Esteemed twentieth-century sociologist Talcott Parsons sought to develop a comprehensive and coherent scheme for sociology that could be applied to every society and historical epoch, and address every aspect of human social organization and culture. His theory of social action has exerted enormous influence across a wide range of social science disciplines. After Parsons, edited by Renée Fox, Victor Lidz, and Harold Bershady, provides a critical reexamination of Parsons' theory in light of historical changes in the world and advances in sociological thought since his death. After Parsons is a fresh examination of Parsons' theoretical undertaking, its significance for social scientific thought, and its implications for present-day empirical research. The book is divided into four parts: Social Institutions and Social Processes; Societal Community and Modernization; Sociology and Culture; and the Human Condition. The chapters deal with Parsons' notions of societal community, societal evolution, and modernization and modernity. After Parsons addresses major themes of enduring relevance, including social differentiation and cultural diversity, social solidarity, universalism and particularism, and trust and affect in social life. The contributors explore these topics in a wide range of social institutions—family and kinship, economy, polity, the law, medicine, art, and religion—and within the context of contemporary developments such as globalization, the power of the United States as an "empireless empire," the emergence of forms of fundamentalism, the upsurge of racial, tribal, and ethnic conflicts, and the increasing occurence of deterministic and positivistic thought. Rather than simply celebrating Parsons and his accomplishments, the contributors to After Parsons rethink and reformulate his ideas to place them on more solid foundations, extend their scope, and strengthen their empirical insights. After Parsons constitutes the work of a distinguished roster of American and European sociologists who find Parsons' theory of action a valuable resource for addressing contemporary issues in sociological theory. All of the essays in this volume take elements of Parsons' theory and critique, adapt, refine, or extend them to gain fresh purchase on problems that confront sociologists today.
There are two Indias: the caste and class elite who hold all power and make up 10 to 15 percent of the population, and everyone else. Averting the Apocalypse is about everyone else. Arthur Bonner, a former New York Times reporter with long experience as a foreign correspondent in Asia, conducted interviews over many months while traveling almost 20,000 miles within India seeking out the underclass and social activists who together are beginning to mobilize for social change at the bottom of Indian society. Working in areas torn by violence, Bonner offers a terrifyingly accurate portrait of a society bloodied by decades of unequal social structure and the absence of a civil society and political mechanism capable of responding to the exploitation of the poor and weak. Bonner finds that India’s inability or refusal to address its debilitating social structure may be the precursor to an apocalyptic social upheaval unless heed is paid to the social movements that his first-hand investigation reveals.
Providing incisive commentary on the historical and contemporary American working class experience, Banded Together: Economic Democratization in the Brass Valley documents a community's efforts to rebuild and revitalize itself in the aftermath of deindustrialization. Through powerful oral histories and other primary sources, Jeremy Brecher tells the story of a group of average Americans--factory workers, housewives, parishioners, and organizers--who tried to create a democratic alternative to the economic powerlessness caused by the closing of factories in the Connecticut Naugatuck Valley region during the 1970s and 1980s. This volume focuses on grassroots organization, democratically controlled enterprises, and supportive public policies, providing examples from the Naugatuck Valley Project community-alliance that remain relevant to the economic problems of today and tomorrow. Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with Project leaders, staff, and other knowledgeable members of the local community, Brecher illustrates how the Naugatuck Valley Project served as a vehicle for community members to establish greater control over their economic lives.
Each year, natural disasters threaten the strength and stability of communities worldwide. Yet responses to the challenges of recovery vary greatly and in ways that aren’t explained by the magnitude of the catastrophe or the amount of aid provided by national governments or the international community. The difference between resilience and disrepair, as Daniel P. Aldrich shows, lies in the depth of communities’ social capital.
Building Resilience highlights the critical role of social capital in the ability of a community to withstand disaster and rebuild both the infrastructure and the ties that are at the foundation of any community. Aldrich examines the post-disaster responses of four distinct communities—Tokyo following the 1923 earthquake, Kobe after the 1995 earthquake, Tamil Nadu after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, and New Orleans post-Katrina—and finds that those with robust social networks were better able to coordinate recovery. In addition to quickly disseminating information and financial and physical assistance, communities with an abundance of social capital were able to minimize the migration of people and valuable resources out of the area.
With governments increasingly overstretched and natural disasters likely to increase in frequency and intensity, a thorough understanding of what contributes to efficient reconstruction is more important than ever. Building Resilience underscores a critical component of an effective response.
