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What Collins's The Sociology of Philosophies Says about Sociological Theory Author(s): Douglas Goodman Source: Sociological Theory,

Vol. 19, No. 1 (Mar., 2001), pp. 92-101 Published by: American Sociological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/223294 . Accessed: 13/05/2013 18:12
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What Collins's The Sociology of Philosophies Says about Sociological Theory*


DOUGLAS GOODMAN

Wellesley College In Collins's latest book, we see an attempt to apply his sociological theories to the historyof philosophy. WhileCollins's macrosociology of knowledgeprovides important insights into the role of conflict in an intellectual field, his microsociology is more problematic. In particular, Collins's micro theory ignores thefundamental importance of social interpretations.This leads him to use a vague and unproductivenotion of emotions. Nevertheless, we can usefully apply Collins'sfindings to sociological theory itself. As in philosophy, we see the same competitiveappropriationand elaboration of accumulated intellectual capital and the same struggle over the limited resources necessary to intellectual production, especially over what Collins calls the intellectual attention space. Randall Collins has always been interested in what he calls a "non-obvious" sociology (1982). A nonobvious sociology is one that reveals the hidden processes behind what is taken for granted and that demonstrates why the obvious questions are not necessarily the most central ones. His first publication (Ben-David and Collins 1966) revealed the social construction of the field of psychology. Instead of looking at the seminal ideas that led to the founding of a scientific psychology, he looked at the less obvious contribution of the creation of new roles. His influential book Conflict Sociology (1975) exposed the underlying interactions that construct the taken-for-granted nature of social stratification. Instead of starting with social structures, his conflict approach examined the micro interactions that create the appearance of enduring structures. In his latest book, The Sociology of Philosophies (1998), he is at it again. Here he argues that philosophical ideas are not the products of individual geniuses; instead they emerge from the interaction rituals of groups and the conflicts that structure the intellectual field. Sociologies of other disciplines tend to strike readers, especially those in the targeted field, as attempts to expand the jurisdiction of sociology and to fulfill Comte's dream of making sociology the ultimate explanatory foundation for all intellectual pursuits. Although we see some of this in Collins, his primary goal in this latest work is not to sociologically explain away philosophical truths. Instead Collins intends to use the history of philosophy to test his ideas about the relationship between concrete human interactions and social structuresthat is, the relation between what have come to be called the micro and the macro. Consequently, this article will be less concerned with what sociological theory can say about philosophy than what the analysis of philosophy can say about sociological theory. In this respect, The Sociology of Philosophies is both important and, I will argue, ultimately flawed. Even the flaws, however, say something significant about sociological theory. This article begins with an outline of Collins's micro- and macrosociological theories. These will be familiar to any who have read Collins's previous work, but what we see in The Sociology of Philosophies is a credible application of the theories to the field of
*I thank RichardHarvey Brown for his help and generosity.Address correspondenceto: Douglas Goodman, Wellesley College, 2 Hazelmere Road, Roslindale, MA 02131; e-mail: dgoodman@wellesley.edu. Sociological Theory 19:1 March 2001 DC 20005-4701 AvenueNW, Washington, ? American Sociological Association. 1307 New York

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COLLINS'S SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY 93 philosophy.Whetherthe details of the work are ultimately convincing is beyond the scope of this article, but no readercan be unimpressedby the geographic breadthand historical depth of Collins's attempt. Following the overview of the theory is a discussion both of what I find unconvincing in the micro theory and also of what I feel are Collins's important new contributionsto the sociology of knowledge. Finally, I will suggest what Collins's sociology of knowledge might say about sociological theory itself. MICROAND MACROIN COLLINS'S THEORY Collins's view of the micro-macrorelation is inspired by the empirical achievements of such microsociologicalapproachesas ethnomethodologyandconversationalanalysis.These microsociologies do not wholly reject macrosociological concepts, but they attempt to on radicallyempiricalmicroimproveon theirexplanationsby reconstituting macroconcepts foundations.Such macrosociological phenomenaas institutionsand organizationsare seen simply as analytical