Piketty and Patrimonialism: A Frankfurt School Critique of Piketty’s Use of Marx, Weber, Political Economy, and Comparative Historical Sociology

Bakker, J.I. 2019. “Piketty and Patrimonialism: A Frankfurt School Critique of Piketty’s Use of Marx, Weber, Political Economy, and Comparative Historical Sociology.” Chapter in Lauren Langman and David A Smith, eds. Twenty-First Century Inequality and Capitalism: Piketty, Marx, and Beyond (Studies in Critical Social Sciences). Brill. Bakker develops a detailed historical argument (that also reflects on contributions of various Frankfurt School luminaries) and sees in Piketty, for all the empirical riches, a relative theoretical poverty, with the lack of attention to imperialism/colonialism, plus his failure to link the “baronial” influence of the modern day patrimonial elites to any form of class analysis.

Blumer, Weber, Peirce, and the Big Tent of Semiotic Sociology: Notes on Interactionism, Interpretivism, and Semiotics

Bakker, J.I. 2023. “Blumer, Weber, Peirce, and the Big Tent of Semiotic Sociology: Notes on Interactionism, Interpretivism, and Semiotics.” Chapter in Fontdevila, Jorge and Andrea Cossu eds, Interpretive Sociology and the Semiotic Imagination. Bristol University Press, 2023. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/book/112239. This chapter proposes to refine the symbolic interactionist project by incorporating Peircean semiotics and neo-​ Weberian interpretation. Symbolic interactionism appears to have forgotten key sources of its American pragmatist roots. Peirce’s indirect influence on Mead and Blumer, for instance, is often undertheorized but should be made central to the foundational narratives of symbolic interactionism. This calls for more sophisticated understandings of meaning-​ making that incorporate Peirce’s semiotic triadic model and classifications of signs where symbols are just one kind of signs among others. Here, I take on these matters and expand on my pragmatic sociology (Bakker, 2011a) to introduce the emergent project of a semiotic sociology. In stepwise fashion, I lay foundations of a metaparadigmatic synthesis—​ a “big tent”—​ based on five key arguments that build upon each other, including Blumer as its anchor point, American symbolic interactionism, global interactionism, neo-​ Weberian interpretive analysis for cross-​ historical comparison, and Peircean semiotics as the culminating paradigm that pulls it all together. The Cold War is over (Menand, 2021).

Intersectional Politicization: A Facet of Youth Activists’ Sociopolitical Development

Conner, Jerusha O., Johnnie Lotesta, and Rachel Stannard. 2022. Intersectional politicization: A facet of youth activists’ sociopolitical development. Journal of Community Psychology, 1– 20. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcop.22941 This article explores the sociopolitical development (SPD) of youth activists involved in climate justice and gun violence prevention movements. Interviews with 52 youth members of five different youth-led activist organizations and follow-up surveys supplied the data. We found that involvement in youth-led activist organizations facilitates a particular kind of SPD we term “intersectional politicization.” Intersectional politicization involves critical intersectional reflection paired with critical intersectional action. Critical intersectional reflection entails analysis of how marginalized populations are impacted by particular social problems and how various social issues and forces of oppression interconnect. Critical intersectional action consists of participating actively in multiple movements or activist organizations to address distinct issues simultaneously. Intersectional politicization is fostered through organizational trainings and programming, collaborative work with other organizations, dialog with fellow activists, and online activist content. Intersectional politicization raises new considerations for research on critical consciousness and youth SPD.

Inequality and the Status Window: Inequality, Conflict, and the Salience of Status Differences in Conflicts over Resources

Leicht, Kevin T. 2022. “Inequality and the Status Window: Inequality, Conflict, and the Salience of Status Differences in Conflicts over Resources.” RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 8(6): 103-121. DOI: 10.7758/RSF.2022.8.6.06. The study of the relationship between social status and inequality has a distinguished history. Inequality scholars outside this tradition have paid more attention to social status in response to a set of seemingly persistent paradoxes that defy easy explanation. I add to the tradition by developing the concept of status windows and status windows overlap to partially account for differences in the relationship between social status and inequality processes in low- and high-inequality environments. These concepts are tied to the functioning of social status in creating and maintaining inequality and to the characteristics of social networks that develop in (especially) high-inequality environments. I examine how the concepts of status windows and status window overlap can help explain some paradoxes in responses to heightened social inequality and recommend that research focus on understandings of status windows and status windows overlap to understand why social inequality continues unabated in some places.

Organizing a Weak Anti-Prison Movement? Surrogate Representation and Political Pacification at a Nonprofit Prison Reentry Organization

Mijs, Jonathan J.B. 2022. “Organizing a weak anti-prison movement? Surrogate representation and political pacification at a nonprofit prison reentry organization.” Race and Space (Research on Social Movements, Conflicts and Change) 46: 87-107. The nonprofit sector has come to deliver the majority of state-funded social services in the US. Citizens depend on nonprofit organizations for these services, and nonprofits depend on government for financial support. Scholars have begun to ask important questions about the political and civic implications of this new organizational configuration. These questions have direct ramifications for the anti-prison movement given the explosive growth of nonprofit prison reentry organizations in recent years. To see how such organizations may impact political engagement and social movements, this chapter turns its focus on the intricate dynamics of client-staff interactions. Leveraging a yearlong ethnography of a government-funded prison reentry organization, I describe how such organizations can be politically active and at the same time contribute to their clients’ political pacification. Staff members engaged in political activities in surrogate representation of their clients. While staffers advocated on their behalf, clients learned to avoid politics and community life, accept injustices for what they are, and focus instead on individual rehabilitation. By closely studying what goes on within a nonprofit service provider, I illustrate the nonprofit organization’s dual political role and its implications for social movements and political change.