World Society, Institutional Theories, and the Actor

Posted: 14 Oct 2010

See all articles by John W. Meyer

John W. Meyer

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies

Date Written: August 2010

Abstract

Much modern social theory depicts society as made up of autonomous and purposive individual and organized actors. In reaction, the new institutional theories build arguments about the wider social conditions supporting stable systems of such agentic actors. Phenomenological versions, which are especially relevant to analyses of modern integrating but stateless world society, treat actor identities as themselves constructed in the wider and now global cultural context. These ideas call attention to the modern collective construction of expansive models of actors, the rapid diffusion and adoption of elaborated models of actor agency and rights, the consequently decoupled character of actor identities and activities in the modern system, and the extraordinary mobilizing potential built into the elaborated models of individual and organizational actors in world society and into the inconsistencies between these models and activity.

Suggested Citation

Meyer, John W., World Society, Institutional Theories, and the Actor (August 2010). Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 36, pp. 1-20, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1691312 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.soc.012809.102506

John W. Meyer (Contact Author)

Stanford University - Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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