of consumption. Science the historical contingency of cultural codes.
has been reconstructed as an ensemble of Post-colonial theories of space and theories
ethno-methods in the laboratory and of of cultural globalization have begun to
particular discursive regimes. The mass media work out the cultural multiplicity of paths
have been theorized as sequences of signs into modernity and the hybrid relationship
which in turn depend on the audience’s between Western and Eastern, Northern
everyday knowledge. Gender and sexu- and Southern structures of meaning.
ality have been analyzed as products of Finally, analyses of complex conflictual
historically-specific systems of differences relations between bourgeois (‘high’) culture
and their incorporation. and popular culture, hegemonic cultures
In addition to these applications, cultural and subcultures, cultures of work and of
theories also offer basic general perspectives consumption, cultures of rationality and of
on modernity as a whole, and very fre- aesthetization, reveal the antagonistic forms
quently these perspectives have been linked in which the modern subject is constructed
to the debate on postmodernity sine the and produced.
1980s. Here attention has been focused on
the historical local contingency of see- References and further reading
mingly universalizing structures of modern
societies, which in fact depend on highly Alexander, J. and Seidman, S. (ed.) (1990) Cul-
specific cultural codes (cf. Richard Rorty ture and Society. Cambridge: Cambridge
(1989)). Modernity in these perspectives University Press.
Boltanski, L. and Théverot, L. (1991) De la jus-
turns out not to evolve around a structural tification: les économies de la grandeur. Paris:
unity, but to be a playing field of cultural Gallimard.
difference. Whereas classical sociological Bourdieu, P. ([1972] 1977) Outline of a Theory of
modernization theories used to regard Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University
modernity as the unfolding process of the Press.
Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble. London: Rou-
rationality of certain basic structural tledge.
principles – capitalism or functional differ- Foucault, M. ([1969] 1972) Archaeology of
entiation, industrialism or democracy – Knowledge. London: Tavistock.
from the angle of culture, here a number of Foucault, M. ([1976] 1978) The History of Sexu-
conflicting, open-ended cultural codes, ality, vol. 1. London: Penguin.
Gadamer, H. G. ([1960] 1975) Truth and Method.
manifest in discourses and practices, are at London: Sheed and Ward.
work which are produced in a non-linear Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures.
fashion in historical time and hetero- New York: Basic Books.
geneously distributed in space. Conse- Grossberg, L. (ed.) (1992) Cultural Studies. New
quently, time and space, history and York/London: Routledge.
Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representations: Cultural
globality, are dimensions which aid a cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Lon-
analysis of modernity, demonstrating its don: Sage.
contingency and its cultural differences. An Laclau, E. and Mouffe, C. (1985) Hegemony and
early attempt at such an approach can be Socialist Strategy. London: Verso.
found in the work of Max Weber, in his Rabinow, P. and Sullivan, W. M. (eds) (1979)
Interpretive Social Science. Berkeley, CA: Uni-
historicization and contextualization of versity of California Press.
capitalism. Culturalist analysis of time and Reckwitz, A. (2000) Die Transformation der Kul-
history since the 1970s have been primarily turtheorien. Weilerswist: Velbrueck.


Rorty, R. (1989) Contingency, Irony, and Solidar- of control’. Second-order cybernetics had
ity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. an explicit impact on subsequent forma-
Silverman, H. J. (1997) Inscriptions: After Phe-
nomenology and Structuralism. Evanston, IL: tions of sociological systems theory, espe-
Northwestern University Press. cially on Niklas Luhmann’s application of
Taylor, C. (1989) Sources of the Self. Cambridge: the theory of autopoietic systems and the
Cambridge University Press. discourse of ‘sociocybernetics’.
Williams, R. (1958) Culture and Society, 1780–
1950. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
References and further reading
Ashby, W. R. (1956) Introduction to Cybernetics.
London: Wiley.
CYBERNETICS Geyer, R. F. and van der Zouwen, J. (eds)
(1986) Sociocybernetic Paradoxes: Observation,
The term cybernetics, coined by Norbert Control and Evolution of Self-Steering Systems.
Wiener ([1948] 1961), derives from the London: Sage.
Greek word for ‘pilot’. The main subject of von Foerster, H. (1981) Observing Systems. Sea-
cybernetics is the problem of how systems side, CA: Intersystems.
Wiener, N. ([1948] 1961) Cybernetics, or Control
are steered and internally governed and and Communication in the Animal and the
how feedback loops produce special forms Machine. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
of reactions and practices in complex sys-
tems. The best-known example is a thermo- ARMIN NASSEHI
stat which both controls and is controlled
by its environment, such as a heated room.
The more technical application of ‘first- CYBORGS
order cybernetics’ was followed by ‘sec- According to popular citation, the term
ond-order cybernetics’ beginning in the ‘cyborg’ was first coined by Manfred E.
1970s (von Foerster 1981). In the words of Clynes and Nathan S. Kline to refer to a
von Foerster, first-order cybernetics human – machine hybrid that would not
addresses ‘observed systems’, whereas second- require conscious self-regulation (Hables Gray
order cybernetics is interested in ‘observing 1995: 31). In other words, this entity would
systems’. This means that the self-observa- incorporate exterior components into its own
tion of systems constitutes the basic form of body in order to better adapt to new and
self-steering and self-reproduction. The idea changing environments. Since the 1960s,
of self-observation is useful for sociology the cyborg has captured the public imagi-
because all social systems use their capacity nation in science fantasy novels and films
for self-observation in self-reproduction. It almost as much as it has increasingly fea-
is significant that all basic terms of second- tured in bio-technology research and social
order cybernetics used by sociology are scientific analyses. The latter focuses on the
formed with the prefix ‘self’ (from the potential impact of cyborgs on aspects of the
Greek auto), further implying that social social world, including the military, repro-
systems are ruled by themselves or alter- ductive processes, medical uses, disability and
natively by the results of their own practices transgender, and post-colonialism among
and processes. In this sense, second-order others. However, perhaps the most discussed
cybernetics is mainly concerned with what topic is the increased use of cyberspace and
are called ‘operationally closed systems’. the ways in which the human/computer
In sociology, cybernetic approaches were forms a particular hybrid (see hybridity).
influential for Talcott Parsons, who used One of the most important discussions
the idea of first-order cybernetics to support girding these analyses is the extent to which
his own notion of a ‘cybernetic hierarchy the cyborg undermines the (lingering)

understanding of the body as a distinct and References and further reading

autonomous entity. Discussions often Balsamo, A. (1995) Technologies of the Gendered
assume that cyborgs are a ‘new’ invention. Body. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
But at a basic level, life is, and has always Hables Gray, C. (ed.) (1995) The Cyborg Hand-
been, ‘technological’ in the very real sense book. London: Routledge.
that living matter incorporates external Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs, and
Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London:
structural materials. Hybridizations, whether Routledge.
organic, non-organic or a combination of Kirkup, J., Janes, L. and Woodward, K. (eds)
the two, are indigenous to all networking (1999) The Gendered Cyborg: A Reader. Lon-
systems. Thus, while the cyborg has cer- don: Routledge.
tainly caught the contemporary imagina-
tion, biologically speaking, it has been MYRA HIRD
around for literally millions of years.

DAHRENDORF, RALF GUSTAV (1968) Essays in the Theory of Society. London:
(1929– ) Routledge & Kegan Paul.
(1975) The New Liberty. London: Routledge &
German-born sociologist resident in Britain. Kegan Paul.
Dahrendorf was notable for his attack on (1979) Life Chances. London: Weidenfeld &
Parsons’s ‘utopian’ model of social integra- Nicolson.
tion, arguing for the centrality of social con- (1988) The Modern Social Conflict. London:
flict as played out across the stages of class, Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
law and polity. As such, Dahrendorf bore
the influence of Weber’s critique of Marx, Further reading
identifying different types of conflict,
Peisert, H. and Zapf, W. (eds) (1994) Gesell-
defined in terms of interest and authority schaft, Demokratie und Lebenschancen. Stuttgart:
rather than solely in terms of ownership of Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.
property. He later modified this position,
arguing that conflict occurs primarily over
the distribution of ‘life chances’. By the
1980s, Dahrendorf had moved away from a DARWINISM
focus on class to examine general violations of
law and lack of order as the key social problem See: evolutionary theory.
and contradiction of modernity. Dahrendorf
also made a major contribution to the debate
on social role, critically exploring (and reject-
ing) in his influential essay Homo Sociologicus Since we all die, mortality – unlike variables
(1958) the proposition that individual beha- such as class, gender, or age – does not, by
viour can be explained as conformity to role itself, differentiate one person from another.
expectations. Since the 1990s, Dahrendorf But how groups and institutions respond
has concentrated much of his attention on a to the death of a member varies, as do death
long-standing interest in the conditions of rates, and the pushing of death further into
liberal democracy and citizenship in Eur- old age, has profound social consequences.
opean societies and how they may be used The death of an individual can threaten
to mitigate the conflict of interests and effects group stability if the group is small (as in
of power that inhibit individual freedom. many traditional societies), or if the indivi-
dual has great power (such as the death of a
Major works serving American president). Durkheim
(1959) Class and Class Conflict in Industrial ([1912] 1965) showed how, through reli-
Society. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. gious ritual, groups re-constitute themselves

after a member’s death; social representation homo sapiens – somewhere between 30 and,
and the collective conscience are classically in unusually healthy groups, 40 – to nearly
displayed in mourning rites. In this view, 80. The consequences of this new demo-
death is, paradoxically, a major root of social graphy are significant (Blauner 1966;
solidarity. Holst-Warhaft (2000), however, Goldscheider 1971). First, the elderly no
shows how, under certain conditions, the longer possess rarity value, and their great
passion of grief can drive mourners to insur- numbers may be perceived as a ‘burden’ by
rection, subverting rather than affirming the working population, though their
the existing social order. Others argue that numbers also contain the potential to
religions can create power for themselves become a major political force. Second,
by exacerbating fear of death, so death birth rates have dropped dramatically as
becomes a socially constructed fear rather parents no longer need to rear many children
than a given that generates social solutions. to reproduce the population; children are
Concerning the death of the ordinary no longer valued workers but emotional
individual in large-scale, secular modern treasures and a major reason for consumption.
societies, Ariès (1981), Mellor and Shilling Socially expected mourning for a deceased
(1993) and others argue that modern insti- child now greatly exceeds that for an
tutions and the fragmentation of social elderly person, whereas traditionally the
groupings sequester death, together with death of a child required little formal
sexuality and mental illness, leaving people marking. Third, with an expectation today
without social and ideological support in of 65 years between puberty and death, all
the face of death. Rather than solidifying kinds of new social formations become
social bonds, mourners are left alone in the possible. Education of people until their
face of the unmentionable. One negative mid-twenties becomes a rational invest-
perception is that modern medicine aban- ment in human capital, while women can
dons the dying, while the mass media plan their lives as well as, or instead of,
typically favour youth and health (see bearing and rearing children. It is only in
health and illness), creating a death-denying low-mortality societies that higher educa-
society. Another, more positive perception tion and feminism become mass possibi-
is that medicine, science and technology lities. Meanwhile many marriages end not
contribute to the deferral of death, while in death but in divorce, as couples face the
mass media representations of both famous strains of longevity unknown to most cou-
and ordinary deaths bolster the quality of ples in pre-modern societies (see marriage
cultural life in the face of death (Seale 1998; and divorce).
Walter 2004). Here we see an echo of the Death and mortality, though highly sig-
debate about religion in traditional socie- nificant for society, have played curiously
ties: do medicine and the media assist or little role in sociological theory. Archae-
fail people in the face of death? And does ologists, however, if they are to infer any-
death itself challenge or support these thing at all about pre-historic social
institutions? structure, stratification, power relation-
Only since the second half of the nine- ships and elites often have to rely for data
teenth century has the adult death rate on exhumed burial artefacts, human
decreased significantly in modern Western remains, and techniques for determining
societies; and only since the early twentieth age and cause of death (Parker-Pearson
century has the infant mortality rate dra- 1999). The relationship between death,
matically declined. In less than two cen- burial rites and society has therefore played
turies, life expectancy at birth has moved a major role in social theorizing by archae-
from where it has been since the origin of ologists.
D ELE U Z E, GI L LES (19 25– 199 5)

References and further reading versus supplement (Derrida 1974, 1981).

Ariès, P. (1981) The Hour of Our Death. London:
Whatever its concrete object, deconstruc-
Allen Lane. tion always attempts to reveal certain infra-
Blauner, R. (1966) ‘Death and Social Structure’, structures already at work in the analyzed
Psychiatry, 29: 378–94. texts, practices or institutions. Such infra-
Durkheim, E. ([1912] 1965) The Elementary Forms structures, the most notable of which Derrida
of the Religious Life. New York: Free Press.
Goldscheider, C. (1971) ‘The Mortality Revo-
terms iterability and différance (see differ-
lution’, in C. Goldscheider (ed.) Population, ence), have an inherently double and
Modernization and Social Structure. Boston: aporetic character: they form the necessary
Little, Brown. conditions of our discursive practices while
Holst-Warhaft, G. (2000) The Cue for Passion. at the same time subverting them. Decon-
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Mellor, P. and Shilling, C. (1993) ‘Modernity, struction thus seeks to expose a structural
Self-Identity and the Sequestration of Death’, element of self-subversion or auto-decon-
Sociology, 27(3): 411–32. struction, that is at work in everyday language
Parker-Pearson, M. (1999) The Archaeology of and communication.
Death and Burial. Stroud: Sutton.
Seale, C. (1998) Constructing Death: The Sociology
of Dying and Bereavement. Cambridge: Cam- References and further reading
bridge University Press.
Walter, C. (2004) ‘Disaster, Modernity, and the Culler, J. (1982) On Deconstruction. Ithaca, NY:
Media’, in K. Garces-Foley (ed.) Death and Cornell University Press.
Religion in a Changing World. Armonk, NY: Derrida, J. ([1967] 1974) Of Grammatology. Bal-
M. E. Sharpe. timore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Derrida, J. ([1972] 1981) Positions. Chicago:
TONY WALTER University of Chicago.
Derrida, J. ([1987] 1991) ‘Letter to a Japanese
Friend’, in P. Kamuf (ed.) A Derrida Reader.
DECONSTRUCTION New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf.
Gasché, R. (1986) The Tain of the Mirror. Cam-
Deconstruction is a term primarily used to bridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
name a critical approach to Western meta-
physics introduced by Jacques Derrida. A THOMAS KHURANA
key feature of this approach is that it does
not see its critique as external to the object
DELEUZE, GILLES (1925–1995)
of that critique, but instead as operating
from within the tradition of the object. French theorist
Deconstruction is ‘affirmative’ in the sense Deleuze is best known as a member of the
that it does not aim at simple destruction of post-structuralist current of French philo-
a system of thought, but tries instead to sophy which includes Derrida, Foucault,
conceive that which remains unthought in Kristeva, and Baudrillard. He is the author
it. This approach demands procedures of a number of important studies of philo-
which need to be determined historically sophers, notably of Spinoza, Kant,
and strategically but which cannot be for- Nietzsche and Bergson. He has also written
malized as a method (Derrida 1991). Aimed extensively on literary figures (Proust,
at the distinctive condition of thought that Kafka and Beckett), painters (Francis Bacon)
Derrida terms logocentrism, deconstruction and cinema. Deleuze’s main themes are
aspires to reverse and re-inscribe the hier- derived from his critique of identity thinking
archical binary oppositions constitutive of in philosophy and the development of per-
traditional metaphysics (see metaphysical). spectives based on difference and forms of
These include such oppositions as speech non-oppositional multiplicity. The latter has
versus writing, presence versus absence, origin given rise to a concern with post-foundational

experiments in ‘rhizomic thinking’. Deleuze (Held 1987; Schmidt 2000). Given the
is co-author, with Félix Guattari, of Anti- multitude of normative foundations with
Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972) which democratic theory has been attributed
which criticizes the ‘Oedipal paradigm’ of and the various concrete forms democracy
repression and sexual identity in classical constitutes, a conceptual clarification of the
Freudian theory and proposes an alternative term ‘democracy’ is necessary.
theory of the functions of difference and The term demokratia, consisting of two
schizophrenia in capitalist society (see psy- components demos (people) and kratein
choanalysis). In rejecting the Freudian (govern/rule), has existed since the middle
Oedipal mythology as a methodology of of the fifth century BC. Demos meant ‘all’ as
social control and regulation, they com- well as ‘the many’. The term demos defines
mend a view of the ‘deterritorialized sub- the people politically and not ethnically
ject’ as both desire-machine and subject-in- (ethnos). Drawing on the political defini-
transition. This follows from Deleuze’s view tion, the question of who belongs to the
of philosophizing as a creative work of people (see also citizenship) has found var-
conceptual construction (1991). Like his ious answers up to the twentieth century.
contemporary, Michel Foucault, Deleuze’s In Athenian democracy, only the male
contributions to modern social thought citizens of the polis were included. In the
ultimately derive from suggesting new course of the eighteenth and nineteenth
objects for thought, engaging in experi- centuries, more advanced industrial coun-
mental thinking and generating creative tries included all male citizens who com-
paths of philosophizing. plied with certain requirements. Only in
the course of the twentieth century did
women become a part of the demos: Austria
Major works
(1902), Germany (1918), Great Britain
([1969a] 1989) The Logic of Sense. London: Athlone. (1928), France (1946), and Switzerland
([1969b] 1994) Difference and Repetition. New (1971).
York: Columbia University Press.
([1972] 1984) (with F. Guattari) Anti-Oedipus: In ancient Greece, the term ‘democracy’
Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London: Athlone. referred to the small, contained ‘city–state’,
([1991] 1994) (with F. Guattari) What is Philosophy? which was more of a city than a state (Sartori
London: Verso. 1992: 274). The Athenian democracy was
also highly ‘exclusive’. It excluded slaves,
Further reading immigrant residents (metoikoi), and women
from political participation. Only male
Ansell-Pearson, K. (ed.) (1997) Deleuze and Phi- citizens were entitled to political participa-
losophy: The Difference Engineer. London:
Routledge. tion in the community. Due to its exclusive
Hardt, M. (1993) Gilles Deleuze: An Apprenticeship nature and because it was only implemented
in Philosophy. Minneapolis, MN: University in small city–states, ancient democracy was
of Minnesota Press. able to operate as a direct democracy, in
which political participation and political
decisions were not separated by inter-
mediary, representative bodies and institu-
tions. The legislature and the executive
DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRATIZATION were united in the people’s assembly, open to
Democracy is not a modern invention. This all citizens. The governors were to be the
holds true for the theory of democracy as governed in a process of self-government. It
well as for the numerous attempts to realize was not until the nineteenth and twentieth
democracy through the last two millennia centuries that ‘democracy’ lost its exclusive

character through the extension of the right to their fellow citizens and the government
to vote. Even in Abraham Lincoln’s famous by individual and collective action; and (3)
Gettysburg Address (1863), in which democ- the opportunity to have their preferences
racy is defined as ‘government of the peo- weighted equally by the government in
ple, by the people and for the people’, the disregard of their contents and sources.
notion of democracy was still based on an Dahl himself points out that these are
exclusive understanding of people that inclu- only ‘necessary’ but not ‘sufficient’ condi-
ded the male black population, but exclu- tions for a democracy. Hence, they them-
ded women and non-taxpayers. After 1918, selves must be secured through eight
universal suffrage was introduced in many institutional guarantees (ibid.: 3):
western industrial countries. Only there-
1. Freedom to form and join organiza-
after can we speak of modern and inclusive
2. Freedom of expression.
A discussion of the historical implemen-
3. Right to vote.
tation of democracy in North America and
4. Eligibility for public office.
Europe (see Dunn 1992; Schmidt 2000)
5. Right of political leaders to compete
and its theoretical and conceptual develop-
for votes and support.
ment from John Locke to Rousseau,
6. Alternative sources of information.
Montesquieu, Tocqueville, John Stuart
7. Free and fair elections.
Mill, Joseph Schumpeter, Robert Dahl, or
8. Institutions for making government
Jürgen Habermas is beyond the scope of
policies depend on votes and other
this entry (see Held 1987). However, this
expressions of preference.
short list of outstanding theorists of democracy
hints at the spectrum of different concepts It is remarkable that the separation of powers,
and models subsumed under the term. first discussed by John Locke and further
Furthermore, there remains an ongoing elaborated by Montesquieu is not explicit
debate about the normative foundations in Dahl’s minimalist concept of democracy.
and the realizability of strong and weak, direct It is only implicitly comprised in point 8.
and indirect, elitist and participative, pro- Later, Dahl (1971) completely eliminated
cedural and substantial models of democracy. the horizontal accountability dimension
The most influential model in demo- from his concept of polyarchy. Hence,
cratic theory in the past 50 years has been Dahl represents a lean concept of polyarchy
Robert Dahl’s concept of polyarchy. From that, with its Schumpeterian minimalism,
a minimalist perspective, the American clearly distinguishes itself from the max-
scholar states two elementary and intertwined imalism of deliberative models of democracy
defining characteristics: there must be open (Fishkin 1991; Elster 1998; Gutman and
competition for public offices and power Thompson 2004).
and, at the same time, sufficient choice and Modern liberal democratic systems include
space for political participation by all citizens. various institutional arrangements regarding
Dahl frames this succinctly as ‘public con- the horizontal and vertical accountability, as
testation and the right to participate’ (Dahl well as a mixture of elements of direct
1971: 5). To guarantee the necessary degree democracy and representative decision-
of accountability of the government towards making procedures. All, however, share one
the preferences of equal citizens in a common characteristic: the indeterminacy
democratic community, citizens must be of the results of political decisions. The
given three fundamental choices: (1) the American political scientist, Adam Prze-
opportunity to formulate their preferences; worski, consequently defines democracy as ‘a
(2) the opportunity to signify their preferences system of ruled open-endedness or organized