abstractionsthat summarize the pattern of related microbehaviors. The structure'sapparentcontinuityis due to the patternedrepetitionof the microbehaviors over time. Whetherstructureschange or persist depends entirely upon whetherthe underlying microbehaviorschange or persist (Collins 1981:989). Collins often describes structuresas simple aggregates of microevents and has suggested a ratherdubious sampling strategythat would ignore all traditionalmacrosociological variables (Collins 1981:988). This has left him open to the criticism that he is unable to deal with macrostructures such as those "social wholes, whose parts are related horiin zontally and/or vertically specific ways" (Mouzelis 1995:21). However, a closer reading reveals that Collins is sensitive to macrorelationsbut he (1981:989) believes that they can be reduced to three "pure"macrovariables:(1) the dispersion of individuals in physical space; (2) the durationand repetitionin time of social processes; and (3) the numbers of individuals involved. Besides these pure macrovariables,more traditional macroconcepts-such as states, institutions, organizations,and cultures-are also useful. These macroconceptsallow the analyst to more precisely formulate the temporal and spatial relations among microphenomena, and they provide a frameworkfor choosing the most interestingmicrophenomena to analyze. Although the macroconceptsare useful and perhapseven necessary to sociology, Collins (1990a) arguesthat they must be translatableback into the empirically accessible interactions that such macroconcepts merely summarize.This is the approachthat Collins follows in his sociological study of philosophy.Macroconceptssuch as schools of philosophy, culturalcapital, opportunitystructures,and the like, are used but always with the understandingthat they should be translatableinto actual interactionsbetween people. Collins's microsociology does not focus on the individual subject; rather,for Collins, the micro is the empirically observable interactionsbetween individuals. Therefore,Collins's analytical focus in The Sociology of Philosophies is not the individual philosopher but the small social circles that met regularly and that, if successful, became the core of influential philosophical schools. The celebrated individual philosopher is nothing but a "totemicemblem"for that social group and its spatial and temporalnetwork.For example, the imposing figure of Hegel only stands in for the Jena-Weimarcreative circle, which was made up of at least 30 individuals. Even intellectual creativity is not a function of the individual but of the group as it builds networks of interactions that spread out in both time and space. The successful group draws in new recruits,charges them with creative energy, and guides them into the most importantnew debates. Prolific philosophersare productsof these circles of creativity and of chains of significant teachers and students.

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94 INTERACTIONRITUALSAND EMOTIONS

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According to Collins, the main function of these groups is not cognitive but emotional. Emotions have a physiological basis, but they also serve a social function. They produce constitutemicromoralsolidarity. The emotionsassociatedwith ritualizedgroupinteractions mechanisms that explain the patterns of actions that make up social structures.Collins calls these encountersinteractionrituals (IRs). They generatethe centralfeaturesof social organization-authority, property,and group membership-by creating and reproducing binding cultural symbols and associated emotional energies. In orderto clarify the role of emotions in moralsolidarity,Collins distinguishesbetween three differenttypes of emotions. First are the transientemotions, such as anger,joy, fear, and so on, that can become the focus of IRs. Second, there is emotional energy, the motivational arousal that fuels the creativity and drive of individuals who participatein IRs. Finally, there is the emotion of moral solidarity that is produced by the IR and that is usually attachedto group symbols. Collins often does not differentiatebetween these last two since they are the subjective and social sides of the same experience, the IR. IRs build on a sharedtransientemotion and focus the attentionof a group on a common object or action. Individualswho participatein IRs are filled with emotional energy. This is the attractionof IRs-they charge individualsup "like an electric battery,giving them a correspondingdegree of enthusiasmtowardritually created symbolic goals when they are out of the presence of the group" (Collins 1998:23). Through IRs, participantsbegin to feel a moral obligation to one another,and this obligation becomes symbolized by whatever they focus on during the IR. These symbols connect the emotions of solidarity to social structures. The term interaction ritual comes from Goffman (1967), but the use to which Collins puts it is mainly inspiredby Durkheim([1912] 1965). The religious ritualsthat Durkheim described are "archetypesof interactions which bind