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To reexamine the Weber Thesis pertaining to the relationship between ascetic Protestantism – especially Calvinism – and modern capitalism, as between an economic “spirit”…
To reexamine the Weber Thesis pertaining to the relationship between ascetic Protestantism – especially Calvinism – and modern capitalism, as between an economic “spirit” and an economic “structure,” in which the first is assumed to be the explanatory factor and the second the dependent variable.
The chapter provides an attempt to combine theoretical-empirical and comparative-historical approaches to integrate theory with evidence supplied by societal comparisons and historically specific cases.
The chapter identifies the general sociological core of the Weber Thesis as a classic endeavor in economic sociology (and thus substantive sociological theory) and separates it from its particular historical dimension in the form of an empirical generalization from history. I argue that such a distinction helps to better understand the puzzling double “fate” of the Weber Thesis in social science, its status of a model in economic sociology and substantive sociological theory, on the one hand, and its frequent rejection in history and historical economics, on the other. The sociological core of the Thesis, postulating that religion, ideology, and culture generally deeply impact economy, has proved to be more valid, enduring, and even paradigmatic, as in economic sociology, than its historical component establishing a special causal linkage between Calvinism and other types of ascetic Protestantism and the “spirit” and “structure” of modern capitalism in Western society at a specific point in history.
In addition to the two cases deviating from the Weber Thesis considered here, it is necessary to investigate and identify the validity of the Thesis with regard to concrete historical and empirical instances.
The chapter provides the first effort to systematically analyze and distinguish between the sociological core and the historical components of the Weber Thesis as distinct yet intertwined components.
This article aims to show that studies of transnational risk regulation can benefit from Polanyian and neo-Polanyian research agendas in the field of law, economy, and…
This article aims to show that studies of transnational risk regulation can benefit from Polanyian and neo-Polanyian research agendas in the field of law, economy, and society. Risk regulation would then be understood as a corrective force within the market society. Drawing on the relevant literature in the field, Karl Polanyi’s work is contextualized both in the past (“scholarship before and beside Polanyi”) and in the present (“scholarship after and beyond Polanyi”). The review considers developments within sociology, its neighboring disciplines economics and jurisprudence, and the interdisciplinary research fields of “economy and society,” “law and society,” and “law and economy.” The article demonstrates that Polanyi is a “late classic” who shares the holistic orientation of classical historical scholarship. At the same time, it is argued that his “early revival” is due to the topicality of his criticism of the market society, and its inherent risks, in an era of neoliberalism and globalization. By going back and forth in time, the article situates Polanyi in a line of holistically minded scholarship that combines insights of general, economic, and legal sociology in what can be called the “economic sociology of law.” This is “old” and “new,” at the same time.
Since its resurrection during the 1980s, comparative-historical sociology has been repeatedly critiqued on two fronts. Quantitative methodologists have argued that its…
Since its resurrection during the 1980s, comparative-historical sociology has been repeatedly critiqued on two fronts. Quantitative methodologists have argued that its “causal inferences” are unreliable due to its “small n.” And methodological individualists have argued its explanatory accounts are unacceptable because they do not specify “microfoundations.” But these critiques are built on faulty foundations, namely, a regularity theory of causation and a reductionist social ontology. In this article, I propose an alternative foundation derived from Critical Realism: a production theory of causation and an emergentist account of social structure.
