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The Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology and millions of other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Peter Hedström is a Professor of Sociology and Dean of the School of Social Sciences at Singapore Management University, and Official Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.
Table of contents

Social and moral norms thus have different emotions sustaining them. One difficulty for rational-choice theory is to explain why people who observe other people violate social norms would spend resources to sanction them.

Oxford Handbook of Analytical Sociology - Oxford Handbooks

According to Elster, it is unlikely that this is for instrumental reasons such as for fear of being punished in turn if they did not sanction norm violators. It is more likely that people who observe other people violate social norms sanction them spontaneously, out of emotion — hence the feeling of shame in the target.

Another important interaction-based mechanism is signalling. How can an actor, the signaller, persuade another actor, the receiver, that she is telling the truth about her good intentions or other unobservable properties, while she might have an interest in lying? And how can the receiver establish whether or not the signaller is telling the truth?

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Signalling theory shows that any claim gains credibility if there exists a signal which is cheap enough to emit relative to the benefit for signallers who have the unobservable property but costly enough to emit relative to the benefit for those who do not. If the signal is too costly to fake for all signallers sorting equilibrium or for most signallers semi-sorting equilibrium who do not have the unobservable property, then observing the signal is good evidence that the signaller has the unobservable property.

As Diego Gambetta shows, the property being signalled and the cost of the signal may be related in different ways. The cost of the signal may also depend on the receiver, as in animal and human behaviour in which the cost of the signal is a heightened exposure to the risk of an attack.


Finally, the cost of the signal may also depend on a third party such as the law or the police. In these models comprising three types of actors — high, medium and low types —, medium types send signals to distinguish themselves from low types and high types choose not to signal in order to distinguish themselves from medium types.

Typically, the nouveaux riches try to distinguish themselves from the poor, and the old rich avoid displaying such bad taste to distinguish themselves from the nouveaux riches. Chapters 11 to 25 present dynamic processes and concatenations of mechanisms which generate characteristic features of social structure, with special attention to cumulative processes. The self-fulfilling prophecy is one of these dynamic processes.

Derniers numéros

Self-fulfilling prophecies may happen between two actors, such as between teacher and student or between two states. Mechanisms of social influence are then analyzed in two contexts: cultural markets and divorce decisions.


In cultural markets success is at once unequal and unpredictable i. One explanation for this may be related to individual-level influence processes. Indeed, people tend to buy cultural products that are already successful because their success is a sign of quality or because buying those products enables them to discuss them with other people. Thus a cumulative advantage might develop for successful cultural products, which might explain both an inequality and an unpredictability of success.

Drawing on the fascinating controlled experiment they set up, Matthew J. Salganik and Duncan J. Watts convincingly argue that increased social influence at the individual level leads to greater inequality and unpredictability of success at the aggregate level. Thus, as the sex segregation of the workplace declined, encounters at work increased and this may have contributed to the rise in divorce. Segregation mechanisms are the object of several chapters. Broadly conceived, segregation is the non-random allocation of individuals from different groups sex, race, economic strata, etc.


Obviously, this mechanism is of broad relevance, since it may play in various contexts. Similarly, if an initial feminization of an occupation makes it less attractive to men, this will further lower the number of men who work in that occupation and may soon lead to an all-female occupation. One of the strengths of the chapters on segregation, homophily and matching is to clearly relate segregation to the networks to which people belong.

Additionally, as Elizabeth Bruch and Robert Mare point out, segregation in one sphere of life often tends to produce segregation in related spheres. Residential segregation and marital homogamy are likely to reinforce each other the place where you live partly determines who you marry, and who you married partly determines where you live , just as residential segregation, school segregation and homophily are likely to reinforce each other.

Residential segregation and occupational segregation may also reinforce each other insofar as residential segregation places disadvantaged populations further from job opportunities and from social networks that lead to job referrals. The approach is a contemporary incarnation of Robert K. Merton's notion of middle-range theory and represents a vision of sociological theory as a tool-box of semi-general theories each of which is adequate for explaining certain types of phenomena. The Handbook of Analytical Sociology brings together some of the most prominent sociologists in the world in a concerted effort to move sociology in a more analytical and rigorous direction.

Some of the chapters focus on action and interaction as the cogs and wheels of social processes, while others consider the dynamic social processes that these actions and interactions bring about. Get A Copy. Hardcover , pages. More Details Other Editions 5. Friend Reviews.

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Showing Rating details. All Languages. More filters. Sort order. Peter Jacobsson rated it really liked it Jul 26, Veronica rated it really liked it Jan 31, Alex Konstantinov rated it liked it Dec 26, Ike Sharpless rated it liked it Mar 26, Ben Wadham rated it liked it Jan 11, Renae rated it liked it Dec 24, Kolbeinn Stefansson rated it really liked it Nov 06, Empirically false assumptions about human motivation, cognitive processes, access to information, or social relations cannot bear the explanatory burden in a mechanistic explanation no matter how well they predict the outcome to be explained.

With its focus on the macro-level outcomes that individuals in interaction with one another bring about, analytical sociology is part of the "complexity turn" within sociology. Until very recently sociologists did not have the tools needed for analyzing the dynamics of complex systems , but powerful computers and simulation software have changed the picture considerably.

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So-called agent-based computer simulations are transforming important parts of sociology as well as many other parts of the social and natural sciences because they allow for rigorous theoretical analyses of large complex systems. The key is to identify the core mechanisms at work, assemble them into a simulation model, and establish the macro-level outcomes the individuals bring about when acting and interacting in accordance with these mechanisms.

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