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algorithms exist to determine an appropriate

number of clusters, and iteratively allocate each

case to a cluster.

Cluster analysis was developed to deal with biological

data (for instance, determining the family

structure of species of plants from the dimensions

of their various components). It rarely gives

such conclusive solutions in the social sciences

(where cluster membership is more complex, and

there can be many cases that do not easily fit into

any of the clusters). But it can be a very useful

exploratory technique, to determine the viability

and usefulness of treating a sample as one whole

or as several sub-samples.

For instance, Brendan Burchell and Jill Rubery

in “An Empirical Investigation into the Segmentation

of the Labour Supply” (1990, Work, Employment

and Society) used cluster analyses on a sample

of 600 employees to divide them up into their

different positions and trajectories in the labor

market and to examine the ways in which advantaged

and disadvantaged groups of employees are

composed. They described five main clusters, for

which the labor market operated in very different

ways. They interpreted their results as supporting

segmented labor market theories, whereby the

labor market is better characterized as a number

of non-competing groups for whom the relationship

between productivity and rewards are very

different. Each of the five clusters was assumed

to represent one segment in the labor market. The

results of this analysis partly supported previous

theoretical accounts of labor markets, but also

revealed new insights into the very different sorts

of labor market disadvantage suffered by males

and females in declining labor markets.



The coding, categorizing, or classification of social

phenomena – an activity described by Robert

Edgerton in “Quality of Life from a Longitudinal

Research Perspective,” featured in Quality of Life:

Perspectives and Issues (1990), as “the American passion

for reducing complex qualitative concepts to

simple scalar instruments” – is an essential part of

sociological research methodology under positivism.

Coding, in theory, transforms otherwise unwieldy

masses of disorderly phenomena, research

participant reports or participant observations,

into tractable data. The process of coding, essentially

an exercise in the disaggregation of higherorder

social phenomena and the assigning of

numerical codes to theoretically important, and

operationally defined, sub-phenomena (for example

identifying a specific suicide as anomic, egotistical,

or altruistic), is a core component of the

experimental method, essential for the statistical

manipulation of data, and the employment of

inferential statistics to make population-based

claims about the generality of sociological issues

employing the logic of the hypothetico-deductive


Coding operates on a number of levels, may

take place either before, during (“field-coding”),

or after data collection, and may index very different

practices for different research methods. For

example, what is meant by coding for a study

influenced by grounded theory – with the important

methodological and epistemological distinction

in such work between the procedures of

latent and of manifest coding of textual material –

differs dramatically from the meaning of coding

to the designer of a study using scales to assess

the intensity of racial prejudice, or questionnaires

to measure quality of life. In the former case, as

with the very limited use of coding in discourse

analysis (where in practice the term often means

little more than the identification of like interpretative

repertoires, in much the way one might

“code” one’s socks by their color), the coding of

emergent themes is a posteriori: categories/codes

arise from inspection of the data. In the latter

cases, coding refers to the assignment of a priori

(numerical/value) codes to broad categories of expressed

attitudes, beliefs, values, etc., by researchers.

An example of an extremely simple coding

scheme is illustrated in R. Schalock and K. Keith’s

Quality of Life Questionnaire (1993). Their semistructured

measure of quality of life is presented

in Table 1. As is evident, coding the potentially

infinite possible interviewee responses to the

class consciousness coding


item “How much fun and enjoyment do you get

out of life?” as 1 (not much), 2 (some), or 3 (lots), is

not only massively to attenuate the substantive

content of all possible responses, but also, of necessity,

to engage in an impossibly unreliable exercise

(by the standards of the experimental

method) in on-the-spot interpretation.

Table 1. Field coding scheme for prescripted

response alternatives

Item: How successful

do you think you

are, compared

with others?


Response (a)

Probably more successful

than the average person 1

Response (b)

About as successful as

the average person 2

Response (c)

Less successful than

the average person 3

Item: How much fun

and enjoyment do

you get out of life?


