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in The Sociology of Philosophies (1998). Philosophical

ideas are neither engendered by heroic individuals

nor do they arise spontaneously from the

networks networks


operation of structures or cultures. Rather they

develop within a finite number of interpersonal

networks. Particular networks link the relatively

small core of key individuals that constitute

schools, while debate and conflict between

schools is mediated through networks. Network

analysis helps explain why only a relatively small

number of philosophical schools form in any

given epoch, since ideas require articulation

and reproduction through teachers to pupils and

through wider connections between peers, in

order to be sustained in a robust and distinctive


In the work of Castells and Collins, social network

theory offers two contrasting approaches to

micro–macro linkages. The empirical research

programs entailed by these approaches remain

underdeveloped however. ROBERT HOLTON

new class theory

– see social class.

New Deal

– see welfare reforms.

new institutionalism

The relationship between institutions and society,

long a central concern for sociology, was revitalized

in the 1990s with the growth of interdisciplinary

theories of institutions known as the

“new institutionalism.” The new institutionalism

is diverse, with different versions found in economics,

international relations, political science,

and sociology (and differences within disciplines

between rational choice variants, comparativehistorical

institutionalism, and organizational


At the core of the new institutionalism in sociology

are several key insights. At the level of organizational

field, new institutionalists have argued

that organizations operate in distinctive environments

which exert pressures for conformity, a

process known as institutional isomorphism (see

the influential collection of Walter Powell and

Paul DiMaggio, The New Institutionalism in Organizational

Analysis, 1991). Over time, institutional

environments become coherent, predictable, and

ordered as organizations inexorably respond to isomorphic

pressures. A second set of insights examine

institutional influences on individual behavior

within organizational settings. Institutional rules

and norms have long been understood to shape

individual behavior, irrespective of the beliefs or

orientations of an individual before s/he enters

the organization.

To this traditional focus of institutional analysis,

however, the new institutionalists have added

a focus on cognitive factors. In particular institutional

settings, taken-for-granted understandings

of acceptable behavior rule out alternative

choices. In this way, institutions exert cognitive

control over actors’ range of possible actions. Most

notable here have been the contributions of Richard

Scott and his colleagues; see his Institutions and

Organizations (2001). In historical institutionalism,

the role of institutions in shaping political actors’

strategies and influencing political outcomes is

emphasized. Political institutions create certain

kinds of “path dependence” that favor some outcomes

and discourage others. These institutional

constraints influence the strength of contending

groups, public opinion, and the content of specific

political or policy proposals that actors may propose,

as illustrated in Sven Steinmo and K. Thelen

et al. (eds.), Structuring Politics: Historical Institutionalism

in Comparative Analysis (1992). In all of these

ways, the new institutionalism has argued that

institutions have independent, autonomous

impacts on organizations, individuals, and social

and political conflicts. They are powerful carriers

of embedded social norms and rules, and modes of

acceptable behavior. J E F F MANZA

new religious movements

The term new religious movements (NRMs) usually

refers to the diverse range of religious groups

that emerged mostly in western countries in the

1960s and later. Although the presence of new

religious movements or sects (see church–sect

typology) has a much longer history, especially in

the United States, the phrase is customarily applied

to movements that are seen as outside the

culturally established religious traditions. As part

of the broader critique and declining authority of

social institutions associated with the political

protest and identity movements of the 1960s,

many college-age youth in particular were drawn

towards participation in the alternative or countercultural

norms articulated by NRMs and the

alternative values and lifestyles they promoted

and/or required of members (see C. Glock and

Robert N. Bellah [eds.], The New Religious Consciousness,

1976). Within Christianity, these movements

included Jesus-oriented groups such as “The Children

of God” (now called “The Family”) and the

Charismatic Renewal Movement (which revolved

around Catholic prayer groups seeking a more

biblically grounded and emotional Catholicism),

as well as crossing religious traditions (such as

“Jews for Jesus”). The increasing appeal of eastern

new class theory new religious movements


religious traditions was exemplified by the visibility

and popularity of the Hare Krishna movement,

the Nation of Islam, and the Unificationist

movement of followers of the Korean spiritual

leader, Sun Myung Moon, popularly known as

the Moonies.

