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especially in developing theories of Cultural studies,

for example by Stuart Hall. LARRY RAY

grand theory

– see C. Wright Mills.

Granovetter, Mark (dates unknown)

A leading American contributor to the study

of economic sociology and social networks,

Granovetter has been responsible for major innovations

in thinking about the strength of weak ties

in economic life, and about the embeddedness of

economic relationships in wider social arrangements,

both in non-market and in market-based

economic systems. His work moves economic sociology

beyond the pioneering formulations of Karl

Polanyi and beyond the generalized emphasis on

normative rules in the work of Talcott Parsons

and Neil Smelser, while remaining distinct from

the predominant focus on power relations within

political economy.

Granovetter’s initial empirical work published

in Getting a Job (1995) focused on how professional,

technical, and managerial workers found new

jobs. His evidence demonstrated the importance

of personal contacts. Granovetter pursued the

characteristics of these contacts, and developed

in the process a theoretical account of the significance

of “weaker” ties with individuals not well

known to each other, as compared with “stronger”

and closer ties between those who interact frequently.

In a major paper “The Strength of Weak

Ties” (1973, American Journal of Sociology), he argued

that such weak ties were especially salient in situations

where communities contained several ways,

rather than one distinct way, in which individuals

might interrelate. This made a significant opening

for a new kind of micro–macro network analysis,

in contrast with the primarily micro focus of

existing network theory.

Granovetter’s seminal contribution to economic

sociology was made in another paper, “Economic

Action and Social Structure: Problems of

Embeddedness” (1985, American Journal of Sociology).

This engaged with Polanyi’s celebrated discussion

of the relations between economy and society. For

Polanyi, most economic arrangements across history

operated through the embedding of economic

transactions and price mechanisms with broader

social, political, and cultural arrangements. The

exception was found in modern capitalist

economies, where, for the first time, according

to Polanyi, the economy became profoundly

Gramsci, Antonio (1891–1937) Granovetter, Mark (dates unknown)


differentiated from society, around notions of

economic freedom or laissez-faire. This, however,

threatened social cohesion and the protection

of social cohesion, and the pendulum swung

back in the epoch of welfare states towards a

reembedding of markets in political institutions.

Many economists have criticized this view by

arguing that markets through history have been

far more autonomous than Polanyi proposed.

Rational choice theory, even more radically, proposed

that a logic of rational choice underlies

social action across history, rendering the past

almost entirely similar to the present. Granovetter,

by contrast, took a rather different view. For

him, all economic arrangements, markets included,

are embedded in wider social arrangements,

and in this respect the idea of laissez-faire

is a misnomer. This conclusion followed from his

earlier work on job search and social networks. In

later work in the 1990s he developed this line of

thinking regarding all economic institutions as

socially constructed, arising as “congealed networks,”

assisting in flows of information and the

creation of trust. The social dimension here is,

however, a very broad one, in which a complex

mix of expressive and instrumental aspects of life

are included.

Granovetter’s ideas have developed one line

of thinking about economy and society in very

striking directions. What remains unanswered is

quite what the social means within a network

context, and why it is that markets, networks,

and formal organizations have emerged as distinct

forms of social life. ROBERT HOLTON

Graunt, John (1620–1674)

A draper and haberdasher, and merchant and citizen

of London, Graunt was born in that city on

April 24, 1620, to Henry and Mary Graunt. He died

in London in poverty, of jaundice, on April 18,

1674. Although lacking higher education and not

trained in the sciences and mathematics, he was

an active participant in the intellectual life of

London and was a charter member of the Royal

Society of Philosophers. He published in 1662 the

first known quantitative data analysis of a human

population, Natural and Political Observations Made

Upon the Bills of Mortality. This small and very influential

book has led some to recognize Graunt as a

founder of both demography and statistics.

The “Bills of Mortality” were weekly accountings

and reports of the London parish clerks of

all the deaths and christenings. The reports were

started in response to the plagues of the late

sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and

were published in a nearly unbroken series for

decades. Merchants used data from the “Bills” as

a rough gauge of the likelihood of their clientele

to flee to the countryside during epidemics.

Graunt studied this mass of data searching for

regularities. He is credited with being the first to

recognize that more males are born than females,

and that females have greater life expectation

than males. He also was one of the first to recognize

the phenomenon of rural to urban migration.