Ethnically homogenous communities often do a better job than diverse communities of producing public goods such as satisfactory schools and health care, adequate sanitation, and low levels of crime. Coethnicity reports the results of a landmark study that aimed to find out why diversity has this cooperation-undermining effect. The study, conducted in a neighborhood of Kampala, Uganda, notable for both its high levels of diversity and low levels of public goods provision, hones in on the mechanisms that might account for the difficulties diverse societies often face in trying to act collectively. The Mulago-Kyebando Community Study uses behavioral games to explore how the ethnicity of the person with whom one is interacting shapes social behavior. Hundreds of local participants interacted with various partners in laboratory games simulating real-life decisions involving the allocation of money and the completion of joint tasks. Many of the subsequent findings debunk long-standing explanations for diversity's adverse effects. Contrary to the prevalent notion that shared preferences facilitate ethnic collective action, differences in goals and priorities among participants were not found to be structured along ethnic lines. Nor was there evidence that subjects favored the welfare of their coethnics over that of non-coethnics. When given the opportunity to act altruistically, individuals did not choose to benefit coethnics disproportionately when their actions were anonymous. Yet when anonymity was removed, subjects behaved very differently. With their actions publicly observed, subjects gave significantly more to coethnics, expected their partners to reciprocate, and expected that they would be sanctioned for a failure to cooperate. This effect was most pronounced among individuals who were otherwise least likely to cooperate. These results suggest that what may look like ethnic favoritism is, in fact, a set of reciprocity norms—stronger among coethnics than among non-coethnics—that make it possible for members of more homogeneous communities to take risks, invest, and cooperate without the fear of getting cheated. Such norms may be more subject to change than deeply held ethnic antipathies—a powerful finding for policymakers seeking to design social institutions in diverse societies. Research on ethnic diversity typically draws on either experimental research or field work. Coethnicity does both. By taking the crucial step from observation to experimentation, this study marks a major breakthrough in the study of ethnic diversity. A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation Series on Trust
Processes of fighting unequal citizenship have historically prioritized literacy education, through which people envision universal first-class citizenship and devise practical methods for enacting this vision. In this important volume, literacy scholar Paul Feigenbaum explores how literacy education can facilitate activism in contemporary contexts in which underserved populations often remain consigned to second-class status despite official guarantees of equal citizenship. By conceiving of education as, in part, a process of understanding and grappling with adaptive and activist rhetorics, Feigenbaum explains, educators can direct people’s imaginations toward activism without running up against the conceptual problems so many scholars associate with critical pedagogy. Over time, this model of education expands people’s imaginations about what it means to be a good citizen, facilitates increased civic participation, and encourages collective destabilization of, rather than adaptation to, the structural inequalities of mainstream civic institutions. Feigenbaum offers detailed analyses of various locations and time periods inside, outside, and across the walls of formal education, including the Citizenship Schools and Freedom Schools rooted in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s; the Algebra Project, a current practical-literacy network; and the Imagination Federation, a South Florida–based Earth-Literacy network. Considering both the history and the future of community literacy, Collaborative Imagination offers educators a powerful mechanism for promoting activism through their teaching and scholarship, while providing practical ideas for greater civic engagement among students.
Controversy erupted in spring 2001 when Chicago’s mostly white Southside Catholic Conference youth sports league rejected the application of the predominantly black St. Sabina grade school. Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, interracialism seemed stubbornly unattainable, and the national spotlight once again turned to the history of racial conflict in Catholic parishes. It’s widely understood that midcentury, working class, white ethnic Catholics were among the most virulent racists, but, as Crossing Parish Boundaries shows, that’s not the whole story.
In this book, Timothy B. Neary reveals the history of Bishop Bernard Sheil’s Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), which brought together thousands of young people of all races and religions from Chicago’s racially segregated neighborhoods to take part in sports and educational programming. Tens of thousands of boys and girls participated in basketball, track and field, and the most popular sport of all, boxing, which regularly filled Chicago Stadium with roaring crowds. The history of Bishop Sheil and the CYO shows a cosmopolitan version of American Catholicism, one that is usually overshadowed by accounts of white ethnic Catholics aggressively resisting the racial integration of their working-class neighborhoods. By telling the story of Catholic-sponsored interracial cooperation within Chicago, Crossing Parish Boundaries complicates our understanding of northern urban race relations in the mid-twentieth century.
The Early Essays
Talcott Parsons University of Chicago Press, 1991 Library of Congress HM24.P2833 1991 | Dewey Decimal 301.01
With the publication in 1937 of his first book, The Structure of Social Action, Talcott Parsons (1902-79) established himself as one of America's most important social theorists. Yet Parsons's essays from the decade preceding 1937 are virtually unknown to theorists and historians of sociology. By gathering the majority of Parsons's articles and book reviews published between 1923 and 1937, Charles Camic supplies the first comprehensive selection of the writings of the "early Parsons."
