“Police Violence and the Iconic Ghetto”
Elijah Anderson, Yale University
The “iconic ghetto” symbolizes an impoverished, crime-prone, drug-infested, and violent area of the city. Black people are burdened by these stereotypes, and find they must disprove them before establishing mutually trusting relationships with others. Blacks occupy a caste-like status, and commonly deal with contradictions and dilemmas of status. In particular, these racial dynamics characterize relations between anonymous black people and the police, resulting in recurrent police violence.
Elijah Anderson is the William K. Lanman, Jr. Professor of Sociology at Yale University. He is one of the leading urban ethnographers in the United States. His publications include Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Moral Life of the Inner City (1999), winner of the Komarovsky Award from the Eastern Sociological Society; Streetwise: Race, Class, and Change in an Urban Community (1990), winner of the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award for the best published book in the area of Urban Sociology; and the classic sociological work, A Place on the Corner (1978; 2nd ed., 2003). Anderson’s most recent ethnographic work, The Cosmopolitan Canopy: Race and Civility in Everyday Life, was published by WW Norton in March 2012. Professor Anderson is the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Cox-Johnson-Frazier Award of the American Sociological Association.
“Violence and Moral Time”
Donald Black, University of Virginia
Most theories of violence either overcollectivize violence or overindividualize violence: They overemphasize the characteristics of the collectivity (such as the society or community) where violence occurs or the characteristics of the individuals who engage in violence. By contrast, in his innovative book called Violence: A Micro-sociological Theory, Randall Collins explains violence with the situational dynamics by which people become subjectively able and willing to engage in violence – a phenomenology of violence. His work is an important departure from earlier theories of violence.
Yet most violence is moralistic, a form of justice. And like law or other forms of justice, violence varies with its social geometry – its location and direction in social space, such as the relational and cultural distance between the parties and their social elevation. Moreover, like other conflict about right and wrong, the primary cause of violence is a movement of social time – a change in social space, such as an increase or decrease of intimacy, inequality, or diversity. I illustrate these sociological features of violence with a theory of domestic violence.
Donald Black is the University Professor of the Social Sciences at the University of Virginia, having previously held appointments at the Department of Sociology and Law School at Yale University and Harvard University. A theoretical sociologist who developed a strategy of explanation known as “pure sociology,” his writings include such works as The Behavior of Law, The Manners and Customs of the Police, Sociological Justice, The Social Structure of Right and Wrong, and Moral Time. He has received four distinguished publication awards, including the Theory Prize, from the American Sociological Association and the Kalven Prize from the Law and Society Association.
“The Concrete Killing Fields of Puerto Rican North Philadelphia: Ethnographic Notes on Forward Panics and Ritual Chains”
Philippe Bourgois, University of California, Los Angeles
Drawing on five years participant-observation in a 40-square block open-air narcotics market in the poorest corner of Philadelphia’s Puerto Rican inner-city, I present the bewilderment of teenage youth who find themselves reflecting on their brutalization of their neighbors and sometimes of their most intimate friends. The challenge is to open the black box of the political economy of Puerto Rican colonialism and US inner-city apartheid with a micro-analysis of the experience of Collins’ concepts of forward panic and ritual chains. Sociability, generosity and charisma tragically propel a logic for interpersonal violence in the context of exclusion from the legal labor force and the high profits of the global narcotics industry.
Philippe Bourgois is the author of multiple books and edited volumes, including the award winning In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio (Cambridge, 1995), Righteous Dopefiend (co-authored with Jeff Schonberg, University of California, 2009), Ethnicity at Work: Divided Labor on a Central American Banana Plantation (Johns Hopkins, 1989), Violence in War and Peace (Co-edited with Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Blackwell 2004), and Violence at the Urban Margins (co-edited with Javier Auyero and Scheper-Hughes). He has published over 150 articles on violence, social inequality, revolutionary movements in Central America, US inner city poverty, ethnic conflict, homelessness, substance abuse and HIV. He is currently writing a book entitled, Cornered, on the carceral and psychiatric diagnosis-mediated management of inner-city poverty in the US based on five years of collaborative fieldwork in the Puerto Rican ghetto of Philadelphia.
“What Has Micro-Sociology Accomplished?”
Randall Collins, University of Pennsylvania
Micro-sociology is the close study of what people do in everyday life. Over the years, its methods– including audio recordings, videos, photos; analysis of emotions, postures, rhythms, and bodily signs– have grown more detailed. We can pore over recorded interactions, make comparisons, and sharpen our participant observation by knowing what to look for. I will summarize some of what we have learned that makes a difference for the questions of sociology at all levels of analysis.