uncertainty’ (1991: 13). Hence democracy between an old and a new system (O’Donnell
is an institutionalized system of rules to and Schmitter 1986: 6ff.). It comprises the
solve conflicts in society, in which a single dissolution of the old and the establishment
constitutional power, a single institution, or of the new regime. Basic structures, func-
a single actor cannot determine or control tions, legitimacies, and patterns of integra-
the results of political decisions. Results of tion of the old regime are replaced.
political decisions in democracies are therefore System transformations can occur in two
not ex-ante determined, as in authoritarian directions: from autocracy to democracy and
or totalitarian systems, but are only the con- vice versa. The end of an autocratic regime
tingent outcome of competing political can have different causes. Systematically,
actors and their actions (see totalitarianism). internal and external causes can be dis-
Placing political regimes on a continuum tinguished. The most important of the internal
that reaches from ideal democracy to perfect causes leads to the final breakdown of legiti-
totalitarianism, one can plot more accurately macy. The legitimacy of an autocratic regime
the three basic types of political regimes: wanes when economic inefficiency rises so
democracy, authoritarian, and totalitarian sys- high that the material goods intended to
tems. Democracy itself can be further dif- compensate for the deprivation (see depri-
ferentiated into three sub-types along this axis: vation and relative deprivation) of demo-
ideal democracy, polyarchy, and defective cratic rights to participate can no longer be
democracy. Ideal democracy remains a utopian delivered. However, both economic inefficiency
ideal type, as does, incidentally, perfect as well as economic efficiency, can lead autocratic
totalitarianism. Polyarchy, following Dahl regimes into a substantial crisis. Moder-
literally meaning ‘rule of the many’, captures nization theory (Lipset 1981: 469) has
the average type of existing democracies. convincing arguments to explain why eco-
Defective democracies must be separated nomic development changes the social struc-
from polyarchy (Merkel 2004). They fall in ture, generates a middle class, raises the
the grey area between autocratic and demo- education level, and evokes demands for
cratic regimes, but usually at a minimum political participation that challenge the
represent electoral democracies, permitting political monopoly of the autocratic elites.
meaningful free and fair elections. In 2001, The transformations in East Asia provide
Freedom House counted 120 electoral impressive empirical evidence. The most
democracies world-wide. More than half of important external causes include: defeats in
these electoral democracies display a defective wars (1945), the withdrawal or granting of
rule of law, limitations of civil rights, or essential support from outside powers, and
violations of horizontal accountability. These regional domino effects, as in Eastern Eur-
are by no means merely transitional regimes ope after 1989 (Huntington 1991).
but tend to stabilize themselves in the long The central step to a democracy is the
run. Thus the concept of ‘defective democ- transfer of political power from one person
racy’ fills a conceptual gap in democratic or a group of persons to a set of institutio-
theory, as well as in empirical democracy nalized rules, which are equally valid for
research. At the beginning of the twenty- both the ruling and the ruled (Przeworski
first century, there are more defective than 1991: 14). The phase of institutionalizing
liberal democracies world-wide. democracy ends when the first free elections
The concept of democratization is best (founding elections) are held and the new
understood under the wider umbrella concept constitution is passed. The founding elections
of ‘regime transformation’. In general, a and the establishment of the main demo-
regime transformation or a regime change cratic institutions, such as the executive, the
(Merkel 1999) can be defined as the interval legislature, and the judiciary, do not imply

that the new regime is stable or consolidated. Elster, J. (1998) Deliberative Democracy. Cam-
The consolidation of democracy takes bridge: Cambridge University Press.
Fishkin, J. S. (1991) Democracy and Deliberation:
much longer than its institutionalization. New Directions for Democratic Reform. New
Even more contested than the beginning Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
is the end of democratic consolidation. Gunther, R., Diamandouros, N. K. and Puhle,
Minimalist positions (Di Palma 1990; Prze- H.-J. (eds) (1995) The Politics of Democratic
worski 1991) compete with more demand- Consolidation: Southern Europe in Comparative
Perspective. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins
ing concepts (Gunther et al. 1995; Pridham University Press.
1995). The strongest analytical differentiation Gutman, A. and Thompson, D. (2004) Why
to the concept of democratic consolidation Deliberative Democracy? Princeton, NJ: Prin-
was added by Linz and Stepan (1996) and ceton University Press.
later by Merkel (1998). Merkel distinguishes Held, D. (1987) Models of Democracy. Stanford,
CA: Stanford University Press.
four levels of a political system that must be Huntington, S. P. (1991) The Third Wave:
consolidated for meaningful and sustainable Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century.
democratic consolidation: (1) constitutional Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press.
consolidation, involving the central institu- Keane, J. (1988) Democracy and Civil Society.
tions of government, parliament, judiciary, London: Verso.
Linz, J. J. and Stepan, A. (1996) Problems of
the electoral system; (2) representational con- Democratic Transition and Consolidation: South-
solidation, involving parties, interest groups, ern Europe, South America and Post-Communist
and associations; (3) behavioural consolida- Europe. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins
tion, involving military, large landowners, University Press.
capital, radical movements, or guerrillas (4) Lipset, S. M. (1981) Political Man: The Social
Basis of Politics. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hop-
consolidation of civil society (Almond and kins University Press.
Verba 1963; Keane 1988). The consolida- Merkel, W. (1998) ‘The Consolidation of Post-
tion of civil society forms the indispensable autocratic Regimes: A Multilevel Model’,
foundation of a functioning democracy and Democratization, 3: 33–65.
completes democratic consolidation. It can Merkel, W. (1999) Systemtransformation: Eine
Einführung in die Theorie und Empirie der Trans-
take decades and is often only sealed formationsforschung. Opladen: Leske und
through a generational change, as we know Budrich.
from the comparative political culture Merkel, W. (2004) ‘Embedded and Defective
research on the second democratization wave Democracies’, in A. Croissant and W. Mer-
in Italy, Germany, Austria, and Japan. A kel (eds) ‘Consolidated or Defective
Democracy? Problems of Regime Change’,
consolidated democracy is a largely crisis- special issue of Democratization, 11(5): 33–58.
resistant democracy whose existence is not O’Donnell, G. and Schmitter, P. C. (1986)
drawn into question by short-term economic, Transition from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative
social, or political turbulences. Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies. Balti-
more, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Pridham, G. (1995) ‘The International Context
References and further reading of Democratic Consolidation: Southern Europe
in Comparative Perspective’, in R. Gunther,
Almond, G. and Verba, S. (1963) The Civic Culture. N. P. Diamandouros and H.-J. Puhle (eds)
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. The Politics of Democratic Consolidation: South-
Dahl, R. A. (1971) Polyarchy: Participation and ern Europe in Comparative Perspective. Balti-
Opposition. New Haven, CT: Yale University more, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Press. Przeworski, A. (1991) Democracy and the Market:
Di Palma, G. (1990) To Craft Democracies: An Political and Economic Reforms in Eastern Europe
Essay on Democratic Transitions. Berkeley, CA: and Latin America. Cambridge: Cambridge
University of California Press. University Press.
Dunn, J. (1992) Democracy: The Unfinished Journey. Sartori, G. (1992) Demokratietheorie. Darmstadt:
Oxford: Oxford University Press. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.


Schmidt, M. G. (2000) Demokratietheorien: Eine Natural and Political Observations Made Upon
Einführung. Opladen: Leske and Budrich. the Bills of Mortality in 1662. This is the basis
WOLFGANG MERKEL for life insurance calculations and is applied
to many other areas inside and outside of
Demographic research has always tried to
DEMOGRAPHY extrapolate insights from past and current
Demography is the scientific study of population dynamics to the future. Thomas
human population dynamics. It deals with Robert Malthus concluded from his analy-
changes in size, structure and distribution of sis at the end of the eighteenth century that
populations according to diverse criteria, such population growth would follow an expo-
as age, sex, marital status, educational nential pattern, while food production
attainment, and ethnic origin. The main would grow only linearly. His Essay on the
research areas of demography are the deter- Principle of Population, published in 1798,
minants of population dynamics: fertility, made him the intellectual father of concepts
mortality and migration and related processes of over-population. However, his predic-
such as marriage and divorce. The term tion did not materialize. Although England
‘demography’ was first used by Achille and other European countries experienced
Guillard, a Belgian statistician, in 1855. a phase of population growth from the
Population counts for taxation or military eighteenth century to the twentieth century,
purposes were conducted in ancient Egypt, this proved to be only a temporary phe-
Babylonia, China and Rome. But census nomenon. Demographers such as Frank W.
taking is well documented for European Notestein explained in retrospect how, for
countries from around the fifteenth century. a period of time termed the demographic
John Graunt (1620–74), Johann Peter Süs- transition, mortality started to decline while
smilch (1707–67) and Thomas Robert Mal- fertility remained on a high level. For this
thus (1766–1834) can be considered the period the opening gap between birth rate
intellectual founders of demography. and death rate induced population growth.
Demographic data are generated by census However, in a later stage of this process
and by population registers of marriage, fertility started to decline too and the gap
birth, death and place of residence. In closed. The concept of demographic tran-
addition, demography uses sample surveys, sition helped to explain the temporary nat-
like the Demographic and Health Surveys ure of the accelerating growth of the world
(DHS) in many developing countries, population induced in developing countries
which have no reliable birth and death during the mid-twentieth century. Experi-
registers. Problems researched by demo- ences from the past three decades in Latin
graphers are important topics for other dis- America, Asia and partly in Africa have
ciplines, such as fertility for sociologists and verified this.
mortality for epidemiologists. In many However, another aspect of the concept
cases, the use of specific methods defines of demographic transition has required
the unique approach of demography to modification. Originally, demographers
these problems. Substantial progress in the expected the demographic transition to lead
development of demographic estimation from a pre-modern equilibrium of births
methods for countries with incomplete or and deaths through a transition process to a
deficient statistics was achieved in the 1950s modern equilibrium of births and deaths.
and 1960s. One of the basic methods and Since the 1970s it has become clearer that
concepts of demography is the life (actuarial) for many developed societies birth rates
table, which goes back to John Graunt’s have fallen below the level of death rates,

resulting in a negative natural growth rate society to which they belong. The term
of population. This has been called the relative deprivation refers to an experienced
‘second’ demographic transition. Initially in lack of socially perceived necessities, when
most countries immigration more than individuals compare themselves with oth-
compensated for the birth deficit. However, ers. The experienced sense of relative
current population projections show the deprivation therefore involves: (1) the per-
scope of the birth deficit as increasing. This ception of one’s own situation, those of
will result in accelerated demographic age- others or of the society, together with (2)
ing and further population decline in the comparison processes; and (3) is usually
developed world (see age). Until the end of defined in subjective terms; and (4) can
the twentieth century, demography focused shape attitudes or activate behaviour.
predominantly on population growth, mostly The concept of relative deprivation was
in developing countries. Although the introduced and coined by Stouffer et al.
growth of world population will continue (1949) to make sense of a puzzling empiri-
for decades to come, demography in the cal result. They found that the US Military
twenty-first century is focusing increasingly Police were more satisfied with their career
on problems related to ageing and popula- chances than soldiers in the Air Corps, even
tion decline. though the Military Police in fact had fewer
opportunities to be promoted. The
researchers explained this paradox with the
References and further reading
feeling of ‘relative deprivation’. Because a
Pressat, R. (1985) The Dictionary of Demography. greater number of soldiers in the Air Corps
Ed. Christopher Wilson. Oxford: Blackwell were being promoted, the perceptions of
Rowland, D. T. (2003) Demographic Methods and soldiers who were not promoted were
Concepts. Oxford: Oxford University Press. dominated by those who succeeded in getting
Siegel, J. S. and Swanson, D. A. (2004) The promoted, which resulted in a feeling of
Methods and Materials of Demography, 2nd edn. deprivation. In contrast, the majority of
San Diego, CA: Elsevier Academic Press. promoted military police who had not been
Walle, E. von de (1982) IUSSP: Multilingual
Demographic Dictionary, English Section, 2nd promoted compared themselves more with
edn. Adapted from the French Section. Ed. those who were also not being promoted
Louis Henry. Liège: Ordina. and therefore they felt greater satisfaction
with their career. In this study the main
aspects of the concept of relative depriva-
tion were identified, although they were
not systematically developed. Further steps
DEPRIVATION AND RELATIVE were taken by Merton and Rossi (1968)
DEPRIVATION pointing out the kinship of the concept of
The term deprivation is generally used to relative deprivation to other sociological
signal a condition of not having something concepts such as ‘social frame of reference’,
which a person reasonably could expect to ‘patterns of expectations’ or the ‘definition
have. The social sciences distinguish – by of the situation’. In particular, the impor-
analogy with the narrower concept of tance of comparison processes of one’s own
poverty – between absolute and relative situation with that of others, especially that
deprivation. In an absolute interpretation of of reference groups, was underlined.
the concept, people are viewed as deprived The most elaborate theoretical notion of
when they cannot participate in social relative deprivation was worked out by W.
activities and live under social conditions G. Runciman in his influential study Relative
and amenities which are not standard in the Deprivation and Social Justice (1966). He was
DERRIDA, JACQ UES ( 193 0–2 004 )

interested in the connection of subjective term plays a particularly important role in

perceptions and evaluations of social inequal- the study of social inequality, poverty,
ity with actual inequality, especially in terms social justice and social movements.
of the objective conditions of social inequality
under which subjective feelings of being dis- References and further reading
advantaged or being treated unjustly emerge
Davis, J. A. (1959) ‘A Formal Interpretation of
or induce revolt against social conditions. An the Theory of Relative Deprivation’, Socio-
individual A is relatively deprived of X, if: metry, 22(4): 280–96.
Kosaka, K. (1986) ‘A Model of Relative Depri-
(1) A does not have X, vation’, Journal of Mathematical Sociology,
(2) but others, with whom A compares 12(1): 35–48.
him or herself, are assumed to have X Merton, R. K. and Rossi, A. S. ([1949] 1968)
(whether or not this is in fact the case), ‘Contributions to the Theory of Reference
(3) A wants X and Group Behavior’, in R. K. Merton, Social
(4) A sees a realistic possibility of getting X. Theory and Social Structure. New York: Free
Press, pp. 279–334.
(ibid.: 10)
Olson, J. M., Herman, C. P. and Zanna, M. P.
(eds) (1986) Relative Deprivation and Social
Runciman here uses the theory of reference Comparison. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
groups to further develop the idea of relative Runciman, W. G. (1966) Relative Deprivation
deprivation via social comparisons. He and Social Justice: A Study of Attitudes to Social
extends this theory by differentiating Inequality in Twentieth-Century England. Lon-
between three reference groups: (1) the don: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Stouffer, S. A., Suchman, E. A., DeVinney, L. C.,
‘comparative reference group’, with which an Star, S. A. and Williams, R. M. Jr. (1949) The
individual compares him or herself directly; American Soldier: Adjustment During Army Life,
(2) the ‘normative reference group’, from vol. 1. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
which the standards for comparisons are to Press.
be derived; and the (3) ‘membership reference Townsend, P. (1987) ‘Deprivation’, Journal of
Social Policy, 16(2): 125–46.
group’ to which the individual feels he or Walker, I. and Smith, H. J. (eds) (2002) Relative
she belongs. The type of reference group is Deprivation: Specification, Development, and Inte-
decisive in determining whether an individual gration. Cambridge: Cambridge University
feels directly deprived. ‘Egoistic deprivation’ is Press.
present if an individual is dissatisfied with BODO LIPPL
his or her own position within the ‘mem-
bership reference group’, while ‘fraternalistic
DERRIDA, JACQUES (1930–2004)
deprivation’ occurs if an individual is dis-
satisfied with the group position within the French theorist
social order. Derrida is widely known for three major
These early considerations of the concept works published in 1967: Speech and Phe-
of relative deprivation and its emergence have nomena, Of Grammatology, and Writing and
continued to energize research in different Difference. In these and subsequent writings
disciplines and contexts. Social psychologists, Derrida characterized Western philosophical
in particular, have developed numerous theo- thought, beginning with Plato, as a ‘meta-
retical models to measure and explain relative physics of presence’ dependent upon a sys-
deprivation. They also point out the impor- tem of hierarchical oppositions, such as
tance of social perception processes, which presence and absence, identity and differ-
have been largely neglected in more recent ence, and interiority and exteriority.
sociological approaches. While theoretical According to this ‘post-structuralist’ thesis,
considerations about relative deprivation can it is not possible to escape from metaphysi-
be applied in principle to many contexts, the cal thought in any immediate way (see

post-structuralism). The only way to of different kinds have originated in theol-

transgress it is to develop a practice of ogy, philosophy, and have been buttressed
deconstruction or immanent dismantling of by scientific naturalism, particularly the
ideas, revealing a hidden aporetic logic in idea that human action is ultimately physi-
the discourses analyzed. After the late 1980s, cal and therefore governed by physical laws.
Derrida’s work underwent a change which The most controversial and mysterious,
has been generally considered to be an yet potent, determinisms in social theory
‘ethical turn’, but might more appropriately are what might be called ‘in the last
be characterized as a change in emphasis, instance’ determinisms, which are predic-
highlighting possible resources for social tions about what must ultimately occur,
theory. This includes: (1) a conception of given certain features of the world,
the irreducibility of our being-with-others humanity, or history. These features are
and the autonomy of communication (Der- often telic – that is, features about human
rida 1988); (2) a critique of an economy of purposes that are, on the aggregate histor-
exchange (Derrida 1992); (3) an ethics of ical level, casually deterministic about ultimate
otherness linked to a specific concept of outcomes. Condorcet’s and Kant’s ([1784]
justice (Derrida 1990); and (4) the idea of a 1980) ‘universal history’ ideas and Marx‘s
democracy ‘to-come’ (Derrida 1997). ([1848] 1990) predictions of the historical
process are both of this general type.
Though these writers qualified their claims
Major works
in complex ways that make it difficult to pin
([1967a] 1973) Speech and Phenomena. Evanston, them down, they each operated by showing
IL: Northwestern University Press. that the pre-existing purposive properties of
([1967b] 1974) Of Grammatology. Baltimore,
MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
individuals lead inevitably to certain collective
([1967c] 1978) Writing and Difference. Chicago: outcomes, which can be understood as the
University of Chicago Press. hidden purpose of the process. Sometimes
(1988) Limited Inc. Evanston, IL: Northwestern these take the form of a ratchet effect,
University Press. where once something has happened, no
(1990) ‘Force of Law’, Cardozo Law Review,
11(5–6): 919–1045.
return to the former situation is possible.
([1991] 1992) Given Time. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press. References and further reading
([1994] 1997) Politics of Friendship. London: Verso.
Condorcet, M. de ([1795] 1955) Sketch of an
Historical View of the Progress of the Human
Further reading Mind. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Kant, I. ([1784] 1980) ‘Idea for a Universal
Bennington, G. and Derrida, J. (1992) Jacques
History from a Cosmopolitan Point of
Derrida. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
View’, in L. W. Beck (ed.) On History: Imma-
THOMAS KHURANA nuel Kant. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs Merrill.
Marx, K. ([1848] 1990) ‘The Communist Mani-
festo’, in D. McLellan (ed.) Karl Marx: Selec-
ted Writings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Determinism has a complex history in social STEPHEN P. TURNER
theory. Various doctrines of determinism have
been reflected in political terms such as pro-
gress or development implying that progress DEVELOPMENT
or development occurs on a predetermined From the French word développer, meaning
track, though not necessarily that progress ‘to lay open’, the term ‘development’ was
or development will occur. Determinisms used in the beginning of the modern era to

denote the act of arguing by decomposing The idea of development is closely linked
or dissecting phenomena. In the course of to the rise of modernity and industrializa-
applications to all kinds of natural and cultural tion, and to accompanying changes in
phenomena, the meaning of the term changed social structure and the economy. When
from a passive sense of unravelling to an Kant (1784) strictly distinguished between
active sense of unfolding. A given object natural and cultural development, the way
came to be understood as an effect or was opened for a historical, cultural and
sequence in the process of unfolding. social scientific explanation of social change.
Development denotes irreversible changes From then onwards, two main lines of
prevailing over long periods that result either thought can be distinguished: on the one
from an increase in quantity leading to a hand. an idealistic view, centred around the
change in quality or from a shift from low idea of the perfection of the mind and rea-
to high quality. In both cases a direction of son, represented in different ways by Hegel
change is specified and an explanation is given (see Hegelianism and Neo-Hegelianism)
by recourse to one or more of four basic and Comte; on the other, a materialistic
models. view most prominently put forward by
The first model denotes layers which Marx. Both approaches can be character-
form an ordered stratification and accom- ized as deterministic, since the develop-
modates change in terms of the adding of ment of the material base or the realm of
new layers. The second model distinguishes ideas determines the social structure and all
at least three states – an initial, a middle and future development. Both understand devel-
an end state. A process of transition is con- opment as progress, as change from lower
ceptualized in terms of qualitative changes; to higher levels, which are defined by nor-
for example, in Marx’s use of the concept mative standards. Both are teleological,
of modes of production, leading to revo- since the end-state of societal development
lutionary overthrow as a theory of societal is at least anticipated, if not known. Both
development. The third model describes draw heavily on analogies between society
development along a continuum between and the organism and can essentially be
two ideal states, from tradition to modernity, understood as evolutionist in orientation,
where change is understood as a continuous akin to evolutionary theory.
process. The fourth model identifies increases At the beginning of the twentieth cen-
in certain specific features that capture tury, evolutionist accounts of development
qualitative change. The concept of differ- lost ground. Instead, historical-comparative
entiation, first formulated by Spencer, is approaches represented by Weber’s account
one of the most prominent instances of this. of the rise of capitalism in the West gained
In all these concepts, progression and importance. Weber combined idealistic and
regression are understood as temporal occur- materialistic views, understanding develop-
rences in the line of development. In ment in terms of processes of rationaliza-
defining a driving force of development, tion, immanent potentially to all societies
models of social change put the explanatory and cultural circles, and thus implying a
emphasis either on individuals and their multi-linear perspective (see Occident and
action or on the structural constraints and rationality and rationalization).
contradictions. Concepts of development In the mid-twentieth century Parsons
deal with the paradox of change by binding joined the insights of Weber with the expli-
the identical with the non-identical into citly evolutionary thought of Spencer. Estab-
one grand entity, by melting historically lishing a functionalist approach, Parsons’s
distinctive states into one master unit, into approach conceives the development of
the idea of ‘universal history’. societies in terms of the effect of transitions

