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Social Science


Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Social Theory

The Uniqueness of Western Civilization by Ricardo Duchesne (Studies in Critical Social Sciences, 28: Brill Academic) This extensively researched book argues that the development of a libertarian culture was an indispensable component of the rise of the West. The roots of the West's superior intellectual and artistic creativity should be traced back to the aristocratic warlike culture of Indo-European speakers. Among the many fascinating topics discussed are: the ascendancy of multicultural historians and the degradation of European history; China's ecological endowments and imperial windfalls; military revolutions in Europe 1300-1800; the science and chivalry of Henry the Navigator; Judaism and its contribution to Western rationalism; the cultural richness of Max Weber versus the intellectual poverty of Pomeranz, Wong, Goldstone, Goody, and A.G. Frank; change without progress in the East; Hegel's Phenomenology of the [Western] Spirit; Nietzsche and the education of the Homeric Greeks; Kojeve's master-slave dialectic and the Western state of nature; Christian virtues and German aristocratic expansionism.

This book has five separate but closely related objectives. First, it seeks to trace the ideological sources behind the multicultural effort to "provincialize" the history of Western civilization. It will be argued that the devaluation of Western culture that swept the academic world starting around the 1960s was part of a wider and newly emerging intellectual movement that included the rise of anthropological relativism, critical theory, dependency theory, evolutionary materialism, post-modernism, feminism, and identity politics.

The second aim is to assess the empirical adequacy of a highly influential set of revisionist works published in the last two decades dedicated to the pursuit of dismantling the "Eurocentric" consensus on the "rise of the West." The focus will be on explicating, interpreting, connecting, systematizing, supplying background information, and refuting the arguments of multicultural revisionists who claim that there were "surprising similarities" between the West and the non-Western world as late as 1800-30 and that the Industrial Revolution was the one transformation that finally set Europe on a different path of development. This book is quite determined in its efforts to demonstrate that the entire revisionist school is founded on precarious and tendentious claims in its attempts to rewrite the history of the West. The questionable pursuit of the revisionist school will be addressed by means of a conscientious analytical and detailed review of a vast body of secondary sources and findings.

The third objective of this book will be to argue that the traditional Eurocentric historiography on the rise of the West still holds much significance despite the unrelenting criticisms it has faced in the last few decades. The standard historiography includes the classical exponents of Europe's uniqueness as well as contemporary historians and sociologists whose primary interests are directed towards debating the causes of Europe's ascendancy. In defending their perspectives, this book will also go beyond them by considering numerous additional sources from historians of Europe who have written about Western achievement from the ancient Greeks to the present. The central contention will be that the West has always existed in a state of variance from the rest of the world's cultures. For example, some of the most

significant divergences would include the "Greek miracle," the Roman invention of the legal persona, the Papal revolution, the invention of mechanical clocks, the Portuguese voyages of discovery, the Gutenberg revolution, the Cartographic revolution, the Protestant reformation, the "rational" mercantilist state, and the "industrial enlightenment." As such, the main question is not 'why modern science emerged in Europe and not in the civilizations of Islam and China: nor 'why England industrialized first' rather, it has to do with 'why the great accomplishments in the sciences and arts have been overwhelmingly European:

The fourth objective is to insist that the development of a liberal-democratic culture was an indispensable component of the rise of the West. There is more to a modern agent in Western culture than a scientific or industrialized person who performs specialized roles based on effort and merit. The ideals of freedom and the reasoned pursuit of truth were cultivated and realized in the course of Western time.

Finally, the book will argue that the roots of the West's "restless" creativity and libertarian spirit should be traced back to the aristocratic warlike culture of Indo-European speakers. The Indo-Europeans were a distinctively pastoral, horse-riding, mobile, and war-oriented culture governed by a spirit of aristocratic egalitarianism. As this book will demonstrate, the primordial basis for Western uniqueness lay in the ethos of individualism and strife. For Indo-Europeans, the highest ideal of life was the attainment of honorable prestige through the performance of heroic deeds.

This book's clear admiration for Western civilization, its higher cultural legacy, and its aristocratic roots will likely satisfy none of the politically sensitive and motivated orthodoxies currently in vogue in academia. I am also aware that I have risked making arguments about areas of history I know little about. Hopefully I will have compensated somewhat for this lack by paying serious attention to the most pertinent, intelligent, and prominent secondary sources available to us. I should be satisfied if this book were to add some amount of fruitful controversy over this inexhaustible subject.

The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought edited by William Outhwaite (Blackwell Publishing) Modern social thought ranges widely from the social sciences to philosophy, political theories and doctrines, cultural ideas and movements, and the influence of the natural sciences. This dictionary provides an authoritative and comprehensive overview of the main themes of social thought, principal schools and movements of thought and those institutions that have been the subject of social analysis or engendered significant doctrines and ideas.Detailed entries cover major currents of thought, philosophical and cultural trends, and the individual social sciences from anthropology to welfare economics. These are supplemented by shorter accounts of specific concepts and phenomena.This second edition updates about 200 entries and includes new entries on the Internet, ethnic cleansing and other topics. Each entry includes suggestions for further reading, and the volume contains a bibliography of all sources cited within the text.

