Developing the concept of society:
Institutional domains, regimes of inequalities and complex systems in a global era
Professor of Sociology, and Director of the Violence and Society Centre at City, University of London, London, UK email@example.com
This article develops the concept of society to meet the challenge of cross-border and global processes. Global processes have made visible the inadequacy of interpreting the concept of society as if it were a nation-state, since there is a lack of congruence of institutional domains (economy, polity, civil society, violence) and regimes of inequality (class, gender, ethnicity). The article engages with two strands of intellectual heritage in sociological analysis of society as a macro concept: the differentiation of institutions and the relations of inequality. The concepts of society and societalisation are developed by hybridising these two approaches rather than selecting only one or the other. To achieve this, the concept of system is developed by drawing on complexity science. This enables the simultaneous analysis of differentiated institutional domains (economy, polity, violence, civil society) and multiple regimes of inequality without reductionism. In turn, this facilitates the fluent theorisation of variations in the temporal and spatial reach of social systems.
Aglietta M. (1979) A Theory of Capitalist Regulation. London: Verso.
Alatas S.F., Sinha V. (2017) Sociological Theory Beyond the Canon. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Anderson B. (2013) Us & Them? The Dangerous Politics of Immigration Control. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Anderson J., O’Dowd L. (1999) Contested borders: Globalization and ethno-national conflict in Ireland. Regional Studies. Vol. 33. No. 7: 681–696.
Appadurai A. (1990) Disjuncture and difference in the global cultural economy. Theory, Culture & Society. Vol. 7. No. 2–3: 295–310.
Arrighi G. (2007) Adam Smith in Beijing: Lineages of the Twenty-First Century. London: Verso.
Arthur B. (1994) Increasing Returns and Path Dependence in the Economy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Beck U. (1992) Risk Society. London: Sage.
Bhambra G. (2007) Rethinking Modernity. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Boatcă M. (2015) Global Inequalities Beyond Occidentalism. London: Routledge.
Bruce S., Voas D. (2004) The resilience of the nation-state: Religion and polities in the modern era. Sociology. Vol. 38. No. 5: 1025–1034.
Butler J. (1990) Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.
Capra F. (1997) The Web of Life. London: Flamingo.
Castellani B., Hafferty F. (2009) Sociology and Complexity Science: A New Field of Inquiry. Berlin: Springer.
Castells M. (1996) The Information Age: The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell.
Chakrabarty D. (2000) Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Chase-Dunn C. (1988) Global Formation: Structures of the World Economy. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Chatterjee P. (1986) Nationalist Thought and the Colonial World: A Derivative Discourse. London: Zed Books.
Crenshaw K. (1991) Mapping the margins: Intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review. Vol. 43. No. 6: 1241–1299.
Deleuze G., Guattari F. (1987) A Thousand Plateaus. New York: Continuum.
Domingues J.M. (2012) Global Modernity, Development, and Contemporary Civilization: Towards a Renewal of Critical Theory. New York: Routledge.
Dunaway W. (2014a) Bringing commodity chain analysis back to its world-systems roots: Rediscovering women’s work and households. Journal of World-Systems Research. Vol. 20. No.1: 64–81.
Dunaway W. (ed.) (2014b) Gendered Commodity Chains: Seeing Women’s Work and Households in Global Production. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Eisenstadt S. (ed.) (2002) Multiple Modernities. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.
Eldredge N. (1986) Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria. London: Heinemann.
Follis K. (2012) Building Fortress Europe: The Polish Ukrainian Frontier. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
Giddens A. (1990) The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity.
Go J. (2016) Postcolonial Thought and Social Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hall P., Soskice D. (eds) (2001) Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hardt M., Negri A. (2000) Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Harvey D. (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Latour B. (2005) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
López J., Scott J. (2000) Social Structure. Buckingham: Open University Press.
Luhmann N. (1995) Social Systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Lyotard J.-F. (1978) The Postmodern Condition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
McCall L. (2001) Complex Inequality: Gender, Class, and Race in the New Economy. New York: Routledge.
Mann M. (1986) The Sources of Social Power. Vol. 1. The History of Power from the Beginning to AD 1760. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mann M. (1997) Has globalisation ended the rise and rise of the nation-state? Review of International Political Economy. Vol. 4. No. 3: 472–496.
Mann M. (2003) Incoherent Empire. London: Verso.
Maturana H., Varela F. (1980) Autopoeisis and Cognition. Dordrecht: Reidel.
Meyer J., Boli J., Thomas G., Ramirez F. (1997) World society and the nation-state. American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 103. No. 1: 144–181.
Mies M. (1986) Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale. London: Zed.
Minsky H. (1986) Stabilizing an Unstable Economy. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Moghadam V. (1993) Modernizing Women. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Pierson P. (2000) Increasing returns, path dependence, and the study of politics. American Political Science Review. Vol. 94. No. 2: 251–268.
Pieterse J.N. (2018) Multipolar Globalization: Emerging Economies and Development. Abingdon: Routledge.
Quark A. (2013) Global Rivalries: Standards Wars and the Transnational Cotton Trade. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Rex J. (1973) Race, Colonialism and the City. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Rodriguez E.G., Boatcă M., Costa S. (eds) (2016) Decolonizing European Sociology: Transdisciplinary Approaches. London: Routledge.
Schmidt V. (2010) Modernity and diversity: Reflections on the controversy between modernization theory and multiple modernists. Social Science Information. Vol. 49. No. 4: 511–538.
Schreiner O. (1911) Woman and Labour. London: Unwin.
Schwinn T. (1998) False connections: Systems and action theories in neofunctionalism and in Jürgen Habermas. Sociological Theory. Vol. 16. No. 1: 75–95.
Urry J. (2003) Global Complexity. Cambridge: Polity.
Vaughan-Williams N. (2015) Europe’s Border Crisis: Biopolitical Security and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
von Bertalanffy L. (1968) General Systems Theory. New York: George Braziller.
Walby S. (2003) The myth of the nation-state: Theorizing society and polities in a global era. Sociology. Vol. 37. No. 1: 531–548.
Walby S. (2007) Complexity theory, systems theory and multiple intersecting social inequalities. Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Vol. 37. No. 4: 449–470.
Walby S. (2009) Globalization and Inequalities: Complexity and Contested Modernities. London: Sage.
Walby S (2015) Crisis. Cambridge: Polity.
Walby S., Armstrong J., Strid S. (2012) Intersectionality: Multiple inequalities in social theory. Sociology. Vol. 46. No. 2: 224–240.
Wallerstein I. (1974) The Modern World-System. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wallerstein I., Smith J. (1992) Households as an institution of the world economy. In: Smith J., Wallerstein I. (eds) Creating and Transforming Households: The Constraints of the World Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Weiss A. (2005) The transnationalization of social inequality: Conceptualizing social positions on a world scale. Current Sociology. Vol. 53. No. 4: 707–728.
Weiss A. (2017) Sociological theories of global inequalities. Sociology. Vol. 51. No. 6: 1318–1324.
Zielonka J. (2006) Europe as Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press.