from one state of equilibrium to another by Kant, Kants Werke. Akademie-Ausgabe, vol. 8.
a process of differentiation. The society in Berlin: de Gruyter.
Nisbet, R. A. (1969) Social Change and History:
the new equilibrium is more complex and Aspects of the Western Theory of Development.
autonomous: it has improved its generalized New York: Oxford University Press.
adaptive capacity. Parsons singles out cer- Rostow, W. W. ([1960] 1990) Stages of Economic
tain structural innovations which allow for Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto. New
this process of adaptive upgrading. He sees York: Cambridge University Press.
Schelke, W., Krauth, W.-H., Kohli, M., and
these as evolutionary universals by which a Elwert, G. (2000), Paradigms of Social Change:
universal scale of development is established. Modernization, Development, Transformation,
In the 1950s functionalism and evolu- Evolution. Frankfurt am Main: Campus.
tionism were seen as shedding valuable Schluchter, W. (1985) The Rise of Western
light on the problems of so-called Third Rationalism: Max Weber’s Developmental History.
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
World countries when compared to com- Weber, M. ([1920] 1988) ‘Vorbemerkung’, in
munist (Second World) and capitalist (First M. Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Reli-
World) industrialized nations. Moderniza- gionssoziologie, vol. I. Tübingen: Mohr.
tion theory became the dominant explanation
for social and economic development. As
Rostow (1990) points out, there was a
dominant assumption of processes of ratio-
nalization in technology, social structure DEVIANCE
just distributions of wealth in society. Deviance is a contested term within and out-
These ideas informed many of the post-war side academe, whose meaning varies histori-
policies in the industrialized West and were cally, by discipline and by school. Definitions
used by decision-makers world-wide in of deviance stem from different epistemo-
their efforts to combat underdevelopment. logical and metaphysical assumptions about
However, at the end of the twentieth human nature and social order. Consensus
century the idea of development came or functionalist schools define deviance as
under attack from post-colonial theorists acts that violate societal norms or offend
(e.g. Hall 1996). Drawing on post-struc- against the conscience collective (Durkheim
turalism, postmodernism and cultural studies, [1895] 1964) (see functionalism). Proponents
these theorists have criticized the concept of argue that all societies have a core set of
modernization and linear development as shared values that specify desirable and unde-
Eurocentric and epistemologically naı̈ve. sirable attitudes, behaviours and conditions.
Since the beginning of the twenty-first Indeed, to endure as stable social orders, they
century, ideas of irreversible unilinear must have. Conflict or Marxist perspectives
development have given way to explana- define deviance as behaviour that has been
tions of adaptation drawing on teleonomic labelled as problematic, immoral or harmful.
and selectionist mechanisms, leading to Here power, not consensus, determines what
context-bound and open-ended pictures of is deviant. Deviance becomes an attempt
the processes of development. (successful or unsuccessful) at social control, a
mechanism that legitimates exclusion. Socio-
logical studies of deviance today incorporate
References and further reading
insights from postmodern, feminist and
Hall, S. (1996) ‘The West and the Rest: Discourse social construction perspectives, shifting
and Power’, in S. Hall, D. Held, D. Hubert, focus away from the deviant actor, onto the
K. Thompson (eds) Modernity: An Introduction
to Modern Societies. Oxford: Blackwell. deviance-defining process.
Kant, I. ([1784] 1968) ‘Idee zu einer allgemeinen Deviance developed from the nascent
Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht’, in I. discipline of sociology through the attempts

of nineteenth-century European scholars to only available to upper-middle-class Anglo-

grapple with the key question of modernity: Americans. Merton hypothesized four possi-
how could social control be achieved, and ble responses to strain: innovation, retreatism,
order maintained, under democratic rule? ritualism and rebellion. Innovation, the most
With industrialization and science chal- interesting response to Merton and his fol-
lenging traditional and religious belief systems, lowers, results from accepting success goals
urbanization and immigration creating while rejecting the prescribed means of
mobility, and bureaucratization transform- obtaining them. Bootlegging or racketeering,
ing work and authority, what would provide for example, are innovations that allow
meaning, maintain deference, and limit desire? lower-class individuals to attain culturally
Inequality was accepted as inevitable (or prescribed goals through the invention of
desirable), but control through force, the alternate, though illegitimate, means. Retrea-
ancient coercive power of sovereign and tists are seen as rejecting both goals and
state, was economically, socially and poli- means (tramps, hobos and drug addicts),
tically problematic in democratic regimes ritualists as accepting legitimate means but
bound to deliver egalitarian justice. not goals (the petty bureaucrat to whom
Deviance, then, provided the necessary procedure is everything), while rebels reject
conceptual space between the normative existing goals and means and substitute new
(the ‘good’) and the criminal (the ‘bad’). ones.
In the past, theories derived from func- Marxist-oriented conflict theories (also
tionalism, Marx, and from symbolic inter- called new or radical criminology) locate the
actionism were dominant. Functionalist or causes of deviant behaviour (law-breaking) in
consensus traditions see deviance as an class conflict and exploitation. Although
integral part of all healthy societies. It is Marx dismissed criminals as a Lumpenprole-
critical to the process of forming norms and tiat, an easily bribed, reactionary tool of the
marking boundaries. Its occurrence demon- bourgeoisie, radical criminologists in the
strates the limits of the acceptable, providing 1970s argued that capitalism is essentially
guidance and validation to everyone in that criminogenic: the labour of the poor or
society. Moreover, a collective, public proletariat is exploited by the rich or the
response to deviance, expressed through bourgeoisie to maximize profits. Crime
sanctions ranging from disapproval to occurs when the alienated, oppressed working
decapitation, maintains cohesion and rein- class refuse to accept their exploitation. It
forces social solidarity. In The Rules of is repressed by the state, to preserve class
Sociological Method ([1895]/1964), Dur- rule. This explains the over-representation
kheim argued that, in a society of saints, the of the poor in prisons, and state pre-
smallest transgression of thought, word or occupation with crimes of the powerless at
deed would necessarily be magnified and the expense of white-collar and corporate
punished. A distinctive American version crime. Studies such as Paul Willis’s Learning
of this perspective, known as the theory of to Labour (1977) argued that bourgeois
anomie, was developed by Robert Merton institutions, especially schools, sustain
(1938). Treating crime as synonymous with inequality by streaming working-class youth
deviance, Merton explained it as a rational into dead-end jobs. Later studies examined
response to stress induced by the disjunction the role of media in demonizing lower-
between societal goals and legitimate means. class minorities (the Birmingham School).
The American Dream promised success In the 1960s labelling theory, rooted in
(wealth) to all. However, the socially symbolic interactionism, shifted attention
approved means to achieve success – elite onto those who impose the deviant label,
schools, clubs and executive jobs – were questioning assumptions that deviance was

a characteristic of the individual. As early as grounded in the studies of Michel Fou-

1951, Edwin Lemert pointed out that, while cault. Theorists ask how norms that define
everyone engages in rule-breaking behaviour deviance are brought into being, by whom,
(primary deviance), it is unlikely to produce and under which social and historical con-
secondary deviance unless noticed. Being ditions. They deconstruct organized sys-
pronounced deviant, by socially accredited tems of knowledge that shape meaning and
officials such as the police, teachers and frame (see framing) experience to reveal
parents, sets in motion a process where the underlying relations of power. Postmodern
labelled take on the behaviour and attitudes studies of sexuality, for example, trace the
they are expected to display. development of binary categories which
Howard Becker in Outsiders (1963) classified all humans as exclusively hetero-
showed that secondary deviance happens sexual or homosexual, the effects of these
when the label becomes a master status. claims, and resistance to them.
When reinforced in subsequent interactions Feminist perspectives first entered
by significant others, who communicate to deviance studies as critiques pointing out
the labelled person that deviance is hence- that all pre-1975 theories of deviance
forth expected, the deviant label becomes focused exclusively on men. Merton’s theory
the person’s identity. He/she learns to play of anomie, for example, locates deviance in
a deviant role, which may lead to membership the tension between prescribed success
in a deviant subculture. If this happens, goals and restricted means, ignoring the fact
deviance gets built into group membership, that dominant goals for women in the
and is passed onto successive recruits. David 1950s were marriage and motherhood.
Matza’s Becoming Deviant, (1969) showed Similarly, labelling theories either ignored
how people charged as thieves come to see women or presented them from the view
themselves this way. As relatives, friends of the male subject, ‘the old lady’ who
and prospective employers treat them as shackled the free-spirited bohemian. Radi-
though they are really ‘nothing but a thief’, cal criminology seems to have assumed
conforming identities and behaviours become women were not exploited by capitalism,
more difficult for the labelled to display, and since they were never discussed. This is not
more difficult for others to notice when dis- true today. Scholars have now examined the
played. Similar studies showed how staff in differential labelling and control of women,
mental hospitals ‘teach’ new patients to play the emphasis on the female body, the cul-
the role of the mental patient, and how those tural obsession with female sexuality, the
with a deviant identity manage the asso- implications of woman as prostitute, bad
ciated stigma by controlling their presentation mother, anorexic, or drug addict (Smart
of self, their contacts and visibility. 1989).
Dominant perspectives today build on All concepts of deviance assume the
traditional approaches in different ways. validity of the social. Deviance is a collec-
Social construction combines Weberian tive phenomenon, stemming from collec-
conflict theory, which locates power in tive (social) conditions (Sumner 2004).
authority relations between elite and non- Such beliefs are challenged by postmodern
elite groups, with labelling theory. Scholars assertions that ‘society’ is a totalizing,
ask how deviant identities and careers are essentialist category (see postmodernism
maintained, and examine the characteristics and postmodernity). Can deviance as a
and consequences of gang formation and concept have meaning in an individualistic
similar deviant subcultures. age, with Internet interactions replacing
Power is the defining characteristic of face-to-face? Are neo-liberal globalization
deviance studies in postmodern perspectives scripts destroying the basis of collective

categorizations and judgments? Such com- which is (1) inherently faulty, and (2) seeks
plexities increasingly preoccupy those who to adduce untested truths about the nature
study and define deviance today. of reality. For Kant, dialectic was the wanton
application of logic beyond the conditions
of experience.
References and further reading
Fully conscious of Kant’s rejection of the
Becker, H. (1963) Outsiders. New York: Free Press. practice of dialectical argument, G. W. F.
Durkheim, E. ([1895] 1964) The Rules of Socio- Hegel attempted to rescue the idea of dia-
logical Method. New York: Free Press.
Lemert, E. (1951) Social Pathology. New York: lectic, seeing it as an essential element of
Free Press. any validly acquired knowledge (see Hege-
Matza, D. (1969) Becoming Deviant. Englewood lianism and neo-Hegelianism). Dialectic
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. for Hegel involves testing hypotheses against
Merton, R. (1938) ‘Social Structure and themselves: their rationality – and thereby
Anomie’, American Sociological Review, 3:
672–82. their acceptability – are assessed in terms of
Smart, C. (1989) Feminism and the Power of Law. their success in encapsulating the reality they
London: Routledge. seek to describe. In the Phenomenology of Spirit,
Sumner, C. (2004) ‘The Social Nature of Crime Hegel argues that experience – a process in
and Deviance’, in The Blackwell Companion to which we move from partial to complete
Criminology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Willis, P. (1977) Learning to Labour: How Work- knowledge – has a discernible rational
ing Class Kids get Working Class Jobs. Farn- structure: he calls it ‘the dialectical move-
borough: Saxon House. ment of consciousness’. Elsewhere, Hegel
specifies that dialectical thought is a necessary
succeeding second moment of thought to the
apparently ‘fixed determinations’ established
by the abstractive understanding in the first
DIALECTIC grasp of knowing. For this reason Hegel
The philosophical concept of ‘dialectic’ first also terms dialectic ‘the negatively rational’
emerged in Plato’s Dialogues, in which the as it is that moment of thought that recog-
main character, Socrates, engages in dis- nizes the limitation of the first moment of
putations with respected individuals on the thought, obliging us, through the force of
definition of various ideas through a process our own rationality, to realize that the con-
of testing (and generally rejecting) a series cept applied to that concept in fact contradicts
of hypotheses. The rejection may lead the the object. (The idea that dialectic is a process
interlocutors in the discussion to new insights of thesis – antithesis – synthesis is a crude
into how their analysis needs to develop. representation of Hegel’s position.)
Hence dialectic is part of Plato’s maieutic According to Hegel, history too can be
method (philosophical ‘midwifery’). How- understood as the testing of various forms
ever, in Plato’s Dialogues this dialectical of political arrangement, a process that
procedure is not necessarily positive: if a strives to reach completion in the form of a
concept cannot be adequately determined, free civil society reconciled with the state:
it must remain inconclusive. This negative this development implies a graduation
dynamic of dialectic was thematized by through a series of increasingly adequate
Aristotle who, in On Sophistical Refutations, expressions or manifestations of freedom.
described dialectical arguments as ‘those The dialectic of history, however, is not
which, starting from generally accepted opi- undertaken by any human agent: it is
nions, reason to establish a contradiction’. undergone by Geist (Spirit or Mind) as it
Immanuel Kant gave the term a pejorative strives towards the realization of political
significance, as he associated it with reasoning freedom: each stage must be undergone,

but is inevitably replaced, by the stages that between what is given and what is rational, it
follow. But the earlier stages are carried along – is a fundamental term of sociological analysis
aufgehoben (sublated), as Hegel puts it – as in the Frankfurt School of social theory,
part of the final account of the phenomenon and is also a prominent associated theme in
(see idealism). deconstruction’s ‘logic of difference’.
Karl Marx agreed with Hegel that history
exhibits a dialectical structure. However, he
References and further reading
disagreed both with Hegel’s account of
what pushed that process forward – Geist – Adorno, T. (1973) Negative Dialectics. London:
and, indeed, that it had yet reached its Routledge.
Bubner, R. (1990) Dialektik als Topik. Frankfurt
conclusion. For Marx, dialectic was the am Main: Suhrkamp.
logic of the dictum that the ‘history of all Gadamer, H. J. (1976) Hegel’s Dialectic. New
hitherto existing society is the history of Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
class struggles’. Marx elaborates by arguing Gadamer, H.-J. (1980) Dialogue and Dialectic.
that the balance between the forces of pro- New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Hegel, G. W. F. ([1807] 1975) Phenomenology of
duction and the relations of production is Spirit. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
inherently unstable, containing an inherent Marcuse, H. (1955) Reason and Revolution. Lon-
‘dialectic’ with the potential to lead to the don: Routledge.
overcoming of these relations. Using this Marx, K. ([1857–58] 1973) Grundrisse: Founda-
materialist economic account of history, tions of the Critique of Political Economy. Har-
mondsworth: Penguin.
Marx believed that dialectic could have a Popper, K. (1940) ‘What is Dialectic?’, Mind,
‘scientific’ application (see materialism). XLIV: 403–26.
That is, if history could be understood as a
dialectic of the tensions between the forces
and relations of production, then it should
be possible to predict the future of those
relations, as they would fall within a necessary DIFFERENCE
dialectic leading inevitably to their collapse. In social theory, the term difference tends
Thus dialectic acquired a predictive capacity. to be associated with forms of theorizing
In this regard the Russian anarchist intel- which have critiqued the universalizing and
lectual Alexander Herzen referred to dialectic normalizing pretensions in Enlightenment-
as ‘the algebra of revolution’. The scienti- influenced thinking. In particular, the term
ficity of social theory was a central element ‘difference’ tends to be associated with cri-
of revolutionary Marxism, and the notion tiques of mainstream social theory enacted
of dialectic was freely employed in the by feminist theory, critical race studies,
writings of Lenin and Trotsky. post-colonial theory and sexuality studies,
The failure of scientific Marxism to predict because such critiques operate via a logic of
any historical developments discredited the questioning the universal via the particular.
very idea of dialectic to its opponents. Karl Early feminist critiques of sociological and
Popper (1940) wrote an excoriating critique socio-theoretical discourse are exemplary
of dialectic which was aimed at the pseudo- of this kind of critique, especially in its
scientificity of the concept; a critique that was illumination of a normative masculine subject
to remind us that philosophy must not be a and the exclusion of women from the field
basis for any sort of scientific system. Even of the social. Such critiques opened up an
among radical theorists the notion of dialectic empirical claim that social theory has
has come to seem less than useful as a tool excluded the interests of a variety of
of sociological analysis. However, in so far as groups of people and societies (non-white
dialectic names the moment of contradiction people, women, non-heterosexual people,

colonized people and post-colonial societies) of meaning-making in such discourses,

from its key object – the social. The claim because even though suppressed, différance is
is that social science has a normalizing constitutive of the meaning of dominant
impulse, whereby white European male sub- terms and tropes. The term ‘masculine’, for
jects are defined as normative actors in social instance, depends for its meaning on the
worlds, an impulse that tends to exclude, term ‘feminine’ – even though the latter
silence and expel any differences from this may not be explicitly invoked. Thus, while
norm. Crucially, within this mode of critique ostensibly we may read, for example, clas-
difference tends to be empirically imagined. sical social theory as concerning a narrative
‘Difference’ is designated to those groups and of the emergence (and triumph) of the
individuals who are unlike (the also often European masculine subject within moder-
empirically imagined) normative actor in nity, and as concerning the erasure and
social theory. A key strategy which emerged exclusion of difference, a deconstructive
to counter the exclusionary impulses of reading may suggest that the meaning of
social theory and sociology was the insertion this narrative relies upon a whole range of
of previously excluded groups into the repressed terms – including the feminine,
domain of the social. Feminist social theorists the non-European, the non-modern, and
and sociologists, for example, sought to so on – terms which always threaten to
insert ‘women’ into the domain of the social destabilize the dominant meaning of the
via specifically sociological research projects narrative. Rather than the solid, unitary
focused on women and extended socio- centre of classical social theory, the Eur-
theoretical discourses to this previously opean masculine subject therefore emerges
excluded group. as unstable, dispersed and ambiguous. A
At least two issues are important to note deconstructive reading of social theory
about this strategy. First, difference tends to would reveal, in other words, not a series of
be understood as an exclusion from a norm, exclusions which result in the stability and
which assumes that these differences would unitary nature of the European masculine
(to some extent at least) be minimized via subject, but that this very figure relies upon
inclusion (see inclusion and exclusion). repressed concepts of difference. Derrida’s
Second, in this strategy (and in positive différance therefore reverses positive science
social science understandings of difference understandings of difference, since rather
more generally), difference tends to be than an outcome or an exclusion from a
attributed to and associated with particular norm, the norm cannot exist without différ-
groups of people. Difference is assumed to ance. Moreover, in locating the linguistic
be a property of certain groups of human operations of difference Derrida’s under-
beings. standing also questions the idea that difference
These assumptions have been put into is a foundational property or characteristic
doubt by a definition of difference associated of humans.
with deconstructive modes of theorizing There are a variety of ways in which these
(see deconstruction). A number of social deconstructive notions of différance have
and cultural theorists, especially Jacques been put to work within contemporary
Derrida (1982), have examined how the social theory. Writers such as Stuart Hall
discourses of western metaphysics – including have made use of such a strategy to rethink
social theoretical discourses – operate not the idea of identity, particularly in regard to
via a strategy of the exclusion of difference questions of race. Hall has shown that rather
from a norm, but with repressed or hidden than unitary, uniform or stable formations,
notions of difference. Derrida calls this dif- identities always rely upon différance. Identities,
férance, and argues it is crucial for the process Hall argues, must be read against the grain,