Excerpt: At the end of the nineteenth century the term 'social' was still a relatively new one, as was for the most part the concept of distinct 'social sciences'. The first professional associations and journals were just beginning to be established and some new social sciences, such as sociology, were gaining recognition, while economics as an older discipline was developing rapidly in the neoclassical form given to it by Carl Menger, Leon Walras, Alfred Marshall and others, or with quite a different emphasis in the work of the German historical school. All the social sciences could look back on distinguished precursors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, or earlier still in the case of political science and history, and the ideas of some of these precursors have remained influential. But in the twentieth century the social sciences became more distinctly consti­tuted and differentiated, and they have had a stronger impact on social thought as a whole. Political doctrines generally, and social criticism in particular, became more dependent on theories of society, and many nineteenth-century ideas came to find an institutional embodiment. Positivism established itself in a rather different form from its original Comtean one, as a philosophy of science particularly influential among social scientists. Evolutionism survived all kinds of attacks and retained its place in social thought, assuming new forms after World War II in conceptions of modernization, underdevelopment and development, and more recently in theories of the development of moral reasoning and human thought as a whole. The influence of Marxism, as a critique of political economy, a theory of society and a political doctrine, grew steadily during most of the century, though in increasingly diversified ways that were reflected, after the Russian Revolution and still more after 1945, in the sharp division between Marxism-Leninism and what came to be called Western Marxism, the latter being itself extremely diverse. The dramatic events of 1989 put an end to the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe and to the world influence of Leninism, but although Marxism and to some extent socialism are at present in eclipse in post-communist Europe this is not so evidently the case elsewhere.

Everywhere, however, there is much rethinking of the social and political doctrines which had their origins in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and flowered in the present century against the background of massive and rapid changes in the structure and culture of human societies. The Industrial Revolution and the political revolutions in France and America had initiated this transformation, giving birth to the democratic movement and later to socialism, as well as to the counter-doctrines of conservatism and liberalism, but the new industrial capitalist societies were also characterized by nationalism and imperialist expansion. As a result the twentieth century, contrary to the expectations of Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer, came to be one of the most violent in human history, with two immensely destructive and savage world was and innumerable, equally savage, lesser conflicts, as well as persecution and genocide on a large scale. New forms of aggressive expansionism emerged with the fascist regimes in Europe, which also established totalitarian dictatorships of a new kind (though these had a parallel, or even precursor, in Stalinist Russia), and in a different, more militaristic style in Japan.

Underlying the destructiveness of modern warfare has been the unprecedented advance during the past century of natural science and technology, which has transformed the conditions and modes of social life. Incessant technological innovation in the industrial countries has been a major factor in economic growth, and an important factor in the emergence of giant corporations, among them, notably in the past four decades, multinational corporations, which increasingly dominate the world economy. At the same time innovation and growth have a disruptive effect, not proceeding steadily and smoothly, but in a cycle of boom and depression, marked by periods of large-scale unemployment, as in the 1930s and again in the 1980s. Hence there has been much debate about ways of regulating the economy for social ends, a debate which until 1989 often involved contrasting (relatively) free market capitalist economies with the centrally planned economies, and still raises questions about the role of partial, indicative planning in the management of the economic system.

Economic growth itself has raised new issues for social thinkers; first, the contrast between the growing wealth of the industrial countries, within which there remain however substantial impoverished sectors, and the widespread poverty – in some cases increasing, as in large parts of Africa – of much of the Third World, and secondly, the environmental impact of growth itself. In relation to the first issue there have been many attempts to formulate models of development for the poorer countries, and to work out practical policies for overcoming this North/South divide, but the policies actually implemented have not so far been notably successful and by the end of the 1980s the transfer of resources from rich to poor countries, through aid programmes and other means, had turned, as a result of accumulated debt, into a reverse flow from the poor to the wealthy. In consequence a critical debate about what is to be understood by development in a world context, or by the idea of a 'new international economic order', which so far remains largely a catchphrase, has engaged an increasing number of social thinkers, and the debate has expanded into an additional area of concern with the human environment. Indeed it is with this issue, and with the burgeoning ecology movements, that much social thought has been engaged in recent decades. The pollution and destruction of the human habitat through industrial production and the apparently insatiable demand for raw materials, has affected not only the industrial societies themselves but also the countries of the Third World, where it is often even more devastating, sometimes compounded by the effects of rapid population growth.

It is against the background of the upheavals, conflicts, discontinuities and new problems of the twentieth century that social thought, whether produced by social and political activists themselves or by the growing army of professional scholars, must be understood. Yet many of its central themes remain much as they were in the 1900s: the nature of work, the role of the nation-state, the relation between individual and society, the effect of money on social relations, the contrast between Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (society/ association), stratification and equality, the tension between partisanship and value-freedom in the social sciences, even such labels as fin de siecle itself. The latest diagnoses of postmodernity or postindustrialism look remarkably like early accounts of modernity and industrialism, and modern futurology, despite the availability of computer models, not unlike the predictions of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century social thinkers.

These earlier themes, however, have in many cases acquired a new content. The nature and meaning of work has now to be examined in the context of a radically changing occupational structure, the reduction of working hours, and the expansion of time available for freely chosen activities. The state has become more obviously the provider of vital social services and of the essential economic infrastructure, but the experience of fascism and Stalinism has shown that its power can be used in some circumstances to establish a totalitarian system. Democracy, which at the beginning of the twentieth century was a relatively new and limited growth, in only a small minority of countries, and was subsequently destroyed again in some of them, has become (in theory at least) an almost universal political value, though its eventual scope is still vigorously debated between advocates of liberal or participatory democracy, and in the context of recent discussions of the meaning of citizenship. Stratification and equality, which had a central place in the political conflicts between left and right throughout the twentieth century, have become more complex issues in recent decades as other kinds of inequality – of gender, race and nationality – have been more strongly emphasized by new social movements, and as the claims of communist societies to have eliminated class inequalities were more vigorously disputed by internal and external critics of their strongly hierarchical structures.

Trust, Risk, and Uncertainty edited by Sean Watson, Anthony Moran (Palgrave Macmillan) This edited collection focuses on recently emerging debates around the themes of "risk", "trust", "uncertainty", and "ambivalence." Where much of the work on these themes in the social sciences has been theory based and driven, this book combines theoretical sophistication with close to the ground analysis and research in the fields of philosophy, education, social policy, government, health and social care, politics and cultural studies.

