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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Recent Work

The Center for Culture, Organizations and Politics is affiliated with the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. The Center sponsors research about how social arrangements evolve to organize new social spaces. The area of inquiry has been labelled "new institutional theories." Culture, Organizations, and Politics are viewed as the three main categories to push these theoretical and empirical discussions forward. The Center provides funds for graduate student research, sponsors conferences, and supports an ongoing seminar where work in progress is presented and discussed.

Neil Fligstein, Director
University of California, Berkeley
Center for Culture, Organizations and Politics
Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
2521 Channing Way, #5555
Berkeley, CA 94720-5555

Cover page of Using Fiction Sociologically

Using Fiction Sociologically


This article argues that narrative fiction can be used as a rich source of data about culturally patterned emotions and evaluations that are difficult to study in other ways. It first reconsiders the research which has led sociologists to be increasingly pessimistic about drawing conclusions about wider cultural meanings from cultural objects. After sketching a theory of how fiction works psychologically, the author provides concrete guidelines for sampling fiction for analysis. Using examples drawn from the author’s own research on short stories in American and French women’s magazines during the 1950s, the article demonstrates how to analyze the content of fiction so as to tap its unique strengths as a medium for communicating the ethical truths of culture.

Cover page of Understanding the Differing Governance of EU Emissions Trading and Renewables: Feedback Mechanisms and Policy Entrepreneurs

Understanding the Differing Governance of EU Emissions Trading and Renewables: Feedback Mechanisms and Policy Entrepreneurs


This paper presents a comparative study of two central EU climate policies: the revised Emissions Trading System (ETS), and the revised Renewable Energy Directive (RES). Both were originally developed in the early 2000s and revised policies were adopted in December 2008. While the ETS from 2013 on will have a quite centralized and market-streamlined design, the revised RES stands forward as a more decentralized and technology-focused policy. Differing institutional feed-back mechanisms and related roles of policy entrepreneurs can shed considerable light on these policy differences. Due to member states’ cautiousness and contrary to the preferences of the Commission, the initial ETS was designed as a rather decentralized and ‘politicized’ market system, creating a malfunctioning institutional dynamic. In the revision process, the Commission skillfully highlighted this ineffective dynamic to win support for a much more centralized and market-streamlined approach. In the case of RES, national technology-specific support schemes and the strong links between the renewables industry and member states promoted the converse outcome: decentralization and technology development. Members of the European Parliament utilized these mechanisms through policy networking, while the Commission successfully used developments within the global climate regime to induce some degree of centralization.

Cover page of State-building and the Origins of Disciplinary Specialization in Nineteenth Century Germany

State-building and the Origins of Disciplinary Specialization in Nineteenth Century Germany


Scholars have long debated why the sciences became organized into specialized disciplines during the nineteenth century. The Prussian university reforms and the institutionalization of research in the German universities have occupied a central position in these discussions. Using records of the appointments of full professors in the life sciences at German universities from 1770 to 1880, this paper investigates whether the Prussian and other reforms led professors to specialize into disciplines and universities to hire from an open academic labor market. The results show that the reforms did not encourage competition and disciplinary specialization across the German universities. Until the 1840s, reforms encouraged professors to pursue scientific research to the exclusion of traditional subjects, but not to specialize within single disciplines. Outside of Prussia, Baden, and Bavaria, university hiring practices also continued to favor the internal promotion of students until relatively late in the century. In contrast to theories of disciplinary specialization emphasizing the institutionalization of scientific autonomy through the Prussian university reforms, I argue that the political integration of German territories and the exploding university enrollments of the late nineteenth century were necessary conditions for the initial adoption of disciplinary organization. These changes did not directly follow from the university reforms, but rather we connected to the ongoing political and economic development of German states over the course of the nineteenth century.

