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FLANEUR We suspect that even at the time of writing, this term (strictly speaking

the French for one who strolls, loafs, lounges around) is disappearing, but in the
1990s it was extremely popular. Derived originally from the work of the 19thcentury French poet Charles Baudelaire, it was popularised by Walter Benjamin
(1949) in his Arcades project. It signified a new metropolitan character, the man in
the crowd, someone who is shaped by the diversity and rapidly changing nature of
urban experience and who has to decode its complex meanings.
BRICOLAGE This French term denotes the process of transforming the meaning of
symbols and objects through novel uses and unexpected arrangements of normally
unrelated things. The term was introduced to social science by Claude LeviStrausss The Savage Mind (1967) to describe the practice of creating objects out of
whatever came to hand where the structure and outcome were more important
than the constituent elements. It later becomes common in cultural studies to refer
to the way in which members of particular social groups create a novel style out of
mundane items. An example is the 1980s punk use of safety pins and plastic bin
liners in a novel dress style.
CONVERGENCE Identifying a tendency for societies to become more alike, in
principle on any institutional dimension, the term convergence has most usually
been applied to macro-economic and political trends, most notably in the work of
Clark Kerr, John T. Dunlop, Frederick Harbison, and Charles Myers in Industrialism
and Industrial Man (1960). Their convergence thesis, an account of social
development much debated in the 1960s and 1970s, maintained that there was a
tendency for industrializing countries to develop similar institutional arrangements.
They argued that industrial systems, regardless of the cultural background out of
which they emerge and the path they originally follow, tend to become more alike
over an extended period of time and that they move towards a pluralistic
industrialism where power is shared between state, firms, and individuals.
Consciously in opposition to Marxist and conflict theoretical accounts of social
structure, the convergence thesis envisaged greater harmony and consensus as
industrialization progressed (see industrial society). Driven by the so-called logic of
Industrial Society industrialism, causal priority was given to technology and the
requirements of the industrial system. It was anticipated that industrialization would
produce similar patterns of division of labor and industrial relations, the separation
of households from work, urbanization, with rationalization spreading from the
economic sphere into other realms of social life. Hence, the social and cultural
differences between pre-industrial societies would reduce. In many ways, this
amounted to a prediction that all countries would eventually converge on a pattern
established by the modern societies of the western world. This quasi-evolutionary
account has not stood the test of time. It has been criticized for inadequacies of
theoretical explanation; for its propensity to economic and technological
determinism; for the implication that there is only one possible direction for the
path to economic development that taken in Europe and North America; and for lack

of clarity as to whether it is industrialism rather than capitalism that has the effects
detected. Empirically, while industrial societies do have features in common, they
still exhibit very considerable variation in their economic, social, and political
arrangements. It is currently more common to consider instead varieties of
capitalism, seeing the prior institutional arrangements of countries as laying down
different paths of development. Nor does it appear that material inequalities
between countries are diminishing, another condition which would have to be met in
order to achieve convergence. Though the convergence thesis is no longer invoked,
some accounts of the effects of globalization make similar projections regarding the
homogenization of culture, based on the worldwide diffusion of the production
activities of large corporations. ALAN WARDE
LEGITIMACY The authority of an institution, person, or practice to command
obedience can derive from a sense of its rightfulness or legitimacy. People often go
along with the commands of others, rules of law or organization, or taken-forgranted norms because of a sense of obligation or moral necessity rather than any
immediate or general threat of coercion or promise of reward. Legitimacy, according
to Max Weber, can derive from age-old norms (or tradition), from consciously
enacted rules (such as law), or from a sense of devotion to an exceptional sanctity,
heroism, or magical characteristic of an individual person (charisma). At their core,
all forms of legitimacy provide an explanation for the social world as it is, or as it is
hoped to be. This explanation or reason provides the meanings that ground social
action, for the fortunate and unfortunate alike. According to Weber, human beings
are prepared to tolerate extraordinary deprivation, suffering, and torment. What is
unacceptable, however, to the unfortunate, is the meaninglessness of suffering, and
to the fortunate the meaninglessness of life itself. Legitimating explanations seek
to justify the distribution of fortunes by showing that it conforms to a coherent
normative conception of some sort, a conception which not only makes the
differences in human fates intelligible but justifies them in an ethical sense as well
(Anthony Kronman, Max Weber, 1983). Thus, legitimations, whether from history,
reason, or mysticism, offer accounts of social arrangements and events that make
life meaningful and therefore tolerable. Legitimacy attaches not merely to individual
actions and relationships but to institutionalized systems of power and domination.
If power consists of the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be
in a position to achieve intended and foreseen effects (Dennis Hume Wrong, Power,
1969), authority rests on the belief in the rightfulness or legitimacy of that action.
Although authority is only one form of power, it is the most stable and enduring
according to Weber, because it requires fewer physical or economic resources to
sustain. Obedience and deference to authority are secured by its legitimacy, deeply
sedimented in social relations and beliefs, through the internalization of
symbolically represented structures of expectation (Jurgen Habermas, The
Legitimation Crisis, 1973 [trans. 1976]). In this sense, legitimacy is a
questionbegging avoidance technique that works only to the extent that it is
unquestioned and unnoticed, that is, it constitutes a hegemony. Once questioned,

