Social boundary mechanisms

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (2):211-236 (2004)
Abstract
Social boundaries separate us fromthem. Explaining the formation, transformation, activation, and suppression of social boundaries presents knotty problems. It helps to distinguish two sets of mechanisms: (1) those that precipitate boundary change and (2) those that constitute boundary change. Properly speaking, only the constitutive mechanisms produce the effects of boundary change as such. Precipitants of boundary change include encounter, imposition, borrowing, conversation, and incentive shift. Constitutive mechanisms include inscription–erasure, activation–deactivation, site transfer, and relocation. Effects of boundary change include attack–defense sequences. These mechanisms operate over a wide range of social phenomena. Key Words: social boundary • mechanisms.
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