Cover page of The formation and transformation of a transnational field

The formation and transformation of a transnational field


Students of global governance have documented that non-state actors have become key players in world politics as they form part of transnational governance networks that constitute “spheres of authority” beyond the control of states. Research on expert groups in International Relations theory (IR) has specified a key mechanism through which such nonstate groups can exercise influence as they persuade and teach states to change behavior and re-define their interests by reference authoritative knowledge claims. While these two strands of literature share a focus on the role of non-state actors, there is little cross-fertilization between them. This is unfortunate as a strong case can be made that advancing insights in one field will be greatly facilitated by drawing on the other. What is lacking is a conceptual apparatus that can bring the two strands of research together and move them beyond their current limitations. I argue here that field theory offers such a conceptual apparatus. Global governance theory lacks a meso-level theory of the units of analysis – transnational governance networks – that are said to be central to world politics. Focusing on fields as a structured set of positions and a social space of organized striving and competition can help provide such a theoretical focus. Research on expert groups, meanwhile, often over-sell the significance of “knowledge” in shaping policy, and typically focus only on their impact on states. They do not analyze how expert groups also operate as part of global governance networks and how these networks evolve over time. By situating expert groups within field theory, it is possible to move beyond a sole focus on knowledge as a causal factor, and to unearth their role in shaping the evolution of governance networks over time. Analyzing the formation, institutionalization, and transformation of population as a transnational governance field I seek to show how field theory can improve our understanding of global governance and the role of expert groups within it.

Cover page of Why Do Church-State Relations Change? Politics, Institutions, and Federal Funding for Parochial Schools in Australia and America, 1945-1985

Why Do Church-State Relations Change? Politics, Institutions, and Federal Funding for Parochial Schools in Australia and America, 1945-1985


While church-state relations are increasingly theorized as an important independent variable in sociology, the processes whereby they change remain undertheorized. In this paper, I consider three existing theories in light of the divergent experiences of Australia and the United States since World War II. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, both nations passed legislation to improve science facilities in secondary schools. This legislation constituted the first significant federal involvement in education policy for each country, and both bills provided financial support for both public and private (mostly religious) schools. Whereas in Australia, this legislation paved the way for large-scale government support for religious schools, the American legislation had no such effect. I argue that, while common structural forces favoring federal support for religious schools were at work in both nations, these forces were stymied in the United States by an inhospitable institutional environment. Catholic advocates in the United States were constrained by the legacy of previous legislative battles, the existence of a body of church-state jurisprudence, and the way they were incorporated into the party system. Based on this analysis, I set forth an alternative political-institutional theory for why church-state relations change that better explains this outcome.

Cover page of Recruitment Agencies in Nurse Migration: Constructing Vital Pipelines through Profitable Business

Recruitment Agencies in Nurse Migration: Constructing Vital Pipelines through Profitable Business


In this paper, I analyze the important but as yet little studied role of private recruitment and placement agencies in the social organization of modern labor migration. Examining the case of Philippine nurse migration bound for the United States, I present data collected from 35 agencies that connect nurses with employers for profit. These commercial agencies can be found in both the sending and receiving countries and they represent a core of the formal migration industry—a key actor in many of today’s international migration movements. I contend that commercial agencies not only build bridges between places, but they also profoundly shape the structure and process of international migration, from immigrant selection to integration. In this capacity, commercial agencies play a key role in several important, though less talked about procedures of migration such as the selection of employers as well as workers, the disciplining of these two sets of clientele, and the creation of new migration opportunities.

Cover page of ADHD: BIOLOGICAL DISEASE OR PSYCHOSOCIAL DISORDER? Accounting for the French-American Divergence in Ritalin Consumption

ADHD: BIOLOGICAL DISEASE OR PSYCHOSOCIAL DISORDER? Accounting for the French-American Divergence in Ritalin Consumption


Psychostimulants (such as Ritalin) are drugs that physicians prescribe to children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Following their introduction in the United States, the use of psychostimulants grew rapidly. However, this has not been the case everywhere, for the US represents 80-85% of the world’s psychostimulant consumption. Moreover, some countries, such as France, recognize ADHD as a medical condition but rarely treat it with medications. The aim of this article is to shed light on the American case. Towards that end, I compare the diagnostic systems used by American and French clinicians, an analysis that yields two important findings. First, the American diagnostic system has a much more liberal definition of ADHD, which leads to higher diagnoses and greater psychostimulant consumption. Second, where the American diagnostic system favors a biological understanding of ADHD and the use of medications to treat it, the French system emphasizes a psycho-social understanding and emphasizes psycho-social treatments (such as psychotherapy, family counseling, etc.). Beyond accounting for American medecine’s predilection for prescribing psychostimulants, this analysis contributes to a sociology of pharmaceuticals by revealing the synergistic relationship between disease classifications, the diagnosis of disease, and the use of pharmaceutical medications.