Where Did Sewell Get “Schema”?

Although there are precedents to using the term “schema” in an analytical manner in sociology (e.g., Goffman’s Frame Analysis and Cicourel’s Cognitive Sociology), it is undoubtedly William Sewell Jr’s “A Theory of Structure: Duality, Agency, and Transformation” published in the American Journal of Sociology in 1992 that really launched the career of …

Durkheimian Sociology and its Discontents: Why its Time for a New Sociology of Suicide

Since Durkheim showed that certain social structural factors, external to the individual, had a strong positive relationship to variation in suicide rates, sociologists have maintained the argument that suicide is caused by social forces and, therefore, is a phenomenon squarely in the domain of sociology. Yet, western medical professionals (Marsh …

On the Nature of Habit

Much like American sociological theory post-Parsons (Camic, 1986), habits have been given short shrift in the analytic philosophy of action tradition. As noted in previous posts, one problem is that habit-based explanations, being a form of dispositional account of action, are hard to reconcile with dominant intellectualist approaches to explaining …

Culture, Cognition and “Socialization”

Culture and cognition studies in sociology are mainly concerned with the construction,  transmission, and transformation of shared stocks of knowledge. This was clear in the classical theoretical foundations of contemporary work in the sociology of culture laid out in Parsons’s middle period functionalism (Parsons 1951) and in Berger and Luckmann’s …

What’s Cultural About Analogical Mapping?

Analogical mapping is a cognitive process whereby a particular target is understood by analogizing from a particular source. For example, Lakoff and Johnson (1999) have observed that people often reason about love metaphorically as a journey. In a previous post I discussed some experimental evidence supporting the claim that activating …

Exaption: Alternatives to the Modular Brain, Part II

Scientists discovered the part of the brain responsible for… In my last post, I discuss one alternative to the modular theory of the mind/brain relationship: connectionism. Such a model is antithetical to modularity in that there are only distributed networks of neurons in the brain, not special-purpose processors. One strength …