He also developed a crude mortality table that

eventually led to the modern life table.

In addition to the above four substantive contributions,

Graunt also set a precedent for one of

demography’s oldest traditions, namely, the thorough

evaluation of data to learn the extent,

types, and probable causes of errors. P. Kraeger,

in “New Light on Graunt” (1988, Population Studies),

writes that he “carefully evaluated the bills for

their numerical consistency and reliability of compilation,

and presented his evidence at length so

that his readers might judge it independently.”

Although Graunt died in obscurity, his lasting

monument is his Natural and Political Observations,

a book which to this day is a joy to read.


grounded theory

Developed by Barney Glaser (1930– ) and Anselm L.

Strauss this theory, put forward in The Discovery of

Grounded Theory (1967), argues that sociological

research should be based on the close observation

of social life – participant observation, in-depth

interviews, and focus groups – to allow the experience

of social life as understood by the actors

to emerge out of the data. This contrasted with

Talcott Parsons’s “grand theory” – in which the

sociologist derived hypotheses about social life at

his or her desk, and then gathered data to test them

according to the hypothetico-deductive method –

and with Robert K. Merton’s middle range theory,

which sought to examine ways in which specific

social structures (for example religious beliefs)

constrained individuals in their actions. For

Glaser and Strauss, sociology could not proceed

by deduction, nor did an independent social reality

or set of social forces exist apart from the individual

and his or her interactions. Thus, grounded

theory aims to generate theory rather than to

verify it. Hence grounded theory was an important

early reaction to positivism in American sociology

and gave impetus to the resurgence of qualitative

research in sociology in the mid-1970s.

In what we might call the “strong version,”

grounded theory argued that sociologists should

Graunt, John (1620–1674) grounded theory


shed all preconceptions about social life before

entering the field and allow the data to shape their

developing theory. Moving between the data

and the explanation of what was going on – the

constant comparative method – was the only way

to produce valid sociological knowledge, which

would provide an adequate account of people’s

understanding of their social situation. Glaser

and Strauss developed a system for the close reading

of interview and field notes. Open coding is

the initial sorting of the material to identify what

is going on in a given situation; axial coding is

drawing the different codes together and relating

them to each other; and, in the final stage, in

selective coding, one key category, the core, is

identified and ties all the others into it. In addition,

they argued that sampling strategies should

be driven by the theoretical concerns that emerged

out of the research (this contrasts with the

random sampling of the hypothetico-deductive

method). Once no new data were being found –

when the researchers had reached saturation in

data collection – then the writing-up of the study

could start. Ultimately the research should have a

practical outcome and a positive impact on the

subjects’ understanding of their situation and experiences.

The problem with the strong version of

this theory is that, without pre-existing hypotheses,

research data cannot be gathered or classified.

A second problem is that, in the search to

provide an emic account (that is, one from the

subject’s perspective) of social reality, sociologists

would only reproduce and record the respondent’s

views and understanding of reality.

In subsequent developments, major differences

emerged between Glaser (Basics of Grounded Theory

Analysis, 1992) and Strauss (Strauss and Corbin,

Basics of Qualitative Research, 1990). While Glaser

remained committed to a qualitative account of

social life, emphasizing a flexible use of qualitative

research methods, Strauss moved to codify

explicitly the steps researchers must take to

ensure that they were doing grounded theory. In

Strauss’s approach, the emphasis came to be based

more on traditional concepts of positivistic social

research, emphasizing generalizability, replicability,

and theory verification. Glaser objected that

Strauss was “forcing” the development of theory

rather than allowing it to “emerge” from the data.


group dynamics

The group dynamics approach to small groups

research was perhaps the most influential attempt

to analyze the processual quality of group life. The

approach was first articulated by German e´migre´

Kurt Lewin (1890–1947) in the 1930s and 1940s,

and became institutionalized by Lewin, his students,

and colleagues, notably at centers of small

group research, such as Michigan, Harvard, and

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the


The group dynamics approach attempts to

examine the processes through which group activity

occurs. The claim is memorialized in Lewin’s

famous equation, B = f(PE): behavior is a function

of personality and environment. Lewin treated the

relations of people within group settings using

the dynamics model of physics, and developed a

set of concepts – force fields, vectors, valence –

that detail this metaphor.

