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interpretation of a scripture or holy text. Although

it is a reaction against the secular dimensions

of modernity, it cannot be regarded as a

traditional movement. It developed in the late

nineteenth century, first in the United States,

and then spread, especially in the last decade of

the twentieth century, to a variety of Protestant,

Jewish, and Muslim communities around the


Among such movements, it is important to consider

the American Council of Christian Churches,

founded in 1941, and the more recent Christian

Coalition founded in 1989, the Gush Emunim

(Block of the Faithful) and various ultra-orthodox

movements (both non-Zionist and anti-Zionist) in

Israel from the 1970s onwards, and many similar

movements in the Muslim world which developed

in the nineteenth century, blossoming in the

last decades of the twentieth century. The most

successful among these movements was the Iranian

Revolution (1978–9) which was led by the

Ayatollah Khomeini (1900–89).

With the exception of movements in the United

States and more recently Europe, most of these

fundamentalist movements developed in those

states which were established, like the Kemalist

government of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk (1881–

1938) in Turkey, after World War I, or in the

colonial-imperial states, which were constituted

by the various national movements after World

War II. Social groups which were dislocated from

their respective traditional settings, and drawn

into modern frameworks, formed a central component

of these movements. These social groups

often advanced within a modern context – for

example, the experience of social progress among

many Muslim women in Iran, Turkey, or Egypt –

but they also felt culturally dislocated in these

settings and often alienated from them. In the

Islamic movements, the confrontation with secular

modernity constituted a central component of

these movements.

In all these societies and historical settings, the

fundamentalist groups constitute what we may

call “Jacobin movements,” that is totalistic or

totalitarian movements. These totalitarian tendencies

were rooted in the Jacobin tradition

that emerged in the French Revolution of 1789,

which promulgated the total reconstitution of

man. Jacobinism, named after the Jacobin club,

was a society of deputies, which acted to concentrate

power and which believed that the truth

of its vision of society was sufficient to guarantee

its authority. Jacobinism can also be seen in the

high level of political mobilization in the period

between the two world wars, which represented

a major challenge to the pluralistic constitutional

regimes of the democracies. The tendency

towards Jacobinism can also be seen in various

communist regimes.

Therefore, contrary to the widely accepted

wisdom of many interpretations, these fundamentalist

movements are not traditional or antimodern

religions but distinctively sectarianutopian,

modern, Jacobin movements which promulgate

an ideological and essentialist conception

of tradition.

Fundamentalist ideologies, movements, and

regimes share, with other Jacobin developments

such as Communism and utopian sects, the tendency

to promulgate a strong vision or gospel of

salvation, which is combined with a total worldview,

the implementation of which is to take

place in this world and in the present.

The institutionalization of such totalitarian

visions entails the establishment, through the

powerful mobilization to political action of an

existing social order, of collective and individual

symbols of identity, and the constitution of sharp

social boundaries between the pure inside and

the polluted outside. Such political actions often

involve the sanctification of violence and terror,

oriented above all against both internal and external

evil forces and enemies. From the fundamentalist

perspective, the enemy is typically seen

to be rooted in the secular dynamics of modern

society, that is the West, the United States, or


This modern Jacobin mobilization of fundamentalist

movements and regimes is often combined,

paradoxically, with anti-modern, or at least an

anti-liberal, ideology. This contradictory combination

of the modern and the traditional is most

clearly expressed in the fundamentalist attitude

to women. On the one hand most of these movements

promulgate a strong patriarchal, antifeminist

attitude, segregating women and men,

and placing far-reaching restrictions on the

former. At the same time, and in stark contrast

fundamentalism fundamentalism


to traditional regimes, these modern fundamentalist

movements mobilize women in the public

sphere through demonstrations, paramilitary organizations,

and religious associations, and in the

central political arena through elections to


Although they can often appear to be seemingly

traditional, in fact, these movements are in some

paradoxical ways anti-traditional. They negate

the living traditions of popular and folk religions,

with all their inevitable cultural complexity,

changeability, and heterogeneity, in their

respective societies. Instead they uphold a highly

ideological and essentialist conception of tradition

as an overarching ideological principle couched

in a modern idiom, with a strong emphasis

on mobilization, participation, and the organizational

dimensions of modern political programs.

