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controlled, or rewarded, as well as the “strategies

of independence” vis-a`-vis the rest of the polity

which these very arrangements made possible for

the administrators themselves. In this manner

Weber’s treatment of authority and its variants

opens itself to a consideration of the dynamics of

the whole authority phenomenon.



This concept indicates machinery-driven processes

of production in which human intervention is

intentionally minimized to ensure predictable

and standardized outcomes. Automation can

refer to linkages between different machine

devices (robot machine tools) to produce a continuous

intervention-free flow of production, to

automatic control over production, or to the full

computerization of production.

Historically, automation has been associated

with assembly-line production and Taylorism but

it is not exclusive to the economies of scale and

mass production connected to Fordism (see post-

Fordism). The post-Fordist era of capitalism is characterized

by a refinement of automated processes

in the area of assembly-line and off-line assembly

production. Automation can be part of the integration,

via the computerization of the total production

chain, that also reaches into areas of

distribution. As a result of the historical development

of the automobile industry, and later of a

broad range of consumer goods industries, automation

is mainly associated with manufacturing,

but in the service sector of the economy it can also

be observed in the form of technologies and

ideologies that are deployed to minimize human


Automation is a key phenomenon in industrial

sociology because it not only affects relations between

workers and their production tools, and

thus the intrinsic meaning of human work, but

also influences social relations in work organizations

and thus participation in the production

process. Automation has been an empirical referent

in sociological theory with respect to such

prominent themes as alienation, deskilling, and

the labor process. ANN VOGEL


– see Niklas Luhmann.

authority autopoiesis



Bales, Robert Freed (1916–2004)

An important figure in the growth of the study

of group dynamics, Bales received his PhD from

Harvard University, becoming Harvard Professor

of Social Relations (1945–86). He spent the entirety

of his academic career at that institution.

During the 1950s and 1960s when the study of

small groups was at its height, Bales was a major

figure in exploring the dynamics of group life. His

1950 book, Interaction Process Analysis: A Method for

the Study of Small Groups, is considered a classic

work, particularly in its development of a twelvecategory

coding scheme for direct observation and

coding of verbal statements and nonverbal acts in

both natural and laboratory groups. This method

permitted social psychologists to explore systematically

behavior in collective settings.

Bales was a close associate of the Harvard social

theorist Talcott Parsons, and was one of the contributors

to Parsons’s project for the development

of a general theory of social action. Consistent

with the interests of many of his Harvard colleagues,

Bales maintained a lively involvement in

psychoanalysis, a theory that affected both his

research and his teaching.

Later in Bales’s career, he extended the

model of interaction process analysis into a threedimensional

coding system, eventually termed

SYMLOG (SYstem for the Multiple Level Observation

of Groups). Towards the end of his career, Bales

became more involved in consulting, applying

his models of group life to social problems,

and eventually created a consulting group for his

SYMLOG system.

Bales may have been particularly well known

for the self-analytic group course that he ran at

Harvard for over a quarter-century, which became

a model for similar courses throughout the United

States. In these courses, students were trained

to analyze their own group communication,

while simultaneously learning theories of group

dynamics. These groups also served as a training

tool for graduate students under Bales’s direction.


Barthes, Roland (1915–1980)

Widely hailed as one of the most important

French intellectuals of the postwar years, Roland

Barthes’s semiological approach to the study of

society sought to demonstrate how cultural production

reproduces itself through the signs it

creates (see cultural reproduction). We live in a

world pulsating with signs; and each sign in the

system of cultural production has meaning,

according to Barthes, only by virtue of its difference

from other signs. In elaborating this semiological

vision of society, Barthes drew from an

eclectic range of theorists, including Ferdinand

de Saussure, Roman Jakobson, E´mile Benveniste,

Mikhail Bakhtin, and Jacques Lacan. His entire

theoretical edifice (less a coherent system than a

kind of ongoing conceptual crossreferencing)

sought to decode the signs our society generates.

Barthes made two principal contributions to

sociological categories of analysis. First, in Writing

Degree Zero (1953), he inverted Saussure’s claim

that linguistics is part of the broader discipline

of semiotics, through demonstrating that the

field of signs is, in fact, part of the more general

domain of linguistics; the language of signs, says

Barthes, always overflows with meaning, exhausts

itself. Second, in Mythologies (1957), he demonstrated

how cultural production is always veiled

by its signifiers, through penetrating readings of,

for instance, wrestling, the Tour de France, as well

as a celebrated cover of Paris-Match.