‘not as that which fixes the play of difference structure. Sociologists have been especially
in a point of origin, but as that which is interested in the dynamics that produce and
constructed in and through différance’ reproduce the functional differentiation of
(1996: 5). In rethinking identity in this way modern society.
Hall has contributed towards a move away The concept of differentiation spread
from foundational understandings and opened within sociology after Herbert Spencer’s
up important avenues for rethinking the evolutionary theory of societal development
relations between identity and difference. ‘from incoherent homogeneity to coherent
Indeed, deconstructionist social theory and, heterogeneity’. Later, Emile Durkheim,
in particular, the notion of différance form a Georg Simmel, Talcott Parsons, and Nik-
backdrop to many recent important inter- las Luhmann became important proponents
ventions in the social theory field, including of the concept, while other thinkers such as
the work of Judith Butler on gender and Karl Marx and Max Weber who did not
sexuality, and the work of Anne Game explicitly use the term also contributed to
(1991) on deconstructive sociology. our understanding of the kinds of social
structures and dynamics it designates. In
contemporary sociology, empirical debates
References and further reading
on social differentiation are prominent among
Derrida, J. (1982) Margins of Philosophy. Hemel American ‘neo-functionalists’ (see Alex-
Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf. ander and Colomy 1990) and among Ger-
Game, A. (1991) Undoing the Social: Towards a
Deconstructive Sociology. Toronto: University man sociologists influenced by the work of
of Toronto Press. Luhmann.
Grossberg, L. (1996) ‘Identity and Cultural Two principal views on the functional
Studies: Is That All There Is?’ in S. Hall and differentiation of modern society can be
P. du Gay (eds) Questions of Cultural Identity. distinguished. For Durkheim and Parsons,
London: Sage.
Hall, S. (1996) ‘Who Needs Identity?’ in S. Hall as the most important representatives of the
and P. du Gay (eds) Questions of Cultural first view, functional differentiation is a pro-
Identity. London: Sage. cess of decomposition of a functionally dif-
Hall, S. (ed.) (1997) Representation: Cultural fuse unit, such as a role or an institution,
Representations and Signifying Practices. Lon- into at least two functionally more specific
don: Sage.
units. This idea is modelled on the division
LISA ADKINS of labour in work organizations. In Parsons’s
highly abstract analytical framework, society
is composed of four principal sub-systems
DIFFERENTIATION (the economy, the polity, the societal com-
Social differentiation is an important attribute munity and the fiduciary system), each of
of society. Differentiation means both a which fulfils one of the four fundamental
process and a structure. In structural terms, functional prerequisites of societal reproduc-
it refers to the fact that a unit of analysis, tion. Social differentiation is here seen as
such as a society, consists of a number of tending towards a successive decomposition
distinct parts. These parts may be of the same of each of these sub-systems into second-level
kind, such as families as the basic compo- sub-systems.
nents of tribal societies. Or the parts may be In contrast to the Durkheim–Parsons
different, such as the sub-systems – the perspective, Weber portrayed the birth and
economy, the state or the public sphere – composition of modern society in terms of
making up a modern society. As a process, the emergence of a number of autonomous
social differentiation denotes the dynamics ‘value-spheres’. One after the other, science,
which bring about and change a given law, art, politics, economics, sexuality, and
DILTHEY , WILHEL M (18 33–1 911 )

other spheres free themselves from their for- person who creates autonomously a unique
mer domination by religious ideas. Luhmann biography for him or herself. On the other,
radicalizes this second view when he con- however, this individualism is seen as being
ceives of Weber’s ‘value-spheres’ as oper- accompanied by an erosion of traditional
ationally closed sub-systems constituted by meaningful attachments that tie a person to
self-referential chains of communication. particular cultural worlds, social groups, or
Luhmann here does not deny manifold communities. As a consequence, anomie,
mutual dependencies among sub-systems, alienation, and other experiences of mean-
but he insists that it makes no sense to inglessness are implications of functional
understand the ensemble of societal sub- differentiation (see individualism and indivi-
systems as a division of labour in which the dualization). Nevertheless, functional dif-
sub-systems as parts are teleologically oriented ferentiation appears to be a highly effective
towards the performance and maintenance mode of social change. Today world-wide,
of the whole society. Instead, both Weber there seems to be no normative alternative to
and Luhmann emphasize that social differ- the adoption of processes of functional dif-
entiation consists of a simultaneous birth ferentiation. From the point of view of
and liberation of the parts. These parts functionalist analysis, even fundamentalist
emerge and become autonomous in relation opposition in some regions of the world
each other and to the whole. Moreover, may be regarded as something intermittent
the whole itself does not exist; nothing more and recurrent but not sustainable or enduring.
than the often tension-ridden and antag-
onistic interrelationship of the parts exists.
References and further reading
The consequences of functional differ-
entiation for society at large as well as for Alexander, J. and Colomy, P. (eds) (1990) Dif-
each individual component of the society ferentiation Theory and Social Change. New
are seen by both views as neither totally York: Columbia University Press.
Durkheim, E. ([1893] 1964) The Division of
positive nor totally negative but as a ‘mixed Labor in Society. New York: Free Press.
blessing’. Parsons drew a largely optimistic Luhmann, N. (1977a) ‘Differentiation of
picture that stressed the advantages of Society’, Canadian Journal of Sociology, 2: 29–53.
ongoing functional differentiation, invol- Luhmann, N. (1997b) Die Gesellschaft der Gesell-
ving technological and economic progress schaft. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp.
Parsons, T. (1971) The System of Modern Societies.
and inclusion of more and more individuals Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
in the ‘societal community’, as well as value Schimank, U. (1996) Theorien gesellschaftlicher
generalization as a basis for a civil religion Differenzierung. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.
fostering mutual tolerance and solidarity. Schwinn, T. (2001) Differenzierung ohne Gesell-
Similarly, Durkheim was obsessed with the schaft. Weilerswist: Velbrück.
question of which mechanisms could produce UWE SCHIMANK
for ‘organic solidarity’ needed a functionally
differentiated society.
DILTHEY, WILHELM (1833–1911)
More recently, however, uncontrolled
evolution of functional differentiation has German philosopher
often been seen as a fundamental danger to Dilthey sought to provide a solid founda-
the integration of modern society, building tion for the human sciences or Geis-
on Durkheim’s theme of anomie. On the teswissenschaften. The latter term could
one hand, enormous increases in the number equally be translated as sciences of ‘mind’ or
of options in every societal sphere in modern ‘spirit’. In this sense Dilthey sought to reveal
society allow each person to become an indi- the unique qualities of the human world in
vidual in the proper sense of the word: a contrast to those of nature. There were two

key elements in this conception: ‘life’ and theorizing (see also social inclusion and
‘history’. The truth of the human world is social exclusion). The term ‘disability’ is,
found in ‘life’ itself, not in the mechanical however, fiercely contested, and is commonly
abstractions of the natural sciences. The used in two conflicting ways: according to
complex amalgam of thought and feeling an ‘individual model’, and according to a
which constitutes the inner mental life of ‘social model’.
individuals is the central concern of the Where many traditional views of dis-
human sciences. As the experience of life ability were once informed by religion, the
blends past, present and future, so the rise of scientific medicine in industrialized
human world must be understood as countries since the eighteenth century has
intrinsically historical. In his Introduction to led to disability being largely conceived in
the Human Sciences ([1923] 1929), Dilthey terms of health and illness and viewed as a
created an epistemology for historical study, problem of individuals (see medicaliza-
emphasizing the importance of empathically tion). The individual model of disability,
re-living the experience of actors and its typically elaborated by non-disabled pro-
expression in historical artifacts. fessionals, focuses on disability as functional
Dilthey’s influence on hermeneutics has limitation. A three-fold definition is com-
been considerable. Gadamer accepts the monly adopted. Impairment is seen as denoting
centrality of historical tradition, but rejects any ‘loss or abnormality of psychological,
as ‘psychologism’ the attempt to re-live the physiological or anatomical structure or
experience of others as the route to objectiv- function’. Disability is seen as referring to
ity. Ricoeur argues that Dilthey’s emphasis any ‘restriction or lack (resulting from an
on understanding (Verstehen) occurs at the impairment) of ability to perform an activ-
expense of explanation but can be over- ity in the manner or within the range con-
come by incorporating aspects of structur- sidered normal for a human being’.
alism into interpretation. Dilthey’s main Handicap is used to describe the ‘dis-
influence on sociology has been via Weber advantage for a given individual, resulting
and the importance attached to meaning in from an impairment or disability, that limits
interpretative sociology. or prevents the fulfilment of a role (depending
on age, sex and social and cultural factors)
Major work for that individual’ (Wood 1980: 27–9).
([1923] 1989) Introduction to the Human Sciences. Thus, according to the individual model,
Princeton: Princeton University Press. people are disabled by their impairments,
and it is the role of medicine and psychology
Further reading to restore them to ‘normality’ (see normal
and pathological). The problem of disability
Gadamer, H.-G. (1989) Truth and Method. Lon-
don: Sheed & Ward. is located within the impaired individual.
Harrington, A. (2001) ‘Dilthey, Empathy and In many countries, the latter part of the
Verstehen: A Contemporary Reassessment’, twentieth century saw the emergence of
European Journal of Social Theory 4(3): 329–47. the disabled people’s movement, which
Ricoeur, P. (1981) Hermeneutics and the Human Sci- redefined disability as a form of oppression
ences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
on a par with racism and sexism. The social
ALAN HOW model of disability emerged from disabled
people’s own critiques of the individual
model, including its view of causality, its
DISABILITY assumptions about the existence and nature
Disability is a form of social exclusion gaining of ‘normality’, and its failure to recognize
increasing attention within sociological disabled people as the experts on their own

situation. A two-fold definition of impairment 1997: 196). In contrast, while generally

and disability analogous to the sex/gender acknowledging the realities of this materialist
distinction, was elaborated in Britain by the interpretation, idealist writers understand dis-
Union of the Physically Impaired against ability in terms of liminality (Shakespeare
Segregation (UPIAS), a collective of dis- 1994). On this latter view, equal opportu-
abled people. Here, impairment is defined nities within the existing system are advo-
as ‘lacking part of or all of a limb, or having cated to challenge these deep-rooted beliefs
a defective limb, organ or mechanism of and prejudices (see equality). However, the
the body’, while disability denotes ‘the dis- failure of reformist measures suggests that for
advantage or restriction of activity caused effective change to occur, disability cannot
by a contemporary social organization be ‘dematerialized’ and cannot be explained
which takes no or little account of people solely in terms of discriminatory beliefs.
who have. . .impairments and thus excludes Despite these internal critiques and ten-
them from participation in the mainstream sions, the insights of the social model of
of social activities’ (UPIAS 1976: 3–4). No disability have been vitally important for
causal link is assumed between impairment disabled people, both personally and politi-
and disadvantage; rather, disability is cally. They have fostered the development
viewed purely as a social construction (see of disability studies as an academic dis-
social constructionism). cipline and have helped ensure a long-
The social model is not without its crit- overdue place for disability on the socio-
ics, and has been characterized as over- logical and political agenda.
socialized and reductionist by advocates of
the individual model. Other critiques have References and further reading
arisen from within the disabled community.
These frequently focus on the model’s ten- Barnes, C. et al. (1999) Exploring Disability: A
Sociological Introduction. Cambridge: Polity in
dency to treat disabled people as an homo-
association with Blackwell Publishers.
genous group and on its failure to Gleeson, B. J. (1997) ‘Disability Studies: A His-
adequately theorize impairment. It is argued torical Materialist View’, Disability and
that failure to theorize impairment adequately Society, 12(2): 179–202.
may also create disadvantage for those Oliver, M. (1996) Understanding Disability: From
Theory to Practice. Basingstoke: Macmillan.
individuals so affected and may itself be
Shakespeare, T. (1994) ‘Cultural Representation
seen as socially produced (Thomas 1999) of Disabled People: Dustbins for Dis-
(see embodiment). There are further tensions avowal?’, Disability and Society, 9(3): 283–99.
between those assuming materialist and Swain, J. et al. (eds) (2004) Disabling Barriers:
idealist interpretations of the social model. Enabling Environments, 2nd edn. London: Sage.
Thomas, C. (1999) Female Forms: Experiencing
While there is substantial evidence that for
and Understanding Disability. Buckingham:
centuries people with impairments have Open University Press.
suffered discrimination in a range of societies, UPIAS (1976) Fundamental Principles of Disability.
materialist writers understand disability in London: Union of the Physically Impaired
its current form to be a logical outcome of Against Segregation.
Wood, P. (1980) International Classification of
the capitalist mode of production. The
Impairments, Disabilities and Handicaps. Geneva:
growth of the commodity labour market, WHO.
and the consequent exclusion and segregation
of non-standard workers are identified as ALISON SHELDON
key factors in the process of disablement.
Hence it is argued that disability will only be
eliminated through ‘a radical transformation, DISCIPLINE
rather than a reform of capitalism’ (Gleeson See: social control

DISCOURSE theory focuses on the fact that by saying

The concept of discourse and the methods of something, we are also doing something
discourse analysis are established components (Austin 1975). When someone utters a
of contemporary social science. This is statement such as ‘I promise’ or ‘I name this
immediately evident in the number of ship the Queen Mary’, and meets the
empirical studies that employ discourse the- requisite ‘felicity conditions’ – i.e. intends
ory, and the various schools of discourse to keep the promise or is authorized to
analysis that have emerged – Critical Dis- name ships – the person is also performing an
course Analysis (Fairclough 1989), Argu- act. In a related vein, conversation analysts
mentative Discourse Analysis (Hajer 1995), drawing largely on Garfinkel’s (1967)
and Discourse Theory (Laclau and Mouffe sociological method of ethnomethodology
endeavour to deduce from observation
1985; Laclau 1990). Bound up with the rise
what speakers are doing and how they are
of the concept of discourse has been the lin-
doing it (Trask 1999: 57). For instance,
guistic turn in the 1960s and 1970s which
conversation analysts such as Schegloff and
stimulated the emergence of new approaches
Sacks (1973) examine the organization and
such as semiotics, hermeneutics, critical
logic of ‘turn-taking’ in conversations to
theory and post-structuralism, as well as the
show that a key principle that structures
resurgence of Marxist theory and the wider
conversations is the avoidance of ‘holes’
dissemination of psychoanalytic ideas in the
and ‘intersections’ between speakers.
social sciences. Equally important have
A second approach to discourse analysis,
been developments within linguistics itself which emerged alongside the development
(e.g. Fowler et al. 1979). of structuralism, post-structuralism, her-
The Oxford English Dictionary defines meneutics and Marxism in the 1960s and
discourse as ‘talk, conversation; dissertation, 1970s, is evident in the writings of Michel
treatise, sermon’, or in its verb form to Foucault and his followers. Foucault‘s
‘talk, converse; speak or write at length on (1970, 1973) earlier ‘archaeological’ writings
a subject’. Hayden White’s more detailed examine the way discursive practices form
etymology of the concept stresses ‘the con- the objects and subjects of discursive forma-
notations of circularity, of movement back tions. Discourses are thus ‘practices that
and forth, which the Indo-European root systematically form the objects of which we
of this term (kers) and its Latinate form (dis-, speak’, and consist of historically specific
‘‘in different directions’’, + currere, ‘‘to run’’) ‘rules of formation’ that determine the dif-
suggest’ (White 1979: 82). In the social ference between grammatically well-formed
sciences, the term has acquired greater tech- statements and ‘what is actually said’ at
nical sophistication, while accruing additional particular times and places (Foucault 1972:
meanings and connotations. It has also 49; Foucault 1991: 63). In his later ‘genea-
engendered debate among those who use logical’ writings, Foucault (1987) modifies
the concept as to its precise meaning, scope his quasi-structuralist approach, and focuses
and application, while encountering fierce on the way in which discourses are shaped
criticisms from those who oppose the cultur- by social practices, and the way discursive
alist and linguistic turns in social science practices in turn shape social relationships
(Geras 1990) (see cultural turn). and institutions (see praxis and practices).
Theories of discourse might be classified In his later writings, the ‘archaeological’ and
in three ways. First, traditional discourse genealogical strategies are combined in a
analysis is concerned with the investigation method of ‘problematization’. In this
of ‘language in use’ or ‘talk or text in context’ reconfiguration, archaeology provides the
(van Dijk 1997). For example, speech-act means to delimit research objects by describ-

ing the rules in a given period that condition A little less abstractly, social relations exhibit
the elements of a particular discourse – its four properties: contingency, historicity,
objects, subjects, concepts and strategies. power, and the primacy of politics (Laclau
Examples of this for Foucault are ‘madness’ 1990: 31–6). The identities of social agents
or ‘illness’ in the nineteenth century. Geneal- are constituted within structures of articu-
ogy, on the other hand, analyzes the constitu- latory practice, and political subjects arise
tion of the elements of a discourse by when agents identify anew under condi-
recounting the historical practices from which tions of dislocation. Such assumptions
they were constructed. The latter enables represent the formal ontological pre-
research to show the contingency of identities suppositions of post-Marxist discourse the-
and practices, and foregrounds possibilities ory. A fuller expression would suggest the
foreclosed by the dominant logics. introduction of further concepts and logics
A third type of discourse analysis, which pertaining to the constitution and dissolu-
develops partly out of Foucault’s contribu- tion of political identities, the processes of
tions, and partly from Derridean, Marxist hegemonic construction, and the structur-
and post-Marxist insights, expands the ing of social spaces (see Howarth 2000;
scope of discourse analysis to include non- Torfing 1999).
linguistic practices and elements. Fairclough’s
‘critical discourse analysis’ includes the
References and further reading
analysis of political texts and speeches, as
well as the contexts in which they are pro- Austin, J. L. (1975) How to Do Things with
duced, although discourses are still understood Words. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
in terms of the semiotic dimension of social Butler, J., Laclau, E. and Žižek, S. (2000) Con-
practice, thus remaining at a distinct level tingency, Hegemony, Universality. London: Verso.
of the social system. By contrast, Laclau and Fairclough, N. (1989) Language and Power. Lon-
don: Longman.
Mouffe’s post-Marxist discourse theory Foucault, M. (1970) The Order of Things: An
enlarges the scope of discourse analysis to Archaeology of the Human Sciences. London:
include all social practices, so that dis- Tavistock.
courses and discursive practices are synon- Foucault, M. (1972) The Archaeology of Knowl-
ymous with structurally incomplete systems edge. London: Tavistock.
Foucault, M. (1973) The Birth of the Clinic: An
of social relations. Archaeology of Medical Perception. London:
This latter type of approach arguably Tavistock.
offers the most comprehensive and sys- Foucault, M. (1987) ‘Nietzsche, Genealogy,
tematic attempt to employ discourse analysis History’, in P. Rabinow (ed.) The Foucault
in the social sciences. It synthesizes devel- Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Foucault, M. (1991) ‘Politics and the Study of
opments within post-structuralism, psy- Discourse’, in G. Burchell, C. Gordon and
choanalysis, Marxism, and post-analytical P. H. Miller (eds) The Foucault Effect: Studies
philosophy in an endeavour to account for in Governmentality. London: Harvester
the political structuring of social orders and Wheatsheaf.
the constitution of subjective identities. Fowler, R., Hodge, B., Kress, G. and Trew, T.
(1979) Language and Control. London: Rou-
The core of this research programme cen- tledge & Kegan Paul.
tres on the idea that all objects and practices Garfinkel, H. (1967) Studies in Ethnomethodology.
are meaningful, and that social meanings Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
are contextual, relational and contingent. In Geras, N. (1990) Discourses of Extremity: Radical
addition, its advocates assert that all systems Ethics and Post-Marxist Extravagances. London:
of meaningful practice rely upon discursive Glynos, J. (2001) ‘The Grip of Ideology: A Laca-
exteriors that partially constitute such nian Approach to the Theory of Ideology’,
orders, while potentially subverting them. Journal of Political Ideologies, 6(2): 191–214.


