Sociology 520q: Selected Topics in Social Processes

Instructor: Paul DiMaggio (258-1971)
Time: 9:00am-12noon, Tuesday
Place: 2-C-8 Green Hall

|Readings|Objective|Focus|Requirements|Fish|Week 1|Week 2|Week 3|Week 4|Week 5|Week 6|

The next two weeks provide menus de gustation for two organization-theory cuisines, described rather arbitrarily as "rational" and "institutional." (These terms are convenient but, as we shall see, unfair, in that the best works in each cluster acknowledge both rational and a-rational sources of behavior, as all good research must.) Under the rational/ecological rubric, we explore three of the most powerful and influential analytic approaches of the last 20 years: Williamson's transaction-cost economics; Hannan and Freeman's organizational ecology; and Ron Burt's version of strategic network analysis. Under the institutional label, we explore a couple versions of neoinstitutional theory, work on organizational culture, and organizational ethnography.

The final two weeks are more topical in focus, and will permit us to use the conceptual capital accumulated during the previous four weeks. The first of these deals broadly with technology, and offers a smattering of new and old, structural and political approaches. The second deals broadly with organizations and inequality, focussing on several approaches to thinking about gender in organizations.

Each student will do two kinds of writing: 

a) For two of the remaining five meetings, he or she will prepare memoranda of 2-4 pages on the readings, to be completed by the time the seminar meets. (No credit will be received for memoranda handed in thereafter.) Memoranda should be regarded as writing and thinking exercises, not as finished products. Use them to engage each week's materials and respond with questions, criticisms and new ideas that they suggest. Memoranda should be used to develop ideas informally over time and to put into words impressions that seem worth developing. Because I will read them each week, they also provide an opportunity to receive individualized feedback.

b) For the end of the course, each student will prepare a memorandum of 4-6 pages reflecting on ways in which the material may be useful in pursuing their personal research agendas.

Enrollment is open to any graduate student in Sociology, any other social-science department or the Woodrow Wilson school, and, upon application, to undergraduate sociology majors..




Week 1) Tuesday, September 16: Bureaucracy

Week 2) Tuesday, September 23: The Carnegie School


Week 3) Tuesday, September 30: Rational and Ecological Approaches to Organizational Analysis


Week 4) Tuesday, October 7: Institutional Approaches to Organizational Analysis


Week 5) Tuesday, October 14: Technology

Week 6) Tuesday, October 21: Organizations and Inequality: Gender


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