Although new religious movements represent a

small proportion of religious adherents in any

given society, their cultural exoticism relative to

the routines of institutionalized churches and to

accepted norms allows them to achieve a massmediated

presence in the public sphere that bears

little relation to their numerical strength. Part of

this attention derives from the recruiting strategies

(such as indoctrination and allegations of

brainwashing) and the somewhat volatile charismatic

leadership associated with many of the

movements, and more generally from the disruption

these movements, to a greater or lesser

extent, pose, or are seen as posing, to the moral

order (see E. Barker, The Making of a Moonie: Choice

or Brainwashing?, 1984). The communal living

and the values of communal property and interfamily

parenting that characterize some NRMs challenge

established definitions of private property,

marriage, and the functions of the family.

The disruptive power of new religious movements

is illustrated most visibly by the violence

associated with some movements, notwithstanding

the many complexities that may surround

the specific circumstances of any particular movement’s

recourse to violence. Most notably, the

mass suicide of followers of Jim Jones at Jonestown

in Guyana in 1978; the fire that killed the

Branch Davidian leader, David Koresh, and some

of his followers during the stand-off with federal

law-enforcement agents in Waco, Texas, in 1993;

the subway gas attacks in Tokyo in 1995 by the

Japanese movement, Aum Shinrikyo; and the Heaven’s

Gate suicides in southern California in

1997 – all these insure that the typification of

violence with new religious movements becomes

imprinted in the public imagination (see J. Hall,

P. Schuyler, and S. Trinh, Apocalypse Observed: Religious

Movements and Violence in North America, Europe

and Japan, 2000). Such negative associations, in

turn, attenuate efforts to shift attention to the

sociohistorical reasons why particular religious

movements emerge at the time and place and in

the form that they do, and to why they succeed,

however temporarily, in attracting followers.


new reproductive technologies

– see reproduction.

new social movements

– see social movements.

new working class

– see social class.

Nisbet, Robert (1913–1996)

American sociologist and historian of ideas who

emphasized the importance of conservative ideas

for sociology, Nisbet attended the University of

California, Berkeley, where, under the supervision

of the cultural historian Frederick J. Teggart, he

pursued his doctorate on the thinkers of the “Reactionary

Enlightenment.” The arguments and

ideas of a number of these thinkers, including E.

Burke, A. de Tocqueville, J. de Maistre, L. Bonald,

and F. R. Chateaubriand, formed the basis for

the rest of his work, which attacked rationalism,

individualism, and socialism, whose exemplary

embodiment he considered to be Jean-Jacques

Rousseau (1712–78).

In his first major work, The Quest of Community

(1953), he examined the disappearance of intermediate

associations, such as the family, the

church, and the local community – which existed

as a crucial buffer between the individual and

society – as a result of the growing concentration

of power in a centralized, and potentially totalitarian,

political state. The ensuing personal alienation

and cultural disintegration that followed

led to a broadly based quest by individuals for

moral guidance and community. These arguments

were reworked in his classic study of The Sociological

Tradition (1966), in which he examined five

“unit ideas,” all deriving from conservatism, and

which formed the nucleus of the sociological tradition:

community, authority, social status, the

sacred, and alienation.

As well as examining the adverse consequences

of politicization for the university and the social

sciences in The Degradation of Academic Dogma

(1971) and The Idea of Progress (1980), he edited

two influential books, Contemporary Sociological

Problems (1961) with Robert K. Merton, and A

History of Sociological Thought (1978) with Tom


nominal measurement

– see measurement.

non-parametric statistics

– see statistics.

non-profit organizations

– see voluntary associations.

new reproductive technologies non-profit organizations



– see sampling.


Defined as those social processes which pressure

individuals to conform to culturally desirable or

appropriate norms of behavior, the practice of

normalization produces certain ideals or standards

against which the members of a society

are judged. Through this process, individuals are

socialized into believing that certain forms of behavior

or self-presentation are acceptable and

valuable, while other behavior that transgresses

social expectations is not as acceptable or legitimate.

Normalization is a key concept in the study of

social control. It helps sociologists understand

how societies develop rules governing conduct,

how they deal with deviance, how individuals

resist or challenge such norms, and how social

values and expectations within a society change

over time.