These decidedly modern components of fundamentalist

movements and regimes can also be

seen in some aspects of their institutionalization

as regimes, namely in the continuation, albeit

with strong Jacobin components, of modern institutions

such as political constitutions. The majilis

parliament in Iran following the Revolution

basically had no roots in traditional Islam, and

the elections to the parliament are illustrations

of this. Thus these fundamentalist movements do

not overtly and consciously promulgate modernity,

but rather attempt to appropriate modernity

on their own terms.

The approach of these movements to tradition

is also manifest in their attitudes to the more

conservative religious leaders and establishments,

as well as to the more popular manifestations

of tradition. They also typically involve some

degree of distance and separation beween young

generations of fundamentalists and their traditionalist

parents or grandparents, who come to

be regarded as a cohort who are or were not pure

enough in their lifestyles and everyday life.

Although these fundamentalist movements

and regimes appear to have been politically successful

in many respects, they have also faced

some distinctively modern problems, which have

attended their institutionalization. These problems

are in fact manifestations of the basic tensions

which are the legacy of their Jacobinism

and their acceptance of the basic institutional

frameworks of modernity. S . N. EISENSTADT

fundamentalism fundamentalism



Gadamer, Hans-Georg (1900–2002)

Hans-Georg Gadamer made a substantial contribution

to hermeneutic philosophy. Born in 1900

in Marburg, he studied under Martin Heidegger

and also attended the lectures of Edmund Husserl.

Gadamer’s professional life was spent mainly in

Germany, although after his retirement from his

Chair in Philosophy at Heidelberg in 1968 he

took up various visiting posts abroad. In the

course of the 1970s sociologists became increasingly

interested in hermeneutics, hence there was

a growing interest in Gadamer’s writings. Gadamer’s

main book is Truth and Method (1960 [trans.

1975]). In this book, Gadamer distanced himself

from the emphasis on method in nineteenthcentury

hermeneutics; like Heidegger, Gadamer

heralded the “ontological turn.” He criticized

philosophers of the Enlightenment for failing to

appreciate the pivotal role of tradition in knowledge

acquisition. He saw understanding as a

dialogical process in which we draw on our presuppositions

to make sense of other people, but

these presuppositions are themselves affected by

this encounter. Gadamer talked about a “fusion

of horizons” to hint at the dialogical nature of

the interaction between the reader and the

text, or the observer and observed. Gadamer

applied his hermeneutic approach to medicine

and medical practice in The Enigma of Health (1996

[trans. 1993]).

In the late 1960s, Ju¨rgen Habermas engaged in a

debate with Gadamer. For Habermas, Gadamer

was right to point out the limitations of positivism,

but his plea for hermeneutic understanding

lacks a critical edge. Gadamer’s reply was that

Habermas failed to acknowledge that his own

critical standpoint is itself embedded in tradition.

Later, Richard Rorty’s argument for an edifying

philosophy, beyond epistemology, drew on Gadamer’s

dialogical model. Gadamer also inspired

Charles Taylor’s philosophy of social sciences, in

particular its reflexive component.


game theory

This is a mathematical tool for modeling social

conflict and cooperation among two or more

players, where payoffs for a given strategy depend

in part on the strategies of other players. This

strategic interdependence can be represented as

a payoff matrix (the “normal form” for simultaneous

moves by the players) or as a decision tree

(the “extensive form” for sequential moves).

Strategic interdependence allows for two types

of games. In zero-sum games, a gain for one player

is always a loss for the partner, which precludes

the possibility of cooperation for mutual gain. In

positive-sum games, everyone can gain through

cooperation, defined as a strategy combination

that is Pareto-efficient (see Vilfredo Pareto) (any

improvement for some would come at someone

else’s expense). Nevertheless, cooperation may fail

for two reasons: the fear of being “suckered” by

the partner and the temptation to cheat. These

failures can be avoided in two ways, through enforceable

contracts that preclude “cheating” (“cooperative

games”) and through collusion (in “noncooperative


A cooperative game consists of a set of players

and a value function that assigns a value to every

possible coalition of players based on the total

amount of transferable utility the players of

that coalition can distribute. Sociologists such

as F. J. Bienenstock and P. Bonacich have used

the cooperative-game paradigm to study the

effects of network structure on power inequality

in social exchange (“The Core as a Solution to

Negatively Connected Exchange Networks,” 1992,

Social Networks).

