Jim Manzi Spring Thirty years ago, during the Super Bowl, Apple presented what has become widely cited as the greatest television commercial in history.
This covers a very broad range of topics that includes groups and collectivities of varying sizes, the major organizations and institutions of one or more societies, cross-sectional or historical studies of a single society, and both comparative and historical analyses of multiple societies.
At the grandest level it may cover all human society and history. Sociologists distinguish macrosociology from microsociology, which focuses on the social activities of individuals and small groups. The micro-macro distinction forms one of the central dualisms characterizing divergent sociological perspectives.
Seemingly polar opposites such as conflict-consensus, stability-change, structure-agency, subjectiveobjective, and materialist-idealist, as well as micro-macro, provide a shorthand method for denoting differences in central assumptions, subjects, and models. Typically, micro-level studies examine individual thought, action, and interaction, often coinciding with social-psychological theories and models, whereas macro-level investigations target social structures and those forces that organize as well as divide individuals into political, social or religious organizations, ethnic populations, communities, and nation-states.
Nevertheless, in defining these terms there is major conceptual ambiguity that can be formulated as a question: Should the distinction be based on substantive criteria specialty and subdisciplinary areas within sociology such as social change and developmenttheoretical criteria e.
Even here, however, there is ambiguity, since it is quite possible to make observations on smaller units e. Also, the issue of where to draw the line remains.
Since the macro end of the continuum focuses on social structure, it is important to clarify the use of this term. In a review essay, Neil Smelserpp.
Institutions and identifiable collectivities are the outcomes of systematically related structures of activities. Structure is dually defined as located in collective actors and in their interaction.
Thus social class is an example of social structure, as are the relationships between classes whose locus is the economy.
The study of social class and the study of the economy are examples of macrosociology. Other examples emerge from the macrosociological focus on large-scale structural arrangements and activities of a great number of individuals in large-scale geographical space over long periods of time.
Thus macroscopic questions in sociology conventionally revolve around the largest social, spatial, and temporal processes, such as the rise and decline of civilizations; the origins and development of modern nation-states, social movements, and revolutions; and the origins and consequences of social, political, economic, and cultural transformations.
Examples include the rise and spread of secular ideologies and religious belief systems, democratic transitions, and the nature and effects of large-scale institutions and organizations. Macro-level analysis is usually embedded in structural and conflict theories, and in studies of societal dynamics and epochal transformations of cultures and social structures.
Topics are located within numerous subfields of sociology, including but not limited to stratification and inequality, resource mobilization, political and economic sociology, world systems, human evolution, and ecology.
They are equally likely to cross or link disciplinary boundaries to incorporate history, geography, political economy, and anthropology. Historical Background The concern with macro-level phenomena is as old as the discipline of sociology and arguably is the primary motivation for the creation of classical sociological theory and research.
The traditions they established retain their definitive role for the central issues of sociology in general and macrosociology in particular. The themes pursued by these and other classical theorists are found in subsequent theory and research. For example, the evolutionary perspectives on the development of human society advanced by early theorists have been modified, revised, and developed by contemporary evolutionary theorists such as Lenski Lenski et al.
In short, the macrosociological problems defined early in the history of sociology remain major focuses of current sociological research. Also located in these early works but often overlooked in subsequent interpretations is an issue that is the current central project of many social theorists: At least in the writings of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, to a greater or lesser degree, efforts are made to connect individual and structural level activities in some coherent fashion.
For example, Marx is often considered the quintessential macrosociologist, providing the foundation for much current macrosociology. This concern with linkage has often been ignored or forgotten in the distinctive development of different schools of sociological thought. After years of separate development and sometimes acrimonious debate, efforts to conduct research and develop social theories that include both ends of the micro-macro continuum now constitute a major agenda for many sociologists.
Themes in Macrosociological Theory and Research Macrosociogical studies vary in both subject and theoretical orientation, but the two are closely related.
For example, large-scale studies of single total societies or particular societal institutions often operate from a functionalist or systems perspective in which the effort is to understand how component parts fit together and serve larger social goals.
On the other hand, studies of social change, either within a single society or across cultures, more often use one of the many variants of conflict—Marxist, neo-Marxist, and Weberian perspectives. They do so because such theories are better equipped to explain conflict and change than the relatively static models promoted by functionalism, and because functionalism no longer dominates sociology.
These are broad generalizations, however, which invite counterexample. Given the sweeping scope of macrosociology, it is not possible to provide comprehensive coverage of all the topics and theories subsumed under this approach.
The next section will illustrate key concerns of macrosociologists by describing exemplary theory and research in some major areas of macrosociology. The numerous approaches to the study of societal change illustrate the diversity of sociological perspectives.
At the most sweeping level, evolutionary theories take all human history and society as their subject, but there are numerous variants to this approach.When the Sun Never Set.
Britain and the birth of the modern world. which demanded universal male suffrage and other sweeping reforms. Riots and disruptions plagued the new reign of Victoria, who had come to the throne as a teenager in these were the two great world empires, the undisputed heavyweights of their epochs.
Just as. The article is titled “Automatically Controlling Machine Operations,” and its subhead sums up the promise of this new technology. Known mostly for sweeping cultural and political change, the s also were shaped by machining technology.
but the digitalized, interconnected manufacturing world we know today first became tangible in. Globalization, Modernity, and Their Discontents. The central contention is that there are two great opposing forces at work in the world today, New York: Free Press.
The physical separation of the world’s hemispheres—the Old World and the New World—decisively argues against simple diffusion of Neolithic techniques, as do the separate domestications of wheat, rice, corn, and potatoes in different regions.
People throughout the world are now commemorating the centenary of the start of the First World War. For historians of international business and finance, it is an opportunity to reflect on the impact of the war on global business activity.
Rally, Comrades! is the political paper of the League of Revolutionaries for a New America. If you are one of the thousands of revolutionaries around the country looking for a perspective on the problems we face today, and for a political strategy to achieve the goal of a world free from exploitation and poverty, then Rally, Comrades!
is for you.