One way of defining norms is through simple

statistics. However, the standards which are produced

and reinforced through the process of normalization

are often regarded as more than

statistical averages. They are often socially valued

and presumed to be good, or even ideal. Certain

rewards (such as esteem, money, or access to resources)

are often provided to those who conform

to, reinforce, or exceed, social norms. However,

those who do not conform to social norms may be

punished, socially excluded, or stigmatized. They

may be defined as “deviants” or “non-conformists”

and they may also be pathologized, and treated as

if they had a disease or disability.

Within the area of disability service provision,

the idea of normalization has a more specific

meaning. It is commonly identified with the

work of Wolf Wolfensberger whose theory of

“social role valorization” revolves around ways to

find normative social roles for disabled people.

This approach to disability makes a strong

effort to ensure that both service delivery and the

social relationships which disabled people have

reinforce their image as “normal,” socially valued


Much of the sociological interest in the process

of normalization can be traced to the influence

of Michel Foucault, whose work suggested that

normalization is reproduced through various

institutional frameworks (including education,

medicine, the military, and the judicial system).

Foucault argued that these social institutions are

involved in various disciplinary practices which

overlap and support one another, with the overall

effect of producing bodies that conform to certain

ideas, which he called “docile bodies.” Normalization

is not only created through pressure from

social institutions though, Foucault’s later work

suggested that a major element of normalization

stems from the way people think about their own

bodies and their own behavior. An example of the

self-regulation of individuals in this manner can

be found in Susan Bordo’s discussion of the behavior

of anorexics in Unbearable Weight (1993). She

suggests that anorexics are not only victims of

gendered social pressures to have slender bodies,

but are also engaged in self-regulation that

requires considerable will, and self-determination.

The behavior of anorexics can be understood,

Bordo argues, by focusing on the normalizing

pressures which lead women to have a preoccupation

with fat, diet, and slenderness. In this way,

social norms about the physical body are seen to

reflect wider cultural codes around gender and

other social vulnerabilities.

The study of normalization begs the question,

“Who defines the norms?” Sociologists are therefore

very interested in unpacking the power

dynamics that underpin normalization. They

study the ways individuals are encouraged, compelled,

and coerced to regulate their behavior so

that it seems “normal,” but also how people resist

such pressures (both collectively and individually).

In this way, a study of normalization shows how

pressure to conform to social norms operates

within social interactions, as well as through a

person’s own desires to control their behavior or



These are expectations shared by members of a

group or collectivity that more or less effectively

determine individual behavior. Norms typically

attach to social roles rather than human individuals,

who in performance of their roles conform to

a greater or lesser extent to norms. The concept of

norm is located in various categories associated

with the development of sociology.

William Graham Sumner, for instance, in Folkways

(1906), holds that collective life, necessary for

individual survival, requires the preservation of

efficacious experience, stored in and communicated

as custom. Custom is the collective form of

individual habit. Folkways are produced, according

to Sumner, in the frequent repetition of petty

acts. Folkways are accepted because of the conviction

that they are conducive to societal welfare and

non-response norms


can therefore be defined as systems of persisting

expedient customary behavior. Sumner says that,

within a group, folkways are uniform, universal,

imperative, and invariable; over time they become

increasingly arbitrary. Socially formed and selected

inferences derived from folkways, Sumner calls

mores. Mores consist largely but not exclusively of

taboos (see sacred and profane dichotomy), things

that should not be done. A characteristic of mores,

as coercive ethical principles, is the likelihood

that they will contain an explicit rationalization

or reason for adherence to them, for example

don’t eat pork because pigs are unclean. Sumner’s

approach was related to Social Darwinism. Believing

that social change is achieved through the

evolution of folkways and the development of

folkways into mores is no longer in vogue.

Talcott Parsons argues that, through social

interaction, persons are able to communicate

because signs and symbols acquire common

meaning. By virtue of a shared meaning system

there arises a mutuality of expectations and sanctions

that constitutes what Parsons calls a normative

order in The Social System (1951). Thus norms

operate through internalization of a standard of

group expectations and are maintained by the

reactions of others, both positive and negative.

