This article revisits the debate over general theory in historical sociology with the goal of clarifying the use of this kind of theory in empirical research. General theories are defined as postulates about causal agents and causal mechanisms that are linked to empirical analysis through bridging assumptions. These theories can contribute to substantive knowledge by helping analysts derive new hypotheses, integrate existing findings, and explain historical outcomes. To illustrate these applications, the article considers five different general theories that have guided or could guide historical sociology: functionalist, rational choice, power, neo-Darwinian, and cultural theories. A key conclusion that emerges is that scholars must evaluate both the overall merits of general theory and the individual merits of specific general theories.
Violent crimes -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Mathematical models.
Social networks -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Mathematical models.
Neighborhood -- Illinois -- Chicago -- Mathematical models.
Theories of neighborhood social organization and crime have not effectively explained the existence of socially organized, high-crime neighborhoods. We describe and test an alternative theory of urban violence that highlights the tension between two dimensions of social organization — social networks (ties and exchange between neighborhood residents) and collective efficacy (mutual trust and solidarity combined with expectations for prosocial action) — in the regulation of neighborhood crime. We argue that while social networks may contribute to neighborhood collective efficacy, they also provide a source of social capital for offenders, potentially diminishing the regulatory effectiveness of collective efficacy. This negotiated coexistence model is considered alongside two competing theories of neighborhood crime drawn from the systemic and cultural transmission perspectives. We test these theories using 1990 census data, the 1994-95 Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods Community Survey, and 1995-97 Chicago Homicide Data. Consistent with the negotiated coexistence approach, spatial lag models of violent victimization and the 1995-97 log homicide rate indicate that the regulatory effects of collective efficacy on violence are substantially reduced in neighborhoods characterized by high levels of network interaction and reciprocated exchange.
This article considers which people talk about important matters, what people talk about when they discuss "important matters," and the implications of conversation topic for the interpretation of results arising from the General Social Survey (GSS) network instrument based on the "important matters" name generator. We show that half the people who report not talking about anything have nothing to talk about, whereas the others have no one to talk to. Secondly, we show that people tend to talk about things that many would regard as unimportant, for example, cloning of headless frogs, eating less red meat, and so on. Given this, the connection between characteristics of discussion networks and achievement of instrumental ends — for example, getting a job or enhancing social support — is tenuous. Finally, we show that there is substantial topic-alter dependency. This dependency suggests that many substantive findings reported about, for example, gender differences in network composition might be an artifact of the data-collection instrument. Micro-level topic-alter dependencies reflect macro-level associations between attributes, topics, and roles. Consequently, cross-cultural comparison of GSS network questions is problematic. Solutions for escaping these methodological dilemmas are proposed.
Although researchers have consistently found effects of context on family behaviors, there has been less success in identifying the mechanisms of these effects. One reason may be that the measured mechanisms may not have been directly related to the contextual measures. In this article, I examine marriage timing in the Chitwan Valley of Nepal, a setting of rapid social change. Individual and neighborhood history calendars provide detailed, time-ordered information on individuals' behaviors and changes in the context of neighborhoods. I test how individuals' experiences with nonfamily activities mediate the neighborhood effects of nonfamily organizations such as schools, health care providers, employers, and cinemas. Results indicate that while both individuals' activities and neighborhood organizations influence marriage timing, there is mixed evidence that individuals' activities mediate neighborhood effects.
We examine patterns of citizen participation in the global human rights movement through memberships in human rights international nongovernmental organizations (HRINGOs). After showing enormous growth in the number of HRINGOs in recent decades, we investigate country level characteristics leading to greater participation in the international human rights movement. Drawing on the social movement literature and world society theory, we employ multivariate regression analyses to explain HRINGO memberships in 1978, 1988 and 1998. To understand changes over time, we also use panel analyses for 1978 - 88 and 1988 - 98. The strongest predictors of memberships in HRINGOs are found to be embeddedness in global civil society and international flows of human resources. The effects of these international factors grew stronger over time while domestic factors became less important.
Edwards, Bob, 1958-
McCarthy, John D. (John David), 1940-
Social capital plays a central role in facilitating the mobilization of social movement organizations (SMOs). Do the initial mobilization advantages of social capital persist, however, as movement organizations evolve? And do the strategies pursued by social movement organizations affect these advantages? We investigate these questions through a broad empirical analysis of factors affecting the short-term persistence of local chapters of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Reasoning that multiple forms of social capital would each have a positive impact on survival, we assess the independent effect of several indicators of social capital with mixed results. Consistent with prior research, we find that access to patronage at founding and a greater stock of weak ties in the community confer survival advantages. Yet SMOs that emerged from preexisting groups and those with leaders previously tied to one another through civic engagement were less likely to persist, raising a first cautionary flag about the generality of advantages of resource co-optation and "bloc recruitment." The effect of preexisting, strong ties among group leaders varies by how much emphasis the group placed on victim aid activities. Those ties conferred expected survival advantages on groups that did not strongly emphasize victim aid activities. The implications of these results are discussed.