In his superb introductory essay, Camic situates Parsons's early writings in their sociointellectual and biographical context. Drawing upon extensive historical research, he identifies three overlapping but relatively distinct thematic phases in the early development of Paron's ideas: that on capitalist society and its origins, that one the historical development of the theory of action, and that on the foundations of analytical sociology. Camic correlates the emergence of these phases to Parsons's experiences at Amherst College in the early 1920s, in London and Heidelberg during the mid-1920s, and at Harvard University in the important period from the late 1920s to the mid-1930s. Reproducing in full each of twenty-one selections, this volume charts the changes and continues in the early development of some of Parsons's most fundamental ideas.
A transformative progressive politics requires the state's reimagining. But how should the state be reimagined, and what can invigorate this process? In Feeling Like a State, Davina Cooper explores the unexpected contribution a legal drama of withdrawal might make to conceptualizing a more socially just, participative state. In recent years, as gay rights have expanded, some conservative Christians—from charities to guesthouse owners and county clerks—have denied people inclusion, goods, and services because of their sexuality. In turn, liberal public bodies have withdrawn contracts, subsidies, and career progression from withholding conservative Christians. Cooper takes up the discourses and practices expressed in this legal conflict to animate and support an account of the state as heterogeneous, plural, and erotic. Arguing for the urgent need to put new imaginative forms into practice, Cooper examines how dissident and experimental institutional thinking materialize as people assert a democratic readiness to recraft the state.
In Finding the Movement, Anne Enke reveals that diverse women’s engagement with public spaces gave rise to and profoundly shaped second-wave feminism. Focusing on women’s activism in Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis-St. Paul during the 1960s and 1970s, Enke describes how women across race and class created a massive groundswell of feminist activism by directly intervening in the urban landscape. They secured illicit meeting spaces and gained access to public athletic fields. They fought to open bars to women and abolish gendered dress codes and prohibitions against lesbian congregation. They created alternative spaces, such as coffeehouses, where women could socialize and organize. They opened women-oriented bookstores, restaurants, cafes, and clubs, and they took it upon themselves to establish women’s shelters, health clinics, and credit unions in order to support women’s bodily autonomy.
By considering the development of feminism through an analysis of public space, Enke expands and revises the historiography of second-wave feminism. She suggests that the movement was so widespread because it was built by people who did not identify themselves as feminists as well as by those who did. Her focus on claims to public space helps to explain why sexuality, lesbianism, and gender expression were so central to feminist activism. Her spatial analysis also sheds light on hierarchies within the movement. As women turned commercial, civic, and institutional spaces into sites of activism, they produced, as well as resisted, exclusionary dynamics.
Fire and Ink is a powerful and impassioned anthology of stories, poems, interviews, and essays that confront some of the most pressing social issues of our day. Designed to inspire and inform, this collection embodies the concepts of “breaking silence,” “bearing witness,” resistance, and resilience. Beyond students and teachers, the book will appeal to all readers with a commitment to social justice.
Fire and Ink brings together, for the first time in one volume, politically engaged writing by poets, fiction writers, and essayists. Including many of our finest writers—Martín Espada, Adrienne Rich, June Jordan, Patricia Smith, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sharon Olds, Arundhati Roy, Sonia Sanchez, Carolyn Forche, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Alice Walker, Linda Hogan, Gary Soto, Kim Blaeser, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Li-Young Lee, and Jimmy Santiago Baca, among others—this is an indispensable collection.
This groundbreaking anthology marks the emergence of social action writing as a distinct field within creative writing and literature. Featuring never-before-published pieces, as well as reprinted material, Fire and Ink is divided into ten sections focused on significant social issues, including identity, sexuality and gender, the environment, social justice, work, war, and peace. The pieces can often be gripping, such as “Frame,” in which Adrienne Rich confronts government and police brutality, or Chris Abani’s “Ode to Joy,” which documents great courage in the face of mortal danger.
Fire and Ink serves as a wonderful reader for a wide range of courses, from composition and rhetoric classes to courses in ethnic studies, gender studies, American studies, and even political science, by facing a past that was often accompanied by injustice and suffering. But beyond that, this collection teaches us that we all have the power to create a more equitable and just future.