“Interaction Ritual Chains On-Line”
Paul DiMaggio, Princeton University
Although Collins’s theory of Interaction Ritual Chains emphasizes the importance of interpersonal dynamics dependent upon physical co-presence, Collins also suggest that the IR mechanism may operate to a limited degree in online interactions. Little if any research has tested formally this hypothesis. To what extent do IR dynamics operate online, how do they differ from face-to-face IR rituals, and how do structural properties of online discussions shape the way and extent to which the theory applies? This paper presents an empirical examination of IR dynamics based on a combination of topic modeling and sentiment analysis of approximately 1500 threads of length 10 or more from a company-wide online discussion of values and mission at a large multinational corporation. We examine the relationship of initial posting sentiment to subsequent postings, hypothesizing that posts characterized by positive sentiment will generate greater positive sentiment; that the greater the number of consecutive positive posts, the greater will be the increase in positivity of each subsequent post; this effect will be larger when posters respond to one another than when new posters enter the chain; greater entrainment (as measured by topical consistency and repetition of keywords) will increase positive sentiment; changes in topic and and expressions of negative sentiment will (independently) reduce positive sentiment. Survival analysis will be employed to test the hypothesis that entrainment and positive sentiment both increase the probability that a thread will survive through another post.
Paul DiMaggio is Professor of Sociology at New York University, where he is also affiliated with the Stern School of Business, the Wagner School of Public Affairs and the Center for Data Science. A graduate of Swarthmore College (B.A.) and Harvard University (Ph.D.), he previously he served on the faculties of Princeton University (Sociology and Woodrow Wilson School) and Yale University (Sociology and School of Management). DiMaggio is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, as well as a former visiting fellow at the Russell Sage Foundation and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. His current research interests include network effects on social inequality, emergence in cultural systems, and the political economy of information technology.
“Talking about the Enemy: Emotions, World views, and Power in the Generation of Violence”
David Gibson, Notre Dame
Collins’ theory of violence revolves around emotions that are situationally generated and sustained, such as those associated with emotional energy and confrontational fear/tension and the various devices by which the latter is overcome. One thing this neglects is the role of ideas–about the enemy, a racial group, one’s place in the universe–in drawing people into violent situations and pushing them to throw the stone, pull the trigger, or wield the knife. Another thing it neglects is the interactive process by which those in power elect to employ violence by issuing orders to those below–a process which itself involves the elaboration of world views. Drawing on a range of case studies, including of ISIS terrorism, Nazi Germany, and Tiananmen Square, I seek to remedy these deficits, by arguing for the role that ideas play in both drawing people to the front and then in overcoming confrontational fear/tension.
David Gibson is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. His research is in the areas of language, decision-making, social networks, and deception. He is the author of Talk at the Brink: Deliberation and Decision during the Cuban Missile Crisis (Princeton University Press, 2012). Current research and writing is on the organization of long-standing secrets and lies (including Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme), the use of common sense in jury deliberations, and the various forms of recorded, reported, transcribed, and translated social-interactional data.
Alice Goffman, University of Wisconsin, Madison
How do we come into the bonds, habits, beliefs, practices, knowledge, and yearnings that together make up who we are? A lot of what we know about the social aspects of the self and about the course our lives take comes from studying the properties of individuals and from studying early childhood. Using Interaction Ritual Chains as a jumping off point, this paper shifts the focus from the properties of individuals to the properties of situations. If we take seriously the idea that our identity is built through experience in the world, that the interactions and events we pass through leave a mark on us, we can then ask, which events and experiences? How do they go about their work? I present a group of social situations that appear particularly influential in shaping the people passing through them, then offer some larger implications.
“Getting Respect and Randall Collins’ Intellectual Legacy: the Micro Foundations of Cultural Processes of Inequality”
Michèle Lamont, Harvard University
Getting Respect: Responses to Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil and Israel (Princeton University Press, August 2016), illuminates the experiences of members of stigmatized group living in three countries with enduring group boundaries. The goal is to understand what kinds of stigmatizing or discriminatory incidents individuals experience in each country, how they respond to such incidents in face-to-face encounters, and what they view as the best strategy for dealing with such incidents (individually or collectively? through confrontation or self-improvement?). This deeply collaborative and integrated study draws on over 400 in-depth interviews with middle and working class African-American, black Brazilians, and Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel, as well as Israeli Ethiopian Jews and Mizrahim (Sephardic) Jews. Detailed inductive analysis brings to light significant differences, which are accounted for by the extent to which each group is a group, the socio-historical context of intergroup conflict, and the national ideologies and other cultural repertoires that are used to make sense of experiences. I mobilize Randall Collins’ micro foundational approach to expand our understanding of cultural processes of inequality.
