Purpose – Stryker's identity theory has impacted sociological social psychology for a half century and still inspires an active research agenda. To date, however, its terms and arguments have not been analyzed closely. Our purpose with this project was to conduct such an analysis.
Design/Methodology/Approach – We provide a detailed rationale for our analytic method that entails an objective examination of a theory's clarity, parsimony, precision, and other essential scientific qualities. It is applied using procedures that, among other functions, check terms for clarity and consistency of usage, and ensure that key arguments are logically valid.
Findings – The analysis revealed significant gaps and ambiguities in the core theory. We offered a series of recommendations designed to supply missing logical elements, clarify definitions, and streamline the terminological system. We sought to remain true to the original theory's purposes while further strengthening its coherence, transparency, and overall utility.
Practical Implications – Kurt Lewin's famous maxim applies well here: “Nothing is so practical as a good theory.” To the extent that a body of research is claimed to be theory-driven, gaps and ambiguities throw into question the results of empirical tests and applications that ostensibly are backed by the theory. Without theoretical support, findings are neither meaningful nor generalizable.
Social Implications – A logically sound and semantically transparent identity theory will have the greatest chance for making real differences in society via practical applications.
Originality/Value of the Chapter – We offer a straightforward method to ensure meaningfulness and integrity in social science theories. Such analyses are rare, but we hope that their utility for theory-driven research programs such as identity theory's is evident.
The current crisis of sociological theory is due to our failure to do sociology as a positive science‐our failure to accept both explanation and prediction as the goal of…
The current crisis of sociological theory is due to our failure to do sociology as a positive science‐our failure to accept both explanation and prediction as the goal of theorizing, and to use predictive power as the primary criterion for assessing theories. It is argued that sociology as a positive science can advance sociological theory. It is also argued that a positive science of sociology is possible by correcting four major fallacies‐i.e., fallacies concerning controlled experiments, realism of assumptions, subjectivity, and complexity.
Theories in the justice area have proliferated with little regard either to their interconnections or to the general scientific criterion of parsimony. Recently, there…
Theories in the justice area have proliferated with little regard either to their interconnections or to the general scientific criterion of parsimony. Recently, there have been several attempts to integrate justice theories. However, there has been practically no discussion of theoretical method, that is, precisely what it means to integrate two or more theories and what must be done to accomplish it. This chapter advocates building integrated theories by developing smaller modularized theories that can be formulated and assembled for multiple purposes. To illustrate the process, we construct five modules addressing different areas connected to justice issues and show how they may be combined into a single integrated structure.
Stets, Burke, Serpe, and Stryker's (SBS&S's) comment in this volume argued that Markovsky and Frederick's (M&F's) analysis and reconstruction of identity theory (IT) was superfluous and flawed. It was superfluous, they contended, because we did not understand the full theory whose components are scattered across hundreds of publications throughout 50 years. That made our point for us: The kind of analysis for which we advocated would, at minimum, gather up all the essential pieces and check their internal consistency, clarity, and integrity. To support their claim that our analysis was flawed, Stets et al. offered their own interpretations of the IT literature to correct alleged errors in M&F's interpretations. This also served to reinforce one of our main points: IT's terms and propositions are so open to interpretation as to permit mutually contradictory implications. The theory needs the kind of analysis and provisional disambiguations that we attempted to provide.
In this chapter, we advance an understanding of identity theory (IT) as originally created by Sheldon Stryker and developed over the past 50 years. We address misunderstandings of IT concepts and connections. We provide definitions of key ideas in IT, propositions that identify important relationships, and scope conditions that outline the circumstances to which IT applies. Our goal is to provide scholars with an accurate view of IT so that it can continue to advance the science of human behavior in sociology and beyond.
We detail the evolution of open interaction coding schemes that have long been used to capture behavioral indicators of the power and prestige order in status…
We detail the evolution of open interaction coding schemes that have long been used to capture behavioral indicators of the power and prestige order in status characteristics research. Although the theoretical variables ostensibly measured with these methods are few and explicit, the implementation of open interaction coding is not standardized and different projects have keyed on different specific behaviors. We argue that open interaction coding could benefit from the utilization of a more refined and standardized coding scheme. We offer precise operational definitions and some illustrations from our own recent projects in hopes of fostering more transparency in future research.
This study examines how the structure of referent networks, or the social network defined by knowing others’ reward levels, affects perceptions of distributive justice. The homogeneity of rewards in the referent network, the amount of inequality in the referent network, and an individual’s reward level are all associated with distributive justice perceptions. Several moderating relationships are also examined.
We relied on data from a controlled laboratory experiment to test a series of theoretically derived hypotheses.
The study shows that several aspects about the structure of the referent network are important for shaping perceptions of distributive justice. Specifically, the reward heterogeneity and amount of inequality in the network are found to be negatively associated with distributive justice, while reward levels are found to be positively associated with distributive justice. Furthermore, the effect of reward levels on distributive justice is moderated by both (i) the presence of a referential standard for rewards and (ii) the amount of inequality in the network.
While being among the first studies to demonstrate effects of referent networks on perceptions of fairness, it is unclear how group memberships combine with referent network effects and which factors may blur these relationships in uncontrolled environments. Subsequent scholarship on the effect of referent networks on justice perceptions should leverage multiple data sources.
Originality/Value of Chapter
Research on the effects of referents on justice perceptions has focused on particular referent individuals. We recast this issue in terms of referent networks, which highlights the empirical reality that individuals have a variety of sources or alters which could operate as referents.
This chapter seeks to theoretically answer the question: under which circumstances do groups succeed under female leadership? Further, is it possible to conceptualize the…
This chapter seeks to theoretically answer the question: under which circumstances do groups succeed under female leadership? Further, is it possible to conceptualize the engineering of groups such that group success under female leadership is a likely outcome?
In this chapter, I draw on identity control theory (Burke & Stets, 2009; Stets & Burke, 2005) and role congruity theory (Eagly, 2003) to discuss the implications for female leaders of the discrepancy between the female gender identity and the leader identity. Next, I draw upon status characteristics theory (Berger et al., 1972) to further illustrate the negative consequences of being a female leader. Then, drawing on group processes research, I make the explicit link between the negative expectations for female leaders on group performance through the endorsement of group members. Finally, I utilize innovative research using institutionalization of female leadership to propose a possible solution for improving group performance.
I present nine testable hypotheses ready for empirical test.
I propose that training materials underscoring the skills that females have as leaders can subvert the development of conflictual expectations facing female leaders, thus removing the deleterious effects on group performance. That is, if group members receive training that emphasizes the competencies and skills women bring to the group’s task and to the leadership role, then group performance will not be threatened.