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Lecture 11

Lecture 11 March 28.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Matthias Koenig

SOC377H1S -- Neo-Institutionalist Approaches March 28, 2011 Last week follow up – move from their institutionalist analysis to macro perspective of Meyer Last week’s readings: - Boltanski, Luc, and Laurent Thévenot. 1999. "The Sociology of Critical Capacity." European Journal of Social Theory 2:359-377. [B&T] - Wagner, Peter. 1999. "After Justification. Repertoires of Evaluation and the Sociology of Modernity." European Journal of Social Theory 2:341-357. Student Presentation - B&T focus on how people make sense of the world in addition to providing criticism - Institutions as cultural settings and justifications - Criticisms and possible limitations of B&T – Criticisms: lack of power in theorizing and heavy endowment of rationality on the individual - Make sense of their theory with power considered? - When talking about their justifications, they are talking about history and law, in light of past experiences and content. With the example of a social movement – drawing upon examples of people struggling to achieve rights and eventually succeed, in an oppressed situation you can draw on precedents such as law to justify. Use law to justify case and progress in social movement. Through individual disputes which may come together to form movement. - Rationality- justification—people do not always act rationally, how can a model work which emphasizes rationality in relation to people who do not act rationally? They do not make the rational choice-theorist justifications but rather ex post justification of action and legitimation of certain types of action. They assume rationality in a sense but it is not the rational-decision making assumption which rational choice theorists make… - Actions and subsequent justifications - Mimicking – action strategy of neo-institutionalism - We need to distinguish 2 types of social change (1) one through collective mobilization but would not change institutional level at the fundamental level which is superficial change (2) at the fundamental level you change conditions of behaviour and whether whole system of justification would be altered (this is more difficult to change, and may be more long term) B&T although focusing on micro situations of conflict and dispute, actually draw on a line of thought having high stability at macro level assuming people can draw upon them as they are stable even in Western Europe. They show in other works how repertoires of justification change in slow long-term processes. - Classic model of institutionalization process- by Peter Berger and Luchman “Social construction” – background work on neo-institutional literature, published in the 60s drawing on phenomenology work… the way they tried to understand the social construction of reality which somewhat deals to macro/micro link… Berger and L argues the social construction can be understood as a cycle in which subjective actor decisions become objectified in process of externalization and objective social structures become internalized through internalization. Society is product of human action and humans are product of society – society is produced through interaction of individuals who externalize subjective meaning orientation and at the same time society produces actors… in process of externalization there are several components that have to be disentangled – which is the process of institutionalization through which patterns of actions become solidified and not in subjective power of individual and considered objectively given in society. You would start with a situation in which two actors interact (Ex. Robinson Caruso) then meet again and habits evolve from repetitive action which allow habits to form. This is not an institution but these habits can be typified (meaning that meaning is assigned to certain actions) role of women or role of man… typified related to hierarchical situations requiring instrumental cooperation. Point is that as soon as habits are reciprocities typified these are the seeds of institutionalization. For institutionalization to occur, the habits need to be transmitted to new actors who enter the situation thus patterns may be transferred to new generation etc. Once this is achieved, then the pattern of interaction would be institutionalized. Because then the pattern of interaction would be the product of the internalization of patterns of interaction by the individuals. – social facts in Durkheim’s sense (macro entities) - At level of objective structures – Meyer comments on this “emergence” – social facts have emerging properties that are not reducible to individual action. They emerge out of interaction processes but once institutional stage achieved there are properties that cannot be reduced to individual actor. They are linked to other institutions, larger meanings of symbols… - Useful to keep this in mind when considering Meyer Mar. 28 New Institutionalism and the Cultural Construction of Actor-hood Readings: - Meyer, John W., and Ronald L. Jepperson. 2010. "Multiple levels of analysis and the limitations of methodological individualisms“. Sociological Theory (forthcoming). - Adams, Julia. 2010. "The unknown James Coleman: culture and history in Foundations of Social Theory." Contemporary Sociology 39:253-258. Meyer- once of the most important developments in this literature First: remarks on new institutionalism in the social sciences - 3 types of New Institutionalism’s 1. The regulative institutionalism- institutions are conventions that regulate social behaviour and thereby solve problems of collective action as formulated in game theory and rational choice theory (background theory). Rational choice background theory and Coleman’s explanation of social norms. Overcoming free rider problem Institutions would give rise to coercive isomorphism. 2. The normative institutionalism- linked to classical tradition of thinking about institutions and norms in sociology and the approaches by Durkheim and Parsons view of institutions is an example of this type of institutional (social action embedded in institutions and normative guiding actions facilitating coordination of action) - Normative isomorphism through internalization of norms 3. Cognitive institutionalism- in which the standardization of behaviour and coordination of action achieved through the same cognitive definition of the situation. There are some precursors- micro sociology- Garfinkel and Goffman thinkers- and Meyer’s version part of this and Scott- trying to understand why in some cases we find standardized behaviour or isomorphism. – Mimetic isomorphism – this is our focus! – COGNITIVE – arisen in organizational theory first which has adopted either functionalist or rational choice concepts to explain organizations, efficiency calculus, why do different organizations look similar? Form an explanatory model according to which universities are responses to rational action of members (for example) rd - Problems with these theories- many organizational reforms in educational sector- 3 sector of education was not necessarily a result of efficiency considerations but rather following these forms of mimetic isomorphism and the idea that organizational behaviour not driven by efficiency or functional but rather legitimation and organizations trying to gain legitimacy which is why they adopt certain structures. One of the consequences of this form of isomorphism is that there is a strong decoupling of formal structures and activity structures which means in organizations you find the adoption of new ideologies or myths of efficiency- intro of new public management in schools/churches giving formal legitimacy but de-facto may be decoupled. At the level of individual you find decoupling as well, how individuals behave is response to wider cultural environments in which model of what rational actor is are institutionalized. In one of the more ironic cynical texts they try and explain the rise of psychologist profession, giving rise to all types of stress (this is what the decoupling means) - Beyond mimetic isomorphism lies another argument- referring to work of Berger and Luchman and idea that social construction of reality as a strong cultural dimension- institutions become embedded in symbolic systems, systems that give meaning to precise patterns of institutions. Similar ideas are found in symbolic interactionism and work of Goffman with idea that action is not pursued of goals but dramaturgical scripting of rational individuals and legitimated organizations which focuses on the taken for granted cognitive elements in how we define reality. These result in high degrees of mimetic isomorphism. - One of the most interesting areas in which this theory has been used (empirical) is literature on globalization and world society- relevant and interesting area of research linked to historical sociology- sta
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