Response (a) Lots 1

Response (b) Some 2

Response (c) Not much 3

In this regard it is crucial that we recognize

the potential shortcomings inherent in any account

of sociological phenomena we derive from

analyst-imposed classification.


cognitive dissonance

A theory developed by Leon Festinger (1919–90)

in his Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (1957); he

proposed that anyone holding two contradictory

cognitions experiences an aversive motivational

state. This leads the individual to reduce the dissonance

by changing one of the cognitions, or by

including some justification into their thinking

which would reconcile the difference.

An example of this is provided by one of the

original tests of the claim. Subjects completed an

exceptionally dull task, and were then asked to

misrepresent it as very interesting to the next subject

in the study. In one condition, subjects received

$20 ($135 in 2004 prices) for their duplicity, but

only $1 in the other. Subsequently, subjects rated

how interesting the task was. The $20 subjects gave

it significantly lower ratings than the $1 ones.

The explanation in cognitive dissonance terms

was that the $20 subjects witnessed a conflict

between their experience of the task and their

description of it to the next subject, but had a

justification for their behavior in the size of the

reward, so did not experience dissonance. The $1

subjects did not have this, and so, as a result of the

experienced conflict, were motivated to revise

their belief as to the inherent interest of the task.

In essence it was a theory of why attitudes and

beliefs change. Subsequent work has elaborated

on what a cognition is, whether or not the aversive

motivational state is essential, and the role

played by an individual’s sense of self and identity

in motivating or constraining a change.



– see generation(s).

Coleman, James S. (1926–1995)

Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago,

Coleman’s career covered work in various areas of

social science, methodology and theory, but his

main contribution was to the theory of social

action and structure (see agency and structure).

His early work was concerned with conflict and

power which he explored in Community Conflict

(1957), Power and the Structure of Society (1974), and

The Asymmetric Society (1982). He was a prolific

writer of books and journal articles over his long

career, and he focused on areas such as mathematical

sociology in his Introduction to Mathematical

Sociology (1964); the sociology of education in The

Adolescent Society: The Social Life of the Teenager and its

Impact on Education (1961), Equality and Achievement

in Education (1990), and (with David Court) in University

Development in the Third World (1993); and the

analysis of social change. In the area of the sociology

of education, his research on the positive

effects of integrated schooling for underprivileged

black children, the Coleman Report (Equality of

Educational Opportunity, 1966), was most influential.

He won many awards for his work including

the Paul Lazarsfeld Award for Research in 1983,

the Educational Freedom Award in 1989, and the

American Distinguished Sociological Publication

Award in 1992 for his book Foundations of Social

Theory (1990), which contained some of his contributions

to the theory of social capital. His later

research focused on rational choice theory, for

example in Individual Interests and Collective Action:

Selected Essays (1986) and (with Thomas J. Fararo),

Rational Choice Theory: Advocacy and Critique (1992).

He founded the journal Rationality and Society in

1989. His most influential contribution was to the

development of the theory of social capital.


cognitive dissonance Coleman, James S. (1926–1995)


collective action

This concept refers to the process by which interest

groups produce a public good. Pure public

goods have two properties: non-excludability

(anyone can consume it, including noncontributors)

and jointness of supply (an increase in consumption

does not reduce the amount available to

others). Collective action can also take the form of

mutual restraint in depleting shared resources, a

problem known as the tragedy of the common


Collective action differs from collective behavior

such as rioting or “groupthink,” in which

people in groups suppress critical faculties. However,

collective action is not necessarily motivated

by rational self-interest. In The Logic of Collective

Action (1965), Mancur Olson (1932–98) argued

that rational actors will not contribute to public

goods if: (1) they can enjoy the public good even if

they do not contribute (the free-rider problem),

and (2) they cannot substantially increase the

public good even if they do contribute (the efficacy

problem). Thus, rational actors will participate

in collective action in large groups only if

selective incentives reward contributors and

punish noncontributors.

Olson’s work was criticized by sociologists who

countered that the provision of incentives is itself

a public good that presumes collective action

rather than explaining it. However, Douglas

Heckathorn showed that it can be rational to contribute

to sanctions even when it is not rational to

contribute to public goods in the absence of social


Gerald Marwell and Pamela Oliver also challenged

Olson’s argument. In The Critical Mass in

Collective Action (1993), they showed how, with

high jointness of supply, collective action without

selective incentives is more likely in large than

in small groups. Large groups are more likely to

contain a critical mass of highly interested and

resourceful members. These statistical outliers

may be willing to provide the public goods for

everyone, no matter how many others benefit

for free.