Non-cooperative games are played without the

benefit of an enforceable contract, hence the opportunity

for cheating. These games are generally

more interesting to sociologists because they can

be used to model social dilemmas – games in

which rational self-interest can lead players into

an outcome that is not Pareto-efficient. In a social

dilemma, mutual cooperation is Pareto-efficient


yet may be undermined by the temptation to

cheat or by the fear of being cheated or by both.

In the game of Stag Hunt, the problem is “fear,”

and in the game of Chicken the problem is

“greed.” The problem is most challenging when

both fear and greed are present – as in the celebrated

game of Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Although the games vary widely, the theory

of games provides a solution concept that can

be universally applied. In Non-Cooperative Games

(1950), John F. Nash showed that every game contains

at least one Nash equilibrium – an outcome

where every strategy is a “best reply” to the other

strategies played; hence, no player has an incentive

to change strategy unilaterally. The Nash

equilibrium predicts mutual defection in Prisoner’s

Dilemma, unilateral defection in Chicken,

and either mutual cooperation or mutual defection

in Stag Hunt. Nash also identifies a Paretodeficient

mixed-strategy equilibrium in Chicken

and Stag Hunt. A mixed strategy chooses randomly

from all available behavioral choices following

a particular probability distribution (for

example, “cooperate .45, defect .55”). Knowing

that a configuration is a Nash equilibrium means

that if this state should obtain, the system will

remain there forever, even in the absence of an

enforceable contract. However, even when Nash

can identify a unique equilibrium, this does not

tell us whether this state will ever be reached,

or with what probability, or what will happen

if the equilibrium should be perturbed. Nor

does Nash equilibrium explain social stability

among interacting agents who are changing

strategies individually, yet the population distribution

remains constant, as in a homeostatic


Both Chicken and Stag Hunt have three equilibria,

and game theory cannot tell us which one will

obtain. Worse yet, if these games are repeated by

players who care about future payoffs in an

ongoing relation, the number of Nash equilibria

becomes indefinitely large. When games have

multiple equilibria, Nash cannot tell us which

will obtain or with what relative probability. Nor

can Nash tell us much about the dynamics

by which a population of players can move from

one equilibrium to another. Game theorists have

responded to the problem of equilibrium selection

by proposing procedures that can winnow the

set of possible solutions to include only those

that are risk-dominant (players follow a conservative

strategy that earns the best payoff they can

guarantee for themselves), payoff-dominant (every

other equilibrium is less preferred by at least

one player), and subgame-perfect (all nodes

along the equilibrium path can be reached in

the extensive form). However, these equilibrium

selection methods are theoretically arbitrary (for

example, there is no a-priori basis for payoffdominant

or risk-dominant behavior) and they

often disagree about which equilibrium should

be selected (for example, in Stag Hunt, payoff

dominance and subgame perfection identify

mutual cooperation while risk dominance points

to mutual defection).

These limitations, including concerns about the

cognitive demands of forward-looking rationality,

have led game theorists to explore backwardlooking

alternatives based on evolution and learning.

Evolutionary game theory allows for the

possibility that players rely on cognitive shortcuts

such as imitation, heuristic decision making,

stochastic learning, Bayesian updating, best reply

with finite memory, and local optimization.

Evolutionary models test the ability of conditionally

cooperative strategies to survive and reproduce

in competition with predators ( John

Maynard-Smith, Evolution and the Theory of Games,

1982). Biological models have also been extended

to military and economic games in which losers

are physically eliminated or bankrupted and to

cultural games in which winners are more likely

to be imitated (Robert Axelrod, The Evolution of

Cooperation, 1984; Ju¨rgen Weibull, Evolutionary

Game Theory, 1995).

Evolutionary game theory is based on the consequentialist

assumption that strategic choices can

be explained by the associated payoffs. The payoffs

that matter are those that have already occurred,

not those that a forward-looking optimizer might

expect to obtain in the future. Repetition, not

calculation, brings the future to bear on the present,

by recycling the lessons of the past. Through

repeated exposure to a recurrent problem, the

consequences of alternative courses of action can

be iteratively explored, by the individual actor or

by a population. Iterative search relaxes the highly

restrictive cognitive assumptions in analytical

game theory, thereby extending applications to

social and cultural adaptation by highly routinized

actors, such as bureaucratic organizations

or boundedly rational individuals whose behavior

is based on heuristics, habits, or norms. The game

paradigm obtains its theoretical leverage by modeling

the social fabric as a matrix of interconnected

agents guided by outcomes of their

interaction with others, where the actions of

each depend on, as well as shape, the behavior of

those with whom they are linked. Viewed with

game theory game theory


that lens, game theory appears to be especially

relevant to sociology, the social science that has

been most reluctant to embrace it.



