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Tying Micro and Macro

What Fills up the Sociological Vacuum?


Mikolaj Pawlak

This study critically discusses the thesis on the sociological vacuum formulated by Stefan Nowak. The author’s aim is to refute the claim that the sociological vacuum is relevant for major social processes occurring in Poland. He presents the sociological vacuum in the context of the debate on micro and macro levels and discusses how the theory of fields and social network analysis is useful to reconcile the micro-macro divide. The book considers the uses of the sociological vacuum in explaining such phenomena as the Solidarność social movement, civil society, social capital, and democracy. In the empirical part, the author confronts the data on identifications with the data on relations and claims that the vacuum is not in the society but it in sociology.

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Part III: What fills up the sociological vacuum? Empirical illustration


9 Getting a job in Poland: how weak ties fill up the sociological vacuum?

9.1 Introduction

In this chapter I confront the thesis on the sociological vacuum (Nowak 1979b) with the conception about the strength of weak ties (Granovetter 1973). Both conceptions gained high popularity in sociological circles: the sociological vacuum is one of the most discussed concepts coined in Polish sociology (Pawlak 2015), while the strength of weak ties is one of the most discussed and replicated study designs in international sociology, in general. For both of these conceptions, the employed research technique to deliver data is a survey, which makes it easy to confront them in the framework of the same study by asking questions to the same respondents. At the same time, however, both conceptions are embedded in very different perspectives on sociology. Stefan Nowak was interested in values and attitudes of individuals and by simple statistical aggregations of individual data he was attempting at theorizing about the whole Polish society (see Chapter 4). Mark Granovetter was interested in relations between individuals which allow them to mobilize resources, but on this ground, he was attempting to theorize about the social cohesion and social networks as a context for social action (see Chapter 3).

This chapter serves only as a small illustration for the whole narrative of this book. It is different from the previous chapters in which I have presented the findings of other authors and discussed theoretical implications...

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