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Meaning and Modularity: The Multivalence of “Mechanism” in Sociological Explanation - Carly R. Knight, Isaac Ariail Reed, 2019
Mechanisms are ubiquitous in sociological explanation. Recent theoretical work has sought to extend mechanistic explanation further still: into cultural and interpretative analysis. Yet it is not clear that the concept of mechanism can coherently unify interpretation and causal explanation within a single explanatory framework. We note that sociological mechanistic explanation is marked by a crucial disjuncture. Specifically, we identify two conflicting mechanistic approaches: Modular mechanism models depict counterfactual dependence among independent causal chains, whereas meaningful mechanism models depict relational interdependence among semiotic assemblages. This disjuncture, we argue, is grounded in incompatible causal foundations and entails mechanistic models with distinct and conflicting evidentiary standards. We conclude by proposing a way forward: a sociological pluralism that is attentive to the productive incongruity of our distinct explanatory models.
explanation  social_mechanism  social_theory 
4 weeks ago by rvenkat
Analytical Sociology and Its Critics*
In reaction to the criticisms to which analytical sociology has been subject with increasing frequency, the article attempts an overall assessment of this research program by addressing the following questions: where does contemporary analytical sociology come from? what are the differences between the “old” and “new” analytical sociology? what does analytical sociology really consist of? do the critics of analytical sociology have good reasons to be critical? Gross’s 2009 ASR article is deeply discussed in order to answer the last question.

-- I don't care for the term "Analytical Sociology" but am mostly OK with what they have to offer. So, I'm curious to know what the critics have to say.
macro_from_micro  sociology  foundations  social_theory 
june 2019 by rvenkat
Minds Make Societies | Yale University Press
"“There is no good reason why human societies should not be described and explained with the same precision and success as the rest of nature.” Thus argues evolutionary psychologist Pascal Boyer in this uniquely innovative book.
"Integrating recent insights from evolutionary biology, genetics, psychology, economics, and other fields, Boyer offers precise models of why humans engage in social behaviors such as forming families, tribes, and nations, or creating gender roles. In fascinating, thought-provoking passages, he explores questions such as, Why is there conflict between groups? Why do people believe low-value information such as rumors? Why are there religions? What is social justice? What explains morality? Boyer provides a new picture of cultural transmission that draws on the pragmatics of human communication, the constructive nature of memory in human brains, and human motivation for group formation and cooperation."
to:NB  books:noted  social_theory  epidemiology_of_representations  evolutionary_psychology  anthropology  boyer.pascal  evolution_of_cooperation  cultural_transmission  re:do-institutions-evolve  books:owned 
may 2018 by cshalizi
Ordinalization: Lewis A. Coser Memorial Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting 2014 - Marion Fourcade, 2016
We can think of three basic principles of classificatory judgment for comparing things and people. I call these judgments nominal (oriented to essence), cardinal (oriented to quantities), and ordinal (oriented to relative positions). Most social orders throughout history are organized around the intersection of these different types. In line with the ideals of political liberalism, however, democratic societies have developed an arsenal of institutions to untangle nominal and ordinal judgments in various domains of social life. In doing so, I suggest, they have contributed to the parallel amplification of both. In this article, I specifically discuss the socio-technical channels through which ordinal judgments are now elaborated, a process I call ordinalization. I conclude by exploring the political and economic possibilities of a society in which ordinal processes are ubiquitous.
economic_sociology  inequality  social_theory  institutions  historical_sociology  comparative 
february 2018 by rvenkat
The Adorkable Misogyny of The Big Bang Theory - YouTube
On top of being a fantastic close read, this video also introduces the concept of "lampshading" which is a great articulation of "ironic" racism/sexism/etc.