Excerpt: Trust, Risk and Uncertainty brings together scholars with established and developing international reputations, as well as several new writers, to focus on these 'risk society' debates. We combine theoretical sophistication with close-to-the-ground analysis and new research in the fields of philoso­phy, education, social policy, government, organisational studies, health and social care, sociology, and cultural and media studies. The empirically-grounded emphasis is, we believe, a real strength which should add to the book's appeal and accessibility, especially for graduate and undergraduate students. Included in the collection are contributions from a number of already distinguished academics and social commentators. Among these are: the feminist critic Alison Assiter, author of Pornography, Feminism and the Individual (1989), Althusser and Feminism (1990), Enlightened Women (1996) and Revisiting Universalism (2003); the sociologist Alan Petersen, author of many books on public health, the body and risk, including The New Public Health (1996) and The New Genetics and the Public Health (2002); the political theorist and psychotherapist Paul Hoggett, author of Partisans in an Uncertain World (1992) and Emotional Life and the Politics of Welfare (2000); the political philosopher Simon Thompson, author of The Political Theory of Recognition: A Critical Introduction (forthcoming), and co-editor of Richard Rorty: Critial Dialogues (2001); the cultural studies theorist Stuart Allan, author of News Culture (1999); the media studies expert, Alison Anderson, author of Media, Culture and the Environment (1997); the social work and social policy expert Harry Ferguson, author of Protecting Children in Time (2004); the public management and governance experts Tony Bovaird and Elke Loeffler, authors of Public Management and Governance (2003); and the political scientist Anthony Moran, author of Australia: Nation, Belonging and Globalization (2005).

The themes of 'trust', 'risk' and 'uncertainty' seem especially pertinent in the context of the current world crisis after September 11. We have encour­aged our contributors to be liberal in their approach, however, not neces­sarily reflecting directly on the impact of September 11, but exploring the broader and longer-term implications of these themes as they arise and gain expression within diverse fields of intellectual inquiry. The book brings together contributions from a wide range of disciplines to the major themes of trust, risk and uncertainty. The remit given to our authors is to reflect on those themes and to write out of their own disciplines in a way that speaks to an audience of non-specialists. The rationale for the project is that the different disciplines have something unique to contribute to the 'risk society' debate, and that the themes resonate well beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The book is divided into three parts which deal more specifically with theoretical, philosophical and moral concerns and those concerned more directly with institutions, organisations, social policy and cultural issues. There are thirteen chapters, each by a different author or authors.

Part One: The theory and philosophy of trust, risk and uncertainty

This part comprises a range of theoretical and philosophical responses to the trust, risk and uncertainty debates in specific contexts. The first two chapters are particularly concerned with theoretical approaches to understanding the conditions of uncertainty in late/postmodernity. Chapters 3 and 4 are concerned with developing ethical responses to, and in the context of, such uncertainty.

In Chapter 1 Paul Hoggett deals with uncertainty. He begins from the recognition that there has been a renewed interest in human agency from both sides of the Atlantic. He deepens our understanding of the nature of such agency by developing a model that draws on the psychoanalytic work of Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion, among other psychaoanalytic and philo­sophical thinkers. This approach takes account of the human agent as both subject and object, and as one who acts reflexively on some occasions and unreflexively on others. Hoggett develops this line by taking up Zygmunt Bauman's notion of ambivalence as the exemplification of postmodernity, and Bonnie Honig's view of society as radically plural; that is, as one where a babble of different voices constantly interrupt one another, 'one praising what the other condemns'. This, then, is a society where there are no obvious rules that the heteronomous self can simply follow. Following Honig, we can think of such a world as 'dilemmatic space', where certainties are increasingly difficult to sustain or justify.

It is within this reflective context that Hoggett introduces an exploration of the dilemmas of ordinary life. Drawing on his current research into 'regeneration workers' (what we used to call community development workers), the chapter relies on an original case study of a 'regeneration work' manager within local government negotiating his way through a series of public and private dilemmas as he attempts to implement a complex consultative process that is built around an apparently irresolvable contradiction between the values of fiscal restraint and of 'empowering' residents in a disadvantaged area.

Simon Thompson's chapter is concerned with both trust and risk, and draws out the relationship between them and different modes of identity. The intuition he follows is that 'there are interesting and important links between attitudes to risk, types of trust, and certain characteristic forms of political belief and action'. He explores what he calls 'risks with identity', which Giddens, and indeed other third way advocates, argue are necessary and appropriate for late modern risk society. Thompson engages closely with the work of Giddens and Bauman in order to think through the social conditions of trust in late modern society. In doing this, he offers a very clear and critical introduction to some of their important and influential ideas about ontological security, risk and the cosmopolitan self. Thompson argues that the risk-taking individual is more likely to come from a particu­lar social location of relative privilege, where such attitudes, stances and behaviours are expected and valued. Others, who lack the confidence, or indeed the wherewithal, to take such risks, occupy a different social loca­tion, seeking security in the embrace of community. Thompson's chapter raises the important question of whether we are wrong to approach iden­tity in a normative sense. Indeed, he suggests that those who do not risk their identities may have very good reasons for not pursuing 'pure relation­ships' and the sort of authenticity and autonomy described and, Thompson claims, is approved of by Giddens. Less concerned with ongoing personal revision, their identities are more embedded within community. Such tradi­tional selves, Thompson argues, are just as legitimate as risk identities, even if social scientists tend to see them as out of step with the requirements of late modernity. In addition, Thompson relates these issues, themes and arguments to a broader engagement with the politics of recognition, which is his central research focus in political philosophy.