Hajer, M. (1995) The Politics of Environmental Max Weber describes domination in terms
Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Pol- of the probability that a command will be
icy Process. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Howarth, D. (2000) Discourse. Buckingham, obeyed in a structural relationship and
Open University Press. explains that the cause of compliance can
Laclau, E. (1990) New Reflections on the Revolu- arise from several sources. He distinguishes
tion of Our Time. London: Verso. between forms of domination which are
Laclau, E. and Mouffe, C. (1985) Hegemony and based upon legitimacy and domination that
Socialist Strategy. London: Verso.
Schegloff, E. and Sacks, H. (1973) ‘Opening up is coercive. The former involves authority
Closings’, Semiotica, 8: 289–327. (see legitimacy and legitimation). The lat-
Searl, J. (1969) Speech Acts. Cambridge: Cambridge ter is at its most obvious when based upon
University Press. the threat of violence but can equally derive
Torfing, J. (1999) New Theories of Discourse: from control over other resources – a bank
Laclau, Mouffe and Žižek. Oxford: Blackwell.
Trask, R. L. (1999) Key Concepts in Language and which exploits a restricted market can be
Linguistics. London: Routledge. in a position of domination.
van Dijk, T. (1997) Discourse as Social Interaction. Michael Mann (1986) has argued that
London: Sage. there are four sources of power, which are
White, H. (1979) ‘Michel Foucault’, in J. Stur- central to the reproduction of relations of
rock (ed.) Structuralism and Since, Oxford:
Oxford University Press, p. 82. domination. Military power entails coercion
by physical force; political power corresponds
DAVID HOWARTH to authority; economic power involves the
control of physical resources; and ideologi-
cal power entails control over ideas. While
in some systems of domination, one source
See: differentiation. of power appears more prominent than the
rest (for instance, the economy in capital-
ism), it is almost invariably the case that any
DOMINATION system of domination is based upon a com-
Domination refers to a structural relationship plex interdependence of all four sources.
of unequal power resources in which the Capitalism did not simply evolve out of
more powerful routinely gain the com- economic advances but was a consequence
pliance of the less powerful. A ‘one-off’ of developments at the military, ideological
exercise of power, however exploitative, and political levels. Militarily, the feudal
which does not reflect structural relation- knight was made superfluous by the inven-
ships, does not constitute domination in the tion of cheap weaponry – the rifle. Capi-
sociological sense of the term. For instance, talist production presupposes the existence
the capitalist system constitutes a set of of a workforce that is disciplined through
structures that are central to a specific form state monopoly of education – a combi-
of domination. Hence, the power which nation of ideological and political power.
factory owners routinely exercise over their Each system of domination has an internal
workers constitutes domination. However, logic that entails particular relations of
if particular workers manage to exercise empowerment and disempowerment.
power over their employers through once-off Social actors change relations of domina-
strategic action, this does not constitute tion by ‘organizationally outflanking’
domination. Only if workers organize (Mann 1986; Clegg 1989) existing relations
themselves into a movement (through trade of domination. Conversely those who wish
unions or political parties) and alter the sur- to maintain existing relations of domination
rounding social structures in order to exercise (the status quo) do so through ‘organiza-
power, can we speak of domination. tionally outflanking’ any of the would-be
DOUG LA S, MARY ( 192 1– )

challengers to the system. Organizational instead, relations of domination should be

outflanking generally takes place through resisted through the micro-practices of
innovation in any of the sources of power everyday life. One way of accomplishing
but in some instances, organizational out- this is through an awareness of the con-
flanking can also be influenced by chance tingent nature of any relations of domina-
(Clegg 1989). One of the factors which tion. Contingency implies ‘could have
contributed to the ‘organizational outflanking’ been otherwise’, which in turn suggests
of the aristocracy by the bourgeoisie was ‘can be otherwise’. Such awareness will not
not only innovation but also the bubonic lead to utopia but it does have the potential
plague – a contingent event. to empower agents to be more than simply
While the term ‘domination’ suggests the effect of social relations of domination
relations of radical inequality, in practice, which define ‘what’ and ‘who’ they are.
relations are rarely entirely one-sided. Dom-
ination usually entails relations of mutual References and further reading
dependence (Giddens 1984). First, there is
usually no useful purpose to be gained from Clegg, S. (1989) Frameworks of Power. London:
dominating the entirely powerless. To be Sage.
Foucault, M. (1980) Power Knowledge. Brighton:
worth dominating, dominated actors need Harvester Press.
to have some power resources at their dis- Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society.
posal. These resources usually give the Cambridge: Polity.
dominated some autonomy and, because Laclau, E. and Mouffe, C. (1985) Hegemony and
the dominating party wish to acquire control Socialist Strategy. London: Verso.
Mann, M. (1986) The Sources of Social Power, vols
of these resources, the latter are, to an extent, 1, 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
dependent upon the dominated. Second, Scott, L. (2001) Power. Cambridge: Polity.
since domination is not once-off, it is in the Weber, M. (1978) Economy and Society, vols 1, 2.
interests of the dominating party that the Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
dominated gain some advantage from the MARK HAUGAARD
relationship; otherwise they cannot be
relied upon routinely to reproduce the
DOUGLAS, MARY (1921– )
structures in question. While feudal serfs
are dominated by having to render all sorts British anthropologist
of services and a percentage of production Douglas was employed during the Second
to the feudal lord, in turn, they gain pro- World War in a section of the British gov-
tection and the right to hold land (see ernment responsible for colonial affairs, an
feudalism). Similarly, while workers are experience that stimulated her to write a
not entirely ‘free’ to sell their labour power doctorate in anthropology under Evans-
(as some libertarians would like to suggest), Pritchard, based on fieldwork among the
it is the case that they gain some empow- Lele in the African Congo. Her two best-
erment from these relations of domination. known works are Purity and Danger (1966)
While much of modern critical theory and Natural Symbols (1973).
aims at overcoming domination, many Purity and Danger is a powerful reassess-
postmodern thinkers, including Foucault ment of the identities and differences
(1980) and Laclau and Mouffe (1985), between ‘primitives’ and ‘moderns’. In oppo-
would argue that domination is both ubi- sition to the evolutionary series of magic –
quitous and without a well-defined source religion – science, Douglas emphasizes the
or centre (see also centre and periphery). need in any society for differentiation,
However, they do not conclude from this that hierarchy and borderlines, against the danger
domination should be accepted uncritically; of contagious disorder, while recognizing

both that there is a need for the occasional neglected human agency. In Goffman’s
creative breaking of the rules, and that cor- depiction, people are portrayed as active,
ruption, as part of life, also belongs to the using various props to influence their sur-
sacred. roundings. Although the dramaturgical
Natural Symbols introduces the con- approach is mainly associated with Goffman,
ceptual pair ‘grid versus group’, denoting other authors have also contributed (e.g.
the symbolic system of classification and Cochran and Claspell 1987; Hare and
the pressure to conform. The combination Blumberg 1988)
of high or low values on these two axes Goffman initially studied to become a film
differentiates hierarchy from individualism, director before entering graduate school in
but also contrasts church and sect. The sociology at the University of Chicago (see
book presents a defence of ritual for social Chicago School). His earlier training and
life, including unreformed Catholicism, interest in film and theatre remained visible
and a condemnation of both free market in his sociological work. Partly because of
individualism and what she perceives as the his studies in Chicago, commentators tend
millennial sectarianism of oppositional to associate him with the school of sym-
movements. bolic interactionism. Like other interac-
tionists, his concerns are the micro-settings
of face-to-face interaction, attending to pay
Major works
attention to how individuals share meaning
([1966] 1996) Purity and Danger: An Analysis of and how they are able to anticipate what
the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: their gestures mean to other individuals.
Routledge. Individuals are able to monitor their conduct
([1973] 1996). Natural Symbols: Explorations in
Cosmology, revised edn. London: Routledge. and manipulate their environment, picking
([1978] 1996) (with B. Isherwood) The World of up on clues and aching accordingly. In his
Goods. London: Routledge. Presentation of the Self in Everyday Life
(1982) (with A. Wildavsky) Risk and Culture: (Goffman 1959), Goffman explained how
Essays on the Selection of Environmental Dangers. individuals use various devices to impose a
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
particular definition of themselves and of
the situation on others. It is important for
Further reading individuals to show themselves in a good
Fardon, R. (1999) Mary Douglas: An Intellectual
light, to emphasize certain aspects and hide
Biography. London: Routledge. others. Goffman called this ‘impression
management’, which individuals use various
ARPAD SZAKOLCZAI props or devices to accomplish.
Impression management takes place at
the ‘front stage’ before the ‘audience’. The
DRAMATURGICAL SCHOOL front consists of the ‘setting’ and the ‘personal
The stage has been a fruitful source of inspira- front’. The setting is the scene where the
tion for the study of the social. In numerous performance takes place. For instance, law-
passages Shakespeare employed metaphors yers meet clients in their office. A neat,
of the theatre to depict social life. The use of well-organized office may induce con-
such metaphors by sociologists has sometimes fidence in their abilities. The personal front
led to overly determinist pictures of the social, refers to the identifiable items, which the
where people are portrayed as performing performer carries or is expected to carry.
roles and following scripts. Erving Goff- The personal front consists of ‘appearance’
man, however, compared social life with the and ‘manner’. Appearance gives clues to the
stage without succumbing to a view that status of the performer. The outfit of a
D U B O I S , W I L L I A M E D W A RD B UR G H A R D T ( 1 8 6 8 – 1 9 6 3 )

judge provides an idea of his or her impor- Goffman, E. (1961) Encounters: Two Studies in the
tance, and the judge may appear authoritative Sociology of Interaction. Indianapolis, IN:
Bobbs Merrill.
and confident. People use the backstage to Goffman, E. (1962) Asylums: Essays on the Social
prepare for the preparation or as an emotional Situation of Mental Patients and other Inmates.
outlet. For instance, the restaurant kitchen Chicago: Aldine.
allows waiters to let off steam. Goffman, E. (1963) Stigma: Notes on the Man-
Goffman insisted that members of the agement of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice Hall.
audience help performers in various ways. Hare, A. and Blumberg, H. (1988) Dramaturgical
As in the theatre, people tend to suspend Analysis of Social Interaction. London: Praeger.
disbelief, ignoring mistakes in the perfor- Manning, P. (1991) Erving Goffman and Modern
mance. They also help the performer by not Sociology. Cambridge: Polity.
entering the backstage. In addition, Goff- PATRICK BAERT
man recognized that how someone is per-
ceived is often affected by the performances
of others. In this context, Goffman talked
about political parties as ‘teams’. The activ-
BURGHARDT (1868–1963)
ities and misdoings of one of its members may
affect how the wider public perceives the US theorist
party, leading possibly to expulsion or Du Bois was the first African-American to
sanctions. Goffman studied diverse aspects receive a PhD from Harvard University,
of role distancing and stigmatizing (Goff- and was founder of the National Associ-
man 1961, 1963), as well as ‘total institutions’ ation for the Advancement of Colored
such as asylums (Goffman 1962). People. Du Bois’s central concern was the
Goffman never tried to develop a coherent significance of ‘race’ in social life (see ‘race’
theoretical framework and has sometimes and racism). He wrote extensively on the
been criticized for being his journalistic social construction of ‘race’, being one of
style. Some social theorists, however, have the first social scientists, along with Franz
tried to incorporate the dramaturgical Boas, to deconstruct essentialized, biological
approach within a more systematic theore- notions of racial differentiation (see essenti-
tical framework. One example is Giddens, alism). He analyzed the causes and con-
whose structuration theory partly draws on sequences of racism and the intersection of
Goffman’s insights. Social order is seen here racial constructs with class, gender, crime,
as an ongoing accomplishment of knowl- religion, and education. His micro-level,
edgeable individuals who display tacit, social-psychological assessment of racialized
practical knowledge in everyday life (Gid- identity is exemplified in his famous dis-
dens 1984). cussion of ‘double-consciousness’, and his
macro-level analysis of international racial
division is developed in his many pioneering
References and further reading
studies of global capitalism and colonial-
ism and their relationship to the ever-salient
Cochran, L. and Claspell, E. (1987) The Meaning
of Grief: A Dramaturgical Approach to Under- ‘color line’ (see post-colonial theory). Similar
standing Emotion. New York: Greenwood. to Durkheim, Du Bois emphasized the social,
Dahrendorf, R. (1973) Homo Sociologicus. London: communal bonds that come with religious
Routledge & Kegan Paul. involvement. Similar to Weber – with
Giddens, A. (1984) The Constitution of Society: whom he maintained a strong personal and
Outline of the Theory of Structuration. Cam-
bridge: Polity. professional relationship – Du Bois infused
Goffman, E. (1959) Presentation of the Self in his sociological writings with extensive his-
Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Anchor. torical analysis. Du Bois relied heavily on
D UR K H E I M , E M I L E ( 1 8 5 8 – 1 9 1 6 )

Marx in his many critiques of imperialism Durkheim identifies two different kinds
and unfettered capitalism, but chastised of society based on the type of solidarity
Marxist theory for ignoring the indepen- which integrates them – mechanical solidarity,
dent importance of racial divisions in social based on similarity, or, the more modern,
and historical conflict. Urban sociology, organic solidarity, based on differentiation and
rural sociology, criminology, sociology of interdependence. True organic solidarity
religion, sociology of education, and the could be realized only after appropriating
sociology of race are all indebted to Du and redistributing inherited wealth to abol-
Bois’s under-recognized but unparalleled ish the ‘forced division of labour’, for this
pioneering scholarship. blocks people’s ability to achieve social
positions commensurate with their merit.
Major works Considered a major influence on the
development of functionalism and struc-
([1898] 1903) The Souls of Black Folk. New turalism, Durkheim’s work is a crucial
York: Bantam Books.
([1899] 1998) The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. resource for non-humanist critical realist
Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania work in epistemology and ontology, for
Press. general sociological concepts including
([1915] 2001) The Negro. Philadelphia, PA: solidarity and the sacred, and in the areas
University of Pennsylvania Press. of deviance, law and religion. His innova-
([1920] 1999) Darkwater: Voices From Within the
Veil. New York: Dover Publications.
tive theory of the democratic socialist state
(1940) Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Auto- is a major influence on theories of ‘associa-
biography of a Race Concept. New York: Har- tive democracy’ (see also association).
court, Brace.
(1945) Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace.
New York: Harcourt, Brace. Major works
([1893] 1984) The Division of Labour in Society.
Further reading London: Macmillan.
([1895] 1982) The Rules of Sociological Method.
Lewis, D. L. (1993) W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography London: Macmillan.
of a Race. New York: Henry Holt. ([1897] 1951) Suicide: A Study in Sociology. New
Zuckerman, P. (2004) The Social Theory of W. E. York: Free Press.
B. Du Bois. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge ([1912] 1995) Elementary Forms of the Religious
Press. Life. New York: Free Press.
([1950] 1957) Professional Ethics and Civic Morals.
PHIL ZUCKERMAN London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
([1955] 1983) Pragmatism and Sociology. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
DURKHEIM, EMILE (1858–1916)
French theorist, Professor of Education and
Sociology at the Sorbonne. Considered the Further reading
founder of theoretically grounded empirical Lukes, S. (1973) Emile Durkheim: His Life and
sociology in France, Durkheim argued that Work. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books
the mode of association of human individuals Pearce, F. (2001) The Radical Durkheim, 2nd edn.
Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press.
creates ‘a specific reality,’ which is different Stedman-Jones, S. (2001) Durkheim Reconsidered.
from ‘the sum of its parts’. This sui generis rea- Cambridge: Polity Press.
lity is the source of ‘social facts’, the object of a
critical sociological knowledge. FRANK PEARCE

ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTALISM more concerned with cultural rather than
Beginning with the German biologist Ernst economic transformation. The globalization
Haeckel, who introduced the term ‘ecology’ of environmentalism is evident in the decen-
in 1866, ecological science has traditionally tralized and spontaneous growth of grass-
stressed connections and interrelationships roots environmental groups in less-developed
above individual entities. A pivotal character- countries. At the global level, environmental
istic of ecology until the middle of the twen- concern is not limited to post-material elites.
tieth century was that it represented a kind Different ideas and ideological positions
of borderland between the geographical, adopted by many environmental groups and
biological, and the social sciences. From the organizations have led to the view that there
social science perspective, undisturbed nat- is no monolithic unit called the environmental
ure was often assumed to achieve a balance movement. In its simplistic form, envir-
or a stability without humans, since people onmentalism since the 1970s can be divided
were seen as active agents who determined into the camp of those who favour conserva-
the physical configurations of the geographical tion and preservation of nature for nature’s
environment. This concept also encouraged sake and those who wish to maintain the
public ecological thought and the rise of environment as a necessary habitat for
modern environmentalism as a new social humankind. Along with what Mary Douglas
movement (see socialist movements). This (1992) has termed ‘myths of nature’, one
movement had many precursors, but its can categorize four core streams of envir-
most recent version can be traced to the onmental thought based on the assumed
publication of the biologist Rachel Carson’s character of nature: (1) traditional expan-
book The Silent Spring (1962). In the period sionism; (2) mainstream environmentalism;
after the book’s publication, the term ecology (3) deep ecological egalitarianism; and (4)
came to connote philosophical, moral, and fatalism. The idea of a benign nature is the
political viewpoints as well as a specialized underlying ideal of expansionism, the myth
field of scientific inquiry. In the 1970s mem- that nature is robust. Whatever adverse
bers of the environmental movement began effects industrialization has on nature,
to regard themselves as ‘ecologically aware’ human technology and reasoning will
or even as ecologists. Explanations for this always see to it that all disturbances in the
surge in new environmental movements very end will work out for the good. This
prominently include an increase in ‘post- myth is based on the idea of a global equili-
material’ values and the observation of a brium. According to the mainstream envir-
general social change in post-industrial onmentalist myth, the ecosystem is perceived
society, where radical political groups are as vulnerable, hence human intervention

must be controlled and regulated by scientific ecology blended with Romantic myths about
findings in order not to destroy the natural nature (see Romanticism). Consequently,
equilibrium. In this notion strict standards some late twentieth-century ecologists claim
for resource usage are needed, but this does that the findings of recent ecological currents
not mean that industrial production has to which indicate a general change of under-
come to an end. In many deep and radical standing from the idea of a natural ecosystem
ecological streams instead, one can detect a balance to something that is naturally in
plea for a radical hands-off policy. According constant flux, have led to many of the failures
to this view, whatever humans do can mean of environmentalism, since public debates
a catastrophic collapse of the ecological equi- on ‘ecology’ and ‘sustainability’ have little
librium. The ideal is to live in small-scale to do with scientific ecology (Botkin 1990).
communities on an egalitarian basis (see In a similar fashion, social theory has
egalitarianism). Practically every human mostly excluded the idea of natural action in
intervention in nature is regarded as bad. accounting for social development. For
Other radical streams of the environmental Emile Durkheim, for instance, it was always
movement, such as eco-feminism, have the idea of a steady state of nature as a basis
made the point that ecological degradation for his theoretical ideas. He wrote: ‘As for
is based on patriarchy and thus the dom- the physical world, since the beginning of
ination of women parallels the domination history it has remained sensibly the same, at
of nature. The fourth myth of nature, the least if one does not take account of
fatalist way of thinking about ecosystems, novelties which are of social origin’ ([1893]
regards the management of nature as useless, 1933: 348). Thinking in this tradition
because nature cannot be managed at all. sociologists have rarely cared about the
Here there is no point in theorizing about character of society’s natural environment.
or intervening in nature since it is impossible Nature was implicitly treated as static whereas
to know how nature works. society was the dynamic factor. However,
It is important to understand that in all if sociologists, like most twenty-first-century
four categories there are two underlying ecologists, no longer believe in any balance
ideas about the natural world that inform of nature, social theory has also lost its
most environmentalist thinking: (1) the steady foundation for society to take place.
idea of a balance, an equilibrium, or a strict As long as social theorists could believe that
order of nature which is disturbed by nature undisturbed was constant, they were
humans only; and (2) the tendency to see provided with a simple standard against
nature as essentially separate and different which to judge societal development. In
from human society. The ideal of a balance more recent streams of the environmental
of nature is still especially relevant for con- movement since the 1990s, as in ecological
temporary environmental thinking and restoration ( Jordan 2003), an understanding
often serves as a normative category, as a of the ecological world that accommodates
test against which to judge human activities. ecosystems’ dynamism and unpredictability,
It was the prerequisite for how environmental and especially its understanding of humans
problems were to be defined, and how as a mature part of nature, is being taken
their solution should be envisaged. The seriously. If one takes the view that nature
idea of a balance in nature was seen not as is in constant flux and natural activities are
human desire, but as a necessity imposed by influencing societal processes, then the ques-
nature. Thus, environmentalism in the tion arises whether sociology should explain
1970s seemed to be a radical movement, social facts with other social facts or whether
but the ideas on which it was based repre- the debates in ecology and related fields
sented a resurgence of early twentieth-century should also affect social theory.

From a different angle, but closely related Gross, M. (2003) Inventing Nature: Ecological
to the above problem, in some streams of Restoration by Public Experiments. Lanham,
MD: Lexington Books.
sociology the claim has been made that new Humphrey, C. G., Lewis, T. L. and Buttel, F.
environmental movements, citizen initiatives H. (2002) Environment, Energy, and Society: A
and other forms of non-formal politics are a New Synthesis. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
force to rethink traditional sociological Jordan, W. R. (2003) The Sunflower Forest: Eco-
categories. Authors like Ulrich Beck (1999) logical Restoration and the New Communion with
Nature. Berkeley, CA: University of Cali-
take the world-wide public perception of fornia Press.
ecological risks (see risk) and the engagement Mitman, G. (1992) The State of Nature: Ecology,
in non-formal ecological organizations as Community, and American Social Thought,
an indication that informal types of political 1900–1950. Chicago: University of Chicago
activity, what Beck called ‘subpolitics’, have Press.
Mol, A. P. J. and Sonnenfeld, D. A. (eds) (2000)
taken on a greater significance in modern Ecological Modernisation around the World: Per-
societies and need to be faced as a challenge spectives and Critical Debates. London: Cass.
to traditional forms of theorizing the human
place in nature, as well as how ecological MATTHIAS GROSS
thinking emerges and connects with environ-
mental politics. Furthermore, if this dis-
course goes hand in hand with an
understanding of humans as part of a dynamic See: political economy
nature, social theory might be well advised
to rethink some of its traditional approa-
ches to a fixed differentiating between a EDUCATION
dynamic society and a nature in balance. It is important to note that people who write
Some observers already claim that in the on the topic of education are themselves
twenty-first century the entwinement invariably highly educated. They are equipped
between the natural and the human realm with the knowledge, experiences, language,
has become so powerful (see actor-net- and communicative abilities that testify to
work theory; cyborgs) that focusing solely major features of education success. Education
on the social side will not do justice to empowers and emboldens, whether it be in
theorize and understand contemporary ways supportive or opposed to the status quo.
societies. Primary socialization takes place within
the family. Of institutions providing sec-
ondary socialization education is regarded
References and further reading as among the most important. Education is
Baldwin, D., de Luce, J., and Pletsch, C. (eds)
a nurturer of values, beliefs and morality, a
(1994) Beyond Preservation: Restoring and transmitter of skills and competencies, and
Inventing Landscapes. Minneapolis, MN: Uni- is the major provider of approved creden-
versity of Minnesota Press. tials in contemporary society which con-
Beck, U. (1999) World Risk Society. Oxford: tributes to social mobility.
Botkin, D. B. (1990) Discordant Harmonies: A
Emile Durkheim placed emphasis on
New Ecology for the Twenty-First Century. New education’s ability to instil communal
York: Oxford University Press. values in the young. For Durkheim, this sense
Carson, R. (1962) The Silent Spring. Boston: of belonging, fostered through the teaching
Houghton Mifflin. of a nation’s history, and through the
Douglas, M. (1992) Risk and Blame: Essays in
Cultural Theory. London: Routledge. encouragement of allegiance to its govern-
Durkheim, E. ([1893] 1933) The Division of ment, was a crucial counter-weight to ten-
Labor in Society. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. dencies towards increased individualism in

modern societies. Durkheim’s functionalist the determinant of educational (and other)

