Combining principles of individual rational choice with a sociological conception of collective action, James Coleman recasts social theory in a bold new way. The result is a landmark in sociological theory, capable of describing both stability and change in social systems.
This book provides for the first time a sound theoretical foundation for linking the behavior of individuals to organizational behavior and then to society as a whole. The power of the theory is especially apparent when Coleman analyzes corporate actors, such as large corporations and trade unions. He examines the creation of these institutions, collective decision making, and the processes through which authority is revoked in revolts and revolutions.
Coleman discusses the problems of holding institutions responsible for their actions as well as their incompatibility with the family. He also provides a simple mathematical analysis corresponding to and carrying further the verbal formulations of the theory. Finally, he generates research techniques that will permit quantitative testing of the theory.
From a simple, unified conceptual structure Coleman derives, through elegant chains of reasoning, an encompassing theory of society. It promises to be the most important contribution to social theory since the publication of Talcott Parsons' Structure of Social Action in 1936.
Preface 1. Metatheory: Explanation in Social Science Explanation of the Behavior of Social Systems Components of the Theory Conceptions of the Relations between Micro and Macro Levels Part I / Elementary Actions and Relations 2. Actors and Resources, Interest and Control The Elements Structures of Action Social Exchange Simple and Complex Relations 3. Rights to Act What Are Rights? How the Free-Rider Problem Is Reduced for Rights How Does New Information Bring About a Change in the Allocation of Rights? How Does a Right Change Hands? Who Are the Relevant Others? How Are Rights Partitioned, and How Might They Be? 4. Authority Relations The Right to Control One's Own Actions Vesting of Authority Conjoint and Disjoint Authority Relations Transfer of One Right or Two: Simple and Complex Authority Relations Limitations on Authority Slavery Authority without Intentional Exercise 5. Relations of Trust The Placement of Trust Actions of the Trustee Multiple Trustors and Public-Goods Problems Part II / Structures of Action 6. Systems of Social Exchange What Is Money? Media of Exchange in Social and Political Systems Exchanges within Systems 7. From Authority Relations to Authority Systems The Law of Agency Sympathy and Identification: Affine Agents Simple and Complex Authority Structures The Internal Morality of an Authority System 8. Systems of Trust and Their Dynamic Properties Mutual Trust Intermediaries in Trust Third-Party Trust Large Systems Involving Trust 9. Collective Behavior General Properties of Collective Behavior Escape Panics Bank and Stock Market Panics Acquisitive Crazes Contagious Beliefs Hostile and Expressive Crowds Fads and Fashions Influence Processes in Purchasing Decisions, Voting, and Public Opinion Specific Predictions about Collective Behavior 10. The Demand for Effective Norms Examples of Norms and Sanctions Distinctions among Norms The First Condition: Externalities of Actions and the Demand for a Norm What Constitutes Social Efficiency? Systems of Norms 11. The Realization of Effective Norms An Action-Rights Bank Social Relationships in Support of Sanctions Free Riding and Zeal Heroic versus Incremental Sanctioning How Are Sanctions Applied in Society? Emergence of Norms about Voting Internalization of Norms 12. Social Capital Human Capital and Social Capital Forms of Social Capital Relative Quantities of Social Capital The Public-Good Aspect of Social Capital The Creation, Maintenance, and Destruction of Social Capital Part III / Corporate Action 13. Constitutions and the Construction of Corporate Actors Norms and Constitutions Positive Social Theory Change in a Disjoint Constitution: American High Schools An Optimal Constitution Who Are the Elementary Actors? 14. The Problem of Social Choice Partitioning of Rights to Indivisible Goods Constitutional Issues in Partitioning Rights to Control Corporate Actions Intellectual Puzzles concerning Social Choice Emergent Processes and Institutions for Social Choice Ethical Theory: How to Determine the Right Action Executive Decision Making Community Decision Making and Conflict Characteristics of Noninstitutionalized Social Choice 15. From Individual Choice to Social Choice The Problem of Independence from irrelevant Alternatives Tournaments as Institutions for Social Choice Multi-Stage versus Single-Stage Processes for Social Choice The Nature of Rights in Social Choice 16. The Corporate Actor as a System of Action Weberian Bureaucracy in Theory and Practice The Format Organization as a Specification of Transactions Modes of Maintaining Viability in Formal Organizations Explicit and Implicit Constitutions Structures