Among his other works are Elements of Semiology

(1965), The Fashion System (1967), Roland Barthes by

Roland Barthes (1977), Empire of Signs (1983), and The

Pleasure of the Text (1990). ANTHONY ELL IOTT


– see ideology.

Baudrillard, Jean (1929– )

Currently Professor of the Philosophy of Culture

and Media, European Graduate School, Saas-Fe´e,

Switzerland, Baudrillard taught at the University

of Nanterre, Paris, between 1966 and 1987. He is


closely associated with postmodernism. He moved

from an early political involvement with Marxism

and the situationists to focus on symbolic forms of

exchange in The Object System (1968). His work on

simulation argued that consumer culture is dominated

by hyperreality and the cultural elevation

of irony and fatality in The Mirror of Production

(1973), Simulacra and Simulation (1994), and America

(1989). The notion of intrinsic value that was the

inspiration of radicalism was portrayed as defunct

and the conventional distinction between reality

and illusion was compromised. He held that there

are no historical agents capable of transforming

history. Consumption and sign value were portrayed

as replacing production and use value.

Baudrillard’s fascination with the United States

reflected his assessment of it as the most fully

developed consumer culture in the world in


Reception of his work was assisted by globalization,

the internet, and deregulation. Each provided

metaphors for the virtual universe that

Baudrillard’s theoretical work postulated. His

theory of simulation renewed the specter of Ad-

Mass world produced by mass society theory in

the 1950s and 1960s. But it dehumanized the

notions of control and manipulation by proposing

that no social formation is capable of authoritative

engagement with simulation.

His work was important for exposing the dogma

of many fossilized positions in social theory between

the 1970s and 1990s. However, his epigrammatic

style and provocative theses are subject to

the law of diminishing returns. Analytically, his

thought is best seen as a colorful contribution to

the renewal of the sociology of fate. CHRIS ROJEK

Bauman, Zygmunt (1925– )

Born in Poland and educated in the Soviet Union,

Bauman held academic posts in various countries

(including Poland, Israel, and Australia) before

taking up the chair of sociology at the University

of Leeds – where he is now Emeritus Professor. A

leader of the cultural turn in sociology as far back

as the 1970s, his first book in English, Between Class

and Elite (1972), took the British labor movement as

its field of investigation. In following years, in

books such as Culture as Praxis (1973), Socialism:

The Active Utopia (1976), and Memories of Class

(1982), he established himself as an erudite

analyst of the connections between social class

and culture. His master work, Modernity and the

Holocaust (1989), is a dark, dramatic study of

Enlightenment reason and its possible deathly consequences.

Auschwitz, in Bauman’s view, was a

result of the “civilizing” mission of modernity;

the Final Solution was not a dysfunction of

Enlightenment rationality but its shocking


Various intellectual spinoffs followed, including

Modernity and Ambivalence (1991), Life in Fragments

(1995), Liquid Modernity (2000), and Wasted

Lives (2004). In these books, Bauman moved from

a concern with the historical fortunes of the Jews

in conditions of modernity to an analysis of the

complex ways in which postmodern culture increasingly

cultivates us all as outsiders, others,

or strangers. As a result of this provocative

critique, Bauman’s sociology on the traumas of

contemporary life has become renowned.


de Beauvoir, Simone (1908–1986)

Born in Paris, the elder of two daughters of bourgeois

parents, de Beauvoir’s intellectual abilities

were apparent from an early age; the loss of her

family’s secure economic status allowed her to

follow a career as a secondary-school teacher of

philosophy. This radical departure from bourgeois

convention was accompanied by de Beauvoir’s long

partnership with Jean-Paul Sartre, documented in

the four volumes of de Beauvoir’s autobiography

(Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, 1958; The Prime of Life,

1960; Force of Circumstance, 1963; and All Said and

Done, 1972). De Beauvoir worked with Sartre on

the articulation of the philosophical movement

which was to become known as existentialism;

de Beauvoir, in her essays Pyrrhus and Cineas

(1944) and The Ethics of Ambiguity (1948), discussed

the implications for individuals of existential

tenets. The same theme informed de Beauvoir’s

first published novel (She Came to Stay, 1943).

These works, in which philosophical ideas are

illustrated through literature, were overshadowed

by the publication, in 1949, of The Second Sex, the

work for which de Beauvoir became world-famous.