This article examines how structural conditions and social movement frames interact to influence mobilization and political consequences of social movements. Mobilization efforts benefit when movement framing is congruent with local structural conditions. This mobilization, in turn, produces political leverage for the movement through its capacity to deliver support of its members and adherents. Its political advantage may be offset, however, if another of its key framing activities, the construction of collective identity boundaries, alienates the broader population and stimulates a backlash. Such backlash is also intimately connected to structural conditions because its potential is a function of the characteristics of the local population — specifically, the proportion of the population alienated by the movement's boundary construction. We apply these arguments to the case of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s and show that while the Klan's diagnostic and prognostic framing may have resonated structurally and facilitated the Klan's mobilization efforts, its exclusionary boundaries frustrated its attempts to secure broader political gains.
Jews -- Romania -- Economic conditions -- 20th century.
We empirically examine variation in anti-Semitic acts and attitudes in Romania and Bulgaria before the Holocaust. In Romania, where Jews comprised a large proportion of the middle class and were associated with the leadership of the communist party, anti-Semitism increased when economic conditions worsened. Further, Romanian anti-Semitism increased when the size of the Jewish population increased, but only at times when the leftist parties were gaining strength. These findings did not replicate for Bulgaria, where Jews were neither holders of significant wealth nor associated with the leadership of the communist left. The theoretical implications for anti-Semitism and for structural accounts of prejudice are discussed.
Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975 -- Veterans -- United States -- Longitudinal studies.
Veterans -- United States -- Economic conditions -- 20th century -- Longitudinal studies.
Wages -- United States -- History -- 20th century -- Longitudinal studies.
Using longitudinal data gathered in the National Longitudinal Study of Young Men spanning the years from 1966 to 1981, I examine the relationship between military service and subsequent income earned in the civilian labor market. Through the use of fixed-effects estimators, I am able to generate estimates of the effects that are independent of unmeasured family-specific and person-specific factors that might bias the relationship. The use of longitudinal data also allows for the construction and comparison of earning trajectories for veterans and nonveterans. The results indicate that veterans have earning profiles that differ from those of nonveterans. In particular, after leaving military service, veterans who were drafted earn less than nonveterans, but this difference erodes over time because veterans have a steeper earning profile. Within less than ten years of discharge there is no statistically significant difference between the earnings of veterans and those of nonveterans.
While "retreat from marriage" rates have been on the rise for all Americans, there has been an increasing divergence in family patterns between blacks and whites, with the former experiencing markedly higher divorce, nonmarital childbearing and never-marrying rates. Explanations generally focus on theories ranging from economic class stratification to normative differences. I examine racial marriage trends when removed from society and placed in a structural context that minimizes racial and economic stratification. I compare nuptial patterns within the military, a total institution in the Goffmanian sense, which serves as a natural control for the arguments presented in the literature on the retreat from marriage. Through a combination of event history and propensity score matching analyses using the NLSY79, I find that black-white difference in marriage patterns disappears in the military.
This article examines attitudes related to feminism and gender equality by evaluating the trends in, and determinants of, women and men's attitudes from 1974 to 1998. Past accounts suggest two clusters of explanations based on interests and exposure. Using these, we examine opinions on abortion, sexual behavior, public sphere gender roles, and family responsibilities. We find that attitudes have continued to liberalize and converge with the exception of abortion attitudes. The determinants of feminist opinion vary across domains, but have been largely stable. While not identical, the predictors of men and women's opinions are similar. The results suggest the need for more attention to the mechanisms underlying the production of feminist opinions and theoretical integration of both interests and exposure in a dynamic process.
Mothers -- Employment -- Vietnam -- Red River Delta.
Working mothers -- Vietnam -- Red River Delta.
This research explores the relationship between family structure and maternal employment in Vietnam's Red River Delta, a region experiencing economic development and market transition. Analyses of work intensity, measured as working hours and multiple jobholding, demonstrate that women, including mothers of infants and pre-schoolers, persistently work at high levels of intensity. Work intensity is especially high among women raising teenage children, due to demands for education and other resources exerted upon parents. The findings suggest a reframing of the 'role compatibility' thesis that has guided research on maternal employment. Women's employment is a foremost response to financial pressures in poor households; it is central to the maternal role and even more salient than care work and supervision in contexts featuring diverse, alternative forms of childcare.
Japanese Americans -- Evacuation and relocation, 1942-1945.
World War, 1939-1945 -- United States -- Reparations.
African Americans -- Reparations.
The literature on social movements shows why the Japanese American reparations movement was successful, while the African American reparations movement has had far less success. How the claim is framed is extremely important for a reparations movement. Even though treatment of African Americans in the past violated key contemporary precepts such as the importance of bodily integrity, the ideal of equality, and the sanctity of private property, African American claimants encounter several problems. Victims of direct harms are dead, perpetrators are diffuse, some of the actual harms were legal at the time they were committed, and the causal chain of harm is long and complex. Some estimates of reparations due would also impose unreasonable burdens on government and American citizens.
In this issue, we are featuring articles by James Mahoney "Revisiting General Theory in
Historical Sociology" and Alan Sica "Why 'Unobservables' Cannot Save General Theory:
A Reply to Mahoney." Please see our Web site (http://socialforces.unc.edu, E-Publications)
for a rejoinder and a reply between Mahoney and Sica. See also, at E-Discussion,
comments on pieces by Rhoda Howard-Hassman and Rodney Coates, also featured in