In How Humans Cooperate, Richard E. Blanton and Lane F. Fargher take a new approach to investigating human cooperation, developed from the vantage point of an "anthropological imagination." Drawing on the discipline’s broad and holistic understanding of humans in biological, social, and cultural dimensions and across a wide range of temporal and cultural variation, the authors unite psychological and institutional approaches by demonstrating the interplay of institution building and cognitive abilities of the human brain.
Blanton and Fargher develop an approach that is strongly empirical, historically deep, and more synthetic than other research designs, using findings from fields as diverse as neurobiology, primatology, ethnography, history, art history, and archaeology. While much current research on collective action pertains to local-scale cooperation, How Humans Cooperate puts existing theories to the test at larger scales in markets, states, and cities throughout the Old and New Worlds.
This innovative book extends collective action theory beyond Western history and into a broadly cross-cultural dimension, places cooperation in the context of large and complex human societies, and demonstrates the interplay of collective action and aspects of human cognitive ability. By extending the scope and content of collective action theory, the authors find a fruitful new path to understanding human cooperation.
At a time of deep political divisions, leaders have called on ordinary Americans to talk to one another: to share their stories, listen empathetically, and focus on what they have in common, not what makes them different. In Inventing the Ties that Bind, Francesca Polletta questions this popular solution for healing our rifts. Talking the way that friends do is not the same as equality, she points out. And initiatives that bring strangers together for friendly dialogue may provide fleeting experiences of intimacy, but do not supply the enduring ties that solidarity requires. But Polletta also studies how Americans cooperate outside such initiatives, in social movements, churches, unions, government, and in their everyday lives. She shows that they often act on behalf of people they see as neighbors, not friends, as allies, not intimates, and people with whom they have an imagined relationship, not a real one. To repair our fractured civic landscape, she argues, we should draw on the rich language of solidarity that Americans already have.
Remembered as an era of peace and prosperity, turn-of-the-millennium America was also a time of mass protest. But the political demands of the marchers seemed secondary to an urgent desire for renewal and restoration felt by people from all walks of life. Drawing on thousands of personal testimonies, Deborah Gray White explores how Americans sought better ways of living in, and dealing with, a rapidly changing world. From the Million Man, Million Woman, and Million Mom Marches to the Promise Keepers and LGBT protests, White reveals a people lost in their own country. Mass gatherings offered a chance to bond with like-minded others against a relentless tide of loneliness and isolation. By participating, individuals opened a door to self-discovery that energized their quests for order, autonomy, personal meaning, and fellowship in a society that seemed hostile to such deeper human needs. Moving forward in time, White also shows what marchers found out about themselves and those gathered around them. The result is an eye-opening reconsideration of a defining time in contemporary America.
In the three largest cities in Sweden, social movement “scenes”—networks of social movement actors and the places they inhabit—challenge threats such as gentrification. The geography of the built environment influences their ability to lay claim to urban space and to local political processes. In Making a Scene, Kimberly Creasap emphasizes that it is the centrality, concentration, and visibility of these scenes that make them most effective. Whereas some scenes become embedded as part of everyday life—as in Malmö—in contrast, scenes in Göteborg and Stockholm often fail to become part of the fabric of urban neighborhoods.
Creasap investigates key spaces for scenes, from abandoned industrial areas and punk clubs to street festivals, bookstores, and social centers, to show how activists create sites and develop structures of resistance that are anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-gentrification, queer, and feminist. She also charts the relationship between scenes and city spaces to show these autonomous social movements create their own cultural landscapes. Making a Scene encourages critical thinking about spatiality and place in the sociology of social movements and the role of social movements as important actors in urban development.
How do people become activists for causes they care deeply about? Many people with similar backgrounds, for instance, fervently believe that abortion should be illegal, but only some of them join the pro-life movement. By delving into the lives and beliefs of activists and nonactivists alike, Ziad W. Munson is able to lucidly examine the differences between them.
Through extensive interviews and detailed studies of pro-life organizations across the nation, Munson makes the startling discovery that many activists join up before they develop strong beliefs about abortion—in fact, some are even pro-choice prior to their mobilization. Therefore, Munson concludes, commitment to an issue is often a consequence rather than a cause of activism.
The Making of Pro-life Activists provides a compelling new model of how people become activists while also offering a penetrating analysis of the complex relationship between religion, politics, and the pro-life movement. Policy makers, activists on both sides of the issue, and anyone seeking to understand how social movements take shape will find this book essential.
Marcha is a multidisciplinary survey of the individuals, organizations, and institutions that have given shape and power to the contemporary immigrant rights movement in Chicago. A city with longstanding historic ties to immigrant activism, Chicago has been the scene of a precedent-setting immigrant rights mobilization in 2006 and subsequent mobilizations in 2007 and 2008.
