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Punishment and Institutions: A Macrofoundations Perspective

Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity

ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5, eISBN: 978-1-83909-159-9

ISSN: 0733-558X

Publication date: 26 November 2020


In this chapter, the authors adopt a macrofoundations perspective to explore punishment within institutional theory. Institutional theorists have long focused on a single type of punishment – retribution – including the use of sanctions, fines, and incarceration to maintain conformity. The authors expand the types of punishment that work to uphold institutions, organized by visible and hidden, and formal and informal characteristics. The four types of punishment include (1) punishment-as-retribution; (2) punishment-as-charivari; (3) punishment-as-rehabilitation; and (4) punishment-as-vigilantism. The authors develop important connections between punishment-as-charivari, which relies on shaming efforts, and burgeoning interest in organizational stigma and social evaluations. The authors also point to informal types of punishment, including punishment-as-vigilantism, to expand the variety of actors that punish wrongdoing, including actors without the legal authority to do so. Finally, the authors detail a number of questions for each type of punishment as a means to generate a future research agenda.




The authors thank Madeline Toubiana, Chris Steele, and an anonymous reviewer for their generative feedback. The authors also thank Michael Lounsbury, Tammar Zilber, Majken Schultz, and David Chandler for their insightful comments on earlier versions, as well as participants at the Alberta Institutions Conference on “What of Macrofoundations?”


Crawford, B. and Dacin, M.T. (2020), "Punishment and Institutions: A Macrofoundations Perspective", Steele, C.W.J., Hannigan, T.R., Glaser, V.L., Toubiana, M. and Gehman, J. (Ed.) Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 68), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 97-119.



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