Social Structures

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Overview

"John Levi Martin closely examines social structures from a stunning range of scopes and eras. The art and wonder of this amazing book is the verve and plausibility of his concatenation of themes, which, despite his disclaimers, do embrace large and complex structures: armies, patronage formations, and one-party states are where he digs deepest. Meanings, and so ambiguities, are central to his vision, which opens up the varied heuristics we use in navigating social life and especially social networks."—Harrison C. White, author of Identity and Control and Markets from Networks

"One of the most ambitious books I have read in years. Drawing on numerous examples across various domains and from around the world, it showcases the complex manner whereby the formal features of different kinds of relations generate different institutionalized types of social structures. A brilliant mind in action, John Levi Martin takes us one step closer to Simmel's vision of a 'social geometry.'"—Eviatar Zerubavel, Rutgers University, author of Social Mindscapes: An Invitation to Cognitive Sociology and Time Maps: Collective Memory and the Social Shape of the Past

"Social Structures does a superlative job at cutting a first path through jungle-like thickets of empirical detail—there is a phenomenal amount of labor represented here. The path thus cut opens possibilities for significant cross-fertilization across different strands of structural sociology, and valuably extends structural sociology to other major areas. The book makes important sociological contributions. It offers a magnificent foundation on which others may build."—Scott A. Boorman, Yale University

"This is a tremendously impressive and deeply intriguing book about localized network configurations, the rules they follow, and the way in which those configurations are caught up in processes of nation-building. The scholarship is expansive yet engagingly idiosyncratic. This is a much-needed book."—David Gibson, University of Pennsylvania

"This is an ambitious book that identifies the key structural building blocks of social life. Anyone seriously interested in how social relations structure individual behavior (and vice versa) must be familiar with the theoretical orientation of this book and the general substantive terrain it covers. This is a wonderful book to read, to learn from, and to teach with."—Katherine Stovel, University of Washington

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Martin provides an accessible and workable perspective as he examines the array of social structures, from the smaller, such as cliques or family, to the larger construct of nation. . . . In short, this is an excellent book, substantive in supporting Martin's claims as well as provocative in terms of generating further inquiry. Readers will find Martin's perspective both intriguing and well supported.
Science
While his interest in structures has a venerable lineage, Martin's approach is highly distinctive. . . . The book is without doubt an eclectic, ambitious, provocative, sophisticated, and instructive undertaking. . . . Social Structures deserves a wide readership and its ideas a sympathetic hearing.
Sociologica - Omar Lizardo
[R]ather than giving the impression of being the beginning of a new, exciting research program, Social Structures rather feels like a well-deserving closing chapter for the project of a specifically 'sociological' form of structuralist explanation.
American Journal of Sociology - Paul DiMaggio
Social Structures is illuminating—good to think with and fun to argue with. It belongs on a short shelf of important contributions to structural theories of society.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2010 Theory Prize, American Sociological Association

"While his interest in structures has a venerable lineage, Martin's approach is highly distinctive. . . . The book is without doubt an eclectic, ambitious, provocative, sophisticated, and instructive undertaking. . . . Social Structures deserves a wide readership and its ideas a sympathetic hearing."—Science

"Martin provides an accessible and workable perspective as he examines the array of social structures, from the smaller, such as cliques or family, to the larger construct of nation. . . . In short, this is an excellent book, substantive in supporting Martin's claims as well as provocative in terms of generating further inquiry. Readers will find Martin's perspective both intriguing and well supported."—Choice

"[R]ather than giving the impression of being the beginning of a new, exciting research program, Social Structures rather feels like a well-deserving closing chapter for the project of a specifically 'sociological' form of structuralist explanation."—Omar Lizardo, Sociologica

"Social Structures is illuminating—good to think with and fun to argue with. It belongs on a short shelf of important contributions to structural theories of society."—Paul DiMaggio, American Journal of Sociology

Sociologica
[R]ather than giving the impression of being the beginning of a new, exciting research program, Social Structures rather feels like a well-deserving closing chapter for the project of a specifically 'sociological' form of structuralist explanation.
— Omar Lizardo
American Journal of Sociology
Social Structures is illuminating—good to think with and fun to argue with. It belongs on a short shelf of important contributions to structural theories of society.
— Paul DiMaggio
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691150123
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 3/27/2011
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

John Levi Martin is professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Preface: From Big Structures to Small ix
Chapter 1: Introduction: Social Action and Structures 1
Chapter 2: From a Small Circle of Friends to a Long Line of Rivals 26
Chapter 3: The Preservation of Equality through Exchange Structures 72
Chapter 4: The Institutionalization of Inequality: Pecking Orders 104
Chapter 5: The Escape from Comparability and the Genesis of Influence Structures 151
Chapter 6: The Short Cut to Structure with Patronage Pyramids 189
Chapter 7: The Institution of Transitivity and the Production of Command Structures 232
Chapter 8: From Pyramid to Party 283
Chapter 9: From Structures to Institutions 321
References 343
Index 383

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