Positing Chicago as a microcosm of the immigrant rights movement on national level, these essays plumb an extraordinarily rich set of data regarding recent immigrant rights activities, defining the cause as not just a local quest for citizenship rights, but a panethnic, transnational movement. The result is a timely volume likely to provoke debate and advance the national conversation about immigration in innovative ways.
In the eyes of many Westerners, Muslim women are hidden behind a veil of negative stereotypes that portray them as either oppressed, subservient wives and daughters or, more recently, as potential terrorists. Yet many Muslim women defy these stereotypes by taking active roles in their families and communities and working to create a more just society. This book introduces eighteen Muslim women activists from the United States and Canada who have worked in fields from social services, to marital counseling, to political advocacy in order to further social justice within the Muslim community and in the greater North American society. Each of the activists has written an autobiographical narrative in which she discusses such issues as her personal motivation for doing activism work, her views on the relationship between Islam and women's activism, and the challenges she has faced and overcome, such as patriarchal cultural barriers within the Muslim community or racism and discrimination within the larger society. The women activists are a heterogeneous group, including North American converts to Islam, Muslim immigrants to the United States and Canada, and the daughters of immigrants. Young women at the beginning of their activist lives as well as older women who have achieved regional or national prominence are included. Katherine Bullock's introduction highlights the contributions to society that Muslim women have made since the time of the Prophet Muhammad and sounds a call for contemporary Muslim women to become equal partners in creating and maintaining a just society within and beyond the Muslim community.
Across Africa, mature women have for decades mobilized the power of their nakedness in political protest to shame and punish male adversaries. This insurrectionary nakedness, often called genital cursing, owes its cultural potency to the religious belief that spirits residing in women's bodies can be unleashed to cause misfortune in their targets, including impotence, disease, and death. In Naked Agency, Naminata Diabate analyzes these collective female naked protests in Africa and beyond to broaden understandings of agency and vulnerability. Drawing on myriad cultural texts from social media and film to journalism and fiction, Diabate uncovers how women create spaces of resistance during socio-political duress, including such events as the 2011 protests by Ivoirian women in Côte d’Ivoire and Paris as well as women's disrobing in Soweto to prevent the destruction of their homes. Through the concept of naked agency, Diabate explores fluctuating narratives of power and victimhood to challenge simplistic accounts of African women's helplessness and to show how they exercise political power in the biopolitical era.
To combat behavior they viewed as sexually promiscuous, politically undesirable, or downright criminal, social activists in Progressive-era New York employed private investigators to uncover the roots of society’s problems. New York Undercover follows these investigators—often journalists or social workers with no training in surveillance—on their information-gathering visits to gambling parlors, brothels, and meetings of criminal gangs and radical political organizations.
Drawing on the hundreds of detailed reports that resulted from these missions, Jennifer Fronc reconstructs the process by which organizations like the National Civic Federation and the Committee of Fourteen generated the knowledge they needed to change urban conditions. This information, Fronc demonstrates, eventually empowered government regulators in the Progressive era and beyond, strengthening a federal state that grew increasingly repressive in the interest of pursuing a national security agenda. Revealing the central role of undercover investigation in both social change and the constitution of political authority, New York Undercover narrates previously untold chapters in the history of vice and the emergence of the modern surveillance state.
To many, Newark seems a profound symbol of postwar liberalism’s failings: an impoverished, deeply divided city where commitments to integration and widespread economic security went up in flames during the 1967 riots. While it’s true that these failings shaped Newark’s postwar landscape and economy, as Mark Krasovic shows, that is far from the whole story.
The Newark Frontier shows how, during the Great Society, urban liberalism adapted and grew, defining itself less by centralized programs and ideals than by administrative innovation and the small-scale, personal interactions generated by community action programs, investigative commissions, and police-community relations projects. Paying particular attention to the fine-grained experiences of Newark residents, Krasovic reveals that this liberalism was rooted in an ethic of experimentation and local knowledge. He illustrates this with stories of innovation within government offices, the dynamic encounters between local activists and state agencies, and the unlikely alliances among nominal enemies. Krasovic makes clear that postwar liberalism’s eventual fate had as much to do with the experiments waged in Newark as it did with the violence that rocked the city in the summer of 1967.
Politics and the study of politics are at a watershed. They are deficient because they fail to respond to fundamental crises in our society, fail to incorporate new knowledge from other fields of study, and fail to allow citizens to function as mature human beings shaping their own destiny. Political Action demonstrates the need for a new political science which, in turn, may lead to a new politics more adequate to the problems of this era.