members into a moral community, and which create symbols that act as lenses throughwhich membersview their world, and as codes by which they communicate"(Collins 1998:21). Goffman's contributionwas to presentthe rituals as both local and ubiquitous.Collins makes two furtheradditions:first, that IRs are essentially emotional and, second, that they generate conflict since the resultant solidarities are producedvariously and discontinuouslythroughoutsociety. Philosophersparticipatein such IRs as lectures, conferences, discussions, and debates. These gather the intellectual community, focus members' attention on a common object and transientemotion, produce emotions of solidarity,charge the participantswith emotional energy, and give rise to philosophical schools. Since IRs produce solidarityonly in local groups-rather than in all of society or even an entire discipline-they also give rise to the conflict of competing schools. According to Collins, what is significant aboutthese IRs is not the manifest subjectbut the the fact that it serves as a focus for attentionand emotional involvement. Traditionally, IRs of philosophershave attemptedto producetruth.Whateverits intrinsicvalue, this truth also functions as Durkheim's ([1912] 1965) sacred objects, that is, as collective symbols that appearto transcendindividuals, constrainbehavior, and demand respect. The particular truthrepresentsthe solidarity of the group and energizes those who participatein its production. The store of collective symbols can be understoodas a type of culturalcapital.The most importantculturalcapital for the philosopheris that which facilitates the creationof novel symbols that become candidates for new collective truths.This requires a knowledge of previous collective symbols and the relationships through which they were created and distributed.Such collective symbols also facilitate subsequent IRs since they energize a

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COLLINS'S SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY 95 group of individuals who value the same symbols. IRs may reaffirmprevious truths, or they often create new ones, but, whether reverential or iconoclastic, IRs create a chain connecting previous IRs to future ones. Because of their cumulative effect, Collins (1987) suggests that we should look at interaction ritual chains. Through their history of ritual participation,people acquire a personal repertoireof cultural capital loaded with significance for the group. They also acquirea store of emotional energy that provides, among other things, a motivationto put their cultural capital to use. Collins (1998:24) contends that the meshing of these interaction ritualchains "constituteseverythingthatis social structurein all its myriadshapes." This meshing can be analyzed as a networkof interactionchains "crisscrossingeach other in space as they flow along in time" (Collins 1981:998). The concept of IRs is only presentedin the abstractby Collins, and in The Sociology of Philosophies, he never offers a single concrete case taken from memoirs or diaries of a lecture, conference, discussion, or debatewhere participantsdescribethe sort of emotional content and results that Collins's theory assumes. Nevertheless, Collins does provide us with many examples of interactionritual chains in philosophy, and it is at this meso level and the macro level of the intellectual field that we begin to see the fruits of Collins's approach. CONFLICTAND THE LAW OF SMALL NUMBERS Collins's sociology combines a micro theory of emotional solidaritywith a macro theory based on conflict. Collins believes that the same processes that produce solidarity on the micro level produce conflict on the macro. The cultural capital, emotional energy, and group solidarities producedin IRs allow individuals to dominate hierarchiesand encourage groups to engage in concerted conflict. IRs are both a site where dominationis practiced and a supplier of the major weapons used in social conflict. In philosophy, IRs provide for the competitive appropriation and elaborationof accumulated intellectual capital. Divergent philosophical schools emerge out of different sets of IRs and compete for the limited resources necessary to intellectualproduction.According to Collins, the structureof the intellectual world allows only a limited number of positions to receive much attention at any one time. Once a small numberof niches are occupied, it is extremely difficult for a new philosophical school to get the necessary material resources, cultural capital, and intellectual attention, especially since there are first-moveradvantages(Collins 1998:532). Collins's study suggests that only three to six active philosophical schools are able to reproducethemselves for more than one or two generations.He calls this the "law of small numbers." Although the actual values for the law of small numbers are determinedthrough historical research, the necessity of having an upper and a lower limit can be derived from Collins's conflict theory.The upperlimit is a functionof competitionfor materialresources, culturalcapital, intellectual