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of causality, mass, weight, time, and so on – are

a-priori characteristics of the human mind. Alternatively,

mile Durkheim proposed that the

categories of the mind are not individual achievements

since we are born into already existing

explanations of the world, and that knowledge,

natural and social, is a social achievement,

specific to each culture in its own time.

Applied in the social sciences by Auguste Comte

and Durkheim, empiricism led to the claims that

society could be studied in the same way as nature,

and that, with the methods of the natural sciences

(observation, classification, comparison, and experiment)

and the use of statistics, the laws of

social life could be demonstrated.

The critique of the empiricist position has continued

in the history and philosophy of science in

the twentieth century. On the one hand, historian

of science Thomas Samuel Kuhn argued, in The

Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970), that scientific

knowledge was not the product of nature, but

of the scientific communities who constructed it.

We come to have knowledge of the world through

socialization into specific world-views, which give

a definition of what reality is, how to investigate

it, what questions to ask about it, and how to

answer them – in short, paradigms. Kuhn demonstrated

that paradigms rose and fell and that

knowledge was not cumulative: for example, Newtonian

mechanics and Albert Einstein’s relativism

are not cumulative and they cannot be reconciled.

Put another way, our knowledge of the world is

not built on any correspondence theory of truth.

This point was made most importantly by W. V.

Quine, in Words and Objects (1960), where he

argued that there was nothing in reality or our

sensory experience of it that led to the logical

distinctions that we make about it. KEVIN WHITE


– see Stuart Hall.

end-of-ideology thesis

– see ideology.


– see kinship.

empiricism endogamy


Engels, Friedrich (1820–1895)

An interpreter, collaborator, and popularizer of

Karl Marx. Born in Barmen, Germany, he went to

Britain to manage the family factory in Manchester.

He first met Marx in 1842 and his Outlines for a

Critique of Political Economy was well received by the

latter. The two agreed to work together in attacks

on the Young Hegelians and in 1845 Engels published

his Condition of the Working Classes in England,

a study based on detailed empirical work on the

plight of workers, particularly in Manchester.

Engels’s strength was his clarity of argument.

Critics have felt that he oversimplified Marx

and extended Marx’s theory into areas such as

the natural sciences where it is not appropriate.

His loyalty (and financial assistance) to Marx is

not questionable, however. He wrote fascinating

historical work on Germany after the crushing

of the 1848 revolutions (see revolution, theory of),

and his Anti-Du¨hring was a fierce critique of a

German socialist. His Socialism: Utopian and Scientific

appeared in English in 1892, a popularizing

work that was widely read. In 1894 he wrote

the Origin of the Family, Private Property and the

State, a work that built sympathetically on

the anthropology of Lewis Henry Morgan (1818–

81). In 1888 his Ludwig Feuerbach and the End

of German Classical Philosophy was published, and

did much to expound Marxist theory as a dialectical

and historical materialism. His Dialectics of

Nature appeared posthumously in 1927. After

Marx’s death, Engels devoted the rest of his life

to editing and translating Marx’s writings.



In the western tradition, Enlightenment (e´claircissement,

aufkla¨rung) refers to the process of becoming

rational in thought and action. It can be individual

or society-wide. Either way, reason is figured

as a light that illuminates the understanding and

dispels the darkness of ignorance and superstition.

Enlightenment thus conceived has two sides.

Positively, it entails the empowering discovery

of well-founded knowledge; critically, it is a movement

of demystification, skeptical towards anything

that cannot give an adequate account of

itself before the bar of reason or experience.