2017  sexism  misogyny  gender  social_theory  video  popculture  masculinity  nerd_culture 
december 2017 by chritter
David James, ed., Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right: A Critical Guide - review by William Desmond | BDPR - Dec 2017
David James (ed.), Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right: A Critical Guide, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2017, 234 pp.,
Reviewed by William Desmond, Villanova University/KU Leuven
Evernote  political_philosophy  19thC  Hegel  intellectual_history  individualism  books  community  social_theory  Marx  German_Idealism  free_will  German_philosophy  reviews  Hegelian  Hegel-philosophy_of_right 
december 2017 by dunnettreader
Jeffrey Edward Green - Rawls and the Forgotten Figure of the Most Advantaged: In Defense of Reasonable Envy toward the Superrich (2013) | American Political Science Review on JSTOR
This article aims to correct the widespread imbalance in contemporary liberal thought, which makes explicit appeal to the "least advantaged" without parallel attention to the "most advantaged" as a distinct group in need of regulatory attention. Rawls's influential theory of justice is perhaps the paradigmatic instance of this imbalance, but I show how a Rawlsian framework nonetheless provides three justifications for why implementers of liberal justice—above all, legislators—should regulate the economic prospects of a polity's richest citizens: as a heuristic device for ensuring that a system of inequalities not reach a level at which inequalities cease being mutually advantageous, as protection against excessive inequalities threatening civic liberty, and as redress for a liberal society's inability to fully realize fair equality of opportunity with regard to education and politics. Against the objection that such arguments amount to a defense of envy, insofar as they support policies that in certain instances impose economic costs on the most advantaged with negative or neutral economic impact on the rest of society, I attend to Rawls's often overlooked distinction between irrational and reasonable forms of envy, showing that any envy involved in the proposed regulation of the most advantaged falls within this latter category. - downloaded via iphone to dbox
politics-and-money  political_participation  inequality-wealth  regulatory_capture  political_philosophy  political_culture  tax_havens  Early_Republic  inequality  estate_tax  intellectual_history  inheritance  republicanism  Plato-Republic  elites-political_influence  Jefferson  Harrington  crony_capitalism  Europe-Early_Modern  fairness  article  Aristotle  social_capital  social_theory  Rawls  social_democracy  Machiavelli  Plato  inequality-opportunity  jstor  bibliography  ancient_Rome  regulation  justice  liberalism  egalitarian  regulatory_avoidance  interest_groups  legitimacy  deliberative_democracy  political_history  class_conflict  downloaded  education-elites  social_order  elites-self-destructive  Roman_Republic  ancient_Greece  republics-Ancient_v_Modern 
july 2017 by dunnettreader
Alan Patton - Cultural Preservation and Liberal Values: A Reply to William James Booth (2013) | American Political Science Review on JSTOR
William James Booth elaborates three main challenges to my social lineage account (Patten 2011). Conceptually, he finds the proposal to be question-beginning. Normatively, he thinks that it has objectionable implications. And, substantively, he claims that the proposal is unhelpful, that it fails to explain a case of theoretical importance for multiculturalism. In this reply, I argue that each of these challenges misses the target. The social lineage account continues to offer a promising, nonessentialist basis for normative multiculturalism. - Downloaded via iphone
cultural_change  social_theory  US_politics  indigenous_peoples  US_society  culture_wars  political_sociology  cultural_diversity  minorities  identity-multiple  political_culture  culture  essentialism  political_theory  downloaded  liberalism  multiculturalism  national_ID  article  bibliography  nationalism  political_science  jstor  cultural_transmission  community  US_politics-race  cultural_stability  mass_culture 
july 2017 by dunnettreader
Coming out as 'non-binary' throws other women under the bus
"Since Butler is not concerned with the liberation of women in particular, the fact that women disidentifying with one another is likely to impede feminist efforts doesn’t bother her. But despite Butler’s admission that her politics are not specifically concerned with female liberation, many women still declare their non-binary disidentification to be a feminist act."
feminism  gender  identity  non-binary  femme  queer  judith_butler  social_theory  csc  cultural_theory  2016  non-fiction  dysmorphia  individualism  liberalism  sexism  sjw 
june 2017 by chritter
Varieties of Social Imagination, Celarent, Abbott
"In July 2009, the American Journal of Sociology (AJS) began publishing book reviews by an individual writing as Barbara Celarent, professor of particularity at the University of Atlantis. Mysterious in origin, Celarent’s essays taken together provide a broad introduction to social thinking. Through the close reading of important texts, Celarent’s short, informative, and analytic essays engaged with long traditions of social thought across the globe—from India, Brazil, and China to South Africa, Turkey, and Peru. . . and occasionally the United States and Europe.
