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Principles of Group Solidarity

Principles of Group Solidarity

MICHAEL HECHTER
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pn8xb
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  • Book Info
    Principles of Group Solidarity
    Book Description:

    Social scientists have long recognized that solidarity is essential for such phenomena as social order, class, and ethnic consciousness, and the provision of collective goods. In presenting a new general theory of group solidarity, Michael Hechter here contends that it is indeed possible to build a theory of solidarity based on the action of rational individuals and in doing so he goes beyond the timeworn disciplinary boundaries separating the various social sciences.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-90897-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. TABLES AND FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    M.H.
  5. CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-14)

    As sociology begins to resemble a congeries of distinct substantive areas, the intellectual coherence that it once possessed has virtually disappeared. That the field has always had its share of dissension is indisputable. Every few years someone publishes a book about the impending crisis in sociology, but these dire warnings routinely fall on deaf ears. Meanwhile, most sociologists continue to march to the sounds of different drummers.

    Along with their colleagues in the other social science disciplines, modern sociologists are dubious of the prospect of a unified approach to the explanation of social phenomena. Too many of the theories that...

  6. CHAPTER II THE PROBLEM
    (pp. 15-39)

    In order to justify their new discipline, the founders of sociology claimed that the causes of social phenomena were to be found by studying groups rather than individuals.¹ They held that neither social order nor social change could be understood adequately on the basis of individualistic assumptions: the individual was a consequence, not a determinant of social structures. The early sociologists attacked the economists’ assumption that freely contracting individuals could establish and sustain institutions like the free market, asserting instead that social institutions rested upon factors like “noncontractual bases of contract” or structures of property rights that were embedded within...

  7. CHAPTER III A THEORY OF GROUP SOLIDARITY
    (pp. 40-58)

    Consider the following situation. A large number of tent-dwellers live in an isolated and relatively unpopulated valley. Land is plentiful and free for the taking. Life is good, save for one recurring problem. The tent-dwellers are intermittently victimized by a roving band of outlaws who abscond with their crops and stored food. Each incident causes severe losses to a large number of households. To forestall this threatened loss, a majority of the tent-dwellers decides to form a protective association. The association determines that two measures must be taken to provide for the members’ security. All the members’ tents must be...

  8. CHAPTER IV THE NECESSITY OF FORMAL CONTROLS
    (pp. 59-77)

    The group solidarity theory suggests that the survival of any group hinges on members’ routine and consistent compliance with the rules and obligations governing the production of joint goods. Yet rational members will comply only if they expect that their noncompliance might result in a loss of access to the good. This expectation, in turn, is significantly affected by the group’s control capacity. The theory claims that the production of joint goods requires formal controls to promote coordination and to deter free riding. Byformal controlsI refer to rules and enforcement procedures that are the outcome of conscious planning....

  9. CHAPTER V DEPENDENCE AND PARTY SOLIDARITY
    (pp. 78-103)

    According to the theory, the extent of solidarity in any group is limited by its members’ dependence. Since control is also a cause of solidarity in the theory, how can the separate role of dependence ever be assessed empirically? One solution is to examine measurable instances of solidarity that occur in the relative absence of variations in control capacity. Given that so much of social life resembles a seamless web, evidence of this sort is usually difficult to obtain. Yet one particular setting—the legislature—offers it in abundance.

    Legislatures are an important site for the analysis of group solidarity...

  10. CHAPTER VI THE PRODUCTION OF FORMAL CONTROLS
    (pp. 104-124)

    Rational choice theorists have never had any difficulty understanding why formal controls are instituted in hierarchical groups where members are differentially powerful. They know that formal controls exist because it is often in the interests of the powerful to extract rents from those who are dependent upon them. As Hobbes ([1651] 1968: 228) notes, one route to the establishment of controls is “by Naturall force; as when a man maketh his children, to submit themselves, and their children to his government, as being able to destroy them if they refuse; or by Warre subdueth his enemies to his will, giving...

  11. CHAPTER VII THE LIMITS OF COMPENSATION IN CAPITALIST FIRMS
    (pp. 125-145)

    That sanctions may motivate compliance is undeniable. But they cannot magically be brought to bear on individual behavior. In order for sanctions to influence behavior, two analytically separate processes have to occur. On the one hand, compliance and noncompliance must be detected. On the other, a stock of adequate sanctions must be available, and members must believe that not only will their behavior be sanctioned appropriately, but also that of others, especially if they do not comply. Together, these processes constitute the mechanisms of control. Naturally, the greater the probability of detection and the greater the magnitude of the sanction,...

  12. CHAPTER VIII ECONOMIZING ON CONTROL COSTS IN INTENTIONAL COMMUNITIES
    (pp. 146-167)

    So long as joint production is based on the performance of simple, independent, and largely repetitive tasks, compensation is adequate to provide compliance. When monitoring becomes very costly, however, even firms are likely to resort to solidarity to ensure their survival. They do this by offering workers immanent goods that increase their dependence. But if dependence lowers control costs, then are controls really needed in obligatory groups? The issue is controversial.

    Normativists are willing to grant the necessity of controls in compensatory groups, but they downplay their significance in obligatory groups, orGemeinschaften. To understand why, we must probe the...

  13. CHAPTER IX CONCLUSION
    (pp. 168-186)

    Difficult as it is to analyze, the concept of group solidarity is fundamental to social science. Solidarity varies with the proportion of members’ private resources that are contributed to collective ends. Sociologists have always appreciated its significance; for them individual compliance to group norms constitutes the very basis of social order. Although some other social scientists have relegated the concept to darker corners of their intellectual realms, or ignored it altogether, this neglect is shortsighted. After all, solidarity underlies the stability of institutions as important as markets and states. It increases both the likelihood of the optimal provision of public...

  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 187-210)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 211-219)