the ability of legitimacy to secure obedience is threatened because the belief in a

person, organization, or institution as legitimate derives from its being
unquestionably right. Once the subject of ideological contest, however, a social
order can experience a legitimation crisis, the revelation of a disjuncture between
the claims of legitimacy and the validity or actual empirical facts of that order.
Embedded in legitimacy claims, therefore, is a truth claim, which, once challenged,
undermines the deference legitimacy otherwise secures. In his analysis of types of
social orders and legitimations, Weber described a historical development from
traditional to increasingly rational systems, punctuated by charismatic eruptions.
The systemic rationalization of advanced capitalism and loss of tradition and magic
would lead, he suggested, to pervasive disenchantment. Rationality would
undermine its own legitimating capacity by its unceasing inquiry, continually
eroding the grounds of social construction and thus eroding the possibilities of
legitimating narratives capable of commanding unquestioned deference and
obedience. SUSAN SILBEY
IDENTITY The idea of human beings having an identity or identities has come to
replace previous notions of character. Whereas identity is assumed to be socially
constructed and invented, character signified individual attributes that were fixed
and permanent. Identity then has an intersubjective dimension. In the social
sciences, the view of George Herbert Mead that identity is dependent upon the
recognition of others introduced more complex forms of understanding. Mead
argued that human identities develop out of a three-way conversation between the
I, Me, and generalized Other. It is by taking the attitude of the other that we learn
reflexively to monitor our identities and present them to others. Identity is formed
out of the constant ebb and flow of conversation between ourselves and others.
When there is a conflict between the demands of the community and the self,
individuals are thrown back on themselves in a reflective attitude, thereby
examining whether their values and beliefs are in need of revision. On this reading
all identity is reflexively produced. If all identity is produced in the context of
community, many have sought to look at the ways society seeks to regulate and
manage its production. Many have sought to criticize Meads views for neglecting
the role of power and culture in helping shape identity. The modern state has been
involved in the regulation and monitoring of identities through a number of
institutions, from prisons to the courts and from the education system to border
controls. Further, these features of identity are related to the rise of identity politics
over the course of the twentieth century. In opposition to the way many of the
dominant features of modern societies have sought to police and control identities,
many have used claims to identity as a means of organizing themselves politically.
The most prominent amongst these movements has been feminism, which has
historically sought to deconstruct overtly masculine assumptions about human
identities, while promoting new forms of inclusion and respect for women. On the
other hand, other social movements have more explicitly sought to claim an
absolutist identity as a means of engaging in politics. The politics of identity

