restricted access FIVE: Institutions and Rhetorics
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FIVE INSTITUTIONS AND RHETORICS G OING to an appointment is an institution, sustained by a rhetoric of promptness played out in some public, large or small.1 An institutional system shepherds social processes by channeling them, by configuring institutions through rhetorics in a way that proves self-sustaining. They draw heavily on structural equivalence as they invoke story-sets across networks. Blockmodels, introduced in chapter 2, can suggest architectures, blueprints for institutional systems . A given institutional system has selected only some among the very many homomorphisms which as analysts we can compute from blockmodels as being possible (Boyd 1991). Kinship is the earliest exemplar and remains ubiquitous and important , but in this chapter most of the attention is paid to other realms. Four broad sorts of institutional system will be laid out in turn, after I present some general theory about rhetorics. First, extensive treatment is given to careers, individually as institutions and also in systems . Stratification is then treated as a second sort of institutional system , followed by an extended account of the production economy as an institutional system of a third sort. Following that, tangible organizations are described as uniquely flexible templates that dovetail with, and evolve with, the other three sorts of system. Institutions and rhetorics are akin to networks and stories, in that spaces of possibilities for the ordinary in life, of what will be taken for granted, derive from each pair. Rhetorics make institutions explicit just as stories make networks explicit. Rhetoric is the garb of a realm, much as story-set clothes type of tie. An institutional system has come to accommodate a wide range of disciplines and styles as well as networks within a realm, along with the particular institutions . They are gathered together with rhetorics that constitute that realm. And yet institutional systems also precede and influence, as well as build from, these constituents. Within each system, stories 1 In social science usage, there are several connotations for the term institution: the broad architecture of functional areas (e.g., education, the arts, health, business as institutions ); a special kind of organization infused by values (Selznick 1952, 1955); any social routine of behavior, such as a handshake; and so on. None of these alternatives is hostile to my usage, as will become apparent. 172 C H A P T E R F I V E must continue to accompany local enclaves at the scale of disciplines and yet be configured so as to transpose across network populations and styles. The stories become mutually shared accounts when they muster through publics into rhetorics. According to chapter 4, styles index profiles of tempo and of content in ongoing network processes. So styles report the interpretive tone and texture established in the dynamics of netdoms, as was also presented in chapter 1. Institutional systems, by contrast, concern longerterm cumulation into self-reproducing network arrays based on series of contingencies and collisions, whether anticipated or not. Because chapter 4 has established that persons are separate from identities, I am free now to use conventional umbrella terms such as actor and action, along with organization. But underneath each realm, the channeling still focuses on switchings by identities among distinct netdoms. Deployments of rhetorics and styles enable the switchings, which can yield conventions as either practices or institutions. I will draw here on subsequent chapters as well as on earlier ones. Most of these systems could not persist without renewals of actors and organizations that were not generated by the system itself. For example, the production economy must draw flows of workers and firms, not to mention changes in technical practices (e.g., Windeler and Sydow 2001). However, a career system does encompass its own demography. In the following pages, I will elaborate around corporates and around realms, as guidance for action, and will offer examples of many scopes. Years ago, I proposed and analyzed an institutional system for culture at monograph length.2 Here I put forward suggestions for doing more such studies, such as one focused on the production economy. 5.1. Origins and Contexts An institutional system builds a realm among any number of gatherings among netdoms as corporates and disciplines, and also styles. Styles with their profiles of switchings come in various scopes. A single person can embody a style, which then covers the component identities of the person in his or her networks, as seen by certain others as well as oneself. After the fact, and thus not...