In the wake of postmodern critiques of the foundations of knowledge, postcolonial critiques of ethnocentric discourse, feminist critiques of patri­archal structures and diagnoses of global risk, uncertainty and de-tradition­alisation (to name but a few), the search has been on for tenable grounds for a normative philosophy of some kind. Some believe they may have found it in the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. In Chapter 3 Peter Jowers provides a superb introduction to the work of this very complex thinker. He demonstrates Levinas's own deep suspicion of language, knowledge and, indeed, the conscious, intentional subject itself. He shows that, for Levinas, the only possible ground for normative judgement lies in the ethical instincts of the pre-social, and unconscious, 'creature'. Somewhere prior to language, subjectivity and judgements lies a raw 'incarnate' self whose very constitution is presupposed by an ethical moment of engage­ment with the other. This is the moment of supreme risk and uncertainty. The 'creature' has no knowledge, makes no judgement, has no intention —yet it is the very foundation of our being for the other, the moment at which the other shatters our self-enclosed, narcissistic core and constitutes us as an ethical human subject—far from self-reflexivity perhaps (or perhaps a radicalisation of self-reflexivity), but a profound reaching towards ethics in a very uncertain world nevertheless.

In Chapter 4 Alison Assiter outlines a quite different approach to practical philosophy. According to this account, normative uncertainty and fragmen­tation in late/postmodernity might be attributed to a kind of cultural mind/body dualism. In this context, moral judgements are made without sufficient reflection; rather, they occur as a consequence of reactive responses to moral questions, based on a free-floating emotivism. She claims further that contemporary readings of Descartes as a mind/body dualist are highly simplistic. Instead, she suggests a reading that emphasises the integration ofmind and body, reason and emotion and claims that such a reading could provide more certain grounds for the re-establishment of the moral univer­salist project which was characteristic of many Enlightenment thinkers. Interestingly, then, both the Cartesian Assiter and the Levinasian Jowers seem to be attempting to counter moral fragmentation and uncertainty, with a grounded ethical/moral universalism. But while Levinas grounds his ethics in the pre-conceptual 'creature' and is deeply suspicious of 'rational' judge­ment and, indeed, 'knowledge' of any kind, Assiter grounds her universalism squarely in Enlightenment reason.

Part Two: Trust, risk and uncertainty in institutions and organisations

In Part Two the themes of trust, risk and uncertainty are explored through research based in a range of key organisational settings. In some cases the role of the organisation in the context of trust and risk management is explored (e.g. Ferguson); in other cases the issue of identity and self in the context of organisational risk and uncertainty is emphasised (e.g. Baxter and Britton).

In Chapter 5 Harry Ferguson outlines some of the central features of the risk society hypothesis, as developed by Beck and Giddens. He does so in the context of an exploration of the implications of his own research on child protection. He describes the discursive transformations which have occurred since the beginnings of child protection in the nineteenth century. He outlines a period of 'simple modernity' in which child protec­tion expert systems successfully 'sequestered' the reality of their success (and failure) in dealing with child abuse, neglect and death. They did so by suppressing information, but they were able to do so because this was a period of public trust in the ability of expert systems to counter such social problems effectively. Since the 1970s, however, this trust has broken down. Such expert systems have themselves become the object of risk assessment. Risk now seems unavoidable and, therefore, endemic. Success is unattain­able, yet, at the same time, accountability for each failure is demanded, together with constant reflection on the dimensions of organisational failure. A culture of scandal and blame has arisen in the face of public anx­ieties about such contingency and risk. Ferguson looks at the personal strategies engaged in by the experts involved to deal with the anxieties that arise as a consequence of this impossible intolerance of failure. He also emphasises the ambivalence of such developments. While being part of a blame culture, they have also made genuinely safer futures for many children possible.

In Chapter 6, Arthur Baxter and Carolyn Britton examine how mature university students experience and account for the changes that are brought about by education. This experience, which, in many ways, is empowering for students, also brings associated risks to the self which have to be managed. Two such forms of related risk are discussed: those stemming from challenges to established gender roles within the family, and those associated with moving away from a working-class habitus. In this study students had to manage being thought superior and at times feeling superior to family and friends due to changes in vocabulary and perceptions brought about through education. These findings are compared to other studies which, while dealing with similar issues of risk and identity change, focus on issues of guilt and shame. They argue that their findings are specific to the type of subjects these students were studying and to their being at a pivotal point in the transition from old to new identities.

In Chapter 7, Ajit Nayak examines the rise of `enterprising management' in current management discourse and practice. Nayak argues that it is a basis for the management of uncertainty and creativity, which involves a total, and risky, construction of the self through the consumption of an `enterprising' working life as a basis for identity. He points out, however, that such responses to uncertainty and risk as the basis for organisational creativity are evacuated of ethical or moral content. Nayak also shows that such responses have a strong tendency to colonise our private existence. What the author describes is a new `technology of the self', known among manage­ment consultants as `Me Plc'. In establishing his case, Nayak draws on his own research and interviews on the British entrepreneur and organisational guru, Alec Reed.

In Chapter 8, Tony Bovaird and Elke Loeffler argue that it has become conventional to locate the current crisis in the legitimacy of the state within 'Western liberal democracies' in the growing lack of trust felt by citizens in state-funded professional bureaucracies and the representa­tional politics which is supposed to regulate them. At the local level, the withering away of `social capital', as citizens become used to `bowling alone', has been postulated by Putnam to have made it even more difficult for civil society to substitute for state action. The communitarian mani­festo of Etzioni has contested this, but so far has produced only fragmen­tary evidence, not coherent counter-examples. This chapter examines ways in which these competing discourses can be systematised to make it possible to test their relevance as a basis for political action at the local level. It reports work currently being undertaken by the authors as part of the Study Group on Local Governance for the European Group of Public Administration.