This piece takes issue with the deployment of Trotsky’s idea of uneven and combined development (UCD) in the Anglophone discipline of International Relations (IR). It…
This piece takes issue with the deployment of Trotsky’s idea of uneven and combined development (UCD) in the Anglophone discipline of International Relations (IR). It argues that this strand of thought makes a theory out of what is really a theorem (a deduction from an axiom), whilst forgetting about the original, actual theory of which it was part, Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution. IR U&CD, marketed in the discipline as International Historical Sociology (IHS), posits ‘the international’ as the field to which ‘the theory’ must be applied in order to open it up to social theorisation. This is analogous to the late-19th-century subjective turn in social science in which reality is presented as unfathomable, and rationality is merely subjective, an attribute of individual ‘actors’. ‘The international’ in this sense may be compared to ‘the market’ in neoclassical economics. Although it presents itself as Marxist, the U&CD/IHS project was part of a regressive conjuncture in Anglo-American, mainstream IR, as transpires from its attempt to position itself close to the ‘English School’ in IR. I conclude with a variation on Trotsky’s original theory, applying it to the ‘permanent counterrevolution’, of which the current war on terror is the latest stage.
This volume of Political Power and Social Theory highlights ongoing conversations concerning sociological approaches to the global and historical study of race and racism…
This volume of Political Power and Social Theory highlights ongoing conversations concerning sociological approaches to the global and historical study of race and racism. In this introduction, we discuss the challenges and promises of studying race across space and time. We emphasize that attending to race on the global scale not only improves our understanding of how race operates in current times, but also helps us better recognize how social relations of power are organized. We underscore how scholars ought to conceive of racism as central to the making of the so-called modern world. The eight papers in this volume advance this intellectual project. We consider them in conversation with one another to highlight four foundations for the global historical study of race and racism. First, the authors emphasize on-the-ground race-making. Second, they explore continuity, change, and overlapping racial orders. Third, the authors document the tensions between local dynamics and global relations, drawing attention to sites where the two meet. Fourth, the authors interrogate the relationship of modernity to the construction of race around the world. The articles in this volume are important examples of work that pushes the study of race and racism forward.
What is “postcolonial sociology”? While the study of postcoloniality has taken on the form of “postcolonial theory” in the humanities, sociology's approach to postcolonial…
What is “postcolonial sociology”? While the study of postcoloniality has taken on the form of “postcolonial theory” in the humanities, sociology's approach to postcolonial issues has been comparably muted. This essay considers postcolonial theory in the humanities and its potential utility for reorienting sociological theory and research. After sketching the historical background and context of postcolonial studies, three broad areas of contribution to sociology are highlighted: reconsiderations of agency, the injunction to overcome analytic bifurcations, and a recognition of sociology's imperial standpoint.
So-called classical sociology took shape during perhaps the high point of a world dominated by imperial states. In the “west” the British, French, and German empires…
So-called classical sociology took shape during perhaps the high point of a world dominated by imperial states. In the “west” the British, French, and German empires, along with a surging America, claimed political and sometimes territorial control over wide stretches of the globe. Beyond Europe and the United States, while the Ottoman and Qing empires were in there last days, new states were staking out their imperial claims such as Japan and Russia. The tension between a reality of empire and an ideal of sovereign nation-states eventually exploded in WWI. Curiously, much of this dynamic, especially the global power of empire, went theoretically unnoticed by the makers of modern sociology. This chapter explores this theme through a sketch of the failure of this theoretical reckoning in Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
The diversity of social forms both regionally and historically calls for a paradigmatic reassessment of concepts used to map human societies comparatively. By…
The diversity of social forms both regionally and historically calls for a paradigmatic reassessment of concepts used to map human societies comparatively. By differentiating “social analytics” from “explanatory narratives,” we can distinguish concept and generic model development from causal analyses of actual empirical phenomena. In so doing, we show how five heuristic models of “modes of social practices” enable such paradigmatic formation in sociology. This reinforces Max Weber’s emphasis on the irreducible historicity of explanations in the social sciences.
A paradigmatic consolidation of generalizing concepts, modes of social practices, ideal-type concepts, and generic models presents a range of “theoretical tools” capable of facilitating empirical analysis as flexibly as possible, rather than cramping their range with overly narrow conceptual strictures.
To render social theory as flexible for practical field research as possible.
Develops a way of synthesizing diverse theoretical and methodological approaches in a highly pragmatic fashion.