Modern political science, as currently studied and practiced, is irrelevant for both public officials and citizens because it fails to focus on political action. Simpson and Beam provide a methodology for the study of political action and demonstrate how the study of political action using these methods provides a better understanding of politics and how these methods aid in identifying effective strategies for building a better America.
Without a new focus on political action, political science will remain sterile and without a more humane politics, citizens will remain misinformed, apathetic, and helpless. Political Action is controversial because it challenges the profession of political science. It provides a “paradigm shift” in the field which is important for allied social science disciplines as well. For political strategists, it provides the methodological tool of political action propositions which allow a careful calculation of the effects of alternative strategies.
The Rebel's Dilemma
Mark Irving Lichbach University of Michigan Press, 1998 Library of Congress HM281.L645 1995 | Dewey Decimal 302.14
Since the mid 1960s, theorists have elaborated over two dozen different solutions to the collection action problem. During much of this same period, students of conflict have explored many questions about protest and rebellion. The Rebel's Dilemma examines what happens when one brings the full richness of collective action theories to bear on the many complex problems of collective dissent.
". . . a significant contribution to the understanding of collective behavior, protest, and rebellion." --Choice
"The book is interesting and thought-provoking, and its insights extend beyond the narrow subject of rebellion to help illuminate many issues related to organizing groups to undertake collective action." --Public Choice
"[Lichbach's] book is monumental and pivotal. . . . [It] consolidates over three decades of research on collective action problems and sets the agenda for future studies of collective dissent and rebellion. . . . [This] book is a major step forward. It will have an enormous impact in the field of conflict studies and belongs on the shelf of anyone even casually interested in dissent, rebellion, and revolution. . . . [This] book is a major step forward. It will have an enormous impact in the field of conflict studies and belongs on the shelf of anyone even casually interested in dissent, rebellion, and revolution." --American Political Science Review
"For scholars interested in game-theoretic analyses of politics . . . essential reading." --Manus I. Midlarsky, Journal of Politics
"Lichbach has to be praised for providing valuable insight on the logic of collective dissent. . . ." --Political Studies
Mark Irving Lichbach is Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado.
Rhyming Hope and History exposes the frayed relations between activism and social movement scholarship and examines the causes and consequences of this disconnect between theory and practice. Both scholars and activists explore solutions, weighing the promise and perils of engaged theory and the barriers to meaningful collaboration. This volume asserts that partnerships among scholars and activists benefit both academic inquiry and social change efforts.
Contributors: Kevin M. Carragee, Suffolk U; Catherine Corrigall-Brown, U of California, Irvine; Myra Marx Ferree, U of Wisconsin, Madison; Richard Flacks, U of California, Santa Barbara; Adria D. Goodson; Richard Healy and Sandra Hinson, Grassroots Policy Project; David Meyer, U of California, Irvine; Cynthia Peters, Worker Education Program of the Service Employees International Union, Local 2020; Barbara Risman, North Carolina State U; Robert J. S. Ross, Clark U; Leila J. Rupp, U of California, Santa Barbara; Cassie Schwerner, Schott Foundation; Valerie Sperling, Clark U; David A. Snow, U of California, Irvine; Verta Taylor, U of California, Santa Barbara.
David Croteau is formerly associate professor of sociology and anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University. William Hoynes is professor of sociology and director of media studies at Vassar College. Charlotte Ryan is codirector of the Media Research and Action Project at Boston College. William A. Gamson is professor of sociology at Boston College.
In Society in Action, Piotr Sztompka sets forth a highly topical contribution to central theoretical debates of contemporary sociology. Taking the idea and practice of collective mobilization as his theme, Sztompka argues that modern institutions, particularly of late, are characterized by an increasing awareness of collective empowerment. The most obvious concrete expression of this phenomenon, as Sztompka makes clear, is the rise of a diversity of active social movements such as those which dramatically transformed Europe in the 1980s, from the birth of Solidarity in 1980 to the 1989 "Autumn of Nations."
Sztompka connects the interpretations of such collective activity to a wider grasp of the nature of social action. The result is a comprehensive and original theory of social change which focuses on the self-transforming influence on society of its members' striving for freedom, autonomy, and self-fulfillment. He develops his theory by means of a general concept of "social becoming," the roots of which he traces to the early romantic and humanist work of Karl Marx and his followers and to two influential sociological schools of today, the theory of agency and historical sociology.