The study developed out of de Beauvoir’s previous

preoccupations, in particular the status of the

other in human relationships. For de Beauvoir,

women are the other in all aspects of social life;

men are the norm of human existence and women

are judged in terms of how they are not men. The

most famous dictum of The Second Sex is “women

are made and not born.” This comment opened

numerous theoretical possibilities for the study of

gender differences, from ideas about sexual socialization

to the thesis of Judith Butler about

the “performance” of gender. But this specifically

feminist interest in de Beauvoir’s work was to

emerge some years after the initial publication


Bauman, Zygmunt (1925– ) de Beauvoir, Simone (1908–1986)

of The Second Sex; it was second-wave feminism

that encouraged a rethinking of de Beauvoir’s

work. Throughout the decades following the

publication of The Second Sex, de Beauvoir continued

to publish novels (the best-known of which,

The Mandarins, won the Prix Goncourt in 1955),

volumes of autobiography, and a lengthy study

of old age.

From the end of World War II, de Beauvoir had

taken a prominent part in left-wing politics in

France and was a vehement critic of French policy

in Algeria and that of the United States in Vietnam.

In the last two decades of her life, as a

younger generation of readers discovered her

work, she became closely associated with feminist

campaigns (especially around issues of reproductive

rights) but consistently rejected the position of

other French feminists on the essential difference

of male and female thinking and language. Although

the concept of the binary difference of

male and female was central to de Beauvoir’s

work, she remained consistent in the view that

the process of the accumulation of knowledge

was not gendered. Nevertheless, a recurrent

theme in her work is that of loss, a theme she

elaborated in her account of the death of her

mother (A Very Easy Death) and the short stories

published under the collective title A Woman Destroyed.

De Beauvoir increasingly identified with

feminism in the last years of her life, and she

retains iconic stature as a person who chose, entirely

self-consciously, to devote herself to

intellectual life and, in so doing, helped to shape

our understanding, and the politics, of gender

difference. MARY EVANS

Beck, Ulrich (1944– )

Professor of Sociology at the University of Munich,

Beck is famous for developing the notion of risk

society and reflexive modernization in his Risk

Society. Towards a New Modernity (1986 [trans.

1992]). His argument is that late modernity increases

uncertainty, hazard, and risk. The result

is a new type of society involving reflection, expert

opinion, knowledge systems, and internal critique.

Beck has criticized mainstream sociology

for retaining an implicitly utopian or at least

optimistic view of modernization without examining

its unintended, negative consequences. In

his Ecological Politics in an Age of Risk (1995), he

applied this approach to the problems of environmental

pollution and green politics. In his more

recent work, he has more closely associated his

analysis of risk to theories of globalization in The

Reinvention of Politics. Rethinking Modernity in the Age

of Global Social Order (1997) and World Risk Society

(1999). Although Beck is now specifically identified

with the debate about risk and environmental

politics, his theory of individualization examines

the breakdown and fragmentation of the institutions

that were integral to industrial capitalism,

such as the family and love, in The Normal Chaos

of Love (Beck and Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim, 1990

[trans. 1995]). Individualization should not be

confused with neo-liberal individualism but with

the “disembedding” of individuals from social

structures. Individual identities are no longer defined

by the secure structures of social class,

social status, family, and neighborhood. This perspective

is applied to a variety of social phenomena

in Beck and Beck-Gernsheim, Individualization

(2002). In his most recent work, he has considered

the possibility of cosmopolitanism in relation to

globalization. BRYAN S. TURNER

Becker, Howard S. (1928– )

Becker’s work has spanned symbolic interactionism,

deviance, sociology of the arts, occupations,

education, medical work, and the techniques of

writing. Perhaps most popularly known for his

work on deviance in Outsiders (1963), Becker’s

studies were conducted at the University of Chicago

where, taught by Everett Hughes (1897–

1983), he was part of the second generation of

the Chicago School. Taking inspiration from

Georg Simmel, as well as Robert E. Park and

Hughes, Becker’s perspective treats social life as

the result of the work people do. This focus deals

with learning, cooperation, and convention.

In his article “On Becoming a Marijuana User”

(1953, American Journal of Sociology), Becker pushed

this approach into the study of embodied perception,

emphasizing the role that learning plays

in structuring the psychosomatic experience of

a drug’s effects and perceived value. His 1982

work, Art Worlds, tapped his own experience as a

jazz pianist and applied the focus on collective

action to the making and valuing of artistic products,

proposing artworks and their reputations as

the outcome of networks of personnel, conventions,

organizational patterns of distribution,

funding and consumption, materials and technologies.

