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 inscriptionerasure, activationdeactivation, site transfer, and relocation. Effects of boundary change include attackdefense sequences. (...) These mechanisms operate over a wide range of social phenomena. Key Words: social boundary mechanisms. (shrink)
The terms terror, terrorism, and terrorist do not identify causally coherent and distinct social phenomena but strategies that recur across a wide variety of actors and political situations. Social scientists who reify the terms confuse themselves and render a disservice to public discussion. The U.S. government's own catalogs of terrorist events actually support both claims.
The Oxford Handbooks of Political Science is a ten-volume set of reference books offering authoritative and engaging critical overviews of the state of political science. This volume, The Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis, sets out to synthesize and critique for the first time those approaches to political science that offer a more fine-grained qualitative analysis of the political world. The work in the volume has a common aim in being sensitive to the thoughts of contextual nuances that disappear from (...) large-scale quantitative modelling or explanations based on abstract, general, universal laws of human behavior. It shows that "context matters" in a great many ways: philosophical context matters; psychological context matters; cultural and historical contexts matter; place, population, and technology all matter. By showcasing scholars who specialize in the analysis of all these contexts side-by-side, the Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis shows how political scientists can take those crucial contextual factors systematically into account. (shrink)
Reversions from democratic to undemocratic regimes have often occurred historically and continue to occur frequently. Both increases in categorical inequality across a regime's subject population and declines in the insulation of public politics from categorical inequality tend to de-democratize regimes. A general account of democratization and de-democratization yields a series of conjectures concerning the processes by which changes in categorical inequality threaten democracy.
Distinctions between quantitative and qualitative social science misrepresent the actual choices confronting analysts of observations concerning social processes. Analysts regularly (if not always self-consciously) choose between adopting and avoiding formal representations of social processes. Despite widespread prejudices to the contrary, formalisms are available and helpful for all sorts of social scientific evidence, including those commonly labeled as qualitative. Available formalisms vary in two important regards: (1) from direct to analogical representation of the evidence at hand; and (2) from numerical to (...) topological correspondence between formalism and evidence. Adoption of formalisms facilitates the identification of erroneous arguments, hence the correction of analytic errors and the production of more adequate explanations. (shrink)
Unlike Artistotle's analysis, recent treatments of democratization identify pathways and propose necessary conditions but fall short of specifying cause-effect relations. Democratization does not follow a single path, and is unlikely to have universally applicable necessary or sufficient conditions. A political process analysis of democratization defines it as movement toward broad citizenship, equal citizenship, binding consultation of citizens, and protection of citizens from arbitrary state action. High levels of all four elements depend on a significant degree of state capacity. Democratization emerges (...) from interacting changes in public politics, categorical inequality, and networks of trust, which in turn depend on specifiable mechanisms of change in social relations. When the shocks of conquest, confrontation, colonization, and revolution promote democratization, they do so by accelerating the same causal mechanisms. The next round of research and theory on democratization requires identification, verification, and connection of the relevant causal mechanisms. (shrink)
Reasons-organized answers to the question "Why does (did, should) X do Y?"-vary between formulas and cause-effect accounts in one dimension and between popular and specialized statements on the other. Conventions, explanatory stories, codified justifications, and technical accounts all qualify as reasons. Choices among types of reasons and contents within each type vary as a function of social relations between givers and receivers. As professional analysts of reasons for social processes as well as of reasons that social actors provide for their (...) actions, sociologists face serious challenges to their credibility. They can reply to those challenges by (1) building records of effective intervention in social affairs; (2) educating audiences in the logic of social science; (3) incorporating their own explanations into widely available explanatory stories; or (4) confining their conversation to each other. Sociologists who want to influence public understanding must adopt some combination of Options 1 to 3. (shrink)
Abstract John Breuilly's Nationalism and the State provides an indispensable guide to the history of nationalist doctrines and practices since 1800. Yet it misses a crucial dynamic. Top?down nationalizing efforts by European rulers generated bottom?up demands for autonomy or independence by political entrepreneurs claiming to represent distinct nations. Those demands gained credibility and strength when third parties such as great powers and international organizations validated them. This process established an evolving international procedure and an incentive structure that promote top?down suppression (...) of minorities, bottom?up bids for recognition, and violent struggles among the parties. (shrink)
Individual sorting models prevail in current explanations of inequality, but individual sorting systems form rarely and depend on extensive institutional infrastructure. Inequality results more generally from the conjunction of socially organized categories with (a) clique control of value-producing resources, (b) clique deployment of those resources in relations of exploitation and/or opportunity with members of subordinated or excluded categories, backed up by (c) emulation and adaptation. Historically, major value-producing resources in the production of inequality have included coercive means, labor, animals, land, (...) commitment-maintaining institutions, machines, financial capital, information, media, and scientific-technical knowledge. In the future, financial capital, information, media, and scientific-technical knowledge will play increasing parts in the generation of social inequality. (shrink)
All empirical social research rests, at least implicitly, on not one but two theories: a theory explaining the phenomenon under study, another theory explaining the generation of evidence concerning the phenomenon. The two theories necessarily interact, setting important constraints on each other. The second theory answers questions about how the phenomenon leaves traces, how analysts can observe those traces, and how analysts can reconstruct attributes, elements, causes, and effects of the phenomenon from those traces. As employed in studies of contentious (...) politics, event catalogs raise all these questions. Competing conceptions of the phenomenon under study as protest, as collective violence, as collective action, as conflict, and as contentious claim-making imply different measurement strategies. The strategy of aggregation follows plausibly from identification of the phenomenon as protest or violence, the strategy of incidence from most of the competing conceptions, the strategy of internal regularities only from treatments of the crucial phenomenon as collective action, conflict, or contentious claim-making. (shrink)