approach has exercised a major influence in success (see Young 1958). It is axial to the
the study of education, from both ends of the doctrine of equality of opportunity that is
political spectrum. While the Left sometimes favoured in advanced societies. Parsons’s view
see education as inculcating passivity in the is that there can be universal standards of
lower orders, the Right may regard it as an examination in which the young seek to
essential way of preserving order. In reality, achieve individually. Achievement is recog-
however, education has rarely been entirely nized by the awarding of credentials (certi-
successful in either of these regards. In a post- ficates, degrees, etc.) to candidates who
modern epoch, characterized by differences succeed. Through this meritocratic system
and volatility, it is hard to see education sim- the most able and dedicated compete in an
ply or solely as inculcating communal values. equal race and are duly rewarded. On these
Researchers tend to distinguish between terms, a major feature of education has been
the external relations bearing on education its transformation from an endeavour to tame
(government, industry, and employment) the masses by teaching them their place to
and the internal features of educational sys- one of socializing the individual to accept
tems (such as classroom behaviour or cur- responsibility for his or her appropriate
riculum design). Ivan Illich’s concept of the position in the class system. In this way, edu-
‘hidden curriculum’ has been influential in cation becomes a central legitimator of
drawing attention to the unstated and inequality. So long as there is equality of
underestimated aspects of education such as opportunity in education, inequality of
dress codes, the peer group, and implicit role attainment is acceptable.
models presented in schools. This doctrine was the basis of the post-
There is evidently a close relationship war system of education in the UK (and of
between industrial growth and educational equivalent systems in other Western coun-
expansion, though it is imprecise and con- tries), where ostensibly objective IQ (intel-
testable. While it is true that all indus- ligence quotient) tests distinguished those
trialized societies invest heavily in education, who would attend academic institutions
there is considerable difference between (grammar schools) from those (the major-
nations such as the United States and France, ity) who would attend less academic and
and it is not the case that investment in more technically oriented schools. The
education leads straightforwardly to indus- introduction of non-selective ‘comprehen-
trial success. Talcott Parsons (1959) presented sive schools’ in the UK from the 1950s
an influential version of functionalism to onwards was an expression of dissatisfaction
argue that education taught the value of with the unfairness of the grammar school
achievement through the young’s participa- system and the limitations of IQ tests
tion in universal standards of examination and administered at age 11. The continued
assessment. Achievement was essential for attendance of 7 per cent of the age-group at
industrial success and not something that fee-paying independent schools in the UK
could be developed in family situations remains an important instance of inequality
where children are treated in a particularistic of opportunity since it relies upon parents
manner, as distinct from a universal manner. having the resources to pay for it. Because
Parsons’s analysis fits with the argument it offends the core value of equality of
that education is a sifter of societal talent, as opportunity, private education gets a dis-
well as the means by which people are proportionate amount of attention at the
positioned in its hierarchies through the expense of other barriers to equality.
ethos of meritocracy. Meritocracy is the It is not surprising that much attention
doctrine that ability plus effort ought to be has been paid to the relationship between

education and social mobility, given that inequality. This pessimistic conclusion is
education is the major filtering mechanism resonant of earlier functionalist approaches to
for entry into occupations. It is demonstrably education, though it is at odds with the
the case that educational performance is optimistic belief in meritocracy.
socially skewed. There may be formal It is indeed hard to imagine how the
equality of opportunity, but outcomes are meritocracy thesis could be accepted by
highly dependent on origins. British research- those who fail in the school system. Paul
ers in the 1970s and 1980s, notably A. H. Willis (1977), in his small-scale study of
Halsey et al (1980) and John Goldthorpe comprehensive school failures in Britain in
(1980), showed in large-scale surveys that the 1970s, described a subculture of ado-
educational attainment is not explicable in lescent males who rejected education in
terms of meritocracy theory. Children favour of an aggressive masculinity asso-
whose parents work in manual occupations ciated with working-class jobs. There is
perform much worse than those from non- particular apprehension today that those at
manual backgrounds, even when of equal the lower levels of the school system, espe-
intelligence. While there has been consider- cially white working-class males, continue
able social mobility throughout the twentieth to fail in and reject schooling, though there
century, Halsey and Goldthorpe account are decreasing numbers of unskilled and
for this in terms of changes in the occupa- semi-skilled occupations for them to occupy
tional structure. Large increases in white- on leaving school as educational failures.
collar positions have meant an absolute There has long been concern that education
increase in upward mobility among talented is inadequately associated with the require-
working-class children, but the relative ments of work and the economy. Some
chances of these working-class children, British social historians attribute the relative
compared to middle-class children, have industrial decline of the UK to its educa-
changed little over the twentieth century. tion system propounding values antithetical
Some accounts of educational inequality to competition, industry and market success,
focus on material deprivation where middle- values associated with the learned ‘gentle-
class parents can pay for private schools, or man’ in preference to the engineer or
buy property in the catchment areas of accountant (Wiener 1981; Barnett 1986).
desirable schools. Other accounts, such as However, since the 1980s a ‘new vocational-
that of Basil Bernstein (1975), focus on socio- ism’ can be discerned in education policy in
linguistic codes, suggesting that the restricted many countries, where measures have been
code of working-class children disadvantages taken to gear schools and colleges more closely
them in school, while the ability of the to technical requirements. This has continued,
middle class to adopt an elaborate code aids notably in Britain in the tertiary education
their progress. Still other accounts in the sector, which has expanded to participation
cultural vein suggest that aspirations of par- rates of 40 per cent of the age group, where
ents, children and schools are important in an emphasis on transferable skills, flexibility,
achievement. The most influential explana- and self-directed lifelong learning is thought
tion for educational disadvantage this frame- to fit well with the employment demands
work is explained by the French sociologist, of the Information Age (Reich 1991).
Pierre Bourdieu. His account suggests that
the education system requires mastery of
References and further reading
speech, comportment and other social accou-
Barnett, C. (1986) The Audit of War. London:
trements that together advantage those with Macmillan.
high cultural capital. Bourdieu goes so far Bernstein, B. (1975) Class, Codes and Control, 3
as to argue that education reproduces social vols. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.


Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J.-C. (1977) Reproduc- In Western European and Anglo-American
tion in Education, Society and Culture. London: contexts, modern egalitarian ideas have a
Bowles, S. and Gintis, H. (1976) Schooling in long and diverse history. In the English
Capitalist America. New York: Basic Books. Civil War of the 1640s, the Levellers claimed
Goldthorpe, J. (1980) Social Mobility and Class that the legitimate authority of superiors to
Structure. Oxford: Clarendon Press. command inferiors derives from the voluntary
Halsey, A. H., Heath, A. and Ridge, J. (1980) agreement of natural equals (see also
Origins and Destinations. Oxford: Clarendon
Press. voluntarism). Taking for granted man’s
Parsons, T. (1959) ‘The School Class as a Social rough equality of strength and guile,
System: Some of its Functions in American Hobbes proposed that an absolute sovereign
Society’, in T. Parsons (1964), Social Structure is necessary to ensure lasting peace. Locke –
and Personality. New York: Free Press. whose ideas came to be regarded more as a
Reich, R. (1991) The Work of Nations. New
York: Vintage. rejection of egalitarianism than a version of
Shavit, Y. and Müller, W. (eds) (1998) From School it – nonetheless held that men are by nature
to Work: A Comparative Study of Educational equally free, subject only to natural law,
Qualifications and Occupational Destinations. and possessed the same natural rights. In
Oxford: Oxford University Press. the eighteenth century, Rousseau argued
Wiener, Martin J. (1981) English Culture and the
Decline of the Industrial Spirit, 1850–1980. that social inequalities were artificial, arising
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. from the pressures of a demand to display a
Willis, P. (1977) Learning to Labour. Farnbor- sophisticated way of life to one’s peers. Thus,
ough: Saxon House. the key problem, answered for Rousseau by
Young, M. (1958) The Rise of the Meritocracy. the idea of the sovereignty of the ‘general
London: Thames and Hudson.
will’, was to reconcile man’s natural equality
FRANK WEBSTER and autonomy with political authority and
social conditions. Similarly, Kant’s state-
ment of persons as morally self-governing
EGALITARIANISM agents declared all to be equal legislating
Egalitarianism refers to a family of social members of the kingdom of ends, and that
and political ideas that involve philosophical they all ought to treat themselves as ends in
explanations of the value of equality and themselves, and not merely as means. At the
justifications for specific practices thus end of the century egalitarian ideas found
intended. Since human beings differ con- voice in the great revolutionary movements
siderably in endowments and capabilities, in Europe and America and were made
equality rarely means treating everyone explicit in the declaration of rights. In addi-
exactly alike or making people’s conditions tion to revolutionary movements for political
the same in any respect. To speak of egali- power, mid-nineteenth-century Europe saw
tarianism without historical, social, or phi- the evolution of socialist and communist
losophical qualification, is to speak elliptically. thinking, which targeted economic inequal-
An egalitarian usually finds some existing ities as well. In the USA, in the nineteenth
social arrangement indefensible – an inequal- century, egalitarian claims were asserted in
ity based on allegedly inappropriate grounds the struggle to end slavery, later fueling the
for differential treatment – and calls for civil rights movement, the women’s move-
replacing that system of distinctions. His- ment, and support for universal human rights.
torically, the focus of egalitarian ideals has In modern democratic societies with
shifted continuously to attack the differential market economies, egalitarianism usually
treatment of barbarian and Greek, freeman refers to a position that favors a greater degree
and slave, noble and commoner, black and of equality of income and wealth across per-
white, male and female. sons than already exists. The focus on

equality is that of results, according to which while others would not. Furthermore, one
people should be made more nearly equal should not take for granted that the adjust-
in actual circumstances. This contrasts with ment sought by egalitarianism is strictly for
equality of opportunity or equality before persons or individualized agents. A minority
the law – ideas more commonly associated linguistic community in a particular society
with modern libertarianism and classical might also seek government action, on
liberalism – where the freedom and rights egalitarian grounds, to promote its flour-
of the individual are paramount and of ishing or survival alongside the dominant
utmost concern in matters of political affairs. group. Egalitarian claims have been raised
Many egalitarians have been suspicious of against difference of privilege thought to be
equal formal rights, pointing to the substantive inappropriately grounded and against quali-
inequalities they may disguise or exacerbate. fications for assuming a role considered
The insistence on redistribution toward unduly restrictive to some. The focus and
equalities of income, wealth, capabilities, or scope of egalitarian ideals, therefore, have
life chances shares common ground with changed and will continue to change in
socialism. Critics have maintained, however, different social and political contexts.
that egalitarianism necessarily reduces aspects
of freedom in unacceptable ways. For
instance, libertarian arguments claim that References and further reading
redistributive measures to equalize property Kymlicka, W. (1990) Contemporary Political Phi-
involve a constant and extensive infringement losophy. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
of some individuals’ Lockean rights, con- Nielsen, K. (1985) Equality and Liberty. Totowa,
NJ: Rowman & Allanheld.
straining their liberty to enjoy the fruits of Nozick, R. (1974) Anarchy, State and Utopia.
their own labor, and to gain more property New York: Basic Books.
than others by trade, inheritance, or assidu- Rawls, J. (1971) A Theory of Justice. Cambridge,
ousness (see property and property rights). MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University
Egalitarian rejoinders take goods such as Press.
Van Parijs, P. (1995) Real Freedom for All.
money to give one the positive freedom to Oxford: Clarendon Press.
engage in a wide variety of activities and Young, I. M. (1991) Justice and the Politics of Differ-
experiences. Thus, according to egalitarians, ence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
little justification can be made for why people
should not be able to enjoy this effective
freedom to the same extent. Moreover, the
injustice lies not in economic inequality alone EISENSTADT, SHMUEL NOAH
but in an unequal distribution of economic (1923– )
goods that also forms the source of unequal
Israeli sociologist
power, status, and prestige.
Considerable debate surrounds what is Eisenstadt is recognized for several macro-
required for egalitarian ideas that aim to be scopic studies in comparative historical
sensitive to arguments about markets, indivi- sociology, combining a Weberian conception
dual freedom, fair treatment, and just dis- of cultural analysis with a structural func-
tribution. Disagreement characterizes attempts tionalist framework of society (see function-
to identify inequalities which are arbitrary alism). Eisenstadt began his career with a
from a moral point of view. Controversies comprehensive comparative study of the
also hinder attempts to specify the class of shaping of the political sphere among differ-
people to whom egalitarian norms apply. ent historical civilizations in his book The
Some might count an unborn fetus or a very Political Systems of Empires (1963). He then
severely demented human as a person, extended this approach to the emergence of
ELIADE, MIRCEA (1907–1986)

intellectuals as a significant social group in ELIADE, MIRCEA (1907–1986)

Tradition, Change and Modernity (1973), to Romanian theorist
the prerequisites and results of social revo-
Before 1945 his career had obscure political
lutions in Revolution and the Transformation
twists: arrested for right-wing activities in
of Societies (1978), and to cultural and reli-
1938, he subsequently occupied diplomatic
gious world-views in The Origins and
posts in London and Lisbon. After the
Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations (1986).
Second World War, helped by Georges
All these works aim to account for the cul-
Dumézil, he lectured in Paris, and joined
tural origins and constituent components of
the University of Chicago in 1957.
modernity, a question Eisenstadt takes up
Eliade redefines the distinction between
directly from the writings on the sociology
the sacred and the profane. Only the sacred
of religion and capitalism of Weber and
possesses true reality, manifesting itself in
Sombart. He discerns a crucial event in the
the world through hierophanies. Symbols
process of modernization, observable in
are human responses to the presence of sacred;
almost all civilizations, which he defines as
of particular importance is the symbolism of
the rise of intellectual or clerical elites
the centre (omphalos). The imitation of pri-
holding a transcendental vision of an ideal
mordial acts and heavenly archetypes pro-
world that challenges the traditional norma-
duces reality. Archaic thought revolts against
tive and political orders (see modernity and
time, denying history and subordinating
modernization). Since these developments
change to the logic of eternal recurrence.
seem generally to have appeared around the
Religious, mystic and primitive minds live
first millennium BCE, Eisenstadt adopts the
in a permanent present. Initiation rites and
term ‘axial age’ from the German philosopher
ascetic techniques, of which shamanism and
Karl Jaspers to emphasize the centrality of
yoga are archetypal models, are ways to
these processes. Since the 1980s, Eisenstadt’s
overcome everyday normality and gain
comparative historical inquiries have con-
access to sacred truth.
tinued to expand systematically on differ-
Eliade edited and contributed extensively
ences between modernization processes
to a voluminous encyclopedia of religious life.
displayed by distinct civilizations. The theme
He also published many novels, most
of Eisenstadt’s project of civilizational cul-
famously The Forbidden Forest and The Old
tural comparison is captured in the catch-
Man and the Bureaucrats. His influential
word of ‘multiple modernities’.
work is controversial due to his youthful
Major works involvement in the extreme right and to his
(1963) The Political Systems of Empires. New York:
refusal to take impartial distance from religious
Free Press. phenomena.
(1973) Tradition, Change and Modernity. New York:
John Wiley.
(1978) Revolution and the Transformation of Socie- Major works
ties. New York: Free Press.
(1986) The Origins and Diversity of Axial Age ([1949a] 1958) Patterns in Comparative Religion.
Civilisations. Albany: SUNY Press. New York: Sheed & Ward.
(2002) Multiple Modernities. New Brunswick, NJ: ([1949b] 1991) The Myth of the Eternal Return.
Transaction Publishers. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
([1951] 1972) Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of
Further reading Ecstasy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Riedel, J. and Sachsenmaier, D. (eds) (2002) ([1952] 1958) Yoga: Immortality and Freedom.
Reflections on Multiple Modernities. Leiden: Brill. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
BERNHARD GIESEN (1959) The Sacred and the Profane. New York: Har-

EL IAS , NO RBE RT ( 189 7–1 990 )

([1976–83] 1981–88) A History of Religious Ideas, (1986) (with E. Dunning) Quest for Excitement.
3 vols. Chicago: Chicago University Press. Oxford: Blackwell.
(1987) (ed.) Encyclopaedia of Religion, 16 vols. (1987a) Involvement and Detachment. Oxford:
New York: Macmillan. Blackwell.
([1987b] 1991) The Society of Individuals. Oxford:

ELIAS, NORBERT (1897–1990) Further reading

German-born sociologist Mennell, S. (1998) Norbert Elias: An Introduction.
Dublin: University College Dublin Press.
Elias’s aim was to establish a radically pro-
van Krieken, R. (1998) Norbert Elias: Key
cessual, relational and trans-disciplinary Sociologist. London: Routledge.
sociology attuned to the link between
‘social’ and ‘psychological’ development. In JASON HUGHES
his magnum opus, The Civilizing Process
(1939), Elias traced changing standards of
socially acceptable behaviour among the ELITES
secular upper classes of Western societies The term ‘elite’, familiar since the eighteenth
from the Middle Ages to the present day century, is relatively new but the basic idea
(see civilization) Elias proposed that such underlying it is of ancient vintage. Elites
societies have been characterized by a denote small minorities of individuals desig-
‘civilizing process’: a multi-faceted process nated to act for a collectivity – a society, an
involving, on the one hand, increasing social institution, an occupation – at the apex of
differentiation, growing structural complex- which they stand. Societies look to elites
ity, and the formation of nation–states, and, for the realization of major social goals and
on the other, long-term shift in the structure the maintenance of key social values.
of human emotions and personality. Elias’s The existence of elites is constant in
work constitutes a synthesis of key ideas human societies but their shape and form
from theorists such as Comte, Marx, vary from chiefships in preliterate societies
Weber, Simmel, Mannheim and Freud. It to aristocracies, first estates, ruling classes,
presents a means of re-interpreting classical power elites, and strategic elites, each con-
dilemmas within the social sciences such as nected to a different historic era and a dif-
problems of structure and agency, the ferent social order. Elites mirror the
individual/society dualism, and the cul- societies they crown.
ture/nature split. Central to his work was Societies vary by the degree of elite closure
the concept of figuration. However, it was from a tightly interwoven comprehensive
only towards the end of his life that Elias structure to one looser and more dispersed.
began to gain broader recognition and Tightly interwoven structures tend to fea-
influence, particularly in relation to the ture a hereditary assignment of elite status,
sociology of violence, the body, and sport. whereas in the looser structures, individual
achievement plays a greater role. The con-
trast is evident in an ongoing debate as to
Major works
whether contemporary elites comprise a
([1939] 1978–82) The Civilizing Process, 2 vols. ruling class of wealth and property (Marx
Oxford: Blackwell. 1956) or a set of differentiated elites whose
(1965) (with J. Scotson) The Established and the number is still under review though typically
Outsiders. London: Frank Cass.
(1969) The Court Society. Oxford: Blackwell. included are political, economic, military,
([1970] 1978) What is Sociology? London: Hutch- religious, and cultural elites (see stratifica-
inson. tion).

The proliferation and specialization of elites Mills analyzed the ‘power elite’ which
complicate societal leadership in many combines ruling class and elite theory
ways. When the core elites splinter, the whereas Keller analyzed ‘strategic elites’ and
potential for unity and cohesion weakens the impact of specialized, at times competing,
and the historic umbrella for societal leader- and increasingly achievement-based, elites
ship is rent asunder. on the society unfolding.
Plato focused on the necessity for wise The questions generated by these works
and virtuous ‘guardians’ selected by birth. are also treated in important empirical studies
Aware of how readily elites become self- of business, political, religious, military, and
serving and exploitative, Plato sought ways cultural elites across contemporary societies.
to dissociate the family from the guardian Many more theoretically grounded, systema-
stratum. This led him into tortuous byways tic, and increasingly cross-national studies are
of biological selection deplored by later needed but there is a base on which to build.
critics but his reasons for such an extreme Such studies will need to incorporate the
step were powerful: to prevent the genera- growing complexity of elites as to specialized
tional rigidity to which entrenched ruling functions, modes of recruitment, effective-
groups are prone. Aristotle, who disagreed ness and rewards. Some elites continue to
with Plato on several critical issues, likewise stress ancestry, while others stress the high-
echoed the need for an effective moral lea- est educational attainments. The corporate
dership for the ancient polis whose threatened elite may stay at the top for decades
decline anguished both thinkers. whereas the political elite is revamped after
Although discussions over the whys and only a few years. Some elites are rewarded
wherefores of elites did not fade in the with extraordinary wealth while others exer-
ensuing centuries, a more recent epoch of cise immense power and still others command
concentrated debate, in the aftermath of the great respect (see also prestige). As for
French Revolution, delineated the modern access to the top, the political elite rests on
discussion of elites. Saint Simon (1839), at election, the corporate elite on co-optation,
the start of the century, grasped the emerging the celebrity elite on popular favor.
significance of technocratic elites, while Ancient questions still abide in these
Pareto (1935) followed by Mosca (1939) connections. How to keep society’s leadership
engaged in a bitter polemic with Marxists vital, moral, and focused on the public
in the later decades. Their debate fueled good is as relevant today as it was millennia
much of the ferment on the nature of elites ago. The ancient question, ‘Who will guard
as these two Italian theorists explicitly the guardians?’ takes on ever greater urgency
challenged the Marxist claim about the in a world in flux in which an electronically
supremacy of an economic ruling class. mediated world-view must find accom-
Karl Mannheim (1946) took a different modation with a world-view based on faith
turn when he noted that elites proliferated and tradition. In an era of profound technical,
rather than declined as industrialism advanced. moral, and social dislocation, we need more
Mannheim proposed a typology of elites and better information on the nature,
that contrasted integrative elites of political, power, and effectiveness of the elites that
economic, and organizational leaders with are entrusted with our fate. This also brings
sublimative elites made up of moral, religious, to the fore the matter of the coexistence
aesthetic, and intellectual leaders who between democratic forces and powerful
helped direct psychic energies into reflective elites. Democratic theory grounds sover-
and creative channels. Some of these ideas eignty in the will of the people. How can
appear in the work of C. W. Mills (1956) this be reconciled with the persistence of
and Keller (1963) in the twentieth century. elites?