attention,and the need to attracta critical mass of followers. The lower limit is due to the intimate link between conflict and intellectual creativity. According to Collins, creativity emerges from conflict and so will not occur without at least two positions, and whereverthere are two positions, a thirdis always available since "a plague on both houses is always a viable intellectual strategy"(Collins 1998:81). The law of small numbersproducesa structural rivalryin the intellectual field. Creativity appearsin twos or threes as intellectual movements restructurethe attentionspace by developing opposing positions. The attentionspace divides along what Collins calls "deep troubles,"that is, those incorrigibleproblems that shape the oppositional space that rivals can occupy. Conflict underthe law of small numbersencourages creativity along exploit-

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able lines of opposition in two different ways: First, the creativity involved in creating or increasingthe distinctivenessof a philosophicalposition;and second, the creativityinvolved in synthesis. The first type of creativity tends to occur in strong intellectual movements and the second type in weak movements. This approach,for example, allows Collins to challenge the stereotypicalview of slow change and conservatismin the religious philosophies of India. He demonstrates,instead, often radical philosophical views presented in the name of traditionalreinterpretations. For example, as the Buddhist materialbase weakened in the seventh and eighth centuries, Hindu philosophies begin to produce fertile rivalries structuredby deep troubles around realism and monotheism. There was a double revolution-first the Mimamsa revolution, which in the name of a conservative defense of ritualscreateda realist atheismfocusing on mantricsounds.Outof the Mimamasan networkcame theAdvaitarevolution,whose espousal of transcendental monism and world illusion opposed the Mimamsaphilosophy and structuredthe intellectual divisions for the next generation.By establishing monastic and educational institutions,the Advaita movement providedthe materialbase for these new lines of opposition to colonize the available intellectual attention space. On the other side, we see the syncretism of weak movements in the non-Advaita schools, both Hindu and Buddhist. All of this, however, has been covered over by the movements' own presentationof their history as a development of traditions. When the attentionspace in a given field is alreadyfull, there is always the possibility of a segmentalrestructuring. New fields can emerge with their separatematerialresources, cultural capital, and attention space. This possibility depends, at the minimum, upon a materialbase that can provide positions for this new field. Philosophy, and indeed all intellectual fields, requiresa materialbase, althoughwe can never understandthe field simply as a superstructural reflection of that materialbase. In the modern world, the material base of philosophy is found in the universities that are practicallythe only place of employmentfor philosophers.Before thatphilosophershad to rely on patronage. Certainly the different material bases affected the content of the philosophies-attacks upon the rich were much less common underthe patronagesystembut the more importantand pervasive effect is how the materialbase affects the structure of rivalries. Changes in the materialbase can cause internalrealignmentsthat encouragecreativity. Some changes in the materialbase may differentially affect the established factions. For example, the migration of most naturalphilosophers to the greener fields of the natural sciences left the philosophicalattentionspace open to more varieties of metaphysics.Other changes have more general effects on the field, such as allowing for unrestrained segmental restructuring,which makes it easier to create a new field with autonomous material resources than it is to create a rival position in the extant field. All changes in the materialbase are mediated throughthe law of small numbers.This explains why political and economic changes rarely determine intellectual ideas, which have more to do with exploitable lines of opposition. First, changes occur in the material base that supports the philosophical field; second, philosophical positions either split or amalgamatein order to fill the space available to them under the law of small numbers. LIMITATIONS OF COLLINS'S MICROTHEORY Despite the insights provided by Collins's conflict theory and the law of small numbers, there are considerable problems with his micro theory of interaction rituals. First, his theory lacks the prime advantage that Collins sees in a micro approach,its openness to empirical testing. Increases in emotional energy are no more observable than any of the