Michèle Lamont is a Professor of Sociology and of African and African American Studies and the Robert I. Goldman Professor of European Studies at Harvard University. She currently serves as the President-Elect of the American Sociological Association. She is also the Director of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University and the Co-Director of the Successful Societies program of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. A cultural sociologist, Lamont is coauthor of Getting Respect: Dealing with Stigma and Discrimination in the United States, Brazil, and Israel (to be published in August 2016 by Princeton University Press). She is also the author of a dozen award-winning books and edited volumes which include studies of group boundaries, class, and ethnoracial dynamics in the United States and France, cultures of excellence in higher education, social resilience and neo-liberalism, and comparative cultural repertoires and the evaluation of qualitative social science research.
“Creative networks and the determinants of intellectual recognition”
Simone Polillo, University of Virginia
Randall Collins’s Sociology of Philosophy is a major intellectual achievement: spanning over the entire historical record of philosophy, it builds a general theory of intellectual innovation and reputational recognition that is in principle applicable to all fields of cultural production. In this paper, I exploit advances in big data science to extend his theoretical apparatus to a more contemporary corpus: English language academic papers in four social sciences and four humanities since the post WWII period, focusing on publications in the top four journals of each discipline. I model collaboration and mentorship patterns both in terms of coauthorship and in terms of colleagues thanked in the acknowledgement sections. I find that strong ties to central nodes in each intellectual network (as extracted from the acknowledgment section of the paper) are a stronger predictor of later success than citations to central works reported in the bibliography. But I also show that collaboration regardless of the prestige of one’s collaborators has an independent effect on later recognition. These findings substantiate Collins’s focus on informal networks as determinants of intellectual prestige, as well as deepening our understanding of the structure of creativity in intellectual fields.
Simone Polillo is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Virginia. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2008, and obtained an International Baccalaureate from the United World College of the Atlantic (UK), and a B.A. in Economics and Social Theory from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. His interests include economic and political sociology, social theory, world-system theory and comparative historical sociology, and the sociology of the self.
“Rituals of empowerment in criminal justice”
Meredith Rossner, London School of Economics & Political Science
Collins’ theory of Interaction Ritual Chains offers major theoretical and methodological insights into how we think about encounters in criminal justice. This paper will focus on lay people: victims, defendants, and jurors. While the modern history of adversarialism can be viewed as attempts to use architecture, procedure and coded language to exclude (or degrade) lay people in favour of professionals, I suggest that there are both ancient and contemporary justice rituals that rely on the development of solidarity and the assertion of lay power and status. Using ethnographic observations and audio/video recordings, I analyse the emotional and interactional dynamics of restorative justice conferences between victims and offenders, jury deliberations, and instances where victims come to court to give ‘impact statements.’ I will offer an in-depth examination of successful and failed rituals, with a particular focus on how lay-centred solidarity is received, negotiated and challenged by justice professionals.
Meredith Rossner is an assistant professor of criminology in the Law Department at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is also a fellow at the University of Western Sydney. She holds a PhD in Criminology and Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests focus on social interaction and judicial processes. This has led to a number of research projects on the emotional and ritual elements of justice interactions, with a particular focus on the role of lay people. She has conducted research on the emotional dynamics of restorative justice conferences, the dynamics and democratic potential of jury deliberation, and how design and technology impact justice proceedings. Her book, Just Emotions: Rituals of Restorative Justice, was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.
“An Interaction Ritual Approach to Involvement”
Erika Summers-Effler and Justin Van Ness, Notre Dame
We draw from Collins’s IR theory, with a particular attention to power, social distance, and temporal orientation, to develop ideal types of involvement. We provide three dimensions which can be combined to explain different types. (1) Loss of status or power generates negative emotions; gains in power and status generate positive emotions. (2) An increase in formality and decrease in personal control indicate an increase in social distance; alternately, a decrease in formality and increase in control indicate a decrease in social distance. (3) Finally, a focus on the past or future activates habitual perceptions and actions, and a focus on the present activates affective resonance through mirror neurons. Following, We briefly cover how various types of shifts in conditions can move an actor from one sort of involvement to another. In so doing, we extend and specify IR theory by detailing ideal typical forms of involvement, and how and when involvement flows between the ideal types.
