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Journal Article

The Rational Reconstruction of Society: 1992 Presidential Address

James S. Coleman
American Sociological Review
Vol. 58, No. 1 (Feb., 1993), pp. 1-15
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2096213
Page Count: 15
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The Rational Reconstruction of Society: 1992 Presidential Address
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Abstract

In the eighteenth century a Great Transformation began--a transformation rooted in even earlier times and still in progress today. This transformation is characterized by the decline of primordial institutions based on the family as the central element of social organization and the replacement of these institutions by purposively constructed organization. Sociology is itself a product of this transformation, and the stages in the Great Transformation are mirrored by changes in the central foci of sociological theory and research. The decline of primordial social organization has been accompanied by a loss of informal social capital on which social control depended before the transformation. The design of purposive organization is necessary to compensate for this loss; this design is an emerging central focus for sociology. I introduce an example, "bounties on children," to illustrate this point.

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