Sztompka situates his theory midway between the rigid determinism of social totalities and the unbridled voluntarism of free individuals. Social change, he demonstrates, can be understood neither as the outcome of individual actions taken alone nor as structurally determined actions. Instead, he confers upon social organizations and movements a "self-transcending" quality: they express human agency yet, by virtue of their active character, are quite often able to achieve unpredictable outcomes.
Throughout his analysis of social movements and revolutions in history, Sztompka emphasizes the dynamics of spontaneous social change generated from below—a theoretical testimony to the rapid and fundamental social change in Eastern Europe in recent history. Against the fashions of postmodernist malaise, boredom, and disenchantment, his theory of social becoming expresses the possibility of emancipation, of change leading to positive gains. His work registers a belief in progress, not inevitably gained, but its attainment fully dependent upon the creativity and optimism of an active citizenry.
Since the Bolivian revolution in 1952, migrants have come to the city of Cochabamba, seeking opportunity and relief from rural poverty. They have settled in barrios on the city’s outskirts only to find that the rights of citizens—basic rights of property and security, especially protection from crime—are not available to them. In this ethnography, Daniel M. Goldstein considers the significance of and similarities between two kinds of spectacles—street festivals and the vigilante lynching of criminals—as they are performed in the Cochabamba barrio of Villa Pagador. By examining folkloric festivals and vigilante violence within the same analytical framework, Goldstein shows how marginalized urban migrants, shut out of the city and neglected by the state, use performance to assert their national belonging and to express their grievances against the inadequacies of the state’s official legal order.
During the period of Goldstein’s fieldwork in Villa Pagador in the mid-1990s, residents attempted to lynch several thieves and attacked the police who tried to intervene. Since that time, there have been hundreds of lynchings in the poor barrios surrounding Cochabamba. Goldstein presents the lynchings of thieves as a form of horrific performance, with elements of critique and political action that echo those of local festivals. He explores the consequences and implications of extralegal violence for human rights and the rule of law in the contemporary Andes. In rich detail, he provides an in-depth look at the development of Villa Pagador and of the larger metropolitan area of Cochabamba, illuminating a contemporary Andean city from both microethnographic and macrohistorical perspectives. Focusing on indigenous peoples’ experiences of urban life and their attempts to manage their sociopolitical status within the broader context of neoliberal capitalism and political decentralization, The Spectacular City highlights the deep connections between performance, law, violence, and the state.
Talcott Parsons is regarded, by admirers and critics alike, as a major creator of the sociological thought of our time. Despite the universal recognition of his influence, however, Parsons's thought is not well understood, in part because his work presents the reader with almost legendary difficulties. Most of his important essays and books presume that the reader is familiar with his rather specialized vocabulary, and even when Parsons begins by defining basic terms, his special uses for words and his style of exposition strike many readers as forbidding.
In his extensive introduction to this volume, Leon H. Mayhew brings a new focus and clarity to Talcott Parsons's work. Explicating Parsons on his own terms, Mayhew discusses the basic tools of Parsonian analysis and interprets the larger themes of his work. He provides a chronological account of the development of Parsons's thought, his presuppositions, and his position on the ideological spectrum of social thought.
Mayhew then presents twenty of Parsons's essays, touching on each of the major aspects of his work, including "action" theory and the celebrated four-function scheme. Other topics covered include the role of theory in social research, evolutionary universals in society, influence, control, and the mass media.
"Talcott Parsons on Institutions and Social Evolution will become a standard reference for those studying that development of his sociological ideas."—Martin Bulmer, The Times Higher Education Supplement
Launched in 1964, the War on Poverty quickly took aim at the coalfields of southern Appalachia. There, the federal government found unexpected allies among working-class white women devoted to a local tradition of citizen caregiving and seasoned by decades of activism and community service.
Jessica Wilkerson tells their stories within the larger drama of efforts to enact change in the 1960s and 1970s. She shows white Appalachian women acting as leaders and soldiers in a grassroots war on poverty--shaping and sustaining programs, engaging in ideological debates, offering fresh visions of democratic participation, and facing personal political struggles. Their insistence that caregiving was valuable labor clashed with entrenched attitudes and rising criticisms of welfare. Their persistence, meanwhile, brought them into unlikely coalitions with black women, disabled miners, and others to fight for causes that ranged from poor people's rights to community health to unionization.
Inspiring yet sobering, To Live Here, You Have to Fight reveals Appalachian women as the indomitable caregivers of a region--and overlooked actors in the movements that defined their time.