includes a number of social movements and networks, some of which provoke

critical questions, while others defensively reaffirm communal connections. The
impact of more complex models of identity in the wake of Mead (not forgetting the
impact of psychoanalysis) and identity politics has led to a growing appreciation of
the complexity of identity. Indeed many now prefer the term identities, signifying
the idea that no one source can explain the complexity of the modern self. Modern
selves are the product of a range of shifting and diverse social and cultural
categories and identifications that are rarely stable. For many the capacity to have
an identity means the ability to be able to tell a story about the self and related
communities. An identity is like a narrative that has to be constantly retold and
reformulated in the light of new circumstances. If social and cultural change in
respect of globalization and technology has aided the reflexive capacity of
identities, it has also increased the capacity of many to claim more fundamentalist
versions of identity. The rise of the internet and new forms of communication has
offered new opportunities for new forms of identity conflict and contestation that
are no longer contained by the nation-state. NICK STEVENSON
Mead, George Herbert (18631931) Best known in sociology as the progenitor of the
symbolic interactionist school, which builds upon his ideas on the social nature of
the act and its relation to the human self and society, he was actually one of the
most original thinkers in twentieth-century American philosophy. In addition, he
dedicated much thought and effort to movements for progressive social reform. As
David Miller observes in George Herbert Mead: Self, Language and the World
(1973), Meads pivotal philosophical concept of sociality, which he explicitly
articulated only late in his life, refers to processes of interaction among and
between phenomena of all kinds throughout the natural universe. Mead developed
this idea by referring to such disparate intellectual developments as, among others,
Einsteins special theory of relativity or Charles Darwins evolutionary principles.
That Meads thought is only partially understood by most sociologists is due, at
least in part, to his well-known writers block. Most of his influential works, including
Mind, Self, and Society (1934), were not composed for publication, but rather were
compiled from course notes taken by dedicated students. This group included
Herbert Blumer, who transmitted edited statements of Meads ideas into
sociological circles. But there may be other problems as well. It is unclear if Mead
modeled his philosophical notion of sociality on his social psychology of human
interaction, or vice versa. In addition, Mead never worked out an epistemological
position adequate to understanding interactions between phenomena with different
properties. Indeed, the absence of an epistemological position in Meads thought is
reflected in the absence of a unifying method in symbolic interactionism today. Not
only are there two methodologically distinct schools of symbolic interactionism, the
Chicago and Iowa Schools, but the Chicago School often relies on methods much
richer in elegant ethnographic description than in generalized sociological analysis.
Meadsthoughthasexperiencedarenaissancein recent years led by Hans Joas, Gary
Cook, and Dmitri Shalin. JurgenHabermas, more ambitiously, has reframed and

reconstructed sociological elements of Meads thought and incorporated them into

his theory of communicative action. Habermas emphasizes Meads focus on the
coordination of interaction via significant symbols. Mead, in turn, was inspired, with
regard to the significance of communication, by C. S. Peirce (18391914), one of the
founders of the philosophy of pragmatism. Mead was born in 1863, the son of a
Congregational minister father and a mother who became President of Mount
Holyoke College after her husbands death. Mead graduated from Oberlin College in
1883 and enrolled at Harvard University in 1887. Though he studied with William
James, he had a higher regard for Josiah Royce (18551916). The strongest
influences on Meads thought were Charles Horton Cooley and John Dewey (1859
1952), both of whom Mead met at the University of Michigan, where he took a
position in 1891. Three years later he joined Dewey, who accepted a chair in
philosophy, as a member of the Department of Philosophy at the University of
Chicago, where he spent the rest of his career.
PARADIGM The concept of paradigm, used by Thomas Samuel Kuhn in his classic
book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), was taken from its use to
describe model correct sentences in Latin. Kuhn argued that in science, scientific
discourse was rooted in exemplary achievements, such as experiments, which
served as models of the correct way to approach scientific problems. Kuhn further
argued that major conceptual changes in science, which he called scientific
revolutions, typically consisted of changes in what constituted a paradigmatic
achievement, what constituted a scientific problem, what counted as evidence, and
the meanings of the terms themselves, which derives from their place in practice
and in the conceptual scheme. He used psychological terms such as Gestalt and
sociological terms such as worldview to characterize paradigms, emphasizing their
pervasive world constituting role, and emphasized the role of scientific communities
in sustaining them. The most distinctive of the ideas making up the concept of
paradigm was also the most problematic to Kuhn, namely incommensurability,
meaning non-comparability. Kuhns notion of scientific revolution raised the question
of what sense could be given to the notion of progress in science or to the notion of
science as increasingly approaching higher degrees of truth. STEPHEN P. TURNER