These reactions are sanctions that reward conformity

to role expectations and punish departure

from expectation such as deviance. For Parsons,

the institutionalization of both expectation and

sanction constitutive of norms is achieved in varying

degrees. Anomie occurs in the absence of institutionalization.

Norms therefore are not to be

located at the level of individual social actor

but necessarily function in the institutionalized

activity of a plurality of social actors.

While the notion of norm can adequately describe

the habitual institutional patterns of a

society, explanations of societal processes in

terms of norms risks accounting for regularities

of social action in terms of expectations. In fact,

interaction in groups or societies may result from

a number of possible factors, of which norms are

only one. One alternative approach to explanation

of social process points not to the system of

norms, but to power relations and the balance of

power that is the outcome of social conflict between

groups. Exponents of this approach include

Ralph Dahrendorf in Class and Class Conflict in Industrial

Society (1959) and John Rex in Key Problems of

Sociological Theory (1961). David Lockwood’s Solidarity

and Schism (1992) developed a sophisticated

critique of the normative approach that avoids

the problems of conflict theory. J ACK BARBALET

nuclear family

– see family.

norms nuclear family



John O’Neill (1933– )

A distinguished research professor emeritus at

York University, Canada, and a Fellow of the Royal

Society of Canada, O’Neill developed a critical

interpretation of sociology in his Sociology as a

Skin Trade (1972) and Making Sense Together (1974).

His work is characterized by an attempt to bridge

the gap between the humanities and the social

sciences, which is illustrated in his Essaying

Montaigne. A Study of the Renaissance Institution of

Writing and Reading (1982). He contributed to the

development of the sociology of the body in his

Five Bodies. The Human Shape of Modern Society (1985)

and The Communicative Body (1989). He was critical

of postmodernism in his The Poverty of Postmodernism.

More recently, he has made two important

contributions to the sociology of citizenship in

which he has been concerned to examine the

status of children in modern society in his The

Missing Child in Liberal Theory (1994) and Civic

Capitalism. The State of Childhood (2004). He is a

founding editor of the Journal of Classical Sociology.


Oakley, Ann (1944– )

A British sociologist who has worked on diverse

issues related to the specific condition and experience

of women, Oakley’s earliest work was a study

of the politics and gender relations of housework

(The Sociology of Housework, 1972, and Housewife,

1974). Informing both those texts was a concern

with the isolation of women in the home and

what was – at the time – a refusal of the social

world to recognize the unpaid domestic work of

women (see women and work). Oakley’s later work

has been concerned with medical aspects of

women’s lives, particularly childbirth and the

transition to motherhood. In a number of studies

(Becoming a Mother, 1979, and The Captured Womb,

1984), Oakley criticized the male control and medicalization

of childbirth and the loss of an autonomous

female voice in questions related to women

and reproduction. Oakley’s work has been widely

influential in the management of childbirth in

the United Kingdom.

In recent years, Oakley has written fiction (for

example The Men’s Room, 1991) and studies of the

way in which gender informs global politics and

the universal organization of social life (Gender on

Planet Earth, 2003). Throughout her work Oakley

has argued that it is socialization that creates and

maintains the social prioritization of the male

and the masculine; her many crosscultural references

demonstrate her awareness of cultural difference

in the construction of gender roles and

behavior. Oakley has worked with Juliet Mitchell

on collections of essays discussing the meaning of

feminism and has maintained a consistent loyalty

to a politics which affirms the voices and concerns

of women. MARY EVANS


A quality of mind such that the investigator is

enabled to discern the true properties of the phenomenon

being studied by remaining free from

bias or prejudice, objectivity is often considered to

be a goal of scientific investigation.

Researchers have deployed a number of strategies

to aid impartial investigation. These include

attention to validity, reliability, and sampling.

Finally, because published research reports are

available for public scrutiny, and in many cases

have been peer reviewed, the authors’ claims can

be critically assessed for personal prejudices.

The distinction between scientific facts and

social (or political) values was important for both

mile Durkheim and Max Weber. Weber argued

that scientists can only report on facts and, while

they may involve themselves in political polemics,

they may maintain objectivity through compliance

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