Formal models of collective action have also

examined the role of social networks. It is often

easier to mobilize a critical mass of contributors

locally, which can then spread from cluster to

cluster until the entire population is involved.

Local interaction also facilitates informal social

control, such as the spread of reputation.

While much research on collective action

uses formal theory, researchers have also used

experimental laboratory research to study social

dilemmas. An important branch of research attributes

collective action to the cohesive effects of

social identity rather than shared interests in a

public good. Henri Tajfel, Social Identity and Intergroup

Relations (1982), shows how individuals are

more likely to contribute to public goods when a

group identity is salient. However, in “The Group

as the Container of Generalized Reciprocity”

(Social Psychology Quarterly), Toshio Yamagishi and

Toko Kiyonari argue that these studies may have

confounded the effects of identity with a selfinterested

expectation of generalized reciprocity.

These and other experimental studies are

reviewed by Peter Kollock in the 1998 Annual

Review of Sociology.

Another branch of collective-action research

focuses on the mobilization of participation in

social movements. Key approaches include resource

mobilization, which considers the strategic

attitudes and actions of participants, the political

process model, which examines the intersection of

political opportunities, social movements sectors,

and cycles of protest, and the new social movements

perspective, which explores structural determinants

and outcomes of movements.


collective behavior

Treated generically, this term refers to behavior

that is carried out by some sort of collective

rather than by an individual. While there are

classic accounts of concerted action in the

writings of Karl Marx and of Max Weber, there

have been a variety of recent, more focused, approaches

to the mobilization of such behavior.

The specific “collective behavior” approach developed

in the United States is associated with

two otherwise quite different theorists, Herbert

Blumer and Neil Smelser. Blumer’s symbolic

interactionist emphasis on elementary forms of

collective behavior, in which there is a lowering

of the self-consciousness that barricades the individual

against the influence of others, has much

in common with E´mile Durkheim’s stress on collective

sentiments, rituals, and symbols. Blumer

distinguishes between three elementary groupings

in which individualism and privatism are

transcended. These are: (1) a crowd, in which

physical proximity and density are important,

and which may range from the casual and passive

to the expressively intense and active; (2) a mass,

such as the audience for mass media events, in

which similar action can be provoked in spatially

collective action collective behavior


disparate individuals by a common point of reference;

and (3) a public, in which there is an

interactional coming together of previously disparate

individuals in order to debate issues of

common concern. Blumer analyzes how these

nascent and spontaneous forms of collective behavior

can be transformed into more enduring

and durable forms when the response to conditions

of unrest involves the active creation of

social movements with an esprit de corps, clear

ideological values, and an organizational


The so-called “value-added” approach of Smelser’s

Theory of Collective Behavior (1962), drawing its

inspiration from functionalism, emphasizes the

structural over the agency side of collective behavior.

He identifies the response of groups to what

they see as “structural strain” in their environment

as central amongst several factors that affect

whether, and to what extent, collective behavior

will occur. The other factors include: the specific

configuration of opportunities and constraints

confronting the group; the growth and spread of

generalized beliefs about what is wrong and what

should be done; the “trigger” of concrete events

that act as a focus for mobilization; communication

networks that aid the coordination and

organization of the mobilization; and the response

of social control agencies such as the police

or the media.

Employing the prisoner’s dilemma from game

theory, Mancur Olson’s influential The Logic of

Collective Action (1965) highlighted a specific problem

in mobilizing collective action, that of the

“free rider.” The problem is that self-interested

individuals will prefer to free-ride on the activities

of others, gaining the benefits of collective

actions but avoiding the costs of personal commitment.

According to Olson, it is rational to

defect from such actions unless individual incentives

are provided. Such an individualistic and

rationalistic approach sits uneasily with Blumer’s

and Smelser’s more sociological emphasis

on extra-individual values, beliefs, and collective

sentiments. More recent work has refined and

complemented earlier insights. The resource mobilization

school has demonstrated the significance

for collective actors of resources gained

from external organizations and networks, while

innovative works such as Doug McAdam, Sydney

Tarrow, and Charles Tilly’s Dynamics of Contention

(2001) have developed historically specific and

grounded analyses of “cycles” and “repertoires

of contention.” ROB STONES

collective goods

– see social capital.

collective rights

– see rights.