That Link Interest and Control General Principles for Optimizing the Corporate Actor's Internal Structure The Changing Conception of the Corporation 17. Rights and Corporate Actors Allocation of Corporate Rights and the Public-Goods Problem 451 Exercise and Exchange of Rights The Drift of Power toward Actors Having Usage Rights Withdrawal of Usage Rights through Voice and Exit 18. Revoking Authority Theories of Revolution Comparative Macrosocial Research: Inequality, Economic Development, and Repressiveness Ideology in Revolutions A Theoretical Framework of Revolution 19. The Self Problems Inherent in a Unitary Actor Functional Components of the Self The Dual Role of Interests Processes of Change inside the Actor Corporate Actors' Changes in Self Part IV / Modern Society 20. Natural Persons and the New Corporate Actors Individual Sovereignty Changing Conceptions of Sovereignty Emergence of Corporate Actors in Social Organization and Law Examples of Interactions of Natural Persons and Corporate Actors Types of Interactions Involving Corporate Actors and Persons Displacement of Nature by Human Constructions 21. Responsibility of Corporate Actors Responsible Actions of Natural Persons Social Origins of Corporate Responsibility Internal Changes and Corporate Responsibility Tax Laws and Social Norms Free-Rider Problems for Corporate Responsibility Corporate Responsibility in Sum What Conception of the Corporation Is Best for Natural Persons? 22. New Generations in the New Social Structure The Conflict between the Family and the Corporation Distribution of Income to Children in the New Social Structure Consequences of the New Social Structure for Social Capital The Direct Impact of the Two Social Structures on the Next Generation 23. The Relation of Sociology to Social Action in the New Social Structure The Social Role of Social Theory The World of Action and the World of the Discipline The Structure of Society and the Nature of Applied Social Research Applied Social Research and the Theory of Action What Should Applied Social Research Be Like? What Research Is Missing? 24. The New Social Structure and the New Social Science The Replacement of Primordial Social Capital Independent Viability, Global Viability, and Distribution in the New Social Structure Modes of Organizing Action Nation-States versus Multinational Corporations, or Voice versus Exit The New Social Science Part V / The Mathematics of Social Action 25. The Linear System of Action Two-Person Exchange System with Divisible Goods Restrictions on the Utility Function Beyond a Two-Person System of Action The Competitive Equilibrium and the Linear System of Action Further Derivations and Use of the Model Economic and Psychological Properties of the Utility Function Open Systems Appendix: An Iterative Method tar Solving for r or v Given X and C 26. Empirical Applications Estimation of Value with Perfect-Market Assumptions Estimation of Value When There Are Two Resources and More Than Two Actors Estimation of Value When There Are More Than Two Resources Arbitrary Zero Points for Resources Sampling and the Importance of the Population and Resource Distributions Estimation of Interests 27. Extensions of the Theory A Perfect Social System Psychic Investment Dependence of Events Partitioned Systems of Action Losses in Exchange between Actors and between Resources 28. Trust in a Linear System of Action Introducing Mistrust into a System Lack of Complete Trust in Larger Systems 29. Power, the Micro-to-Macro Transition, and Interpersonal Comparison of Utility Interpersonal Comparison Cardinal Utility Power, through a Market and Otherwise 30. Externalities and Norms in a Linear System of Action When Will Actions Having Externalities Be Taken? The Coase Theorem Revisited Externalities and Level of Affluence What Is Meant by Efficiency? The Rationality of Norms 31. Indivisible Events, Corporate Actors, and Collective Decisions When Will Control of Events Be Collectivized? The Constitutional Stage The Postconstitutional Stage Social Choice by Various Decision Rules Conflict 32. Dynamics of the Linear System of Action Exchange with Two Actors and Two Resources Change in Resources Held by One Actor Movement of a Resource among Actors Logical Constraints on Transition Rates in Pairwise Exchange Systems A Description of the Path of Values: Walrasian Adjustment Dynamics of Systems with Social-Structural Barriers How Do Power of Actors and Values of Events Change? 33. Unstable and Transient Systems of Action Single-Contingency and Double-Contingency Collective Behavior Transfer of Control in Single-Contingency Panics Double-Contingency Panics Evolution of Strategies 34. The Internal Structure of Actors Event Outcomes as Actions of a Corporate Actor Corporate Outcomes and Public-Good Problems The Value of Resources and the Interests of a Corporate Actor Subjective and Objective Interests of a Corporate Actor The Internal Structure of Persons as Actors References Name Index Subject Index