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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 I: The micro-macro problem in sociology: theoretical background

1 Classical approaches to the micro-macro problem in sociology

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Micro-macro and other pairings in sociological theory

1.3 The classics on micro-macro and macro-micro

1.4 The 1980s and the debate about the micro-macro link

1.5 Linking micro and macro via meso

1.6 Concluding remarks

2 Social fields: the meso-level of analysis

2.1 Introduction

2.2 Social fields and the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu

2.3 Sociology of organizations in the search for the level of analysis

2.4 Towards an integration of the field theories: strategic action fields approach

2.5 Concluding remarks

3 Social networks: tying micro and macro

3.1 Introduction

3.2 From fishermen to World Wide Web: a brief review of network approaches in social sciences

3.3 How nodes are tied into society: from micro to macro

3.4 Concluding remarks

Part II: The sociological vacuum: the story of the spell cast on Polish sociologists

4 Polish sociology in the 1970s, Stefan Nowak, and the sociological vacuum thesis

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Stefan Nowak

4.3 Survey sociology: measurement of attitudes, values, and society as an aggregate of individuals

4.4 Thesis on Poland’s sociological vacuum

4.5 The sociological vacuum: brilliant intuition or a methodological artifact?

4.6 Concluding remarks

5 Solidarność: how atomized individuals mobilized as a social movement?

5.1 Introduction

5.2 The outburst of Solidarność: the most interesting event in Polish social history

5.3 A movement fulfilling the vacuum? Solidarność as a problem for sociology of Polish society

5.4 Towards sociological explanations of Solidarność: how are atoms linked into a society?

5.5 Concluding remarks

6 Civil society: in search of the new actor of the social transformation

6.1 Introduction

6.2 Civil society: its rivals and kin

6.3 Civil society in the vacuum

6.4 For the common good? Associationalism: its advantages and disadvantages

6.5 In search of civic life in Poland

6.6 Concluding remarks

7 Social capital: what mediates between individuals and society?

7.1 Introduction

7.2 Social capital: short story of a fuzzy concept

7.3 Social capital and the sociological vacuum

7.4 What do we know about the social capital in Poland?

7.5 Concluding remarks

8 Quality of democracy: social base for political institutions

8.1 Introduction

8.2 Democracy: aggregating individual wills into collective action

8.3 Democracy in the vacuum?

8.4 Concluding remarks

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

9.2 Brief story of getting a job studies

9.3 Getting a job in Poland

9.4 Concluding remarks