This is a fundamental dilemma, given the groups. It emerged in the late eighteenth
enormous influence of elites as key decision- century as a political concept associated with
makers, powerful social actors, and models freedom, autonomy, and the public sphere.
of style, conduct, and taste. Still, the greater The deeper implications of democratic
openness of contemporary elites to indivi- emancipation were elaborated within the
dual talent and more opportunities for cri- bourgeois family as part of the freeing of an
tical public appraisals of elite performance inner personal realm that revealed a universal
temper the propensity to elite excess and humanity. Though Kant’s discussion of
exploitation. Reductions in the autonomy Enlightenment implicitly referred to this
of elites suggest that power has become problematic, the term itself did not become
more circumscribed and the abuse of power widely employed until the 1830s and was
more transparent. Saint-Simon’s dream of a radicalized by Marx and the Left Hegelians.
society governed not by force but by abil- In the early Marx the ‘whole of human
ity, mutual respect, compassion, and trust servitude’ is identified with the alienated
lives on. labour of workers whose liberation embo-
died the possibility of ‘universal human
emancipation’. In the Marxist tradition,
References and further reading
such total emancipation became identified
Aristotle (1941) ‘Politics’, in R. McKeon (ed.) with the concept of a collective working-
The Basic Works of Aristotle. New York: class subject.
Random House.
Keller, S. (1963) Beyond the Ruling Class. New Though emancipation was a concern of
York: Random House. both liberalism and socialism, liberalism
Keller, S. (1986) ‘Celebrities and Politics: A identified liberation with rights of political
New Alliance’, Research in Political Sociology, citizenship. For nineteenth-century aboli-
2: 145–69. tionists, emancipation was a legal status that
Mannheim, K. (1946) Man and Society in an Age
of Reconstruction. London: Kegan Paul. could be granted from above, as in Lincoln’s
Marx, K. (1956) Selected Writings in Sociology and role as ‘the Great Emancipator’ of American
Philosophy. New York: McGraw Hill Book slaves or the tsarist liberation of serfs (see
Company. slavery). In Western Marxism, however,
Mills, C. W. (1956) The Power Elite. New York: emancipation became linked to discussions
Mosca, G. (1939) The Ruling Class. New York: of the social and depth-psychological pre-
McGraw-Hill. conditions of autonomy. The distinctive
Pareto, V. (1935) The Mind and Society: A Treatise use of emancipation in contemporary social
on General Sociology, 4 vols. New York: Har- theory as overcoming internalized forms of
court Brace. domination stems primarily from the cri-
Saint-Simon, H. de (1839) Œuvres Choisis, vol.
1. Brussels: Fr. Van Meened et Cie. tical theory of the Frankfurt School,
especially the second-generation writings of
SUZANNE KELLER Habermas (1971). In his early writings
Habermas referred to a critical-emancipatory
interest in knowledge that became widely
influential in fields that sought to develop
Originating as a legal term in Roman law forms of critical or emancipatory social
referring to liberation of children from science. Similarly, Bhaskar (1986) elaborated
fathers, the concept of emancipation was a formal analysis of human emancipation as
later extended to diverse forms of bondage, part of his critical realism. Nevertheless,
servitude or limitations on rights, e.g., ser- Habermas later largely abandoned the concept
vants, slaves, the bourgeoisie, the working because of its association with the liberation
class, women, and ethnic or religious of collective subjects, a notion that is rejected

by the paradigm shift developed in his the- Various discussions, however, have attempted
ory of communicative rationality. to revise the concept rather than abandon
Since the 1970s references to emancipa- it, by speaking of ‘emancipations’ or even
tory strategies, projects and possibilities ‘postmodern’ emancipations to stress the
have proliferated in virtually all the human plurality of possibilities that are locally situ-
sciences and regions of the world. Though ated and not reducible to any single form or
initially often associated with specific refer- outcome of domination. Similarly, critical
ence to Habermas’s notion of ‘emancipa- theorists have linked Habermas and Freire
tory sciences’, later discussions often appear in the name of an ‘emancipatory post-
to be unaware of these specific origins and foundationalism’ (Morrow and Torres
many draw eclectically on critical theory, 2002) and theorized emancipatory move-
post-structuralism, and postmodernist ments in terms of the tensions between
tendencies without worrying about poten- mutual recognition and redistribution
tial inconsistencies. The concept is thus (Fraser and Honneth 2003).
widely used with reference to resistance
and empowerment against forms of dom-
References and further reading
ination associated with class, colonialism,
race, gender and sexuality, especially as a Alway, J. (1995) Critical Theory and Political Pos-
part of emancipatory social movements. In sibilities. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Latin American discussions the use of Bhaskar, R. (1986) Scientific Realism and Human
emancipation as an alternative to the notion Emancipation. London: Verso.
Fraser, N. and Honneth, A. (2003) Redistribution
of liberation reflects the belated reception or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical
of German critical social theory (Gogol Exchange. London: Verso.
2002). Though initially having a stronger Freire, P. (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New
foothold in education (e.g., critical peda- York: Seabury.
gogy and Brazilian educator Paulo Freire’s Gogol, E. W. (2002) The Concept of Other in
Latin American Liberation. Lanham, MD:
(1970) related notion of conscientization), Lexington Books.
concern with emancipatory strategies can Habermas, J. (1971) Knowledge and Human Inter-
now be found in practice-oriented profes- ests. Boston: Beacon.
sional fields such as health, nursing, dis- Koselleck, R. (1972) ‘Emanzipation’, in O.
ability studies, social work and theology. Brunner, W. Conze and R. Koselleck (eds)
Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe. Stuttgart: E. Klett.
References to emancipatory possibilities Koselleck, R. (2002) ‘The Limits of Emancipa-
also appear in less obvious fields such as tion: A Conceptual-Historical Sketch’, in R.
urban, organizational and management Koselleck and T. S. Presner (eds) The Practice
studies and research on new information of Conceptual History. Stanford, CA: Stanford
technologies. University Press.
Laclau, E. (1996) Emancipation(s). London:
There have also been a number of more Verso.
recent, systematic efforts to revitalize the Morrow, R. A. and Torres, C. A. (2002) Read-
concept of emancipation theoretically, ing Freire and Habermas. New York: Teacher’s
especially in response to postmodernist cri- College Press, Columbia University.
tiques of political metanarratives that Nederveen Pietersen, J. P. (ed.) (1992) Emanici-
pations, Modern and Postmodern. London:
essentialize collective subjects. The critiques Sage.
of universalism that defined postmodern- Ray, L. J. (1993) Rethinking Critical Theory:
ism were initially taken by many to have Emancipation in the Age of Global Social Move-
called into question the ‘modernist’ idea of ments. London: Sage.
emancipation as class-reductionist, masculi- Santos, B. d. S. (1995) Toward a New Common
Sense. New York: Routledge.
nist, Eurocentric, potentially totalitarian, and
complicit with the domination of nature. RAYMOND A. MORROW



The Hungarian economic historian, Karl The term embodiment refers to the cultural
Polanyi, developed an institutional approach meanings attributed to the body, the ways
to the economy which emphasized that eco- in which these are inscribed on and through
nomic action has always to be interpreted as individual bodies, as well as the perceptions
embedded within social relationships ([1944] and experiences of those living in particular
1957). Embeddedness is related to the fact bodies. It is a term that indicates the
that an economic actor is a social being, with importance of both nature and culture
a mixture of motives. Economic action is (biology and society) in understandings and
always part of an instituted process of interac- personal experiences of the body.
tion between actors and their environment The body as a ‘universal biological entity’
and is therefore embedded within relation- has long been the object of study in medi-
ships of reciprocity and redistribution. cine and the natural sciences. However, it is
This link between economic and socio- only recently that a focus on the body and
logical approaches of economic behavior is on modes of embodiment has been deemed
also the heart of Mark Granovetter’s (1985) important within the social sciences and
critical response to the New Institutional humanities. The prior marginalization of the
Economics and especially the transaction cost body by disciplines such as sociology, psy-
approach of R. Coase and O. Williamson (see chology and philosophy may be explained in
institutions and neo-institutionalism). Gran- terms of the influence of Western Cartesian
ovetter pointed out that this theoretical fra- dualism: that is, the division of mind and
mework does not explain concretely how body into opposing values, following the
social mechanisms or social norms like trust or work of René Descartes. According to this
opportunism, through which institutions dichotomous framing of the human indi-
shape individual behaviour, affect economic vidual, ‘the mind’ has been associated with
outcomes. For many commentators on glo- supposedly superior qualities of reason,
balization, such as Giddens (1990) among objectivity, and culture, while ‘the body’
others, the disembedding of social relations has been more negatively affiliated with
and social systems from local contexts marks irrationality, animality, and nature (and
a main characteristic of high modernity. The viewed as the house of the all-important
main mechanisms in this process are the crea- ‘self’). The hierarchical division between
tion of symbolic tokens, especially money, mind and body has also been mapped onto
and the establishment of expert systems. notions of gender, masculinity being aligned
with intellect and the public domain of
References and further reading production, and femininity with the material
body and the private sphere of reproduc-
Giddens, A. (1990) The Consequences of Modernity.
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. tion (Williams and Bendelow 1998).
Granovetter, M. (1985) ‘Economic Action and The current impetus to study the body
Social Structure: The Problem of Embedded- and embodied experience in the social sci-
ness’, American Journal of Sociology, 91(3): 481– ences is attributed to several contemporary
social factors (Nettleton and Watson 1998).
Polanyi, K. ([1944] 1957) The Great Transforma-
tion. New York: Rinehart. For example, political movements of the
Polanyi, K., Arensberg, C. M. and Pearson, H. late twentieth century have been influential
W. (eds) (1957) Trade and Market in the Early in challenging medical constructions of the
Empires: Economies in History and Theory. body, and, in particular, the assumption
London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
that the white male body is the norm
STEFFEN SIGMUND against which all other bodies are measured.

Along with postmodern and postcolonial example, discourses such as medicine and
theories on embodiment, feminist theory the law produce particular types of bodies
has provided an overt political analysis of through processes of discipline (see also
how the gendering (and racing) of bodies social control) and normalization. Power
perpetuate and ‘naturalize’ power differences may be exercised over populations of bodies
between men and women, create particular through specific institutions (such as hospitals,
gendered identities and experiences, and prisons, schools and factories), but the most
enable exploitation of certain bodies by insidious type of power affecting indivi-
others. Demographic issues have also pre- duals does not involve overt authority
cipitated renewed interest in the body (e.g. directed from above to those at the bottom.
the greying of the population, and changes Foucault argued that along with the era of
in the nature of disease such as the higher so-called political liberation there grew a
incidence of chronic illnesses). Another factor form of ‘disciplinary power’ against the body,
is the impact of consumer culture (see con- which, with its associated anonymous and
sumption), and the popularity of products and dispersed micro-powers, operates in a more
services targeting the rectification, enhance- subtle and productive way through the mun-
ment or modification of the body. In addition, dane processes of everyday life. The operation
the advent of new technologies has created of disciplinary power results in individuals
interest in the innovative ways in which bod- becoming self-policing subjects or ‘docile
ies might be reconceived and experienced.
bodies’. Foucault’s theory can readily be
Elizabeth Grosz (1994) categorizes social
applied to the behaviour of men and
theories on the body and embodiment as fol-
women in consumer culture, for example,
lowing either an ‘inside out’ or ‘outside in’
ageing persons may monitor signs of old
approach. The ‘inside out’ perspective views
age and attempt to rectify these through
the psychical interior, or mind, as constituted
the use of cosmetics and clinical products to
in accordance with the social, cultural and
combat hair loss, grey hair, skin wrinkles
historical meanings attributed to the body
and weight gain. Although Foucault has
(see psychoanalysis). ‘Outside in’ theories
of embodiment stress the ways in which the been criticized for failing adequately to
body is a surface to be marked or inscribed by address issues of gender in his analyses of
discourse and culture (proponents of this bio-power, his ideas have nevertheless
perspective include Nietzsche, Foucault, played an important role in contemporary
and Deleuze). feminist and queer scholarship on the body.
Historian and philosopher, Michel Foucault The corporeal phenomenology of Maurice
([1975] 1979) effectively turned attention Merleau-Ponty ([1945] 1962) represents
away from the privileging of the mind (and another major theoretical take on embodi-
the self-conscious subject) towards the ment. Emphasizing the inter-relatedness –
constitution of the body and self within rather than separation – between mind and
discourse, focusing on how bodies become body, Merleau-Ponty contends the body is
the sites for the operation of power in not merely a housing for consciousness and
modern societies. According to Foucault, the self, but a necessary locus from which
there can be no access to a ‘natural’ body – one orientates and experiences the world.
to a fundamentally stable and essential bio- He analyzes the ways in which the body is
logical being – that exists prior to or apart both an object for others and a subject of its
from cultural and social practices. Subjects own reality, and concentrates on the
are governed through the deployment of experiences of the lived body, that is, the
the body within various discourses that ways in which embodiment arises from this
constitute the ‘nature’ of the body. For oscillation between the mind and body.

Via its interrogation of the ways in which cations in discourse. The cyborg theory of
women have been represented through the Donna Haraway (1991) turns attention to
body, biology and reproductive sexuality – the impact of new technologies on modes
and of how power is exercised over bodies of embodiment. Haraway’s cyborg body
deemed ‘other’ – feminist theory has comprises a hybrid of human and machine
remained at the forefront of academic analysis (thus combining the ‘natural’ and the
on embodiment, and has provided an ‘unnatural’). She claims the non-dualistic
important critique of the works of key male properties of the cyborg have potentially
theorists in the area. For example, Luce emancipatory implications for humankind,
Irigaray ([1977] 1985) has demonstrated and particularly for women who have his-
how the masculinist portrayal in psycho- torically been relegated to restrictive repre-
analysis of the female body as deficient or sentations of ‘the body’. Importantly, the
abnormal has restricted women’s own emergence of innovative technological-
bodily understandings, expressions, and human fusions, such as the cyborg, creates
desires. She encourages women to experiment new modes of understanding and experi-
with a self-determined female subjectivity, encing embodiment. For example, ‘cyber-
one that is radically alternative to prevalent bodies’ provide opportunities to displace
understandings of femininity that are linked the material body from the confines of its
to reproduction and maternity. In the past immediate geography and capabilities
couple of decades, cultural assumptions (Featherstone and Burrows 1995).
about male bodies and modes of masculine
embodiment have also been scrutinized in References and further reading
the burgeoning field of masculinity studies. Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the
Queer theory has also contributed to the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge.
deconstruction of our ideas about bodies, Featherstone, M. and Burrows, R. (eds) (1995)
through its disruption of dichotomous con- Cyberspace, Cyberbodies, Cyberpunk: Cultures of
Technological Embodiment. London: Sage.
structions of sex and gender, and its cele-
Featherstone, M., Hepworth, M. and Turner, B.
bration of ambiguous bodies. Judith Butler (eds) (1991) The Body: Social Process and Cul-
(1990) has been particularly influential in tural Theory. London: Sage.
challenging the demarcation between bio- Foucault, M. ([1975] 1979) Discipline and Punish:
logical bodies and culturally constructed The Birth of the Prison. London: Penguin.
Grosz, E. (1994) Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal
notions of sex difference and gender.
Feminism. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
Postmodern theorists of the body disturb Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and
dualisms (see also binary and classification) Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New
such as mind/body, culture/nature and York: Routledge.
masculine/feminine through alternative Irigaray, L. ([1977] 1985) This Sex Which is Not
One. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
models of the body and explanations of
Lyotard, J. -F. ([1974] 1993) Libidinal Economy.
lived experience. For example, Jean-François Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Lyotard ([1974] 1993) employs the model Merleau-Ponty, M. ([1945] 1962) The Phenom-
of a Möbius strip (an inverted three- enology of Perception. London: Routledge &
dimensional figure of eight) to indicate the Kegan Paul.
Nettleton, S. and Watson, J. (eds) (1998) The
ways in which cultural meanings and desires
Body in Everyday Life. London: Routledge.
are inscribed on and through the flesh to Turner, B. S. (1996) The Body and Society. London:
produce certain corporeal experiences. He Sage.
advocates the proliferation of new desires Williams, S. J. and Bendelow, G. (1998) The
and experiences by subverting the process Lived Body: Sociology Themes, Embodied Issues.
London: Routledge.
through which bodies and their sensations
are given particular meanings and classifi- ANNIE POTTS


EMOTION content, for example. Another common

Emotion has always been important to misunderstanding is the assumption that
social theory. In classical times it is found in experience of emotion entails consciousness
the philosophy of Aristotle, in the seventeenth of it. Yet many emotions necessary for social
century in the thought of Hobbes, Spinoza processes are experienced below the thresh-
and Descartes, in the eighteenth century in old of awareness, as Scheff (1988) has shown.
the writings of Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson The different approaches to emotion are
and David Hume, and in the nineteenth parallel to methodological and theoretical
and twentieth centuries in the work of differences in social theory overall. An
Pareto, Durkheim, Simmel and other approach emphasizing the cultural aspects
founders of modern sociology. In recent of emotion focuses on the social manipu-
lation, transformation and restraint of emo-
years there has been a renewed and grow-
tion. Hochschild (1983), for instance,
ing interest in emotion in social science and
shows that emotional expression tends to
social theory, paralleling similar developments
be managed so that it is appropriate to cir-
in all the human sciences from the study of
cumstance. Emotion management is
literature to neurology.
achieved through performance of emo-
Emotion is widely understood in terms
tional labour, which includes activities
of feelings and bodily sensations, which
designed to induce or suppress feelings
relate to the necessary physical basis of
productive of emotional expression that
emotion. But of particular relevance for
would elicit particular states of mind in
social theory is the role of emotion in
others. Culturally defined feeling rules,
underscoring values, interests and meanings
governing the exercise of emotional labour,
in social life. Turner (2000: 43–66), for prescribe the content of emotional expression
instance, demonstrates that emotions and its appropriate social context. Another
underlie the attunement of interpersonal approach, drawing on the work of Emile
responses, social sanctioning, moral coding, Durkheim and Erving Goffman, and most
valuing and exchanging resources, and even fully developed by Randall Collins (1981)
rational decision-making. The importance in terms of ‘interaction’ rituals, points to
of emotion in these and associated processes the generation of social symbols and emo-
dispels common misunderstandings about tional energy through social interaction.
emotion. For instance, it is important to Chains of interaction rituals generate emo-
appreciate that emotions are implicated in tional tones and solidarity, as well as energy
rational as well as non-rational and irrational for subsequent interaction chains or
action and outlooks, for even the most sequences and their directions. In this way
technical activities require facilitating emo- the micro-sphere of face-to-face interac-
tions such as calmness and confidence in tions is generative of the macro-sphere of
order to be successfully executed. In addition, institutions through the production of
the idea that emotions are necessarily of short emotional energy.
duration ignores the importance of enduring A structural approach to emotions offers
emotions required for social commitment and a further characterization of the formation
institutionalization (Frank 1988). This relates of emotions. Kemper (1978), for instance,
to another misunderstanding, which sees argues that all social interactions can be
experience of emotion as necessarily leading situated on one of two formal dimensions
to its discharge and dissipation. In reality, of social relations, namely power and status,
expression of emotion may often serve to or involuntary and voluntary compliance.
reiterate experience of it, as when expression The agent of power or status may be the
of political anger maintains political dis- self or it may be the other. Second, Kemper

shows that power and status experiences Kemper, T. D. (1978) A Social Interactional The-
stimulate broadly different sets of physiological ory of Emotions. New York: Wiley.
Lupton, D. (1998) The Emotional Self. London:
processes. Finally, it can be shown that dif- Sage.
ferent emotions are physiologically specific. Moldoveanu, M. C. and Nohria, N. (2002)
The point for sociological theory is that Master Passions: Emotion, Narrative, and the
the particular emotions experienced arise Development of Culture. Cambridge, MA:
out of the structure of the relations of MIT Press.
Scheff, T. J. (1988) ‘Shame and Conformity:
power and status in which they are placed. The Deference-Emotion System’, American
In this way emotion is a necessary link Sociological Review, 53: 395–406.
between social structure and social actor: Turner, J. (2000) On the Origins of Human Emo-
experience of insufficient power leads to tions. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
fear, excess power to guilt; excess status to Williams, S. (2001) Emotion and Social Theory.
London: Sage.
shame; insufficient status to depression, and
Focus on emotion has played a positive
role in the development of a number of
areas of social theory. Feminist theory, for EMPIRICISM
instance, has shown the ways in which Empiricism is the name given to the gen-
emotional styles tend to be gender-specific, eral philosophical and scientific attitude that
and the differential evaluation of emotional all knowledge of the world derives from
experience by gender is associated with experience gained through immediate
manifold social outcomes, including health acquaintance or direct observation. In the
status, occupational location, consumption social sciences it means the acceptance of any
patterns, and senses of ontological security. of the following propositions: that direct
Social theories of the body (see embodi- acquaintance with reality defines the limits
ment) and of health and illness present of knowledge; that concepts and theories
other areas in which a focus on emotion has are based on directly given data; and that
taken research in hitherto neglected direc- the only reliable methods are ones involving
tions. Cultural theories, from the con- experimentation or induction (general-
sideration of civilizations, in the manner of ization from observed facts). Empiricism
Norbert Elias, to practices, in the manner was first formulated by the ancient Greek
of Pierre Bourdieu, to writing on rhetoric philosophers, but it is in the context of the
and discourse, have all felt the need to early modern scientific movement that it
incorporate consideration of emotion in found authoritative articulation.
enhancing their epistemic competence. In opposition to Plato’s emphasis on
ideas, Epicurus in the fourth and third
centuries BCE advanced an anti-metaphysi-
References and further reading
cal argument in favour of observation as
Barbalet, J. (1998) Emotion, Social Theory, and the only source of knowledge. True beliefs
Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach. were to be inductively derived from sensory
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Collins, R. (1981) ‘On the Microfoundations of experience. In medieval Scholasticism, this
Macrosociology’, American Journal of Sociol- early statement was taken up in the doc-
ogy, 86(5): 984–1014. trine of nominalism which regarded general
Frank, R. H. (1988) Passions within Reason: The concepts as at best names given to specific
Strategic Role of the Emotions. New York: W. features of things making up reality.
W. Norton.
Hochschild, A. R. (1983) The Managed Heart: Empiricism made its reappearance in the
Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkeley, seventeenth century. Francis Bacon stressed
CA: University of California Press. the need for all knowledge to be based on

experimental and inductive science. Thomas from verification to falsification, culminat-

