Toward a micro corrective of structural differentiation theory

Paul Colomy, Gary Rhoades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This article argues that the synthetic turn in recent discussions of the micro-macro problem provide a basis for critically assessing structural differentiation theory. That theory suffers from a macro bias, which is reflected in its inability to account for variable patterns of structural change, its neglect of how coalition formation and group negotiation and conflict affect the course of differentiation, and its constricted conception of the consequences of differentiation. A micro corrective, organized around an elaboration of the notion of institutional entrepreneurs, concepts taken from social movement theory, and empirical findings from comparative and historical case studies of structural change, is proposed. That corrective discusses the impact of an institutional project, entrepreneurial organization building, and strategies for enlisting support and defusing resistance on the establishment of new levels of differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-583
Number of pages37
JournalSociological Perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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