Sociology | Advanced Topics in Sociology
S660 | 20336 | Bartley

Topic:  Conflict, Change, and Institutions

Most sociological theory and research revolves around a tension
between the durability of existing social arrangements and the
possibilities for social change.  The goal of this class is to
generate some insight into the general issue by thinking about the
relationships between social movements, processes of conflict and
cooperation (within and among different types of organizations), and
durable institutional arrangements.

We will begin by considering some fundamental questions about social
change:  Most generally, why is social change so difficult?  Why do
social structures so often persist, even in the face of mass
discontent and mobilization?  Why are social movements and other
attempts to bring about change often frustrated?  Under what
conditions is social change most likely to occur?

These questions will lead to an engagement with theories of social
institutions and empirical research on the emergence, solidification,
reproduction, and change of institutional arrangements.  Here we will
consider a variety of issues, including different conceptions
of “institutions,” the formation and evolution of organizational and
cultural fields, institutional “effects” on material and cultural
outcomes (especially related to stratification/inequality), the ways
in which “history matters” in social scientific explanation, the
relationships between collective action and institutions, and the
processes by which social practices get created, institutionalized,
and de-institutionalized.

Theoretical questions and debates will always be connected to
particular empirical cases, findings or arguments.  The empirical
materials will cover a wide range of topics, from gender and race in
labor markets to the structure of health care to the governance of
globalization.  My main goal is to provide a set of set of tools that
students can use in developing and pursuing their own research
agendas.  I believe the course will be especially relevant to those
interested in political sociology, culture, stratification, social
movements, economic sociology, law or organizations.