Colle`ge de Sociologie

The powerful intellectual presence in France of

mile Durkheim, prior to his death in 1917, was

due to the intellectual and organizational coherence

of his school and to its elective affinity

with a politically significant reformist socialist

republican movement. Their collective work produced

some positive responses from prominent

members of other disciplines, but it equally provoked

hostility, which helps explain its subsequent

limited role in higher education. After

World War I, few chairs in sociology were created

and many Durkheimians gravitated to specialized

research institutes. True, the Durkheimians influenced

secondary education, but at the cost of a

subsequent increasingly abstract, nationalistic

and technocratic development of its precepts.

In the 1930s, intellectual ferment was linked

with Surrealist subversions of conventional art

and literature, an interest in more “primitive

cultures,” and a renewed interest in the ideas

of German thinkers, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich

Hegel, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche

(1844–1900), Sigmund Freud, and also Martin Heidegger

(1889–1976). The work of the Durkheimians

became increasingly marginalized: Paul

Nizan even blamed them for the authoritarian

nationalistic cast of education. Surprisingly, in

1937, the dissident Surrealists and anti-fascist activists

Georges Bataille (1897–1962), Michel Leiris

(1901–90), and Roger Caillois (1913–78) organized

a Colle`ge de Sociologie which met in a Parisian

bookshop between November 1937 and July 1939.

First announced in Bataille’s journal Ace´phale, the

Colle`ge aimed to create a contagious “Sacred Sociology.”

Unaffiliated with any academic institution,

the reputations, connections, and networks

of the Colle`ge’s organizers and the promise of the

“note” in Ace´phale brought to its sessions many

European literary figures, Surrealist and otherwise,

historians, social theorists, and philosophers,

including Alexandre Koje`ve (1902–68),

Pierre Klossowksi (1905–2001), Denis de Rougemont

(1906–85), Hans Mayer (1907–2001), Jacques

Lacan, Georges Dume´zil (1898–1986), Jean-Paul

Sartre (1905–80), Claude Le´vi-Strauss, and Walter

Benjamin. Its major focus was the study of the

problems of power, the sacred, and myths. This

collective behavior Colle`ge de Sociologie


required forms of inquiry which would embrace a

person’s total activity and would entail working

in common with others, seriously, selflessly, and

with critical severity. To understand manifestations

of the sacred, or their absence, historical

and comparative anthropological materials and

theories were needed and these were to be found

in the work of Durkheim, Robert Hertz (1881–

1915), Henri Hubert (1872–1927), and Marcel

Mauss. The lectures at the Colle`ge and many associated

writings have been brought together in

Denis Hollier (ed.), The College of Sociology 1937–39


In their joint presentation in 1937 on the

“Sacred Sociology and the Relationships Between

‘Society,’ ‘Organism,’ and ‘Being,’” Bataille and

Caillois endorse Durkheim’s view that society

was an emergent sui generis reality, society being

something other than the sum of its individual

members, and while these naively represent themselves

to themselves as indivisible unities they are

transformed by their subjection to the “communifying

movements” of society, which is a “compound

being.” Such movements create a feeling of

being a society, but this may be precarious, since

one society can produce a number of different

collectivities at the same time. Both Caillois and

Bataille drew on Durkheim’s analysis of the sacred

and profane dichotomy.

For Caillois, as he made clear in his lecture

“Festival,” the sacred is a key element both in

ordinary life and in the festivals found in primitive

societies, and to a much attenuated degree in

contemporary societies. Ordinary life tends to be

regular, busy, and safe; insofar as it is part of a

cosmos ruled by a universal order, the sacred only

manifests itself against potential disturbances of

this order or as expiations for any such disturbances.

The very passage of time may be wearing

and exhausting and individual human beings and

social institutions get used up and every socially

conscious act leads to the accumulation of potentially

toxic wastes. Regeneration may depend

upon the person who is its agent becoming polluted,

for what is unclean may contain within

itself a positive active principle. The popular

frenzy of the festival may also be regenerative in

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