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  1. The Meaning of 'Theory'

    ‘Theory’ is one of the most important words in the lexicon of contemporary sociology. Yet, their ubiquity notwithstanding, it is quite unclear what sociologists mean by the words ‘theory,’ ‘theoretical,’ and ‘theorize.’ I argue that confusions about the meaning of ‘theory’ have brought about undesirable consequences, including conceptual muddles and even downright miscommunication. In this paper I tackle two questions: (a) what does ‘theory’ mean in the sociological language?; and (b) what ought ‘theory’ to mean in the sociological language? I proceed in five stages.

  2. Data Collection as Disruption: Insights from a Longitudinal Study of Young Adulthood

    Research disrupts the social world, often by making respondents aware that they are being observed or by instigating reflection upon particular aspects of life via the very act of asking questions. Building on insights from the first Hawthorne studies, reflexive ethnographers, and methodologists concerned with panel conditioning, we draw on six years of research within a community in southern Malawi to introduce a conceptual framework for theorizing disruption in observational research.

  3. Essay: Sociology's New Steps?

    It was the devastating problems linked to the dramatic shift from farm to factory during the nineteenth century that fueled sociology’s origins, whether we turn to Comte, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, or Simmel. Building on the eighteenth-century Enlightenment spirit of the power of reason and freedom as well as the triumphs of the biophysical sciences, they envisaged a powerful science of human behavior that could solve those problems.

  4. How Far From Meritocracy? A Cross-National Longitudinal Analysis of European Countries

    This figure describes the distance from meritocracy in 36 European countries between 2002 and 2017. Following Krauze and Slomczynski, the author defines meritocratic allocation of individuals by education to occupational status groups as a situation when more educated persons do not have jobs with lower status than less educated persons.

  5. Discrimination, Sexual Harassment, and the Impact of Workplace Power

    Research on workplace discrimination has tended to focus on a singular axis of inequality or a discrete type of closure, with much less attention to how positional and relational power within the employment context can bolster or mitigate vulnerability. In this article, the author draws on nearly 6,000 full-time workers from five waves of the General Social Survey (2002–2018) to analyze discrimination, sexual harassment, and the extent to which occupational status and vertical and horizontal workplace relations matter.

  6. Profit as Social Rent: Embeddedness and Stratification in Markets

    This article shows how research on the social structure of markets may contribute to the analysis the growing income inequality in contemporary capitalist economies. The author proposes a theoretical link between embeddedness and social stratification by discussing the role of institutions and networks in markets for the distribution of economic profits between firms. The author claims that we must understand profit and free competition as opposites, as economic theory does.

  7. Toward a Hermeneutic Model of Cultural Globalization: Four Lessons from Translation Studies

    Many scholars study the global diffusion of culture, looking at how institutions spread culture around the world or at how intermediaries (or “cultural brokers”) adapt foreign culture in the local context. This research can tell us much about brokers’ “cultural-matching” or “congruence-building” strategies. To date, however, few scholars have examined brokers’ interpretive work. In this article, the author argues that globalization research needs to pay more attention to interpretation.

  8. Cabdrivers and Their Fares: Temporal Structures of a Linking Ecology

    The author argues that behind the apparent randomness of interactions between cabdrivers and their fares in Warsaw is a temporal structure. To capture this temporal structure, the author introduces the notion of a linking ecology. He argues that the Warsaw taxi market is a linking ecology, which is structured by religious time, state time, and family time. The author then focuses on waiting time, arguing that it too structures the interactions between cabdrivers and their fares.

  9. Religion and Sexual Behaviors: Understanding the Influence of Islamic Cultures and Religious Affiliation for Explaining Sex Outside of Marriage

    Social scientists have long been interested in how cultural and structural characteristics shape individuals’ actions. We investigate this relationship by examining how macro- and micro-level religious effects shape individuals’ reports of premarital and extramarital sex. We look at how identifying with one of the major world religions—Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, or Judaism—and living in a nation with a Muslim culture shape the likelihood of sex outside of marriage.

  10. Americans’ Perceptions of Transgender People’s Sex: Evidence from a National Survey Experiment

    Drawing on the first national survey experiment of its kind (n = 3,922), the authors examine Americans’ perceptions of transgender people’s sex and the factors that underlie these perceptions. The authors randomly assigned respondents to a vignette condition describing a transgender person whose self-identified gender (i.e., identifies as a man or a woman), age (i.e., adult or teenager), and gender conformity in physical appearance (i.e., conforming, nonconforming, ambiguous, or unspecified) had been experimentally manipulated.