Part Three: Cultures of risk: the uncertainties of trust

The final part of the book includes work which explores the themes of trust, risk and uncertainty through impressive research into a diverse range of cultural phenomena.

In Chapter 9, Stuart Allan, Alison Anderson and Alan Petersen are con­cerned with the ways in which expert knowledge and journalistic priorities interact in the presentation of risk to the public. They focus, for the pur­poses of their chapter, on developments in cloning techniques and atten­dant concerns regarding the possibilities for human cloning. They present the pro- and anti-cases for human cloning. The former relate mainly to the perceived medical benefits of such techniques, while the latter concern fears relating to both imagined possibilities for human exploitation and objections rooted in religious belief. They then proceed to analyse, in some detail, the rhetorical strategies at work in the presentation of one particular case. This enables them to begin to ask questions regarding the diverging interests of journalists and scientific experts. They conclude by suggesting a need to realign this relationship between experts, journalists and public concerns about risk.

In Chapter 10 Leah Wild examines issues concerned with risk percep­tion and identity construction as they relate to `New Age' Travellers. She first examines the cultural role of nomadic groups as objects of suspi­cion, hatred and deep anxiety throughout history. She examines the relationship between outsiderness, marginality, liminality and percep­tions of risk in the wider society. The chapter then describes the specific form that this anxiety has taken in relation to `New Age' Travellers. Perhaps most importantly, she challenges much of the contemporary literature in this area by arguing that her research suggests that we must be wary of simplistically casting such groups as victims of unwelcome fantasy, stereotyping and marginalisation. She effectively problematises aspects of the risk hypothesis by showing how Travellers themselves have actively elected this role, that they actively reinforce it and that the experience of outsiderness, transgression and risk is central to their identity and libidinal economy.

In Chapter 11, Lita Crociani-Windland focuses on the unique civic structure of Siena, in central Italy. This structure has evolved over centuries in connection with the horse race known as the Palio. Crociani-Windland's work on such festivals in northern Italy serves to problematise the risk society theses in a number of ways. First, challeng­ing the notion of de-traditionalisation, she shows how these festivals survive, and indeed thrive, on the basis of centuries-old traditions — tra­ditions which are very much alive to both young and old. She also shows the way in which highly ritualised risk forms the basis of a channelling of collective aggression into powerful and enduring forms of social soli­darity/capital which are productive of trust — and which show no signs of weakening under the impact of modernity. There is no sign of the dis­integration of trust and civil society anticipated by much of the theoret­ical literature in this field. This strength derives from adaptability — from the ability of the community to accept a degree of fluidity and change, while maintaining enough structure for the tradition to hold its charisma. The focus of research for this chapter, then, is the link between affective dynamics and the development of the present struc­ture as a pivotal source of social capital. The overall picture is that of a community that has achieved a balance between being and becoming, where identity, intensity, risk and trust can coexist. The Palio is not just the race, but a way of life—in the words of the Siennese, `nel Palio ci sta sempre tutto' (`everything can always be contained in the Palio').

In Chapter 12 Anthony Moran considers the way that distrust and uncer­tainty have shaped relations between Australia's settler and indigenous communities in the past, and in contemporary Australian society. Moran argues that the colonial relationship between settler and indigene has con­tinued into the present. This gives rise to a sense of suspicion about the intentions of the other community, from each side of the racial divide. As he shows, this suspicion is played out in the controversy over Aboriginal land rights and native title, and in recent debates about the 'stolen genera­tions'. Indigenous peoples have, in addition, a sense of grievance about unresolved issues arising from the European invasion and colonisation. Moran argues that this sense of grievance and separation from mainstream Australian life is one factor in what he perceives as a low level of civic engagement between the two communities. Moran draws on his own large-scale interview project with 'ordinary Australians' in order to reflect on the dynamics of uncertainty, suspicion and distrust felt by settlers for Aboriginal communities and causes. Trust between settler and indigene is a difficult achievement and always threatened by larger historical forces. On the other hand, there have been efforts from both sides of the colonial divide to build trust and to improve relations. These efforts have been evident in the reconciliation movement of the 1990s, and even in the much criticised assimilation era from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Finally, Chapter 13 examines certain aspects of the Giddens/Beck hypo­thesis through David Green's work on pagan magic. The view he develops is that paganism can be accounted for as a response to late modern 'onto­logical uncertainty' — but one which, as with Wild's account of 'New Age' Travellers, emphasises the creative potential of such risk and uncertainty. He particularly emphasises the central role of embodiment in this response, and points out that this is a theme generally neglected by the risk theorists. As with Crociani-Windland's account of Italian festivals, he suggests that certain historical continuities in pagan practices and identity throw some doubt on the 'late modern' theorists' account of 'de-traditionalisation'. At the same time, Green's research does give added weight to the claim that identities and practices centring on 'reflexivity' are particularly common in `late modernity'. Finally, Green shows how responses to ontological uncer­tainty such as this can produce their own environment of risk, leading to high levels of inner group cohesion and secrecy.

Roads to Dystopia: Sociological Essays on the Postmodern Condition by Stanford M. Lyman (Studies in American Sociology, V. 6: University of Arkansas Press) The essays in this book speak to a burgeoning period of human existence that some believe is best described as post-histoire," defined by Henrik de Man as a moment in time when humankind gains unwanted "entry into a phase of world events that does not fit into history at all, because the otherwise historically verifiable connections between causes and effects are not forthcoming.

The great metanarratives heralded the coming of a utopia in which the problems that plague humankind would lose their intransigence before the ultimate will of God, the forces of history, or the capabilities of inspired human agency. With Lyotard's "incredulity toward metanarratives" bidding for the paramount place in social and political thought, the hope for these solutions dissolves into nothingness.