"Sociologist and AJS editor Andrew Abbott edited the Celarent essays, and in Varieties of Social Imagination, he brings the work together for the first time. Previously available only in the journal, the thirty-six meditations found here allow readers not only to engage more deeply with a diversity of thinkers from the past, but to imagine more fully a sociology—and a broader social science—for the future."
to:NB  books:noted  book_reviews  sociology_of_science  social_theory 
april 2017 by cshalizi
Warren Breckman - Cornelius Castoriadis contra Postmodernism: Beyond the "French Ideology" (1998) | JSTOR
Cornelius Castoriadis contra Postmodernism: Beyond the "French Ideology"
Warren Breckman
French Politics and Society
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Spring 1998), pp. 30-42
Topics: Political freedom, Concept of being, Postmodern philosophy, Political ideologies, Political philosophy, Rationalism, Democracy, Unconscious mind, Psyche, Political extremism
Downloaded via iPhone to DBOX
unconscious  article  ideology  social_theory  20thC  postmodern  democracy  extremism  political_philosophy  Castoriadis  French_intellectuals  downloaded 
january 2017 by dunnettreader
Stephen Turner - Double Heuristics and Collective Knowledge: the Case of Expertise (2012) - archived on Cosmos + Taxis site
STUDIES IN EMERGENT ORDER VOL 5 (2012): 64-85 -- cases of extreme “information asymmetry” in which members of the audience of the experts have knowledge that is different from the knowledge of experts. The knowledge is often relevant, and the decision by a member of the audience of the expert to accept or reject the expert’s claims is not, as the models imply, based simply on beliefs about the reliability of the experts, but on the knowledge that the member of the audience already has, and has solid grounds for. In these cases, the better model for understanding how the member of the audience assesses the expert involves the content of the knowledge, not merely the evaluation of the expert. (...) I will treat the problem of expert knowledge as a special case of knowledge aggregation. My suggestion will be that the application of specific decision procedures, such as voting, produces, at the collective level, an emergent form of knowledge acquisition with its own features. Nothing about this account, however, requires an appeal to super-individual entities or processes, collective intentionality, and so forth. My point, rather, will be that to understand these processes it is necessary to eliminate some familiar prejudices about knowledge acquisition and our dependence on others. To put it in a slogan, my point is that “collective epistemology” or social epistemology has failed to be either sufficiently social or sufficiently epistemological. My approach will be to bring both back in, without resorting to appeals to collective facts. -- downloaded via Air to DBOX
article  downloaded  social_theory  epistemology  epistemology-social  evidence  rationality  asymmetric_information  emergence 
september 2016 by dunnettreader
Dmitri N. Shalin - Critical Theory and theh Pragmatist Challenge (1992) | American Journal of Sociology
AJS Volume 98 Number 2 (September 1992): 237-79 -- Habermas's theory breaks with the Continental tradition that has denigrated pragmatism as an Anglo-Saxon philosophy subservient to technocratic capitalism. While Habermas deftly uses pragmatist insights into communicative rationality and democratic ethos, he shows little sensitivity to other facets of pragmatism. This article argues that incorporating the pragmatist perspective on experience and indeterminacy brings a corrective to the emancipatory agenda championed by critical theorists. The pragmatist alternative to the theory of communicative action is presented, with the discussion centering around the following themes: disembodied reason versus embodied reasonableness, determinate being versus indeterminate reality, discursive truth versus pragmatic certainty, rational consensus versus reasonable dissent, transcendental democracy versus democratic transcendence, and rational society versus sane community. -- downloaded via Air to DBOX - added to Evernote
article  downloaded  social_theory  political_philosophy  critical_theory  pragmatism  Habermas  Peirce  James_William  Dewey  democracy  community  public_sphere  public_reason  rationality  experience  indeterminacy  dissent  consensus  public_opinion  cultural_critique  change-social 
september 2016 by dunnettreader

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