Hobbes and John Locke followed, the latter ing in the thesis of the theory-ladenness of
being the first to articulate the epistemological observation, also associated with holism or
elements of empiricism in a systematic man- paradigm theory. According to this thesis,
ner. During the Enlightenment, empiricism only a whole theoretical system can be
became one of the strands entering into the corroborated or refuted, not discrete indi-
emergence of positivism, initiated (though vidual propositions.
not yet named as such) by David Hume The twentieth-century critiques of posi-
and carried forward by the Encyclopedists. tivism by hermeneutics, phenomenology
In Hume, it appeared as ‘impressions’ and critical theory all included a frontal
gained through observation, while the attack on empiricism with the argument
Encyclopedists stressed empirical knowledge that the foundational empiricist concept of
based on facts established by observation, sensory experience is too narrow to capture
on ‘sensations’. In the nineteenth century, the depth of ‘communicative experience’
Auguste Comte incorporated this current (Habermas 1988). On this basis, different
in his proposal for positive science or varieties of qualitative social science have
‘positivism’, which John Stuart Mill also gained currency since the 1960s.
expounded and which Emile Durkheim
later presented with explicit reference to
References and further reading
sociology in The Rules of Sociological Method
of 1895 (1966). Durkheim’s insistence that Delanty, G. and Strydom, P. (2003) Philosophies
sociology should ‘consider social facts as of Social Science. Maidenhead: Open Uni-
versity Press; Philadelphia, PA: McGraw-
things’ and that ‘all preconceptions must be Hill.
eradicated’, reiterated Bacon’s attack on Durkheim, E. ([1895] 1966) The Rules of Socio-
‘idols of the mind’ blocking the develop- logical Method. New York: Free Press.
ment of knowledge. Habermas, J. ([1967] 1988) On the Logic of the
In the older positivism from Hume to Social Sciences. Cambridge: Polity.
Popper, K. R. ([1934] 1959) The Logic of Scien-
Durkheim, induction was central and tific Discovery. London: Hutchinson.
empiricism was given one of three forms: Quine, W. v. O. (1951) ‘Two Dogmas of
sensualism, phenomenalism or physicalism. Empiricism’, Philosophical Review, 60: 20–43.
These depended on whether the experiential
basis of knowledge was ascribed to sensa-
tions, to immediate experience of mental
entities representing observables or sense
data, or finally to physical entities in common- ENLIGHTENMENT
sense experience. Historically, Durkheim’s In contemporary social theory two related
physicalism proved influential in the social notions of Enlightenment are current. On
sciences. The emergence in the early the one hand, Enlightenment designates a
twentieth century of neo-positivism, also social, political and intellectual ideal. On
known as logical empiricism or logical the other hand, as a period in history, the
positivism, involved an assault on induction concept of Enlightenment usually designates
in favour of deduction (reasoning from the the mid-eighteenth-century flowering of
general to the particular). Karl Popper secular social and philosophical thought in
(1959) famously presented the case against Europe, especially around the French phi-
inductivism, while Willard v. O. Quine losophes (Hampson 1968). Foremost among
(1951) launched a devastating attack against these was Voltaire, noted for his advocacy
the ‘dogmas of empiricism’. This immanent of religious freedom, tolerance and freedom
critique shifted the principle of empiricism of expression.

When the values of the Enlightenment thought involving specific of substantive

thus conceived are generalized as an ideal, principles. Such an adherence represents an
we have what social theorists, after Jürgen un-liberated slavishness towards a very par-
Habermas, call the ‘Enlightenment project’, ticular tradition and remains blind to the
one closely associated with the project of real negative effects of some aspects of
modernity itself (Habermas 1985; cf. Lyotard Enlightenment thought itself. Foucault
1984 and McLennan 1996). The ideals of documented some of these effects in his
the Enlightenment in this sense refer to studies of the modern asylum and the
such values as secularization, freedom, prison (Foucault 1971; 1979). Rather, for
progress, equality and social justice. Foucault, if the concept of enlightenment is
Fidelity to the Enlightenment as a project to be redeemed, it is best seen negatively as
entails fidelity to the continuing relevance the on-going and probably endless search
of such specific values, even in a putatively for a ‘way out’. Foucault draws this sense
post-modern age. Not all social theorists, of enlightenment from Kant ([1784] 1970),
however, agree with Habermas on this issue for whom enlightenment is regarded as an
of the continuing relevance of the Enlight- ethical process that releases us from the state
enment. Some social theorists, such as John of ‘immaturity’. Here, immaturity designates
Gray and Zygmunt Bauman, believe that any sense of being dogmatically beholden
these Enlightenment ideals are now fin- to authority. The aim of enlightenment, in
ished: indeed, that the Enlightenment itself, this conception, should not be specific or
with its utopian, rationalizing tendencies, substantive; it should be an ethos or a form:
was at the root of the problems, even the to help us to free ourselves from our con-
disasters, of European secular modernity tinuingly beholden state towards authority,
(Gray 1995; Bauman 1986; Bauman 1987). in whatever form such authority disguises
This attitude towards the ideals of the itself – even from dogmatic adherence to
Enlightenment and their contradictory the authority of the Enlightenment itself.
character has a distinguished genealogy in
social theory. One classic expression still
References and further reading
remains Adorno and Horkheimer’s seminal
text, Dialectic of Enlightenment (1986). Adorno, T. M. and Horkheimer, M. (1986)
Dialectic of Enlightenment. London: Verso.
Some social theorists have attempted to Bauman, Z. (1986) Modernity and the Holocaust.
redeem the notion of ‘enlightenment’ as a Oxford: Blackwell.
generic term while still remaining sceptical Bauman, Z. (1987) Legislators and Interpreters.
of the historical legacy of the Enlight- Cambridge: Polity.
enment. Following especially Michel Fou- Foucault, M. (1971) Madness and Civilization.
London: Tavistock.
cault, social theorists invoke a notion of Foucault, M. (1979) Discipline and Punish. Har-
enlightenment in terms less of a particular mondsworth: Penguin.
ideal or a period in history so much as an Foucault, M. (1984) ‘What is Enlightenment?’, in
ethos (Osborne 1998). Here it is not the The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
particular substantive beliefs or values of the Gray, J. (1995) Enlightenment’s Wake. London:
Enlightenment which are decisive but Habermas, J. (1985) ‘Modernity – An Incom-
rather a critical questioning attitude. Fou- plete Project’, in H. Foster (ed.) Postmodern
cault’s classic late essay ‘What is Enlight- Culture. London: Pluto.
enment?’ is integral to this perspective Hampson, N. (1968) The Enlightenment. Har-
(Foucault 1984). In this text, Foucault argued mondsworth: Penguin.
Kant, I. ([1784] 1970) ‘An Answer to the
that the legacy of the Enlightenment is far Question: What is Enlightenment?’, in H.
from being best served by a dogmatic adher- Reiss (ed.) Political Writings. Cambridge:
ence to the actual letter of Enlightenment Cambridge University Press.


Lyotard, J.-F. (1984) The Postmodern Condition. philosophical psychologist Franz Brentano,
Manchester: Manchester University Press. began as a theologically inspired backlash
McLennan, G. (1996) ‘The Enlightenment Pro-
ject Revisited’, in S. Hall, D. Held, D. against Kant. Brentano returned to Aristotle
Hubert and K. Thompson (eds) Modernity: for a sense of consciousness as indicative of
An Introduction to Modern Societies. Oxford: our being in the world. Whereas Kant saw
Blackwell. restless quest for knowledge as implying a
Osborne, T. S. D. (1998) Aspects of Enlight- radical separation from the world, Brentano
enment: Social Theory and the Ethics of Truth.
London: University College London. was more impressed by our fundamental
rootedness in the world. This sensibility
THOMAS OSBORNE inspired the later phenomenological tradi-
tion, especially the work of Martin Hei-
degger, who came to see epistemology
itself as symptomatic of existential aliena-
Epistemology is the term used by philosophers tion that was played out in the proliferation
since the mid-nineteenth century for the of mutually incommensurable academic
study of the theoretical foundations of disciplines.
knowledge. James Ferrier coined the English These two different senses of epistemol-
word ‘epistemology’ in 1854 to refer to ogy are easily obscured in English, which
what we now call ‘cognitive science’, i.e. uses the same words – ‘know’ and
the scientific study of the mind. However, ‘knowledge’ – for the processes and the
in the twentieth century, two other senses products of knowing. In French and Ger-
of ‘epistemology’ acquired prominence in man philosophical discourse, the difference
English, one originating in Germany and is more clearly marked: on the one hand,
the other in Austria. connaissance and Erkenntnis and, on the
The German sense harks back to Kant’s other, savoir and Wissenschaft. We might
idea that reality cannot be known in itself translate the former pair of terms as ‘cogni-
but only in terms of our various ‘cognitive tion’ and the latter as ‘discipline’. For
interests’. In the hands of the German ide- example, the Baconian motto ‘knowledge
alists, epistemology in this sense became the is power’ appears in Comte as ‘savoir est
philosophy of the university, with the unity pouvoir’.
of knowledge as its goal and the liberal arts One consequence of the expressive
curriculum as its realization. However, for awkwardness of English in epistemological
the neo-Kantian philosophers who by 1900 matters is that Anglophone philosophers
had become the bulwark of German aca- have tended to regard socially sanctioned
demia, epistemology rationalized the exis- knowledge as simply an aggregation of
tence of increasingly divergent disciplinary what is known by individuals. Thus, they
world-views (see Kantianism and neo- obscure the facticity of knowledge as a
Kantianism). Weber’s lifelong attempt to product of collective action and a norma-
reconcile ‘interpretivist’ and ‘positivist’ tive standard that may contradict what
methodological imperatives in the newly individuals believe. In contrast, just this
recognized social sciences reflects this epis- facticity is taken for granted by French and
temological perspective. The early work of German theorists of knowledge such as
Habermas ([1968] 1971) is perhaps the last Foucault and Habermas. This difference in
major expression of this project. In this tra- starting points remains a major source of
dition, epistemology is synonymous with the misunderstanding between contemporary
philosophical foundations of the sciences. analytic and continental philosophers, which
The Austrian sense of epistemology, in recent years has led to a call for ‘social
traceable to the late nineteenth-century epistemology’ (Fuller 1988).

Within sociology proper, epistemology Giddens, A. (1976) New Rules of the Sociological
has had a chequered career, though the char- Method. London. Hutchinson.
Habermas, J. ([1968] 1971) Knowledge and
acter of the controversy surrounding it has Human Interests. Boston: Beacon.
shifted over the years. For Comte, sociology Mannheim, K. ([1929] 1936) Ideology and Utopia.
was basically applied epistemology, a view New York: Harcourt Brace & World.
he inherited from the Enlightenment Rorty, R. (1979) Philosophy and the Mirror of
assumption that societies are defined by their Nature. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
legitimating ideas. Under the influence of
Marx, legitimatory forms of knowledge STEVE FULLER
came to be seen as ideologies ripe for demys-
tification by the sociology of knowledge.
Nevertheless, Mannheim (1936) stopped EQUALITY
short of demystifying the epistemology of The concept of equality is an internally
science, not least because sociology itself complex idea. It may be preferable to speak
claimed to rest on it. instead of conceptions of equality, since many
By the 1970s, this concern for the of the varied strands that come into this
reflexive implications of sociological cri- category bear family resemblances to one
tiques of science created a schism within another but sit together uncomfortably or
sociology that continues to this day. On the conflict with one another. This is because
one hand, sociologists of science openly equality is an intrinsically comparative idea.
demystify the epistemology of science, The proposition that two things are equal
while, on the other, more mainstream may be descriptive or it may be normative.
sociologists reject epistemology in favour of Such a proposition is incomplete without
ontology as the preferred philosophical further specification of the respects in
foundation for social knowledge. A good which the objects compared are thought to
sense of the stakes may be gleaned by con- be equal. Since no two objects outside the
trasting Bloor (1976) and Giddens (1976). realm of pure mathematics or logic can be
In particular, Giddens is concerned with equal in all respects – only in all relevant
crediting social agents as ‘always already’ respects – the question of which respects
social theorists whose access to the social are relevant in social theory yields a spectrum
world is as valid as that of the social scientists of debates.
studying them. This view, explicitly The assertion of the equal standing of
indebted to Alfred Schutz, is also consonant persons has made equality a central but con-
with that of Rorty (1979), who defends a troversial ideal in social and political theory.
philosophical critique of epistemology that The declaration that ‘all men are created
has been influential among postmodernists. equal’ is not rebutted by pointing to the
Typical of the postmodernist outlook in obvious fact that some are smarter or
this sense is the idea that we inhabit different stronger or better looking than others. The
worlds equally, rather than have differential ideal of equality is a prescriptive claim
access to the same world. about social justice. It says there is some
respect in which no difference should be
made in the consideration of persons,
References and further reading
whatever their actual differences. Greater
Bloor, D. (1976) Knowledge and Social Imagery. equality in principle leaves open the ques-
London: Routledge. tion of what exactly should be equalized.
Collins, R. (1998) The Sociology of Philosophies.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Should this be opportunities, resources,
Fuller, S. (1988) Social Epistemology. Bloomington, welfare, capabilities, or another aspect of
IN: Indiana University Press. human life? There are sound arguments for

taking any one of these as the basis of public or secondary at best if some people end up
policy; ranging from extreme egalitarian rich and others poor. Similarly, there are
approaches, in which virtually nothing should debates over whether and how much poli-
be exempt from equal treatment, to elitist tical equality concerns eligibility or actual
ones, in which many things should be participation. Equal suffrage, for instance,
exempt. Four related but distinguishable will not offset or correct an imbalance in
forms of equality can be discerned: moral, the political voices on offer, and will only
social, legal, and political. contingently lead to legislative outcomes
Moral equality is the idea that people that conform to some standard of equality.
should be regarded as being equal in value Tensions also exist between each of the
or worth, at least insofar as they are the general conceptions of equality. Legal
subjects of moral reasoning. The equal equality and social equality are widely
worth of persons (see persons and person- believed to stand in an uneasy relation to
ality) entitles them to equal consideration one another. Legal equality, as it is usually
in the treatment of their interests in a understood, requires that the law be blind
scheme of moral decision-making, as in the to a great range of differences between
utilitarian concern that each one counts as those who are subject to it. To apply the
one in aggregation procedures (see utili- law impartially means to apply it without
tarianism). Social equality demands that all regard to those differences. Yet to promote
members of society enjoy equal access to social equality, it may be necessary to apply
basic goods that enable them to lead good the law in ways that are sensitive to dis-
lives, such as income, wealth, education, ability, differences of gender, class, race,
and medical care. Legal equality, or equality ethnicity or effects of past discrimination, as
before the law, holds that all those to some proponents of affirmative action have
whom the laws of a particular political argued. Even if multiple equalities could be
association apply should be subject to a adequately balanced, doing so may impinge
standard impartial body of laws. No one on other values deemed socially important,
should enjoy privileges that are not exten- such as merit or desert, individual freedom,
ded to all, nor should anyone in particular pluralism, or communal ties. Radically
be exempt from legal sanctions. Political egalitarian measures can infringe upon
equality demands that all members of a some for the sake of others, lead to an
polity have an equal say with all others in unraveling of other aspects of social life for
the selection of leaders and the making of all, or undermine too many of the economic
laws. This idea is most obviously violated and cultural conditions for stable society.
when some members are disenfranchised. No social or political theory aims at
Provided the relative levels of equality equality categorically, only at specific con-
across persons can be measured, the ques- ceptions deemed socially important when
tion of opportunities versus outcomes yields they are embedded within a broader theory
further debates within each of these con- of politics and society. Thus the concept
cepts. For instance, some advocate equaliz- evoked by the term ‘equality’ actually con-
ing opportunities for high incomes even if sists of a range of ‘equalities’, each of which
it leads to exceedingly unequal incomes in answers whether and what kinds of equal-
the end. On this view, as long as competition ities of social situations are desirable.
for advantages is open to all, the ideal of
social equality does not require that everyone
References and further reading
ends up with equal or similar advantages.
By contrast, those who promote equality of Dworkin, R. (2000) Sovereign Virtue. Cambridge,
outcomes view equal opportunity as irrelevant MA: Harvard University Press.


Johnston, D. (ed.) (2000) Equality. Indianapolis, References and further reading

IN: Hackett.
Pojman, L. and Westmoreland, R. (eds) (1997) Bataille, G. ([1957] 1962) Eroticism. London:
Equality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Calder and Boyars.
Sen, A. (1992) Inequality Reexamined. Cam- Deleuze, G. and Guattari, F. ([1980] 1987) Anti-
bridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minnea-
polis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
NAOMI CHOI Freud, S. (1986) The Essentials of Psychoanalysis.
Ed. A. Freud. London: Penguin.
Lyotard, J.-F. ([1974] 1993) Libidinal Economy.
Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
The term eroticism refers to the investment
of an object, person or event with a sexual
charge or desire. The erotic has long held a
fascination for artists and poets. Theoretical
analysis of the ways in which humans attribute The Compact Oxford English Dictionary
erotic qualities to others (animate or inani- defines essentialism as ‘the belief in real
mate), and the means by which our experi- essences of things, especially the view that the
ences are deemed erotic or sexual in nature, task of science and philosophy is to discover
has proliferated since the nineteenth cen- these and express them in definitions’
tury and the emergence of psychoanalysis (1989: 532). One of the important aspects
(see Freud). Approaches to examining erotic of essentialism is the idea that the properties
desire and behaviour can be broadly grouped of things exist prior to the individuals that
into two camps: those more or less in live with or in some way utilize or embody
agreement with psychoanalytic theory, and them. In the social sciences, the concept of
those who oppose its key tenets, specifically essentialism is utilized extensively. Philosophy
the way in which desire is understood to is concerned to explore whether or not
operate. Freud viewed eroticism as a struggle certain concepts are imbued with essence.
between two antagonistic drives: life (Eros, For instance, what is the constitution of
generation) and death (Thanatos, degenera- human being? Are there essential properties
tion). He speculated these two competing or qualities to being human (rationality,
forces amalgamated in the strongest sense emotion, ethics, language, tradition, sym-
through orgasm during heterosexual coitus, bolism)? Sociology tends to be more con-
as this provided the possibility of procrea- cerned with essentialism as it applies to
tion (life) at the same time as it produced a social processes. The search for underlying
sense of losing one’s self (death). In psy- properties that define the essence of a parti-
choanalysis, desire is conceptualized in cular entity is best described methodologi-
negative terms as a response to a need or cally by positivism, which primarily seeks to
lack (a desire for that which is missing or understand things through experimental
lost). In contrast, contemporary postmodern investigation and observation.
theorists such as Jean-François Lyotard and A number of sociologists have investi-
Gilles Deleuze define erotic desire in dis- gated the extent to which ‘sex’ and ‘race’
tinctly anti-psychoanalytic terms: as a pri- may be viewed as embodying certain
marily positive and productive energy (or essential qualities. Discussions of essentialism
‘intensity’) that has no specific objective or and race have largely been abandoned since
goal. Their alternative erotologies transgress they are most often associated with
notions of normative sexuality, and disrupt eugenics, prejudice and discrimination.
assumptions about what constitute ‘bodies’ Interestingly, there remains a persistent, if
and ‘objects’ of desire. implicit, assumption that sex refers to a set

of essential differences between women and inheritance and social mobilization, and to
men that are grounded in biology. This emphasize the social construction of bound-
assumption emerged in contemporary social aries and identities (see also classification).
studies in the form of the sex/gender dis- According to Warner and Lunt’s Yankee
tinction. Post-structuralism has most City (1941) ethnicity is an attribute that
recently argued against any essential qualities characterizes individuals born outside or
of individuals, arguing instead that sub- inside the country, who consider them-
jectivity is produced through social processes. selves, or are considered to be, members of
Interestingly, since these social processes are a group with a foreign culture and who
understood to exist prior to the individual, participate in the life of the group. How-
it could be argued that the social processes ever, Warner and Lunt sometimes use the
themselves are essential qualities of sub- term ‘ethnic’ to designate all inhabitants of
jectivity, or in other words, that social ‘Yankee City’. This double sense is asso-
constructionism (see constructionism) is ciated with the ambiguity of the adjective
dependent upon essentialism. ‘ethnic’ from which it derives. In the Greek
version of the Bible, ethnikos