But we do not need to accept such a doleful conclusion. This book is offered to those who choose to resist the pessimistic fatalism of postmodernism, those who-chastened by Simmel's recognition that there can never be an utterly free-floating life without its attendant constraining forms'

Comparative Social Policy: Theory and Research by Patricia Kennett (Introducing Social Policy: Open University Press) explores the new context of social policy and considers how cross-national theory and research can respond to the challenges facing welfare. These challenges include changing demographic trends and economic conditions which have been accompanied by the emergence of new needs and risks within and across societies. This book extends and deepens cross-national research by exploring the theoretical and conceptual frameworks through which social policy and welfare systems have been understood. It critically examines different policy processes and welfare outcomes, as well as the ethnocentricism and cultural imperialism which has permeated cross-national epistemology and methodology. The author concludes by reflecting on how cross-national research can illuminate the complex and diverse processes leading to discrimination and inequality across borders. This leads to a consideration of how it can contribute to the implementation of welfare provision appropriate to the social and economic conditions of contemporary societies. Comparative Social Policy is an essential text for undergraduate and masters level students of social policy, and an invaluable reference for researchers embarking on cross-national social research.

Talcott Parsons Today: His Theory and Legacy in Contemporary Sociology edited by A. Javier Trevino, Neil J. Smelser (Rowman & Littlefield) offers a reappraisal - and extension - of the work of the most significant and influential twentieth-century sociologist. The volume consists of original essays by prominent Parsons scholars from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Germany. Finally, and most important, it makes a significant contribution to the current controversy surrounding an important sociological figure. The book consists of 10 essays, nine of which are original pieces; all are written by well-known scholars who are intimately acquainted with Parsons' body of work.

Editor’s introduction: this extremely valuable collection of contributions to the current understanding of the sociological work of Talcott Parsons is notable on three counts. First, its appearance coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Toward a General Theory of Action and The Social System, which constitute a most important watershed in Parsons's prolific career. Second, as noticed by Trevino in his admirable, comprehensive introduction, this book appears in the context of a revival of interest in Parsons's theoretical project, both in the United States and Europe. Finally, all the chapters in these pages are remarkable for their quality‑excellence of scholarship, insightfulness, sophistication, and faithfulness in appreciating Parsons's sociology.

The title of the work, Talcott Parsons Today, is both apt and intriguing. It connotes several possible lines of exploration into his work, all represented in this volume:

New understanding of historical influences on Parsons's work: Bryan Turner's suggestions that Parsons's sociology reflects an optimistic consensus capitalism in mid‑century America; Buxton and Rehorick's assessment of the impact of Weber on the middle phase of Parsons's work (and Parsons's use and adaptation of Weber); Nichols's tracking of the special influence of Parsons's local situation at Harvard on his intellectual strategies as represented in The Structure of Social Action.

Deepening our understanding of Parsons by comparing and contrasting his efforts with the agendas and work of other theorists: Wearne's tracking of the divergences between Parsons and Elias on the problem‑historical method and Fuchs on Parsons, Luhmann, and network analysis as social‑systems theory.

New exegesis, elaboration, and extension of Parsonian formulations: Trevino's multileveled representation of Parsons's intellectual career; Barber on the development of Parsons's social system; Gerhardt's explication and systematization of Parsons on the societal community; Lidz's analysis of language within the generalized media framework; Jonathan Turner's reformulation of structural‑functionalism in an ecological framework; and Gould's effort to extract normative principles and guidelines from action theory.

Applications of Parsonian insights and formulations to historical‑empirical situations that have developed in the decades since Parsons's work: Gerhardt's application of the logic of societal community to global developments and Bryan Turner's arguments concerning the limitations of Parsonian insights to the postmodern situation.

All of these readings of Talcott Parsons Today are legitimate undertakings, and the fact that all are represented in the pages of this work gives it a special depth, importance, and significance.

Over the years I have given much thought to the continuing relevance, nonrelevance, and irrelevance of different aspects of the Parsonian enterprise, though I have recorded few of these reflections. Restimulated by reading the work of Trevino and his colleagues, I would like to conclude this Foreword with a few remarks on this subject.

It appears to me that, both in this volume and in the more general revival of interest, Parsons is considered mainly as a figure in the history of sociological thought (that is, as part of a "legacy" appearing in this volume's subtitle), as a product of his times, as relevant to the understanding of his times (but not ours), or as a person to be "rewritten" in terms of new theoretical developments and empirical knowledge. Gerhardt's chapter appears to be the only positive effort to apply Parsons's formulations‑as they were formulated‑to contemporary empirical situations and problems.

While acknowledging the importance of all the lines of work represented in this volume, I am also of the conviction that some of Parsons's formulations, as such, continue to be directly relevant to framing, understanding, and explaining contemporary phenomena‑that is, his work is "of our time" as well as "of his time;" This implies, contrary to the suggestion by Bryan Turner, that much of Parsons's work is an expression of a certain phase of capitalism, that some parts of it have general and continuing applicability.

Moreover, my reflections instruct me that two ingredients of Parsonian thinking in particular continue to have relevance for our time. These elements are the pattern-variables and the logic of structural differentiation. Rather than develop a detailed defense of this assertion in the compass of these few pages, let me settle for a few pointed illustrations:

1. Affirmative action constitutes one of the most daring institutional innovations in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. The phenomenon is notable for its appearance and consolidation in the greatly troubled political decade overlapping the second half of the 1960s and the early 1970s. It is also characterized by a long and embittered history and a partial dismemberment after forty years of uneasy institutionalization. I would argue that we cannot understand this complex history without acknowledging that many of its dynamics involved continuing and unresolved tugs‑of‑war between the poles of universalism‑particularism and achievement‑ascription.

