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Organizations as Sites and Drivers of Social Action

Powell, Walter W. and Christof Brandtner. 2016. “Organizations as Sites and Drivers of Social Action.” Pp. 269–91 in Handbook of Contemporary Sociological Theory, edited by S. Abrutyn. Cham: Springer.

This chapter advances a recursive view of organizations as both sites of important social outcomes, such as inequality, persistence, change, as well as embeddedness, and drivers of them. Society and people configure organizations, and organizations shape and reproduce society and the lives of people. We illuminate the mechanisms through which these relations co-evolve, highlighting four bundles of social processes that operate inside and outside organizations: (1) discrimination and formalization, (2) institutionalization and imprinting, (3) socializing and mobilization, and (4) learning and access. We contend that organizational theory offers insights to many sociological subfields, and we encourage scholars across the discipline to re-engage with organizational analysis.

Walter W. Powell
Christof Brandtner