Lewin’s metaphor proved difficult to operationalize

precisely and many subsequent experimental

researchers used the label while jettisoning the

connections to physical forces. The group dynamics

tradition was also enriched by Freudian theory,

as in the interaction process analysis work of

Robert Freed Bales, whose approach owed much

to both Sigmund Freud and the Parsonian tradition

of the general theory of action. In all cases,

the group dynamics tradition attempts to incorporate

theoretical models of larger units, bringing

them into the action arena of the small group. The

leading text treating the approach is the edited

collection of Dorwin Cartwright and Alvin Zander,

Group Dynamics: Research and Theory, first published

in 1953 at the height of the movement.

Today, remnants of the group dynamics tradition

are evident in expectation states theory, as

it was developed at Stanford by Morris Zelditch,

Joseph Berger, and Bernard Cohen, who trained in

social psychology at Harvard during the heyday of

the group dynamics approach. Expectation states

bring in social categories from outside group life –

gender, social status, or race – examining how

they are exemplified in behavioral arenas.



The term group(s) is widely used within sociology,

and the social sciences. However, the referent of

the term may vary, according to whether or not

people interact as groups, or share a feeling of

group membership, or unity. Social scientists

have long recognized the distinction between “a

group defined by outsiders” which has no social

reality for its members and groups that have

social and psychological reality as such, for their

members. Henri Tajfel (1982, Annual Review of

grounded theory group(s)


Psychology: 1–39) notes that there are two distinct

theoretical senses of the term:

(1) objective collections of similar individuals as

defined by outside observers, that is, objectively

defined groupings that may be statistically

significant to the researcher, but not

subjectively significant for their members

(that is, some sociological category, such as

single-income families in rural areas).

(2) groups defined as such by their members

through patterns of interaction and shared

representations, that is, a dynamic social process

in which the capacity of people to represent

themselves as members of social

categories is part of the process by which sociological

categories may become meaningful

social groups.

Charles Horton Cooley’s distinction between “primary

groups” and “secondary groups’ or nucleated

groups is also a key distinction in sociology.

Primary groups are defined by close, face-to-face

interaction, unlike secondary or “nucleated

groups,” which tend to be larger and less congruent.

Members of such groups (for example, political

parties, and trade unions) are seldom in direct

contact, in contrast to members of primary groups

(for example, friendship networks, families) who

are in regular contact.

A further distinction may be made between

closed groups and open groups. This distinction

refers to the relative permeability of the boundaries

of social groups. Open groups have relatively

permeable boundaries, and few barriers to interactions

with outsiders, while closed groups have

impermeable boundaries, and have little interaction

with outsiders. Thus, ostensibly similar

social groups (for example clubs or religious sects

(see church–sect typology) may be distinguished

by being either open or closed. Further, group

membership may be either ascribed and relatively

fixed (for example, by race and ethnicity, or

gender), with little possibility of movement out

of the group (save in cases of surgical reassignment,

gender identity “disorder,” or divorce), or

relatively flexible, with the possibility of movement

between groups (such as occupational

groups or nationalities).

Peer groups are collections of individuals who

define themselves, and are recognized by others,

as a distinct social group. Peer groups may also

define themselves through shared social characteristics

such as age, gender, sexuality, occupation, or

ethnicity and ethnic groups. Such groups have

shared norms, culture, and rituals and socialize

new members according to these. Existing

members may be excluded from the peer group

with reference to a breach of these group norms

and sanctions.

The dynamics of peer groups, and other face-toface

groups, is the subject of both social psychology

and sociology. Within sociology, notable

contributions to the study of group dynamics

have been made by Talcott Parsons (see, for

example, Family, Socialisation and Interaction Process,

1955, and Working Papers in the Theory of Action,

1953); within social psychology, Robert Bales

made significant foundational observations (see,

for example, Interaction Process Analysis: A Method for

the Study of Small Groups, 1950; and SYMLOG: A

System for Multiple Level Observation of Groups, 1979).

