Conclusion: Toward a Fluid Theory of Social Organization

Erika Summers Effler

in Laughing Saints and Righteous Heroes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780226188652
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226188676 | DOI:
Conclusion: Toward a Fluid Theory of Social Organization

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This chapter shows how stable social patterns can be seen as evolving cycles of emergence, stability, collapse, and reemergence that move at varying speeds and rhythms. It argues that such patterns emerge when anticipation shunts action into increasingly well-worn paths, and that these patterns collapse when increasingly rigid organization limits access to necessary resources. From a distance, these groups seem solid and stable; up close, they seem fluid and disordered. It assumes a mid-range position, which smoothes processes but does not solidify them into static or discrete entities and discusses how social scientists can gain analytic leverage by repeatedly shifting focus. This process is illustrated by moving closer to convey gritty physical emotional dynamics in a literary style and by moving farther out to develop smooth abstract theory with the comparative method.

Keywords: social patterns; emotions; comparative method; abstract theory; literary styles

Chapter.  8372 words. 

Subjects: Organizations

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