American Sociological Association



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  1. The Contingent Value of Embeddedness: Self-affirming Social Environments, Network Density, and Well-being

    Social capital theorists claim that belonging to a densely knit social network creates a shared identity, mutually beneficial exchange, trust, and a sense of belonging in that group. Taken together with the empirical research on the importance of social support and social integration for individuals’ well-being, there is reason to expect that the density of one’s personal social network should be positively related to well-being.

  2. The Link between Functional Limitations and Depressive Symptoms: The Explanatory Role of Self-conceptions

    Having more physical limitations predicts greater depressive symptoms. However, relatively few studies examine self-conceptions as potential explanations for this association. Using ordinary least squares regression on panel data collected in Miami-Dade County, Florida (2001 and 2004, N = 1,362), we examine the effect of functional limitations on five dimensions of the self: self-esteem, mastery, mattering, introspection, and emotional reliance.

  3. Defining the State from within: Boundaries, Schemas, and Associational Policymaking

    A growing literature posits the importance of boundaries in structuring social systems. Yet sociologists have not adequately theorized one of the most fraught and consequential sites of boundary-making in contemporary life: the delineation of the official edges of the government—and, consequently, of state from society. This article addresses that gap by theorizing the mechanisms of state boundary formation. In so doing, we extend culturalist theories of the state by providing a more specific model of how the state-society boundary is produced.

  4. Gabriel Tarde and Contemporary Social Theory

    After a century of obscurity, the work of Gabriel Tarde is once again attracting the attention of social theorists. In particular, Bruno Latour has been a fervent advocate of Tarde’s work as a form of sociology, which, he claims, anticipates actor network theory and which is therefore appropriate for an era of globalization. Rejecting Durkheimian appeals to an autonomous and preformed social reality, Tarde focuses on dynamic and hybrid processes of individual imitation and interaction. This article reexamines the work of Gabriel Tarde to assess the validity of Latour’s interpretation.

  5. Field and Ecology

    This article offers a theoretical comparison between field and ecology, as developed by Pierre Bourdieu and the Chicago School of sociology. While field theory and ecological theory share similar conceptualizations of actors, positions, and relations, and while they converge in their views on structural isomorphism, temporality, and social psychology, they are quite different on several other scores: power and inequality, endogeneity, heterogeneity, metaphorical sources, and abstraction.

  6. Community Sense: The Cohesive Power of Aesthetic Judgment

    Sociologists have undertheorized the role of aesthetic judgment in group identification. The author argues that the communication of aesthetic judgments in face-to-face interaction powerfully works to confirm or deny feelings of group belonging. The author introduces the concept of "community sense," the public face of shared aesthetic judgments that is communicated and upheld within a group. The author illustrates this concept through an ethnographic case study of an erotic arts club, a group predicated on achieving a shared sense of "good" and "bad" taste.

  7. The Habitus and the Critique of the Present: A Wittgensteinian Reading of Bourdieus Social Theory

    I tackle some major criticisms addressed to Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of habitus by foregrounding its affinities with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notion of rule-following. To this end, I first clarify the character of the habitus as a theoretical device, and then elucidate what features of Wittgenstein’s analysis Bourdieu found of interest from a methodological viewpoint. To vindicate this reading, I contend that Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following was meant to unearth the internal connection between rules and the performative activities whereby rules are brought into life.

  8. Prejudice, Exclusion, and Economic Disadvantage: A Theory

    A central hypothesis about discrimination is that prejudice forces the stigmatized into low-paying, undesirable jobs. Prejudice clearly leads to exclusion. But surprisingly, evidence linking exclusion to disadvantage is mixed. We address this issue theoretically, providing a formal rational choice model combining arguments from sociology (on prejudice) and economics (on competition). Our theory suggests that economic organization is crucial.

  9. The Onset of Ethnic War: A General Theory

    This article develops a general theory regarding the onset of ethnic war, starting with two analytic innovations: a mechanism-based approach toward social facts and an emphasis on dynamic interactions. I deploy two meta-mechanisms – the security dilemma/spiral model and intergroup-intragroup interactions – as meta-synthesizers. I then bring together the numerous factors and mechanisms scattered in the literature into a more integrative and dynamic theory of ethnic war by linking factors with immediate drivers of conflictual behavior via the two meta-mechanisms.

  10. The Public Life of Secrets: Deception, Disclosure, and Discursive Framing in the Policy Process

    While secrecy enables policy makers to escape public scrutiny, leaks of classified information reveal the social construction of reality by the state. I develop a theory that explains how leaks shape the discursive frames states create to communicate the causes of social problems to the public and corresponding solutions to redress them. Synthesizing cultural sociology, symbolic interactionism, and ethnomethodology, I argue that leaks enable non–state actors to amplify contradictions between the public and secret behavior of the state.