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COLLINS'S SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY 97 macrostructures that Collins labels as nonempiricalabstractions.In an earlier article Collins (1990b:50) admits as much. "My argument,that EE [emotional energy] builds up or declines over a series of interactionrituals depending upon the ups and downs of one's experiences of power and status, is inferential.There is little direct evidence for it." There is, of course, the possibility of testimonial evidence for subjective states such as emotions, but Collins avoids these in his researchesinto philosophy.A numberof philosophers have writtenabouttheiremotions; many have kept diaries;but Collins uses no such testimonies to show, for example, the greater emotional energy and creativity that some philosophers experienced after the type of group experiences that Collins would call an interactionritual.Instead,his indirectevidence is his theory's ability to offer causal explanations for the professionalsuccesses and careertrajectoriesof differentphilosophers.For this, he couples his theory of IRs to a rationalchoice model. Collins (1993) offers emotionalenergyand emotionsof solidarityas the primary"goods" upon which rational choice explanations can be made. People predictablymove toward experiences that provide more of these emotions. Unfortunately,we do not see in his sociology of philosophies any explanations that could not be made upon more obvious grounds.For example, we would expect the disciples of productivephilosophersto themselves be productive just on the basis of the transmission of such cultural capital as personal knowledge of the unwrittenhistory of philosophy and a feel for the emerging issues, as well as easier access to what is publicly available. In addition, we would expect the brightest students to be attractedto the more productive and creative philosophers. It is hard to see what Collins's theory of interactionrituals and emotional energy adds to this. What would really supportCollins's argumentare examples of minorphilosopherswith mediocreculturalcapital attractingaverage studentswho were nevertheless able to mentor influential philosophers simply by increasing the number and intensity of IRs. Unfortunately, there is no attemptto separatethe more obvious influence of culturalcapital from the effects of IRs on emotional energy. It is possible that Collins is not able to performsuch a test because of the vague way in which he defines emotions and IRs. For Collins, emotions are the residual category for what is not rational.His (1981:994) argumentfor the necessity of an emotional dimension to social order is simply that social order cannot be completely explained by rational decisions. He thereforelumps togetherall tacit knowledge, bodily skills, and intuitions,as well as Foucault's disciplines (1979), Bourdieu's habitus (1977), and Schutz's lifeworld act (1967). His notion of an IR is equally encompassing, including the most "rudimentary of speaking"(Collins 1998:47). Andjust as any interactioncan be called a ritual,any topic of conversationcan be considereda sacredobject.Withthis he stretchesDurkheim'sinsight beyond believability. Collins's use of emotions is part of his attemptto establish a scientific sociology that can minimize the role of interpretivemeaning. Emotions are described as separatefrom their interpretation, which is merely a secondary effect with no behavioralconsequences (Collins 1981:1008). We see this throughoutCollins's career,from his (1975:111) declaration that we must challenge the "sentimentalnotion that social behavior is inherently meaningful,"to his (1986) selective appropriationsof Weber without any discussion of to the avoidance, mentionedabove, of using testimonies as evidence to support Verstehen, his sociology of philosophies. would be. Collins gives us no idea of what an emotion separatefrom its interpretation He suggests that there is a quantityof energy that is analytically distinct from any interpretation,but even if we found a way to reduce qualitatively different emotions to their quantitativeexchange values, this is not enough to establish the autonomyof the emotion

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from its interpretation.Far from being an inconsequential secondary effect, doesn't the drive the emotional energy? How else can we explain the diverse effects that interpretation an IR has on the various participants?In fact, philosophy conferences provide a fitting example of an IR from which some would derive high emotional energy while others might find boredom and depression. If emotions are inextricablybound up with interpretations, then only very loose rational choice explanationscan be based upon them. The high emotional energy derived from an IR could be transformedinto the low energy associated with depression by a postevent of the meaning of the IR. We could not simply trace a philosopher's path reinterpretation througha series of objectively defined IRs without trying to understandthe meaning that the IR held for the particularphilosopherin that particularsocial context. The category of emotions would retain an importantrole in explaining social action, but it would not be fundamental.More importantthan the quantityof emotional energy would be the way that an IR and its symbols stabilize the meaning of