Dave Baker’s book is out!

http://stanfordpress.typepad.com/blog/2014/07/the-education-revolution.html

Plus an amazon link.  (No, I don’t get a commission!)

Congrats Dave!  It is always a great feeling when a book finally makes it out into the world.  :)

Dave Baker just sent me this link from a wonderful TEDx talk that he gave recently.  Dave did a dynamite job of explaining his new book to a broad audience.  (More on the book later!)

Check it out:

Professor Uno!

April 18, 2014

More good news: Mayumi Uno has joined the faculty at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.  

Mayumi recently finished her dissertation had just started on the job market.  Mayumi is one of the very few people to get a job right away, from her very first interview.  That is an impressive accomplishment in a competitive job market!

Congratulations Mayumi!

Professor Shorette!

January 14, 2014

More good news:  Kristen Shorette will be joining SUNY Stony Brook next year as an assistant professor of sociology!

Kristen recently finished up her PhD here at UCI, having written a terrific dissertation on the global emergence of Fair Trade markets.  Stony Brook has had strength in global/transnational sociology for a long time.  Kristen, will find herself right at home there.

Kristen’s interview brought back some memories:  I actually had my very first job interview at Stony Brook, long ago.  I was very nervous, and didn’t get the job… but I nevertheless enjoyed the visit.  I got to meet people like Jackie Smith, Said Arjomand, Dianne Barthel, etc.  Since then, Stony Brook has continued to hire really smart global people like Tim Moran, Kiyo Tsutsui (now at Michigan), John Shandra, etc.  The Stony Brook department is a great fit for Kristen (and vice versa).

Congratulations Kristen!

Congratulations Shawn Wick

December 27, 2013

Belated congratulations to Shawn Wick, who successfully defended his dissertation earlier this fall!

The dissertation is titled “Missionaries of Modernization and Managers of Myth:  Organizational Legitimacy in the Field of International Development.”  The project takes the Peace Corp as a site to examine how development organizations describe themselves and craft narratives to maintain organizational legitimacy in the eyes of external constituencies as well as members of the organization.

The title gives hints at what drew Shawn to this project.  A Peace Corp volunteer prior to entering graduate school, Shawn was struck by the religious-like fervor common to many people and organizations in the development community.  This basic insight — that development is a culturally-infused domain — set the stage for his analysis of organizational narratives and the basis for the Peace Corp’s legitimacy.  Shawn finds that the original narrative developed at the Peace Corp’s inception has really stuck with the organization, and shaped how it has adapted to new political pressures in path dependent ways.

The dissertation is a great read.  Shawn is a terrific writer, and really conveys the feel of the milieu that the Peace Corp was operating in over the decades.

The Ron Aminzade and I were co-advisors, and Ann Hironaka and David Chapman were also on the committee.

I think all my University of Minnesota dissertation committees are wrapped up.  It has been great to see all the terrific students coming out of Minnesota… and to participate in some small way.  The grad program is really impressive (not to mention the faculty!).

Shawn is an assistant professor at Central College in Iowa… and now a PhD!  Congratulations, Shawn!

Polity vs society, the blog

November 20, 2013

Yes, I wanted to call the blog “worldsociety.wordpress.com”, but that name was already taken.  (I was annoyed to see that the person doesn’t use the blog… but still hogs the name.  Grrr.)

But, worldpolity.wordpress.com isn’t bad… and besides, retro is in, right?  If everyone switches to “world society theory”, the blog will be hip.

I brought up the question of “world polity theory” vs. “world society theory” as an issue of labeling.  In a nutshell, they refer to the same theoretical tradition within sociology.

But, there is also a substantive issue here.  A polity is not the same as a society.  Polity refers more narrowly to a formal political system and its associated authority structures.  Society encompasses much more than the polity, and many definitions stress elements that are outside of the formal political sphere, such as private association or even shared culture.

This raises several important questions for world society scholars:

  • Are global social phenomena best characterized as a polity?  Or a society?  Both?
  • Can one make a distinction between the world polity versus a broader world society?  Can they be measured independently?  One obvious contrast would be between intergovernmental structures (IGOs and treaties) and “global civil society” or INGOs.
  • Has the structure of the world society changed over time?  Is there more of a world society now, compared to just an interstate system?

I’ve thought about this a fair bit, heavily influenced by Ron Jepperson’s outstanding work on polity types.  For instance, Anglo-American dominance seems very obviously associated with the expansion of associational or “societal” activity in the international realm.  One could imagine a counterfactual world of French hegemony, where you wouldn’t find so many INGOs or other “societal” elements — it would be closer to a pure inter-state system.

Last week Wade Cole mentioned that he had also thought about the issue a little.  Well, Wade appears to have a gift for understatement.  He sent along a paper, and it is clear that he has thought about the issue a lot!  Wade agreed to let me post the draft, which does a great job of clarifying the issues at hand:  Cole World Polity vs World Society.pdf

Wade provides an incredibly lucid discussion of the policy vs. society distinction, and sets out a research agenda to explore the issue further.  Be sure to check out his paper!

By the way:  These substantive issues do have implications for how to label the perspective.  I think all the research on global culture, INGOs, and the like, are suggestive of a world society, not only a world polity (inter-state system).  So, I prefer “world society theory” on substantive grounds.

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