Social order results from a complex interaction of individual actions, institutional structures, and cultural norms. But just how do they relate to one another, and is any one factor predominant? The answers that social science has provided reflect the competing paradigms of the rationalist, structuralist, and culturalist approaches.In this innovative book, two prominent social scientists coming from competing research traditions attempt to chart a course between them, drawing on their respective strengths to present a new model based on a classificatory scheme of market/community/contract/hierarchy. The discussion, which includes a closing dialogue between the authors, covers both methodological and empirical issues, with a review of classic theories of revolution and an analysis of the process of relegitimation following the French Revolution and the Dutch Revolt against the Hapsburgs.
"This is among the most exciting works of social theory I have read recently. It clearly and accurately describes the claims, achievements, and limitations of a variety of feuding traditions in social theory. It will probably be an important touchstone in future debates about the achievements and limits of rational choice and culturalist arguments in the social sciences. . . . The insightful command of the modern history of social theory deployed in this book is authoritative, and so is the discussion of leading exemplars of theorizing about revolution. The demonstration of the incapacity of rational choice or culturalist or materialist theory to produce fully satisfactory accounts manages to be both judicious and brilliant. . . . I believe this to be, therefore, a powerfully important critique of social theory (or should I say 'theories'?) and a powerful call for moving beyond the mutual critiques that the various traditions have engaged in."
--John Markoff, University of Pittsburgh