Pressure groups are a particular kind of social

group characterized by a common purpose – to

put pressure on governments and decisionmaking

bodies, and to influence public opinion, such that

their aims are supported. These aims may be

either for significant reforms to a current system,

or for the maintenance of the current or previous

status quo. Pressure groups may be distinguished

from other groups united in a common interest,

such as political parties, in that they aim to influence

public opinion, and government decisions,

rather than to govern and make such decisions

per se. However, the relationship between pressure

groups and political parties is often symbiotic,

and certain pressure groups have close

relations with particular political parties – for

example, the relationship between the trade

unions and the Labour parties of Australia and

Britain; and the relationship between fundamentalist

Christian groups and the Republican party

of the United States. Further, pressure groups may

develop into political parties – for example, the

Family First party in Australia – and enter into

politics and decision-making proper.

There are two general types of pressure groups –

broadly, “protective” and “promotional” groups.

This distinction is intended to highlight the divergent

aims of some pressure groups. Protective

pressure groups are united in their aim to protect

existing and affiliated members of that group –

for example, trade unions and professional associations.

By contrast, “promotional” groups seek to

promote a cause, rather than to defend a defined

group. Promotional groups include the RSPCA,

and other societies bound by a goal to promote a

cause – for example, environmental groups; proor

anti-censorship groups; pro- or anti-choice

groups. However, this distinction is not always

clear-cut. Thus, professional associations have

joined with other groups in condemning prejudice,

group(s) group(s)


war, and violence, for example; and the public

interest lobby for an increase in the national minimum

wage – a public cause – is a key task of the

trade unions in defending their members, and



Gurvitch, Georges (1894–1965)

Born in Novorossisk, Russia, Gurvitch closely observed

the Russian Revolution, met V. I. Lenin, and

knew Leon Trotsky (1879–1940). In 1917 he published

a work on Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78)

and agrarian rights and became a lecturer at the

University of Leningrad. He was made a professor at

the University of Tomsk in 1919, but in 1920 he left

Russia. Between 1921 and 1924 he worked in the

Russian Department at the University of Prague,

and was particularly influenced by the work of

Johann Fichte (1762–1814). Indeed, in 1930 he

published in France Les Tendencies actuelles de la

philosophie allemande: E. Husserl, M. Scheler, E. Lask,

M. Heidegger. In 1925 he moved to France, and

became a lecturer at the University of Strasbourg

in 1935. He spent the years of World War II in

the United States, and his De´claration des droits

sociaux (1944) was a socialist analysis of selfmanagement.

Returning to Strasbourg, Gurvitch edited

Twentieth-Century Sociology (1945) with Wilbert

E. Moore; although based in France, he was a

visiting professor in Brazil, Argentina, Japan,

Canada, North Africa, and the Near East, as well

as Europe. He was a passionate opponent of French

government policy during the Algerian war, and

founded the Centre d’E´tudes Sociologiques. He

also created the journal Cahiers Internationaux

de Sociologie, and started the Bibliothe`que de

Sociologie Contemporaine (Library of Contemporary

Sociology). He was concerned with the preservation

of the French language. He published La

Vocation actuelle de la sociologie in 1950, and in 1962

his most complete work, Dialectique et sociologie

appeared. He spent much of his time battling

over the question of dialectics. His Les Cadres

sociaux de la conaissance (1966) was published posthumously.


Gurvitch, Georges (1894–1965) Gurvitch, Georges (1894–1965)



Habermas, Ju¨rgen (1929– )

Often regarded as the most influential German

social theorist of the second half of the twentieth

century, Habermas belongs to the Frankfurt

School, a group of neo-Marxist intellectuals who

pursue a critical theory of society. Habermas

belongs to the so-called second generation of the

Frankfurt School; the first generation consists, for

instance, of Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno and

Max Horkheimer. He initially worked under Adorno’s

supervision, but soon developed his own version

of critical theory.

Habermas’s project differs from Adorno in a

number of respects. First, whereas Adorno’s critique

was directed at the Enlightenment project,

Habermas emphasized its positive features. He

recognized the problematic nature of the current

sociopolitical constellation, but he insisted that

these problems were not intrinsic to modernity.

He argued for recognition of the liberating features

of the shift towards modernity, and the central

nature of these features to any critical theory.

Second, whereas Adorno’s notion of rationality

was still embedded in the “philosophy of consciousness,”

Habermas sought to ground reason

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