that emotional energy. COROLLARIESFROMTHE LAW OF SMALL NUMBERS AND THEIR APPLICATION TO SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY Despite these problemswith his microsociology, Collins's conflict perspectiveand his law of small numberslead to a numberof importantinsights for the sociology of an intellectual field, including sociological theory. Collins, showing admirablerestraint,follows only a few of those insights into his own terrain of sociological theory. Nevertheless, there is nothing to keep those of us who have never been overly burdenedby restraintfrom this endeavor.Before we can proceed with that, however, we need to look at the emergence of what Collins (1994) calls "high-consensus, rapid-discovery science," because Collins's macroanalysesof science and philosophy are distinct and it is not quite clear into which realm sociological theory would fit. According to Collins, high-consensus, rapid-discoveryscience has escaped the law of small numbersto which philosophy is in thrall.This occurredbecause competitionfor the attentionspace in scientific fields has moved from conflict over basic concepts to conflict over a fast-moving research front. Scientific fields achieve a greaterconsensus on basic concepts because of an ability to build networks not only of people but also of research technologies. Consensus is achieved throughthe authorityof "physicalpractices, embodied in materialequipment"(Collins 1998:538). The progressive chain of technical innovations makesdiscoveries repeatableandtransportable, andthis, along with the equipment's materialpresence, fosters a consensus that mere ideas can never achieve. Because of this consensus on old issues, competition for the attentionspace is focused on new discoveries using the latest equipment. Hence we have a convincing explanation for the two most noticeable characteristicsof Westernscience, a rapidlymoving researchfrontleaving in its wake a high consensus about demonstratedfacts and fruitful theories. Sociology clearly is not now a high-consensus, rapid-discovery science. Collins (1998:876) sees sociology in a kind of "limbo"between philosophy and science in that it encompasses empirical investigation but still lacks the consensus and hence the rapid discovery of a field that has escaped the law of small numbers.He nevertheless believes that sociology has the potential to be a rapid-discovery science, and, in line with his analysis, he places his hope in the technicizing of sociology. But Collins is unable to explain why the natural sciences developed research technologies able to produce high consensus and sociology did not except as a historical accident. Even if this were a satisfactory explanation, it appears to be contraryto the historical record. Sociology, in fact, has developed researchtechnologies, but high consensus has not developed aroundthem.

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COLLINS'S SOCIOLOGY AND SOCIOLOGICAL OF PHILOSOPHIES THEORY 99 Most notably, sociology has developed mathematicaltechniques that, in anothercontext, Collins (1998:538-42) himself convincingly argues are a type of research technology. However,when discussing sociology, he contendsthatstatisticsis just the manipulation of data rather than a method of producing new data. But this seems a rather strained distinction. Doesn't the formula for a standarddeviation produce a new datum, or are we to assume that the standarddeviation is already lying aroundin the Platonic space of the data set? In addition, how would Collins explain why statistics used in biological informatics is able to produce a high-consensus, rapid-discoveryscience but in sociology it is not? Again, the problem in Collins's analysis can be tracedto the missing category of interpretation. It would seem that the interpretivenature of social facts makes it difficult to stabilize a consensus with a researchtechnology in the same way as in the naturalsciences. Collins never engages the powerful arguments(e.g., Habermas1988) that a science whose basic data are irreduciblyinterpretivecannot be technicized. But whatever our differences on the potential of sociology, Collins and I both agree that sociological theory today is structured by the same types of conflicts that he diagnoses in the history of philosophy. Consequently,three corollaries from the law of small numbers also apply to sociological theory. conflict drives creativity,we would expect thata single orthodoxy First, since structural for more than a couple of generations would stifle creativity (Collins 1998:380), and, indeed, the historical record in sociology seems to bear this out. Certainly,we see this in comparing the theoretically sterile enforced Marxism of the former Soviet Union to the productivenessof Marxism in the West, where it has been underconstant challenge. And we should note that the creativity of American sociology has been marked by almost constanttheoreticalconflict. We are so used to this conflict that it is easy to forget that the one case of theoreticaldominancethatAmericansociology has known-Talcott Parsons's structural-functionalism-lasted