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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 February 14.docx

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Matthias Koenig

SOC377H1S- February 14 Lecture Methodological Individualism: Causal Mechanisms in Historical Sociology Feb. 14 Readings: o Edgar Kiser and Michael Hechter “The role of general theory in comparative- historical sociological” o Edgar Kiser and Justin Baer “The Bureaucratization of States: Toward an Analytical Weberianism” - Finding readings: Research  E Research Journals  enter film name of citation Today focus on one particular field of empirical foundation: historical sociology- returning in 4 weeks (concluding methodlogical relational) - Historical sociology is the research field in sociology which explicits most on macro- outcomes. Since we are interested in micro and macro analysis relations it makes sense to look at historical sociology which are some of the most interesting questions posed. - “Why was there the emergence of capitalism in the West – macro issue, Protestant Ethic related to change in economic behaviour giving rise to capitalist behaviour (Coleman) - Why has the nation state become the dominant form (macro association)? – trying to understand autonomy of state organizations - Why has there been no socialism in the U.S? – methodological individualism of relating macro to micro Outline: 1. -Overview of historical sociology (emergence, development, to give basic sense of the field) 2. -Question of the macro-micro link in historical sociology – background on debates in historical sociology, how to link macro outcomes to micro processes 3. -One specific solution to micro foundations- perspective of rational choice theory 4. -time for concluding discussion of the whole literature of methodological individualism to formulate open questions taken up in subsequent sessions on relational topics 1. Introduction to historical sociology - Historical questions have always been prominent in sociology from the beginning. Consider the work of Max Weber, Karl Marx, and Durkheim etc. In a way the issue of understanding processes in historical time has always been one problem in sociological field. - At the same time, 19 century especially and Durkheim’s time taken up later by Parsons, there was a problem with sociology and how it dealt with historical questions. Often the task of sociology has been to identity large evolutionary processes in the transformation of societies. So sociology has been impregnated by theory of philosophy and evolutionary theory from biology, resulting in a varied composition of general theories about the transition from individual to modern societies. These evolutionary models of social change have become prominent in post-war period in modernization theories with the assumption that all basic societies move through the same evolutionary stages. This understanding of modernization theory is where historical sociology emerged against. - Historical sociology- Was an attempt from the start to criticize large evolutionary theories of social change to come up with more middle range theories to capture the typical general processes occurring in periods of historical change - To understand the critical reaction of hist. sociology it is important to summarize modernize theories premises and show how hist. criticized 5 premises: generally shared by proponents of modernization theory 1. Society can be conceived of as a reality, we conceive of a social world as composed of different societies, entities with clear boundaries that move in their development through various stages. Social world is composed of different separate societies with different subsystems. Parsons idea of society is one example of such a concept of society, society understands as a system! 2. Social change is a coherent phenomenon that can be explained as it were on block, as a transition of a society from one stage to another which affects all of its sub systems. 3. The process of social change occurs in the transition from increasing development, that is as evolution to a higher form of social organization (idea of underlying directional social change from primitive to modern societies being the most developed form) 4. To understand the logic of long term social change, differentiation processes are crucial. They are the motor through which social change occurs, differentiation of politics from solidarity structures are some of the major logics through which evolution of societies occurs. 5. Social order (Parsons prominence) is conditional on the balance between different processes of differentiation and integration. Modern theorists are interested in the conditions under which balance may be achieved and the result of chaos or anomie can be avoided in the transition from traditional to modern societies All of these promises need to be understood in political context in post-war context, US hegemony, to export models of democracy in market to other non-western societies. The theory of modernization gave the justification and tool kit for development of politicians to foster transition to modern society as perceived in still traditional world in Africa and parts of Asia. Historical sociology emerged in critical reaction to all of these premises. 1. The concept of society is totally discarded and instead there are alternative units of analysis: political movements, social networks, regions and other entities are chosen as basic units of analysis instead of assuming the social world is organized in coherent separate societies. These units may not overlap; we may have markets that stretch large areas. 2. The concept of social change- the basic idea is that social change is not a coherent phenomenon that occurs in several dimensions, but we can observe historical processes that occur independently from one another, industrialization not necessarily observed with urbanization. Independent? 3. Stages of social development is discarded and criticized as being impregnated by 19 th century theories of civilization and colonial implications. Without having any stages of societal development, the task is to analyze concrete processes of change, why have capitalist markets emerged in some parts of the world? 4. Differentiation is also not understood as meta principle of social change, but rather modernization processes of social transformation also include processes of de- differentiation, where local dialects are suppressed to enforce larger communication (Ex: French Republic, French spoken by minority but through efforts of state education and administration, French became the language spoken by all by beginning of 20 century) - 5. Historical processes can result in either of these two outcomes: integration and differentiation (integration result of rapid social change: peasants or workers movement in which new forms of solidarity emerged out of rapid social changes) Rapid social change can also result in the rapid emergence of rapid social change! – so let us dissolve the connection between certain types of social change and social outcomes made by classic theorists and instead focus on contingency of social outcomes that can occur under certain social changes. Historical sociology does not want a general principle but rather the concrete causal explanation to explain outcome of interest, new forms of integration…. The basic message of all of these criticisms = there are no laws in history, the development of social change does not occur according to a law of progression towards an ideal model of society. Rather the task of historical sociology is to develop complex constellations that account for specific outcomes of interest to us in contemporary period, those outcomes having far reaching consequences for our lives (capitalist markets, forms of identity) – we need to move away from evolutionary thinking and social changes occurs through change of general norms (what historical sociology wants to do!) - Against this background- let us move to the second part of today’s lecture - How micro macro problem has been dealt with by historical sociologists 2) Initial contributions (1970s) to historical sociology taking form of strict macro explanations. These serve as the point of departure for those authors looking for more micro causal mechanisms. - Basic form historical sociologists used in 1970s was comparative macro sociology- focus on big structure and explanations used to account for these big structure which were macro sociological in character. – Thus in the logic of Coleman: Macro phenomenon 1 Macro phenomenon 2 - Exemplify how this was done: focus on 1 prominent contribution by Theodore Skoopol (1979) States and Social Revolutions- early manifestation literature in this topic- She was trying to elaborate on Marxist framework of understanding emergence of modern society. To modify this framework it is necessary to emphasize autonomy of the state (her major argument). In a later journal article she coined phrase “bringing the state back in” – to understand why the state needed being brought back in – recall Marxist framework for emergence of modern society o Idea that transition from feudal to capitalist society was driven by changing modes of production (access to means of production between different classes, dominant and dominated class, and one of the motors of this change being development of technology: industrialization) – if this was the driving force from feudal to capitalist society: implication of this argument was that everything else (politics and religion) was a phenomenon of this economic transition; bureaucratic states emerged because of economic transition, state seen basically as an organization advancing interests of dominant class and in tool of domination and manipulation o Skoopol said the state needed to be brought in and so focus on social revolutions affecting class and political structures in different places. In her book she covered French Revolution 1789, Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution which discarded feudal society later on in Imperial China and contrasting case: absence of revolution in Germany, Prussia, Japan and England. o The explanation Skoopol advances is that in addition to change in modes of production it is necessary to account for many contextual factors being the presence of political movements led by individuals producing intellectual ideas of how to organize society. The second factor was that there had to be some level of peasant rebellion for the older feudal to be overthrown. And thirdly, crucial argument, there has to be a situation where state is weakened, being involved in continuous war with other states: idea that strong states buffers against social revolutions to occur and that it is under only conditions of weak state, that a window of opportunity f
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