In this era of globalization's ruthless deracination, place attachments have become increasingly salient in collective mobilizations across the spectrum of politics. Like place-based activists in other resource-rich yet impoverished regions across the globe, Appalachians are contesting economic injustice, environmental degradation, and the anti-democratic power of elites. This collection of seventeen original essays by scholars and activists from a variety of backgrounds explores this wide range of oppositional politics, querying its successes, limitations, and impacts. The editors' critical introduction and conclusion integrate theories of place and space with analyses of organizations and events discussed by contributors. Transforming Places illuminates widely relevant lessons about building coalitions and movements with sufficient strength to challenge corporate-driven globalization.
Contributors are Fran Ansley, Yaira Andrea Arias Soto, Dwight B. Billings, M. Kathryn Brown, Jeannette Butterworth, Paul Castelloe, Aviva Chomsky, Dave Cooper, Walter Davis, Meredith Dean, Elizabeth C. Fine, Jenrose Fitzgerald, Doug Gamble, Nina Gregg, Edna Gulley, Molly Hemstreet, Mary Hufford, Ralph Hutchison, Donna Jones, Ann Kingsolver, Sue Ella Kobak, Jill Kriesky, Michael E. Maloney, Lisa Markowitz, Linda McKinney, Ladelle McWhorter, Marta Maria Miranda, Chad Montrie, Maureen Mullinax, Phillip J. Obermiller, Rebecca O'Doherty, Cassie Robinson Pfleger, Randal Pfleger, Anita Puckett, Katie Richards-Schuster, June Rostan, Rees Shearer, Daniel Swan, Joe Szakos, Betsy Taylor, Thomas E. Wagner, Craig White, and Ryan Wishart.
Service learning has become an institutionalized practice in higher education. Students are sent out to disadvantaged communities to paint, tutor, feed, and help organize communities. But while the students gain from their experiences, the contributors to The Unheard Voices ask, "Does the community?"
This volume explores the impact of service learning on a community, and considers the unequal relationship between the community and the academy. Using eye-opening interviews with community-organization staff members, The Unheard Voices challenges assumptions about the effectiveness of service learning. Chapters offer strong critiques of service learning practices from the lack of adequate training and supervision, to problems of communication and issues of diversity. The book's conclusion offers ways to improve service learning so that future endeavors can be better at meeting the needs of the communities and the students who work in them.
The notion that groups form and act in ways that respond to objective, external costs and benefits has long been the key to accounting for social change processes driven by collective action. Yet this same notion seems to fall apart when we try to explain how collectivities emerge out of the choices of individuals. This book overcomes that dilemma by offering an analysis of collective action that, while rooted in individual decision making, also brings out the way in which objective costs and benefits can impede or foster social coordination. The resulting approach enables us to address the causes and consequences of collective action with the help of the tools of modern economic theory. To illustrate this, the book applies the tools it develops to the study of specific collective action problems such as clientelism, focusing on its connections with economic development and political redistribution; and wage bargaining, showing its economic determinants and its relevance for the political economy of the welfare state.
"Medina's study is a great step forward in the analytics of collective action. He shows the inadequacies of currently standard models and shows that straightforward revisions reconcile rational-choice and structural viewpoints. It will influence all future work."
—Kenneth Arrow, Stanford University
"Olson, Schelling, and now Medina. A Unified Theory deepens our understanding of collective action and contributes to the foundations of our field. A major work."
—Robert H. Bates, Harvard University
"Medina thinks that the main problem of social action is not whether or not to cooperate but how to do it. To this end he has produced an imaginative approach to analyzing strategic coordination problems that produces plausible predictions in a range of circumstances."
—John Ferejohn, Stanford University
Luis Fernando Medina is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia.
According to Peter L. Benson, the capacity to generate vision is among life's most beautiful and unheralded gifts. To him, a vision is more than just a goal, more than just a dream of what could be—it is a summons, a pull towards the future, an inspired call to make real that which should be. In Vision: Awakening Your Potential to Create a Better World, Benson takes readers on an uplifting exploration of this powerful concept.
Starting with examples of great visionary moments in history, such as the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, he crafts a working definition of "vision" and what it means to be visionary. He proceeds by profiling the personalities behind some of the great visions that have shaped our world, covering a diverse set of individuals ranging from presidents who pulled the country through tough times to children whose efforts helped put an end to child labor. Throughout, Benson shares personal insights on his own "big picture" vision and offers instructive questions and exercises that will help reflective readers craft their own visions.
This little book of practical inspiration makes it clear that vision is a necessary ingredient of meaningful change. Readers will appreciate Benson's warm and personal approach as well as his interactive approach, which will help anyone come to understand his or her own social and spiritual potential. Vision will be useful to those seeking to find their place and purpose in the world, whether they are new graduates, professionals, parents, or retirees.