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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. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Collective Social Identity: Synthesizing Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory Using Digital Data

    Identity theory (IT) and social identity theory (SIT) are eminent research programs from sociology and psychology, respectively. We test collective identity as a point of convergence between the two programs. Collective identity is a subtheory of SIT that pertains to activist identification. Collective identity maps closely onto identity theory’s group/social identity, which refers to identification with socially situated identity categories. We propose conceptualizing collective identity as a type of group/social identity, integrating activist collectives into the identity theory model.
  7. Trouble in Tech Paradise

    The structures of the tech industry, with its dependence on highly skilled immigrant workers, and the H-1B visa, with its dependence on sponsoring companies, bind tech workers in a cycle of legal violence.

  8. Are Robots Stealing Our Jobs?

    The media and popular business press often invoke narratives that reflect widespread anxiety that robots may be rendering humans obsolete in the workplace. However, upon closer examination, many argue that automation, including robotics and artificial intelligence, is spreading unevenly throughout the labor market, such that middle-skill occupations that do not require a college degree are more likely to be affected adversely because they are easier to automate than high-skill occupations.

  9. DIY Urbanism and the Lens of the Commons: Observations from Spain

    A growing body of literature has been explicitly concerned with a range of microspatial practices that are currently reshaping urban spaces under the valuable denominator of “DIY urbanism.” However, there is still much work to be done if we are to take into consideration DIY urbanism's primary source and output: the commons. As such, Spanish DIY collectives have taken an explicit interest in building and reclaiming the urban commonwealth through participatory DIY interventionism.

  10. Living One’s Theories: Moral Consistency in the Life of Émile Durkheim

    This article investigates the relation between a theorist’s theories and his daily life practices, using Émile Durkheim as an example. That theory and practice should be consistent seems not only scientifically proper but also morally right. Yet the concept of consistency conceals several different standards: consistency with one’s own theoretical arguments, consistency with outsiders’ judgments of oneself, and consistency within one’s arguments (and actions) across time and social space.