Historically, the term is associated with the

eighteenth-century European intellectual movement

that championed reason and progress

against the enchainment of thought by, especially

religious, tradition and belief. Hence “the

Enlightenment” (capitalized) to designate that

movement, and the broader shift towards secularism,

republicanism, humanism, and science to

which it was connected. Important centers of

Enlightenment thought were Scotland (Hutchinson,

Hume, Ferguson, Smith), France (Montesquieu,

Diderot, Voltaire, D’Alembert), England

(Shaftesbury, Paine, Bentham, Wollstonecraft),

and the United States (Franklin, Jefferson), though

its crowning philosopher was Immanuel Kant

(1724–1804). For many Enlightenment thinkers, a

model for reason (and intellectual progress) was

provided by the natural sciences, with Francis

Bacon taken as their prophet and Isaac Newton’s

“terrestrial” and “celestial” mechanics as their

paradigm – whence a further ambition to extend

the scientific model to the human realm. Just as

the sciences of nature could lead to material progress,

so knowledge of man as part of nature could

lead to social and moral progress. Such thinking

led to ambitious totalizations like that of the

French Encyclope´distes, as well as to the more specialized

development of what became the disciplines

of psychology, economics, sociology, and

anthropology. While Enlightenment thinking

had a technocratic strain, it also linked reason

with freedom and autonomy, as in Kant’s 1794

definition of enlightenment as “man’s leaving

his self-caused immaturity” by “daring to think.”

Optimism about the emancipatory and civilizing

potential of knowledge-based progress peaked

in the nineteenth century, but waned in the disasters

of the succeeding century. Max Horkheimer

and Theodor Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment

(1948 [trans. 1972]) criticized the actual course of

enlightenment in their own time as a totalitarian

disaster in which enlightenment itself had regressed

to myth. Against this, and also against postmodernists

like Jean-Franc¸ois Lyotard and Jacques

Derrida who deconstructed logocentric narratives

of progress, Ju¨rgen Habermas has defended

enlightened modernity as “an unfinished project.”



This topic is discussed in several social-science

disciplines, and therefore a sociological view of

entrepreneurship has to include references to

non-sociological works. This, for example, is decidedly

the case with the work of the founder of

the study of entrepreneurship, economist Joseph

Alois Schumpeter.

Schumpeter presented the essentials of his

theory of entrepreneurship in The Theory of Economic

Development (1911 [trans. 1934]). The essence

Engels, Friedrich (1820–1895) entrepreneurship


of entrepreneurship, it is here suggested, is a new

combination of already existing elements in the

economy. Schumpeter also emphasizes that one of

the great difficulties for the entrepreneur is that

he or she has to break with the past. There is

typically a strong resistance to change that has

to be overcome, if there is to be an innovation.

In a famous passage in The Theory of Economic

Development, Schumpeter enumerates the main

types of innovation: (1) the opening of a new

market; (2) the introduction of a new merchandise;

(3) the introduction of a new method of

production; (4) a change in the organization

of an industry; and (5) getting a new and cheaper

source of raw materials or half-manufactured

goods. Innovations, in other words, can happen

anywhere in the economic process, from the

assembly of material for production to the end

product being marketed and presented to the prospective

customer. What drives the entrepreneur

is not so much money, Schumpeter also argues, as

the joy of creating, the possibility of creating one’s

own kingdom, and to succeed for the sake of success.

A successful innovation, Schumpeter adds,

creates entrepreneurial profit – which tempts

others to imitate the initial entrepreneur till a

situation is reached when no more entrepreneurial

profit is to be had. In Capitalism, Socialism and

Democracy (1942) Schumpeter, finally, feared that

huge corporations would kill the initiative of the

individual to be an entrepreneur.

As Richard Swedberg shows in Entrepreneurship

(2001), post-Schumpeterian research on entrepreneurship

has, to repeat, been interdisciplinary

in nature. There exists, for example, whole literatures

on entrepreneurship by psychologists,

economic historians, and economists.

Sociologists lack a sustained tradition of studying

entrepreneurship but have nonetheless produced

a number of interesting studies during

the last few decades. One genre of such studies

deals with so-called ethnic entrepreneurship or

the role that entrepreneurship plays in various

ethnic groups. One insight, for example in Roger

Waldinger’s Ethnic Entrepreneurs (1990), from this

type of literature is that successful ethnic entrepreneurs

have to find other customers than their

co-ethnics (“the ethnic market”) if they are to

become truly successful. Sociologists also tend to

emphasize the role of the group in entrepreneurship,

as opposed to the single individual.

Entrepreneurship in modern corporations, for

example, often means the putting together of a

group, in combination with an effort to stimulate

its members to work on some task, as Rosabeth

Moss Kanter shows in The Change Masters (1983).