Erika Summers-Effler is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Her work focuses on the micro dynamics of persistence and social change. This focus ties her work to developments in multiple fields, including: Emotions, Culture, Social Movements, Small groups, Religion, and various developments in Micro Sociology, including Cognitive Brain Science and Interaction. Her book, Laughing Saints and Righteous Heroes (Chicago 2010), contributes to the above literatures; additionally this book provides a way of investigating the rise, transformation, decay, collapse, and eventual reemergence of social organization. Her current work investigates: the limits of mobilization for creating social change, how transcendent emotional experiences of nature can be used to manage PTSD in veterans, and developing a typology of social involvement.
Justin Van Ness is a Ph.D. student at the University of Notre Dame where he specializes in culture, social movements and collective behavior, microsociology, and the sociology of religion. Two of his recent publications integrate cognitive science with sociological theory to theorize the foundations of day-to-day interactions and to revisit and rebuild early collective behavior theories. Other recent publications integrate the historical work of S.N. Eisenstadt with recent social movement research to theorize the structural and cultural dynamics which inhibit or facilitate cultural change. His ongoing ethnographic dissertation research unites these interests by taking an active participant role with a new religious movement to uncover how cultural context influences a movement’s attempt to change culture.
“The Strength of a Weak Program, and the Weakness of a Strong Program, in Cultural Analysis.”
Jonathan Turner, University of California – Santa Barbara
With the revival of cultural sociology, some have argued for a “strong program” in cultural sociology where culture, per se, is studied independently of social structure and, moreover, in its empirical, historical, situational context. This approach is misguided in two senses: culture cannot be separated from interaction processes and social structures; it is inherently part of these fundamental processes, and vice versa. Secondly, an emphasis on the unique features of culture in particular contexts limits the amount of theorizing that is possible since it is always difficult to generalized from the particulars of context. Thus, cultural theorizing will suffer. Fortunately, many of those advocating the “strong program” abandon its basic suppositions when they theorize, but to even advocate such a program sends the wrong message. There is nothing unique about culture or any other social phenomena that forces a strong or weak program. If empirical description is the goal, then the strong program is an appropriate emphasis, but if theoretical explanation of generic social forces is the goal, then a weak program is the best alternative. The weak program sees empirical instances of cultural phenomena as instances of more generic sociocultural processes, and thus, the goal of a weak program is to generate theoretical models and propositions that explain the operative dynamics of culture in all times, places, and contexts, while connecting cultural dynamics to other key properties of the social universe, such as interaction dynamics and the forces involved in structural dynamics. Thus, it will be the weak program that brings culture back to its rightful place in sociology, not endless descriptions advocated in the strong program. There is, then, more strength in the weak as opposed to the strong program. Sociology does not need yet another anti-science, anti-explanatory, and subjectivist intellectual movement; it needs to explain the dynamics of culture by abstracting out its key properties and dynamics, and then using models and principles on these dynamics to explain how the social universe operates.
Jonathan Turner is Graduate Research Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and 38th University Professor of the University of California system. He is primarily a general theorist of all levels of social organization, from the neurology of the brain as it affects human behavior and interaction at the micro level to the world system at the macro level, and most everything else in-between. He is finishing a book on evolutionary sociology, as well as another on the evolution of religion. Another book on the stratification of emotions is also in progress. He is the author of 40 books and several hundred articles and chapters.
“College Circuits: A Case of Situational Stratification.”
Viviana Zelizer, Princeton University and Lauren Gaydosh, Postdoctoral Scholar, Carolina Population Center at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Drawing from Randall Collin’s theory of situational stratification, the paper explores distinctive features of the US college economy. It focuses on how inequality shapes students’ everyday economic practices, concentrating on their cross-class transactions.
Viviana Zelizer is Lloyd Cotsen ‘50 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. She specializes in economic processes, interpersonal relations, and childhood. She has published books on the development of life insurance, the changing economic and sentimental value of children in the United States, and on the place of money in social life. Some of her recent publications include The Purchase of Intimacy (Princeton University Press, 2005) and Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Her current research focuses on college students’ economic practices, concentrating on their cross-class transactions.
Lauren Gaydosh holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Policy with a specialization in Demography from Princeton University. She is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lauren’s research lies at the intersection of family, inequality, and health in domestic and international settings. As a social demographer, Lauren uses a mixed-methods approach to examine how childhood family and social environments are shaped by and reinforce patterns of socioeconomic inequality, and influence individual health across the life course.