This term refers to a group of individuals collectively

engaging in social activities that are often

deviant or criminal. While the term has been used

to label a wide range of criminal or deviant

groups, criminology has more narrowly focused

on gangs that reflect the findings of the first systematic

study, The Gang (1927), by Frederic M.

Thrasher. According to Thrasher, gangs, usually

composed of male adolescents, form in urban

areas and function as a primary group based on

strong loyalty and a clear territorial focus.

Thrasher’s colleagues at the Chicago School account

for a number of theories aimed at explaining

gang-based deviant behavior. E. H. Sutherland

in his textbook Principles of Criminology (1939) developed

the notion of “differential association”

which explains criminal activity in the immediate

social context of various subcultures in society.

Criminal activities are thus peer-group-induced.

Albert Cohen’s Delinquent Boys (1955) describes

gangs as working-class subcultures engaging in a

deliberate rejection of middle-class values. Drawing

on Robert Merton’s functionalist approach to

crime, Cohen ascribed the formation of delinquent

subcultures such as gangs to the frustration

of working-class youths over their lack of social

status and mobility.

The work of another sociologist associated with

the Chicago School, Howard S. Becker, was instrumental

in the foundation of labeling theory.

According to Becker, in Outsiders (1963), deviance

is a relational, socially constructed label through

which powerful sections of society exercise control:

“deviancy is not a quality of the act a person

commits, but rather a consequence of the application

by others of rules and sanctions to an


The significance of social class in the formation

of gangs is highlighted further by studies in New

Criminology, closely associated with the Birmingham

Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies.

New Criminology portrays deviant gang behavior

as a deliberate act of resistance by working-class

youths to the existing social and economic order.

Ian Taylor in Football Mad (1972), for instance,

explains the rise of hooligan gangs as a result

of excessive social control and the inequalities of

postwar capitalism in Britain. However, these

approaches have been criticized for insufficiently

accounting for the victims of gang-related activities,

which, as in the case of inner-city street

gangs and hooligans, are often found among

other disadvantaged sections of society. Moreover,

in light of the deterritorialization of social identities

and subcultures, the strong emphasis on

local working-class culture seems increasingly difficult

to maintain.

The sociological study of gangs also raises important

methodological questions. As gangs naturally

shield at least part of their activities from

the public gaze, participant observation is the

only qualitative method promising detailed data

on gangs. Such qualitative research, however,

involves immediate dangers and ethical pitfalls

for the researcher (by becoming a victim or complicit

to criminal behavior) and the researched

(through the exposure of their activities and possible

legal repercussions). With their entry into

the field, researchers are also forced to take sides

in relation to the gang’s struggle, a theme pursued

by Becker in Whose Side are we on? (1967) and

Ned Polsky in Hustlers, Beats and Others (1967).


Gans, Herbert J. (1927– )

Born in Cologne, Germany, Gans migrated to the

United States in 1940, and gained his MA in social

science at the University of Chicago, and his

PhD in city planning from the University of

Pennsylvania. His research reflects interests in

both sociology and urban planning. He was a

professor of sociology at Columbia University,

and 78th President of the American Sociological

Association in 1988.

He has made significant contributions to sociological

debates about poverty in The War against the

Poor. The Underclass and Antipoverty Policy (1995). In

More Equality (1973), he challenged the cynical view

that the poor are valuable clients for professional

groups such as social workers, family lawyers

and doctors, and the owners of pawn shops and

brothels. There is also an economic argument that

the poor are useful in prolonging the life of certain

commodities such as day-old bread or secondhand

clothing. In arguing for more equality, Gans

argued that much dirty work should be done by

automation and that higher wages could be given

to the poor for dirty but necessary work without

damage to the economy.

Gans also contributed to the development of

urban sociology in The Urban Villagers. Group and

Class in the Life of Italian-Americans (1962) and The

Levittowners: Ways of Life and Politics in a New Suburban

Community (1982), and to the sociology of the

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