Advances in Sciences and Humanities
Volume 5, Issue 6, December 2019, Pages: 171-179
Received: Oct. 18, 2019;
Accepted: Nov. 27, 2019;
Published: Jan. 6, 2020
Views 477 Downloads 185
Erhard Friedberg, Centre de Sociologie des Organisations, SciencesPo, Paris, France
In recent years, the theme of actors and agency has made a notable reappearance in the neo-institutionalist literature, in relation in particular to what has been called institutional entrepreneurship and institutional entrepreneurs. Two recent books by M. Granovetter on the one hand, Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam on the other, can be seen as significant examples of this “return of the actor” in American sociology. The troubling conceptual inconsistencies they contain, however, also document the incomplete integration of an action perspective into what basically remains a neo-institutionalist framework, giving epistemological priority to structure over action. This paper aims to highlight the most important of these inconsistencies and sets out to interpret them as a sign of how sociologists position themselves and their discipline in the wider field of social science, and in particular in relation to economics. It concludes by suggesting that in order to go beyond such methodological and conceptual confusion, we need to get away from a substantialist, decontextualized view of the actors’ identities and rationalities, and replace it with a relational conception of the actors’ identities and rationalities, in which their behavior would be considered to be attributes not of the actors, but of the local relational configurations and the stable patterns of transactions maintained by them.
Purposive Action Is a Genuinely Sociological Perspective, Advances in Sciences and Humanities.
Vol. 5, No. 6,
2019, pp. 171-179.
Battilana J./ Leca B./Boxenbaum E. (2009) How Actors change Institutions: Toward a theory of Institutional entrepreneurship. Academy of Management Annals, 3/1, p. 65-107.
Battilana J./ Casciaro T. (2013), Change Agent, Networks and Institutions: A Contingency Theory of Organizational Change, Harvard Business review, 91/7-8, p. 62-68.
Beckert J., Agency, Entrepreneurs, and Institutional Change. The Role of Strategic Choice and Institutionalized Practices in Organizations, Organization Studies, 1999, vol. 20, n° 5, p. 777-799. 23.
Beckert J. (2010), How do fields change? The interrelations of institutions, networks, and cognition in dynamics of markets, Organization studies, vol. 31, n° 5, p. 605-627.
Bergeron H. (2018), Entrepreneuriat institutionnel et structures sociales, Dossier préparé en vue de l’obtention de l’habilitation à diriger des recherches en sociologie (Vol. 2), (sort of a second PhD for full professorship), Paris, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (SciencesPo Paris).
Bergeron H./Castel P. (2015) Les habits neufs du néo-institutionalisme, L’Année Sociologique 65/2, p. 23-61.
Bergeron H., Castel P., Nouguez É. (2011), Un entrepreneur privé de politique publique. La lutte contre l’obésité, entre santé publique et intérêt privé, Revue française de science politique, vol. 61, n° 2, p. 201-229.
Castel P., Friedberg E., Institutional Change as an Interactive Process. The Case of the Modernization of the French Cancer Centers, Organization Science, vol. 21, n° 2, p. 311-330.
FligsteinN. / McAdam D. (2011), Toward a General Theory of Strategic Action Fields, Sociological Theory, 29/1, p. 1-26.
Hall. P. (2010) Historical Institutionalism in Rationalist and Sociological Perspective, in Mahoney J./Thelen K. (Eds.) Explaining Institutional Change: Ambiguity, Agency and Power. Calbridge, Cambridge University Press.
Skowronek/Glassman M. (Eds.), Formative Acts. American Politics in the Making, University of Pennsylvania Press.
Granovetter M. (2017), Society and Economy: Framework and Principles, Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
Fligstein N/ McAdam D. (2012) A Theory of Fields, New York (NY), Oxford University Press.
Olson M. (1965), The Logic of Collective Action, Cambridge, Mass, Harvard University Press.
Granovetter M.-(1985), Economic Action and Social Structure: The Problem of Embeddedness», American Journal of Sociology, 91, 3, p. 481-510.
Scott J. C., (1976), The Moral Economy of the Peasant: Rebellion and Subsistence in Southeast Asia, New Haven, Yale University Press and.
Popkin S. L., (1979), The Rational Peasant: The Political Economy of Rural Society in Vietnam, Berkeley (CA), University of California Press.
Emirbayer M. (1997), Manifesto for a relational sociology, American journal of sociology, vol. 103, n° 2, p. 281-317.