In emphasizing this middle level of

social organization – networks – Art Worlds inaugurated

a new mode of inquiry in arts sociology

and simultaneously provided a model for how to

investigate creative work in other areas such as

science. In these respects Becker’s work has affinities

with Bruno Latour’s work on science, such as

Science in Action (1987). TIA DENORA


Beck, Ulrich (1944– ) Becker, Howard S. (1928– )


An explanation of behavior, this perspective goes

back at least to Rene´ Descartes (1596–1650),

for whom animals were machines responding

automatically to pleasurable or painful stimuli.

Similarly, David Hartley (1705–57) noted, in Observations

on Man (1749), that “the fingers of young

children bend upon almost every impression made

upon the palm of the hand, this performing the act

of grasping, in the original automatic manner.” In

the modern era, behaviorism is classically associated

with lvan Pavlov’s (1849–1936) dogs salivating

at the sound of a bell. They are responding, machine-

like, to a stimulus associated with food.

This view of behaviorism has been challenged.

Burrhus Frederic Skinner (1904–90), the psychologist

most associated with behaviorism, argued that

the study of observed behavior needed to penetrate

beyond mere reflexes. A person is a “locus,” a point

at which biological and environmental conditions

combine to produce a behavioral effect. Factors

within the organism (including, most importantly,

learning processes) combine with environmental

stimuli to generate behavior.

George Herbert Mead (1863–1931) is usually

considered the prime social behaviorist. He

insisted on recognizing social interactions and

the distinctive mental and linguistic capacities of

humans. Language and gestures within a social

group intervene between stimulus and response,

interaction making human identity.

Behaviorism has therefore moved beyond a

simple stimulus–response model to include learning

behaviors, interaction, and internal behavioral

propensities. It remains, however, an

example of empiricism, resisting theories seen as

speculative and insufficiently based on evidence.

For these reasons, it resists theories of the self (for

example, those of Sigmund Freud) which argue for

underlying, but not directly experienced, structures

to human nature. Similarly, behaviorism

underplays the influence of social structure and

power on individual behavior. PETER DICKENS

Bell, Daniel (1919– )

Bell’s extensive body of work has made a major

contribution to many areas of sociological inquiry,

including social change and modernity,

the evolution of capitalism, and the dynamics

and conflicts within western culture. Born in

New York, he is a graduate of City College, and

became a prominent Harvard academic and social

commentator. He is probably best known as a

theorist of postindustrial society, and as someone

who anticipated many contemporary economic

and cultural trends associated with postmodernism.

His best-known works are The End of Ideology

(1960), The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (1973),

and The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (1976).

The End of Ideology advanced the notion that a

historical epoch dominated by grand ideological

conflict had come to an end as a result of the

successes of western democratic politics and capitalism.

This reflected an epoch of optimistic confidence

that seemingly intractable conflicts that

had dominated the nineteenth and much of the

twentieth century could and had been overcome.

Neither Karl Marx’s prognosis of endemic class

conflict (see social class) nor Max Weber’s discussion

of the iron cage of rationalized bureaucratic

domination had come about.

Criticized for complacency and exclusion of

Third World perspectives, Bell responded to the

social changes and upheavals of the late 1960s

and early 1970s with two more critical contributions

to sociological analysis. In The Coming of

Post-Industrial Society, subtitled A Venture in Social

Forecasting, he diagnosed a shift from an industrially

based to an information-driven, serviceoriented

postindustrial society. This elevated the

role of knowledge and knowledge-holders as new

and dominant elements within structures of

power and social stratification. Professionals

rather than entrepreneurs occupied the key positions

in the new social order. This argument

marked an early and influential statement of

what became known as new class theory. Bell did

not invent the idea of postindustrial society,

which had been around throughout the twentieth

century; rather he gave this concept a greater

focus and analytical rigor. Similarly, his emphasis

on knowledge and social structure, while drawing

on earlier thinkers like C.-H. Saint-Simon and

Weber, was less speculative and better grounded

in empirical complexities than that of his


The newly emerging postindustrial structure,

investigated further by Bell in The Cultural Contradictions

of Capitalism, pursued the theme of the

evolving social structure and cultural formations

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