2. Another monumental development in American and other societies has been the dispersion of the traditional nuclear family into many alternative forms and the resulting revolution in the social structuring of intimacy. We cannot understand these and related changes without invoking the logic of structural differentiation along the instrumental-­expressive and affectivity‑affective neutrality axes.

3. A third twentieth‑century revolution has been the unprecedented advance of globalization, accompanied by apparent threats to the nation‑state and diverse reassertions of regionalism and localism as foci of solidarity and identity. We cannot reflect intelligently on these dynamics of globalism without referring to the unprecedented set of economic and political differentiations occasioned by the conquest of multinational, global capitalism, as these have impinged on traditional sources of integration and spawned new ones. The frameworks of universalism-particularism and self‑orientation‑collectivity orientation bear directly on the understandings and explanation of these changes.

I have argued that the pattern‑variable and structural differentiation formulations are inadequate and therefore unacceptable in some of their particulars. However, if reduced to their essentials, their logic continues to be vital and applicable to our continuing efforts to develop theoretical understandings and empirical explanations of contemporary historical trends.

Social Capital: Theory and Research edited by Nan Lin, Karen S. Cook, and Ronald S. Burt (Sociology and Economics: Aldine de Gruyter) present the first systematic and comprehensive collection of current theories and empirical research on the informal connections that individuals have for support, help, and information from other people. Expanding on concepts originally formulated by Bourdieu and Coleman in the 1980's, this seminal work will find an essential place in courses on social networks, rational choice theory, institutions, and the socioeconomics of poverty, labor markets, social psychology, and race.

This volume investigates social capital from a social-network perspec­tive and provides a forum for ongoing research programs initiated by some sociologists. These scholars and programs share certain understandings and approaches in their analyses of social capital. First, they argue that so­cial networks are the foundation of social capital. Social networks simul­taneously capture individuals and social structure, thus serving as a vital conceptual link between actions and structural constraints, between micro ­and macro level analyses, and between relational and collective dynamic processes. Second, they are cognizant of the dual significance of the "struc­tural" features of the social networks and the "resources" embedded in the networks as defining elements of social capital. Trying to reflect these ele­ments in the conceptualization and operationalization of social capital, these scholars' work forms a common, although by no means uniform, ba­sis for constructing and building knowledge about social capital. Third, they analyze the precedents as well as consequences of social capital. For them, social capital not only serves as an exogenous force, leading to cer­tain outcomes, but more importantly is itself the consequence of other exogenous and dynamic forces. Specifically, these scholars focus on struc­tural features in the political economy, the society, the community, and the organizations that may account for the formation and distribution of so­cial capital. Fourth, these scholars share the commitment that research on social capital must be a multimethod, multilevel, and multisite enterprise. The variety of methodologies employed (ranging from case studies to mul­tilevel analysis) and the global nature of the research enterprise (works conducted in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, Hungary, main­land China, and Taiwan) highlight the shared interest in and sensitivity to the multimethod approach to validating hypotheses and in the contingent nature of findings.

The volume is divided into three parts. Part I clarifies social capital as a concept and explores its theoretical and operational bases. Lin, in the ini­tial essay, provides a brief account that places the development of social capital in the context of the family of capital theorists, and identifies some critical but controversial perspectives and statements regarding social cap­ital in the literature. It makes the argument for the network perspective: why and how such a perspective can clarify controversies and advance our understanding of a whole range of instrumental and expressive outcomes.

Burt tackles a major debate between two different conceptual perspec­tives on networks as social capital: an open network or a research focus on linkages with ties outside a social group, or a closed network emphasizing internal cohesion. Rather than seeing them as competing paradigms, Burt argues that they are in fact complementary. The open network argument, as exemplified in the analysis of structural holes, is the paradigm if ties to outside the group add value to the group or its members. On the other hand, the network closure argument seems to be useful when resources in­side the group are sufficient and mobilized for group or individual mem­bers' gain. Thus, the chapter proposes an integration of the two models in a more general one in which holes and closure are contingency factors in the calculation of the value of the capital.

Lin, Fu, and Hsung, in the next chapter, take on the methodological is­sue of designing an appropriate measurement of social capital. Assuming that embedded resources in social connections characterize social capital, they demonstrate-with survey data from Taiwan-the utility of the po­sition-generator methodology, which yields good psychometric properties and credible validity in a status-attainment model. The measurement is also sensitive in illustrating differential returns of social capital to men and women in different employment contexts (i.e., whether self-employed or working for others).

Part II reports on current efforts in the assessment of social capital's util­ity in the labor market, and how it operates from both the employer's and laborer's points of view. The labor market is a research arena where a sub­stantial number of social-capital studies have been conducted. Job-search studies have clearly demonstrated the utility of social capital for job seek­ers to attain better occupations. Only recently, however, has attention turned to the utility of social capital from employers' perspective. The principal argument is that social capital should benefit both employers and employees. For employers, networks present an important avenue for en­larging application pools, providing additional or new information about applicants, and furnishing a social environment to induce employees to stay with the firm. More important, networks help employers match the requirements of certain jobs with applicants. In cases where jobs require external contacts or network skills, social connections facilitate the identi­fication of applicants with the appropriate qualifications, especially those who have networks rich in resources or social skills for the specific jobs. Thus, it should be the case that social capital carries returns for both the employer and the employee, matching supply and demand for labor in a mutually beneficial way.

Fernandez focuses on employee referrals and calculates the returns or benefits in the use of interpersonal connections for both the employer and the employee. He and co-author Castilla investigate returns to employees

who refer new recruits to jobs as customer service representatives. As they clearly show, the bonus incentive is the leading inducement to employees to engage in such actions. Further, those who are in structurally advan­taged positions (they themselves had been referred or have served as cus­tomer service representatives) are more likely to take such actions. They thus demonstrate that social capital (evoking interpersonal ties) represents a purposive investment for those in a position to take advantage of incen­tives and results in monetary returns.