Finally, much contemporary sociological research

looks at the earliest stages of entrepreneurship,

so-called start-ups, but also what goes on before

these exist – an issue which is discussed in

Howard E. Aldrich’s entry on “Entrepreneurship,”

in R. Swedberg and N. Smelser (eds.), Handbook of

Economic Sociology (2004). R ICHARD SWEDBERG


Since its emergence as a political and social issue

during the 1960s, the environment has been a

topic of sociological interest. Owing to its intrinsic

complexity and its intimate connection to a nonsocial

and nonhuman “natural” realm, the environment

has shown itself to be difficult to subject

to sociological scrutiny, however. The traditional

demarcation between nature and society that is

assumed by many, if not all, sociologists to be a

defining characteristic of modernity has caused

difficulties, which have been reinforced by institutional

barriers which tend to separate sociologists

from other environmental scientists, as well

as from the users of their knowledge.

Nonetheless, in recent years sociologists interested

in the environment have produced a variety

of theoretical insights and empirical research findings,

even though there is little agreement among

them about how environmental issues are most

appropriately to be comprehended and investigated.

The sociology of the environment, or environmental

sociology, as it is sometimes called, has

suffered from many of the same processes of specialization

and compartmentalization that have

affected other sociological subfields.

In comparison to other areas of social life, and

in relation to the discipline as a whole, the environment

has remained a relatively marginal topic

of explicit sociological interest. It can be suggested

that other social scientific disciplines have

been more successful in “appropriating” the environment

as a topic for investigation. Particularly

in regard to external research funding and programs

in environmental science, sociologists have

tended to be less active and less visible than political

scientists, psychologists, economists, geographers,

and policy scientists. This is not merely

because of a lack of entrepreneurial skill or energy

on the part of sociologists. There is also a structural

or disciplinary basis for the relative lack of

interest in the environment among sociologists.

For one thing, most of the classic sociological

texts give short shrift to environmental problems,

and have thus provided little intellectual guidance

in helping latter-day interpreters to deal with

entrepreneurship environment


them, either theoretically or empirically. Generally

viewed as “side effects” or subplots in the

main story-lines of modernity and modernization,

environmental issues were, for the most part,

bracketed out of the foundational narratives

of the discipline. Karl Marx, Max Weber, E´mile

Durkheim, and George Herbert Mead, as well as

Herbert Spencer and Ferdinand To¨nnies, all expressed

in varying degrees a positive attitude to

the human exploitation of the natural environment,

if they referred to it at all. They all shared

a respect for, and indeed sought to emulate, the

natural and engineering sciences, whose development

is generally considered to be one of the root

causes of environmental problems.

It can be suggested that this identification with

science, and the attempt to make sociology itself

into a science, has served to limit the seriousness

with which sociologists have concerned themselves

with the environment. Even though there

were significant differences among them, the

founding fathers of the discipline placed whatever

criticisms they might have had about science and

technology and the exploitation of nature in the

margins, or footnotes, of their works. While Marx,

for instance, praised the “civilizational role” of

modern industry and of its science and technology

in no uncertain terms, he only noted in passing

that this civilization had negative implications

for nonhuman nature. He never placed environmental

issues in the foreground of his analyses of

capitalist society, which was exclusively focused

on the underlying dynamics, or laws of society.

Similarly, Max Weber analyzed and, on occasion,

bemoaned the rationalization processes of contemporary

life, but the environmental implications

of those processes were never examined

explicitly. As such, the environment was marginal

to the formation of a sociological identity, or


As sociology became institutionalized in the

course of the twentieth century, the environment

continued to be neglected as a topic of investigation.

The kinds of environmental problems that

became socially significant in the 1960s – industrial

pollution, energy and resource limitations,

consumer risk and safety – were issues that fell

far outside the disciplinary mainstream. They

had either been delegated to other social science

disciplines (economics, geography, and political

science, in particular) or they were seen as aspects,

or secondary dimensions, of other sociological

concerns, such as urbanization, social conflict, regional

development, or science and technology.

It might be suggested that the paradigms or

disciplinary matrices of sociology as a field had

come to “frame” the sociological objects of study

in such a way as to make environmental issues

marginal at best and invisible at worst. The environment

was seldom viewed as an independent

variable or a social issue in its own right.

