After a period in which sociology was torn apart by the polarized claims of micro- and macro-methodology, an increasing number of sociologists are now attempting a fusion of the two approaches. In this volume, some of the most distinguished sociologists set out possible resolutions of the debate. Each of the chapters, placed in perspective by the editors’ prologue, approaches the problem from a unique angle. Aaron Cicourel argues for a macro-basis of social interaction; Randall Collins shows how the macro consists of an aggregate of micro-episodes; Troy Duster presents a methodological model for generating a systematic data base across different contexts of social action through his examination of the procedures governing screening for inherited disorders. Rom Harré launches a philosophical attack on what he sees as a spurious bifurcation of micro- and macro-levels. Anthony Giddens explores the problem of unintended consequences, and Gilles Fauconnier, through a depiction of Jesuitical casuistry, shows how vital clues to macro-structure can be elicited from the micro-phenomenon of language. Victor Lidz continues the language theme in his chapter on the implications of advances in linguistic theory for macro-systems theory. Niklas Luhmann illustrates the micro-macro problem by the communication about law in interaction systems. The theory of historical materialism is reassessed by Jürgen Habermas. Taking the example of Renault and electric vehicles, Michel Callon and Bruno Latour investigate how micro-actor status is attained and the sociologist’s involvement in this transformation. Finally, Pierre Bourdieu, writing on men and machines, analyses the historical imperatives that create the complex relation between man and his environment.
Social theory is open to many passing currents. Claims to originality tend to thrive and past achievements are often ignored. In Sociologiocal Theory: What Went Wrong? Mouzelis claims that "problems" currently being isolated are not really problems, and that "achievements" claimed are little more than pretensions. He argues that we have been premature to dismiss thinkers from the late 1950s and early 1960s and that we can build on their ideas to produce a more effective, more relevant social theory. Written with precision and with clarity, Sociological Theory: What Went Wrong? is a compelling analysis of the central problems of sociological theory today and of the means to resolve them.
This book evolved from a collaborative research project between the University of Manitoba, Canada and Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh, which commenced in 1984 to study the problems of river channel migration, rural population displacement and land relocation in Bangladesh. The study was sponsored by the International Development Research Center (IDRC), based in Ottawa, Canada. It was through this project that I started my journey into disaster research more than thirteen years ago with basically an applied problem of massive magnitude in Bangladesh. I spent two- and-a half-years, in two stages, in Bangladesh's riparian villages to collect the empirical data for this study. Then the growing disaster discourse throughout the 1980s, especially its conceptual and theoretical areas, drew me in further, gluing my interest to these issues. In the 1990s, during my research and teaching at Brandon University, Canada, I realized that, despite the large body of literature on natural disasters, there was no work that synthesized the approaches to nature-triggered disasters in a comprehensive form, with sufficient empirical substantiation. In addition, despite the great deal of attention given to disasters in Bangladesh, I found no detailed reference book on the topic. Natural hazards and disasters, in my view, should be studied under a holistic framework encompassing the natural environment, society and individuals. Overreaction to the limitations of technocratic-scientific approaches-the control and prevention of physical events through specialized knowledge and skills-has resulted in a call for "taking the naturalness out of natural disasters.
The Closed World offers a radically new alternative to the canonical histories of computers and cognitive science. Arguing that we can make sense of computers as tools only when we simultaneously grasp their roles as metaphors and political icons, Paul Edwards shows how Cold War social and cultural contexts shaped emerging computer technology--and were transformed, in turn, by information machines. The Closed World explores three apparently disparate histories--the history of American global power, the history of computing machines, and the history of subjectivity in science and culture--through the lens of the American political imagination. In the process, it reveals intimate links between the military projects of the Cold War, the evolution of digital computers, and the origins of cybernetics, cognitive psychology, and artificial intelligence. Edwards begins by describing the emergence of a "closed-world discourse" of global surveillance and control through high-technology military power. The Cold War political goal of "containment" led to the SAGE continental air defense system, Rand Corporation studies of nuclear strategy, and the advanced technologies of the Vietnam War. These and other centralized, computerized military command and control projects--for containing world-scale conflicts--helped closed-world discourse dominate Cold War political decisions. Their apotheosis was the Reagan-era plan for a " Star Wars" space-based ballistic missile defense. Edwards then shows how these military projects helped computers become axial metaphors in psychological theory. Analyzing the Macy Conferences on cybernetics, the Harvard Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, and the early history of artificial intelligence, he describes the formation of a "cyborg discourse." By constructing both human minds and artificial intelligences as information machines, cyborg discourse assisted in integrating people into the hyper-complex technological systems of the closed world. Finally, Edwards explores the cyborg as political identity in science fiction--from the disembodied, panoptic AI of 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the mechanical robots of Star Wars and the engineered biological androids of Blade Runner--where Information Age culture and subjectivity were both reflected and constructed. Inside Technology series
This book attempts to show how development discourse -- while extremely powerful in legitimizing the actions of experts -- is appropriated, transmuted and (re)deployed by different groups of actors including administrators, farmers and field-level workers. How does a social worker from the land reform institute deal with a peasant leader who blames him, as a representative of the state, because the development programme he has helped to initiate has led to debts among a majority of the would-be beneficiaries? How does a settler convince a credit assistant that the loss of his maize harvest was due to heavy rains and not because he spent his credit on consumer goods or in the local canteen? It is argued that such issues are not trivial and instead raise important theoretical questions about the relationship between development thinking, institutional practices of social control and peasant strategies of accommodation and resistance.
In recent years information systems has evolved from a discipline based primarily on positivist, statistically-oriented research into a more pluralist discipline that allows debates about research methodologies; consideration of a range of social theories and philosophies; and more critical analyses and understandings of alternative approaches. This book has the intention of broadening research within the IS field. It collects together into one volume new critical assessments of major social theorists, philosophers and currents of thought. Detailed coverage is given to: functionalism and neo-functionalism, phenomenology (Husserl and Heidegger), critical theory (Adorno and Habermas), hermeneutics, Foucault, Giddens, actor network theory, social shaping of technology, critical realism and complexity theory. The book provides a vital, accessible and critically authoritative narrative on the relevance of these modes of thinking to information systems research. Contributors include: Debra Howcroft, Minh Q. Huynh, Fernando M. Ilharco, Lucas D. Introna, Matthew Jones, Heinz K. Klein, Allen S. Lee, M. Lynne Markus, Yasmin Merali, John Mingers, Nathalie Mitev, Kamal Munir, Michael D. Myers, Wanda Orlikowski, Stephen K. Probert, Leslie P. Willcocks, Melanie Wilson.
Technological change is often seen as something that follows its own logic -- something we may welcome, or about which we may protest, but which we are unable to alter fundamentally. This reader challenges that assumption and its distinguished contributors demonstrate that technology is affected at a fundamental level by the social context in which it develops. General arguments are introduced about the relation of technology to society and different types of technology are examined: the technology of production: domestic and reproductive technology; and military technology. The book draws on authors from Karl Marx to Cynthia Cockburn to show that production technology is shaped by social relations in the workplace. It moves on to the technologies of the household and biological reproduction, which are topics that male-dominated social science has tended to ignore or trivialise -- though these are actually of crucial significance where powerful shaping factors are at work, normally unnoticed. The final section asks what shapes the most frightening technology of all -- the technology of weaponry, especially nuclear weapons. The editors argue that social scientists have devoted disproportionate attention to the effects of technology on society, and tended to ignore the more fundamental question of what shapes technology in the first place. They have drawn both on established work in the history and sociology of technology and on newer feminist perspectives t