Marsden examines the utility of social capital from the employer's per­spective. He argues that the use of network practices for recruiting new employees from outside as well as promoting or transferring current em­ployees depends on costs, benefits, and constraints associated with its usage in different circumstances. Social capital tends to benefit simple, private-sector organizations, positions that require additional training, and jobs in managerial, professional/ technical, or sales/service rather than un- or semiskilled occupations.

Erickson also focuses on the demand and supply of social capital and argues that employers define jobs in terms of human capital (education and experience) and social capital (networks rich in external contacts) re­quirements, and match employees who fit these requirements. For jobs that require social capital, occupants with such network resources are also bet­ter rewarded in terms of higher rank and pay beyond the contribution of human capital.

Flap and Boxman examine the question of why informal searches do not always yield better job outcomes for persons seeking jobs with a panel study of job applicants as well as a sample of the employers. In combining these data, they demonstrate: (1) that it is important to take both employer and applicant characteristics into account in determining whether social connections would be used in the matching process; (2) that in fact em­ployer's requirements (e.g., minimizing damage or risk, and the potential for a commitment to develop a career with the firm) may be more impor­tant; and (3) that as a result of this two-way process, it cannot be expected that applicants using informal job search processes would automatically be better off (e.g., gain better jobs and income).

Part III examines how social capital operates in organizational, com­munity, and institutional settings. Examining social capital with the net­work approach does not suggest that the larger social contexts are to be ignored; instead, it actually provides a foundation on which individual ac­tions and societal constraints and opportunities can be better analyzed and understood. Thus, it is most advisable that social capital studies always concern themselves with larger social contexts. Essays in this section demonstrate how such designs and analyses can bear fruit. Lazega and Pattison use a case study approach to examine a law firm, where temporary task forces present occasions for possible status auctions and compe­titions. Use of p* models to study the multiplexity of resource (advice, friendship, and co-workers) exchanges in the substructural level finds that advice ties promote co-worker ties. It is therefore proposed that a multi­plexity of resource exchanges may be seen as social capital that both pro­motes and softens status competition. Advice ties and friendships also show significant multiplexity and exchange effects. Thus, the authors sug­gest that friendship both directly and indirectly softens the status differ­ences in advice ties.

Wellman and Frank address the issue by employing a multilevel meth­odology to demonstrate that social capital, as crystalized in social support, is facilitated by tie characteristics, and micro- and mesolevel variables, with both social support and tie characteristics simultaneously functions of the larger social networks. Thus, the presence of a larger percentage of parents and children in a network facilitates greater support behavior for parents and children. This strategy demonstrates the simultaneous signif­icance of individual agency and dyadic relations, as well as network prop­erties for the utility of social capital.

Examining the larger social contexts also allows us to test the bound­aries and contingencies of the usual expectations of the utility of social capital as initially formulated in certain specific social and cultural envi­ronments. Are weaker or stronger ties better for accessing better resources? Is gender homogeneity or homophily more useful in accessing better re­sources? Hurlbert, Beggs, and Haines study some of these issues. Their research program examines the use of social networks and embedded re­sources in what they call "extreme environments" such as in the wake of a disaster (e.g., a hurricane) or life in a property-stricken community. Their findings challenge conventional expectations and suggest that networks and social capital useful in one social context may not work in another. Thus, different social groups (gender or poor/ rich), for different purposes (formal or informal support), may or may not benefit from certain network characteristics (size, density, and homophily).

How does social capital operate in other cultures? Bian makes an at­tempt to analyze the notion of guanxi, a term commonly used to denote so­cial connections among the Chinese. Bian suggests that in fact there are possibly three understandings or theories about guanxi, each emphasizing a certain feature of social connections: (1) it signifies and consolidates ex­tended families, (2) it evokes instrumental use of connections, or (3) it per­forms asymmetric exchanges in order to expand the diversity of one's connections. Using banquet giving and attending as indicators of cultur­ally important social occasions, he sets up hypotheses for testing these al­ternative theories. With panel data from urban China, Bian confirms the significance of guanxi as a means of network diversity.

The dynamic transformation of political and economic institutions ex­perienced by a society provides another arena for examining the social con­text for social-capital dynamics. Angelusz and Tardos were able to conduct panel studies in Hungary before and after the collapse of the Communist regime (1987 and 1997). The question they posed is whether factors affect­ing social capital (resources embedded in social networks) changed during this transformation, and if so in what particular manner. Using four differ­ent methodologies to measure social capital (the name generator, the posi­tion generator, the sending of Christmas and New Year greeting cards, and membership in voluntary associations), they found that wealth became more significantly related to social capital after the collapse of the regime. Surprisingly, political involvement persisted in significance during the two periods, and education showed no substantial increase in significance over this period. The authors suspect that the transformation is still under way, and further observation will be needed to gain a better understanding of the social dynamics affecting the social capital distribution in Hungary.

This collection by no means claims to be representative of all significant work on social capital currently taking place around the world; nor is it our aim to settle all controversies and debates. Space limitations do not even allow us to include important research programs using the social-capital network perspective to examine many other critical issues and outcomes, such as quality of life, health and mental health, and collective behaviors and actions. Excluded also is the arena of cyberspace, where rigorous and systematic examinations and presentations will showcase the creative con­struction and reconstruction of social capital in dynamic cyber networks. Nevertheless, we hope that the volume serves as a focal reference demon­strating how social capital has been pursued as a theoretical concept guid­ing systematic research. These theoretical and research insights, both positive and negative, help form the bases for intellectual dialogue and re­search development when other topics and arenas are engaged.


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