Volume 3

Generative Mechanisms Transforming the Social Order

generativeThis volume examines how generative mechanisms emerge in the social order and their consequences. It does so in the light of finding answers to the general question posed in this book series: Will Late Modernity be replaced by a social formation that could be called Morphogenic Society? This volume clarifies what a ‘generative mechanism’ is, to achieve a better understanding of their social origins, and to delineate in what way such mechanisms exert effects within a current social formation, either stabilizing it or leading to changes potentially replacing it .

The book explores questions about conjuncture, convergence and countervailing effects of morphogenetic mechanisms in order to assess their impact. Simultaneously, it looks at how products of positive feedback intertwine with the results of (morphostatic) negative feedback. This process also requires clarification, especially about the conditions under which morphostasis prevails over morphogenesis and vice versa. It raises the issue as to whether their co-existence can be other than short-lived.

The volume addresses whether or not there also is a process of ‘morpho-necrosis’, i.e. the ultimate demise of certain morphostatic mechanisms, such that they cannot ‘recover’. The book concludes that not only are generative mechanisms required to explain associations between variables involved in the replacement of Late Modernity by Morphogenic Society, but they are also robust enough to account for cases and times when such variables show no significant correlations.

Table of contents

  • Introduction: Other Conceptions of Generative Mechanisms and Ours – Margaret S. Archer
  • Causal Mechanisms: Lessons from the Life Sciences – Philip S. Gorski
  • Mechanisms and Models: Some Examples from International Relations – Colin Wight
  • Social Mechanisms and Their Feedbacks: Mechanical vs Relational Emergence of New Social Formations – Pierpaolo Donati
  • “Mechanisms” at Work in Information Society – Wolfgang Hofkirchner
  • Body Captors and Network Profiles: A Neo-structural Note on Digitalized Social Control and Morphogenesis – Emmanuel Lazega
  • How Agency Is Transformed in the Course of Social Transformation: Don’t Forget the Double Morphogenesis – Margaret S. Archer
  • Turbulence and Relational Conjunctures: The Emergence of Morphogenic Environments – Andrea Maccarini
  • Why Don’t Things Change? The Matter of Morphostasis – Douglas V. Porpora
  • The Modern Corporation: The Site of a Mechanism (of Global Social Change) that Is Out-of-Control? – Tony Lawson
  • Death Contested: Morphonecrosis and Conflicts of Interpretation – Ismael Al-Amoudi and John Latsis

See the publisher’s page for more information

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Centre for Social Ontology