Microsociologists seek to capture social life as it is experienced, and in recent decades no one has championed the microsociological approach more fiercely than Randall Collins. The pieces in this exciting volume offer fresh and original insights into key aspects of Collins’ thought, and of microsociology more generally.
The introductory essay by Elliot B. Weininger and Omar Lizardo provides a lucid overview of the key premises this perspective. Ethnographic papers by Randol Contreras, using data from New York, and Philippe Bourgois and Laurie Kain Hart, using data from Philadelphia, examine the social logic of violence in street-level narcotics markets. Both draw on heavily on Collins’ microsociological account of the features of social situations that tend to engender violence.
In the second section of the book, a study by Paul DiMaggio, Clark Bernier, Charles Heckscher, and David Mimno tackles the question of whether electronically mediated interaction exhibits the ritualization which, according to Collins, is a common feature of face-to-face encounters. Their results suggest that, at least under certain circumstances, digitally mediated interaction may foster social solidarity in a manner similar to face-to-face interaction. A chapter by Simone Polillo picks up from Collins’ work in the sociology of knowledge, examining multiple ways in which social network structures can engender intellectual creativity.
The third section of the book contains papers that critically but sympathetically assess key tenets of microsociology. Jonathan H. Turner argues that the radically microsociological perspective developed by Collins will better serve the social scientific project if it is embedded in a more comprehensive paradigm, one that acknowledges the macro- and meso-levels of social and cultural life. A chapter by David Gibson presents empirical analyses of decisions by state leaders concerning whether or not to use force to deal with internal or external foes, suggesting that Collins’ model of interaction ritual can only partially illuminate the dynamics of these highly consequential political moments. Work by Erika Summers-Effler and Justin Van Ness seeks to systematize and broaden the scope of Collins’ theory of interaction, by including in it encounters that depart from the ritual model in important ways.
In a final, reflective chapter, Randall Collins himself highlights the promise and future of microsociology. Clearly written, these pieces offer cutting-edge thinking on some of the crucial theoretical and empirical issues in sociology today.
Table of Contents
Elliot B. Weininger and Omar Lizardo
Part I: Forward Panics in the Underground Economy
Chapter 1. Que Duro! Street Violence in the South Bronx
Chapter 2. "I Wasn’t Even Gonna Shoot Him": Deadly Violence and the Carceral State in the US Inner City Narcotics Markets
Philippe Bourgois and Laurie Kain Hart
Part II: Entrainment and Creativity
Chapter 3. Interaction Ritual Threads: Does IRC Theory Apply Online?
Paul DiMaggio, Clark Bernier, Charles Heckscher, and David Mimno
Chapter 4. Creative Networks and the Determinants of Intellectual Recognition: Structural Holes vs. Mutual Halos in Financial Economics and Learning, Speech, and Hearing Research
Part III: The Theoretical Context of Interaction Ritual Chains
Chapter 5. The Effects of Cultural, Structural, and Interpersonal Dynamics on Interaction Rituals
Jonathan H. Turner
Chapter 6. The Micro-foundations of Macro-violence: Vocabularies of Motive in the Initiation of State Violence and Coercion
Chapter 7. The Cube of Involvement: Conceptualizing an Interaction Ritual Approach to Social Involvement
Erika Summers-Effler and Justin Van Ness
Part IV: The Micro-Sociological Program
Chapter 8. What has Micro-Sociology Accomplished?
Elliot B. Weininger is Associate Professor of Sociology at SUNY College at Brockport. He has published on the theoretical foundations of the concept of social class, as well as cultural and social capital. More recent work has addressed the ways that parents select schools for their children in districts with school choice programs and the role of schooling considerations in families’ residential mobility.
Annette Lareau is the Stanley Sheerr Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of Home Advantage and Unequal Childhoods. She is currently writing a book about ethnography.
Omar Lizardo is Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. His research deals with various topics at the intersection of the cognitive social sciences, culture and consumer studies, network science, and social theory.
Inspired by Randall Collins’ transformative analyses of face-to-face interactions, Ritual, Emotion, and Violence advances the field in bold new directions. Reporting on a wide range of fascinating topics, from violence in street-level narcotics markets to electronically mediated interactions in large corporations, the essays demonstrate the theoretical purchase of 21st- century micro-sociology. Kudos to the editors for assembling a volume that will shape a new generation of scholars.
Viviana A. Zelizer, Lloyd Cotsen ’50 Professor of Sociology, Princeton University, author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy
One of the great minds of contemporary sociology, Randall Collins created a synthetic and wide-ranging theory distinctive for its persistently empirical, resolutely micro focus. The contributions to this rich and searching volume bring Collins' theoretical achievements into focus, even as they revise and advance his research program for a macro-oriented, micro-sociology.
Jeffrey C. Alexander, Lillian Chavenson Saden Professor of Sociology, Yale University
Carefully selected with an eye open to the unmatched breadth and depth of one of the most versatile and prolific scholars of our time, the contributions to this volume do not just pay tribute, but indeed advance, the work and vision of the most important sociological theorist alive today — Randall Collins.
Stephan Fuchs, Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia
This is an impressive volume celebrating the pioneering work of Randall Collins in a special way: showing how his theories of interaction ritual, solidarity, and violence address a wide range of phenomena. Some chapters extend his ideas; others make important modifications; and still others depart in significant ways. This volume reveals the richness and broad applicability of Collins’ approach while showing that the best sociological theories are living documents continuously evolving and changing.
Edward J. Lawler, Martin P. Catherwood Professor of Industrial and Labor Relations and Professor of Sociology, Cornell University
This is a collection of insightful essays that effectively build on Randall Collins’ seminal theory of the micro-sociology of violence, while highlighting significant issues in Collins’ body of theoretical work — a work of importance.
Elijah Anderson, Yale University, author of The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life