Methodology

A Theory of Fields by Neil Fligstein

By Neil Fligstein

Discovering how one can comprehend the character of social switch and social order-from political pursuits to industry meltdowns-is one of many enduring difficulties of social technology. A conception of Fields attracts jointly far-ranging insights from social stream thought, organizational thought, and financial and political sociology to build a basic thought of social association and strategic motion.

In a piece of outstanding synthesis, mind's eye, and research, Neil Fligstein and Doug McAdam suggest that social switch and social order should be understood via what they name strategic motion fields. They posit that those fields are the final construction blocks of political and fiscal existence, civil society, and the kingdom, and the elemental type of order in our global this day. just like Russian dolls, they're nested and hooked up in a broader surroundings of virtually numerous proximate and overlapping fields. Fields are collectively based; swap in a single usually triggers switch in one other. on the middle of the idea is an account of the way social actors model and continue order in a given box. This sociological concept of motion, what they name "social skill," is helping clarify what members do in strategic motion fields to realize cooperation or have interaction in pageant.

To reveal the breadth of the idea, Fligstein and McAdam make its summary rules concrete via prolonged case stories of the Civil Rights circulate and the increase and fall of the marketplace for mortgages within the U.S. because the Sixties. The publication additionally offers a "how-to" advisor to aid others enforce the technique and discusses methodological issues.

With a daring new method, A thought of Fields offers either a rigorous and essentially acceptable state of mind via and making feel of social order and change-and how one emerges from the other-in sleek, complicated societies.

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Extra resources for A Theory of Fields

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The Gist of It 31 key concepts—framing, political opportunity, rupture and settlement, episodes of contention, incumbents and challengers—have been borrowed directly from social movement theory. On the other hand, the framework proposed here is much broader in its application than social movement theory and different from the latter in a number of crucial respects. ” Second, as the name suggests, the study of social movements has become increasingly narrow and “movementcentric” in its focus (McAdam and Boudet 2012; Walder 2009b), while the theory proposed here emphasizes the critical interplay, not only of the actors within a field but also between the field and the broader field environment in which it is embedded.

DiMaggio and Powell begin with the Meyer and Scott definition of a field containing all relevant actors. They identify three kinds of forces driving organizations in fields toward similar outcomes, what they call mimetic, coercive, and normative isomorphism. Their basic argument is that actors in organizations face uncertain worlds. In order to reduce this uncertainty, actors will be swayed by different kinds of forces. They may follow what they consider successful organizations. They may also follow the advice of professionals or experts on what they should do.

So, for example, the number of incumbent groups will reflect the relative power of those groups and the underlying basis of that power. Incumbent groups may fashion an informal agreement to share the field. The result might be separate spheres of influence within the field, allowing these groups to cooperate without stepping on one another’s toes. They might even ritualize this agreement even as they periodically test its limits. For their part, 16 A Theory of Fields challengers can use their resource dependence within a strategic action field to their advantage.

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