More on "plasticity": hospitals

Let's think more about the extent and pace of plasticity in social organization by considering an example: hospitals. Hospitals are complex social organizations geared towards providing health care for moderately to very needy patients. And the internal organization of hospitals provides a fertile locus for examining issues of institutional change.The complexity of a hospital derives …

Why "false consciousness"?

The most frequently visited page on my research web site (out of more than 90 articles) is an encyclopedia article on false consciousness. Moreover, many of these visitors come from the developing world, including especially the Philippines. I am curious about these facts.False consciousness is a Marxist concept. It refers to the hypothesis that oppressed …

Positivism and social science

There is a strong current of positivism in contemporary sociology --in fact, one might say this is the dominant paradigm. Other paradigms exist -- feminism, Marxism, comparative historical sociology, and ethnographic sociology, to name several. But the claim of science is generally couched in terms of a positivist theory of science and inquiry. This is …

What is "power" in the twenty-first century?

Is "power" different in the twenty-first century?Is power the same as "ability to influence behavior"?Do the internet and new forms of communication and social networking create new opportunities for power--for good or bad purposes?Think about the ways power was created and used in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries: the power of the state to regulate …

Human behavior and institutions

Ultimately social phenomena are the aggregate result of the behavior of socially constituted persons who are acting within the context of locally embodied institutions. If there are regularities within the social realm, they derive from common features of individual agency, common features of institutions, and common processes of aggregation of effects.This implies that social scientists …

New approaches to social research?

I believe we need to create significantly new approaches to the study of the social. Positivistic sociology, formalistic political science, highly mathematicized economics--these dominant paradigms in several disciplines proceed on the basis of misleading or overly narrow conceptions of science and the social. We need to do a much better job of crafting theories and …

International social research?

I find it intriguing to imagine the sociological insights that might come from a discussion of a specific social problem that brings together the perspectives of some of the international visitors to this web site. How would observers from Manila, Lagos, Shanghai, and Detroit be able to contribute different perspectives on the issue of rising …

Plasticity of the social

I maintain that virtually all social entities are "plastic": their properties change significantly over time, as a result of the purposive and unintentional behavior of the socially constructed individuals who make up a society. Organizations, labor unions, universities, churches, and social identities all show a substantial degree of flexibility and fluidity over time, and this …

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