American Sociological Association



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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. The Neoclassical Origins of Polanyi's Self-Regulating Market

    This article shows, through a detailed examination of Karl Polanyi’s published works and unpublished writings, that Polanyi relies heavily on the neoclassical economics of his time in his conceptualization of the market in capitalist societies. This approach is instrumental to the thesis of The Great Transformation concerning the destructive impact of the market on society. However, such an analytical perspective neglects the social character of the market economy. This perspective is also deficient in capturing why the market is destructive to the social fabric.

  6. Toward a Dynamic Theory of Action at the Micro Level of Genocide: Killing, Desistance, and Saving in 1994 Rwanda

    This article is about behavioral variation in genocide. Research frequently suggests that violent behaviors can be explained by or treated as synonymous with ethnic categories. This literature also tends to pre-group actors as perpetrators, victims, or bystanders for research purposes. However, evidence that individuals cross boundaries from killing to desistance and saving throughout genocide indicates that the relationship between behaviors and categories is often in flux.

  7. New Horizontal Inequalities in German Higher Education? Social Selectivity of Studying Abroad between 1991 and 2012

    On the basis of theories of cultural reproduction and rational choice, we examine whether access to study-abroad opportunities is socially selective and whether this pattern changed during educational expansion. We test our hypotheses for Germany by combining student survey data and administrative data on higher education entry rates. We find that studying abroad was socially selective during the entire observation period. Selectivity increased between 1991 and 2003 and hardly changed thereafter. Unexpectedly, the expansion of higher education does not explain this development.

  8. A Critical and Comprehensive Sociological Theory of Race and Racism

    This article contests the contention that sociology lacks a sound theoretical approach to the study of race and racism, instead arguing that a comprehensive and critical sociological theory of race and racism exists. This article outlines this theory of race and racism, drawing from the work of key scholars in and around the field.

  9. Decolonization Not Inclusion: Indigenous Resistance to American Settler Colonialism

    American Indians experience forms of domination and resist them through a wide range of decolonizing processes that are commonly overlooked, misidentified, or minimally analyzed by American sociology. This inattention reflects the naturalizing use of minoritizing frameworks regarding tribal members and ethnic rather than political conceptions of American Indian nationhood, membership, and identity.

  10. The Social Imagination of Homosexuality and the Rise of Same-sex Marriage in the United States

    The author argues that the increase in support for same-sex marriage in the United States must be interpreted in light of the changing social imagination of homosexuality. The author measures the social imagination at the micro level by comparing the frequencies and semantic contexts in which two cohorts use metaphors and analogies to talk about same-sex marriage. Younger informants articulate them in ways that characterize homosexuality as identity, whereas older informants characterize homosexuality as behavior.