Foundations of Social Theory

ISBN-10: 0674312260

ISBN-13: 9780674312265

Edition: 1990

Authors: James S. Coleman
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Description: Combining principles of individual rational choice with a sociological conception of collective action, James Coleman recasts social theory in a bold new way. The result is a landmark in sociological theory, capable of describing both stability and change in social systems. This book provides for the first time a sound theoretical foundation for linking the behavior of individuals to organizational behavior and then to society as a whole. The power of the theory is especially apparent when Coleman analyzes corporate actors, such as large corporations and trade unions. He examines the creation of these institutions, collective decision making, and the processes through which authority is revoked in revolts and revolutions. Coleman discusses the problems of holding institutions responsible for their actions as well as their incompatibility with the family. He also provides a simple mathematical analysis corresponding to and carrying further the verbal formulations of the theory. Finally, he generates research techniques that will permit quantitative testing of the theory. From a simple, unified conceptual structure Coleman derives, through elegant chains of reasoning, an encompassing theory of society. It promises to be the most important contribution to social theory since the publication of Talcott Parsons' Structure of Social Action in 1936.

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Book details

List price: $57.50
Copyright year: 1990
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 8/19/1998
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 1012
Size: 6.42" wide x 9.17" long x 2.07" tall
Weight: 2.156
Language: English

James S. Coleman is an American sociologist who has focused much of his work on mathematical sociology. His areas of interest have been social conflict, collective decision making, and the sociology of education. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1955 and taught at Johns Hopkins University. Coleman is best known for heading a commission charged by the federal government with investigating the lack of educational opportunities for minorities in public schools. The document produced by the commission, Equity of Educational Opportunity (1966), is better known as the Coleman Report. It indicated that student achievement has more to do with family background and peer environment than with school resources. The Coleman Report became the basis for the institution of student busing to achieve racial integration in public schools.

Preface
Metatheory: Explanation in Social Science
Explanation of the Behavior of Social Systems
Components of the Theory
Conceptions of the Relations between Micro and Macro Levels
Elementary Actions and Relations
Actors and Resources, Interest and Control
The Elements Structures of Action
Social Exchange Simple and Complex Relations
Rights to Act What Are Rights?
How the Free-Rider Problem Is Reduced for Rights
How Does New Information Bring
About a Change in the Allocation of Rights?
How Does a Right Change Hands?
Who Are the Relevant Others?
How Are Rights Partitioned, and How Might They Be?
Authority Relations
The Right to Control One's Own Actions
Vesting of Authority Conjoint and Disjoint
Authority Relations
Transfer of One Right or Two: Simple and Complex
Authority Relations
Limitations on Authority
Slavery Authority without Intentional Exercise
Relations of Trust
The Placement of Trust
Actions of the Trustee Multiple Trustors and Public-Goods Problems
Structures of Action
Systems of Social Exchange What Is Money?
Media of Exchange in Social and Political Systems
Exchanges within Systems
From Authority Relations to Authority Systems
The Law of Agency
Sympathy and Identification: Affine Agents Simple and Complex Authority Structures
The Internal Morality of an Authority System
Systems of Trust and Their Dynamic Properties
Mutual Trust Intermediaries in Trust Third-Party
Trust Large Systems Involving Trust
Collective Behavior
General Properties of Collective Behavior
Escape Panics
Bank and Stock Market Panics
Acquisitive Crazes Contagious
Beliefs
Hostile and Expressive Crowds
Fads and Fashions
Influence Processes in Purchasing
Decisions, Voting, and Public Opinion
Specific Predictions about Collective Behavior
The Demand for Effective Norms
Examples of Norms and Sanctions
Distinctions among Norms
The First Condition: Externalities of Actions and the Demand for a Norm
What Constitutes Social Efficiency?
Systems of Norms
The Realization of Effective Norms
An Action-Rights
Bank Social Relationships in Support of Sanctions
Free Riding and Zeal
Heroic versus
Incremental Sanctioning
How Are Sanctions Applied in Society?
Emergence of Norms about Voting
Internalization of Norms
Social Capital Human Capital and Social Capital
Forms of Social Capital Relative
Quantities of Social Capital
The Public-Good Aspect of Social Capital
The Creation, Maintenance, and Destruction of Social Capital
Corporate Action
Constitutions and the Construction of Corporate
Actors
Norms and Constitutions
Positive Social Theory Change in a Disjoint
Constitution: American High Schools
An Optimal Constitution
Who Are the Elementary Actors?
The Problem of Social
Choice Partitioning of Rights to Indivisible Goods
Constitutional Issues in Partitioning
Rights to Control Corporate Actions
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