The environmental debate of the 1960s, associated

with such popular writings as Rachel

Carson’s Silent Spring (1962) and Paul Ehrlich’s

The Population Bomb (1968), had only a minor impact

on sociology. The key texts of the environmental

“movement” were written by natural

scientists or science writers, and received little

interest from sociologists. For reasons of language

and education, as well as inclination and interest,

the new issues were considered of secondary importance

for sociologists. It was not until the

emergence of major environmental conflicts in

the 1970s, particularly over energy policy, and

nuclear energy in particular, that an environmental

subfield began to develop with any intensity.

Subsequent sociological concern with the environment

has been strongly divided into what

C. Wright Mills, in The Sociological Imagination

(1959), once called “grand theory” and “abstracted

empiricism.” While the theorists have sought

to integrate environmental issues into broader

conceptualizations and frameworks of interpretation,

the more empirically minded have gradually

added environmental issues to the growing

number of social problems and social movements

that they investigate. In this respect, a sociological

interest in the environment has often been mixed

with an interest in other social domains: the

media, public administration, urban conflicts,

and development. Little attempt has been made

to “test” the rather abstract notions that the

theorists have proposed with empirical research,

and there has been little coordination of the various

projects carried out by the empiricists in order

to develop generalizations or systematic comparisons.

As a result, the sociology of the environment

has come to be fragmented into a number of

approaches that are seldom combined in any

meaningful way.

In theoretical terms, sociologists have generally

tried to incorporate the environment into

the received frameworks of interpretation that

they have derived from the so-called classics.

Many have been the attempts to apply the terminology

of Marx, Weber, or Durkheim to the sociology

of the environment. An early effort by

Alan Schnaiberg (The Environment: From Surplus to

Scarcity, 1980) proposed the concept of the “treadmill

of production” to characterize the social basis

environment environment


of environmental problems, which was derived

from the Marxian concept of capital accumulation.

Schnaiberg and the many other Marxian theorists

who have followed have generally sought to frame

environmental problems in materialist or historical

materialist language, and thereby to connect

the environment to relations of production. As

with environmental economists, these theorists

have tended to see environmental problems as dependent

on, or determined by, other more fundamental

social processes.

The influential theory of Ulrich Beck has, on the

other hand, drawn on the classical conceptions of

To¨nnies and Weber to develop a social theory in

which environmental problems are given a more

central or determinant place. In the 1980s, Beck

proposed the concept of risk society as an allencompassing

term to reflect the underlying social

changes that had brought environmental issues

into social and political life. Like other theorists

of postindustrial society, Beck’s theory posits a

fundamental shift in the overall logic, or rationality,

of society, in his case from the production of

goods to the manufacture of uncertainty, endemic

risks, and dangers. Environmental problems are

thus a structural characteristic of the contemporary

age, a determinant factor in society. For Beck

and many of the “risk” theorists who have been

inspired by him, social processes and activities are

no longer dominated by the conditions of modern

industry – instead, we have entered the age of

what Beck terms “reflexive modernization.”

At a somewhat lower level of abstraction, and

with a more explicitly political ambition, the risksociety

thesis has been modified into a theory of

“ecological modernization,” which has exerted a

wide influence over many European social scientists

and policymakers. Ecological modernization

has been developed both by sociologists and by

political scientists for analyzing institutional arrangements

and administrative procedures that

have been devised, primarily in relation to the

political and social programs of so-called sustainable

development. As such, ecological modernization

has served perhaps more as a political

ideology or policy doctrine than as a theoretical

framework for academic sociologists.

A distinction can be made between those theories

that seek to link environmental issues explicitly

to sociology and social theory and those that

draw on concepts from the natural and environmental

sciences, and are thus less directly disciplinary.

This “ecological turn” has been facilitated

by interdisciplinary research programs in global

environmental change and human ecology, as

well as by institutional linkages, or networks

that have been established between sociologists

and environmentally interested scientists in other

fields. Some have distinguished between environmental

sociology and ecological sociology. In the

more ecological theories, social processes are

depicted in terms of resource and energy flows,

as theorists make use of concepts derived from

systems theory, and, more recently, complexity


The sociological interest in the environment

has from the 1970s been fragmented into a number

of empirically delineated specialty areas. Sociologists

have investigated a wide range of

environmental conflicts, movements, and forms

of activism, as well as the myriad processes of

institutionalization, professionalization, (see profession(

s)) and organization of environmental concern.

There has also been a continuous research

activity, using quantitative and survey methods to

explore public attitudes to environmental problems,

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