less than 20 years, coming to dominanceafterWorldWar II and being subjected to withering attackby the early 1960s. Second, since positions are driven by conflict and need to differentiatethemselves from the competition, we would expect to see a great deal of innovation in even the most intellectually conservative movements (Collins 1998:381). As in philosophy,we also see a revolutionary creativity in the return to "traditional"sociology. We need only think of Alexander's innovations under cover of a returnto Parsons or Habermas'snovel "reformulation"of the Frankfurtschool against the postmoderncritique. In fact, it is hard to think of an innovative sociological theory that has not involved, at least to some degree, a returnto classical sources. This would include Collins's returnto Weber (Collins 1986) and Durkheim (Collins 1988). Third,we would expect the exporting and importingof ideas, either from othercultures or other fields, to have an effect upon creativity and the availability of niches in the attention space (Collins 1998:446-50). The importation of ideas from a single source, especially a simple translationwithout elaboration, takes up a segment of the attention space that could have been used by novel movements. However, importing ideas from rivalries of the receiving multiple sources and elaboratingthem to fit within the structural field encourages creativity.Similarly,exporting ideas opens up new areas in the attention space of the receiving culture and new sources of conflict. In the matterof importingand exporting ideas, it seems to me that sociological theory has done much worse than philosophy. Exchange theory has imported from behavioral psychology in a creative way, Luhmannfrom general systems theory and rationalchoice from economics, but, for the most part, sociological theory has been ratherinsular,pre-

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ferring to mine its own classics. In exporting, it has done even more poorly. Fields that have recently expressed an interest in theorizing society, such as movements in literature and in art, have practicallyignoredthe sociological work thathas been done in those areas. Collins's own work demonstratesboth of these deficits. One of the most influential social theories outside of sociology has been postmoderntheory. The reception in mainstreamsociological theory has tended to be defensive (Ritzer and Goodmanforthcoming). Collins (1992), for example, wrote a blistering attackon postmodernismthat never quotes or even cites a postmodernistand that presents only the broadest caricatureof the postmodern position. One could not imagine such a cavalier dismissal of a theoreticalmovement being printedif the movement had originatedwithin sociology. Conversely,Collins's work has been received outside of sociology with a deafening silence. For example, it has been almost two years since the publication of The Sociology of Philosophies, and it has yet to receive a review in any of the mainstreamphilosophy journals.1 Despite these similaritieswith philosophy,there are some reservationsaboutthe wholesale application of the law of small numbersto sociology. We should rememberthat this "law" is, in fact, a historical observation and that its upper limits in particularcannot be derived directly from the theory. In this, there may be an importantdifference between philosophy and current sociology. In most of the philosophical movements that Collins studied, the focus was upon the productionof a single truth,and the idea of a pluralityof truths was a marginal position. The situation is not the same in sociology, which has moved toward valuing and even encouragingpluralism. It is quite likely that such a field can function with a higherupperlimit for dividing its attentionspace, and, indeed, it would be difficult to point to only six major sociological schools. CONCLUSION The Sociology of Philosophies is an importantbut flawed book. That the flawed and the importantshould divide so easily along the micro-macroline is disturbingfor one who believes in the necessity of linking micro and macro theories. It could be that there is something in our insular disciplinaritythat makes it so difficult to achieve this synthesis. Whether it is emotions from psychology, rational choice from economics, or the fragmented self from postmodernism, sociological theorists are too inclined to ignore the complexity outside our discipline and to borrow overly simplistic versions of micro theories from other fields. Whatever the micro theory, I don't believe we will be able to simplify away the category of interpretation.Despite their scientific messiness, interpretationsare an irreducible part of sociology. Really, though, this is not the point about which an argumentneeds to be made. All sociologists, including Collins, alreadyengage in interpretations. Collins's analysis of philosophy, for example, is full of interpretations.The argumentthat apparently must be made is that interpretationsare just as fundamentalfor the social actor as they are for the sociological theorist. In other words, the micro-macrolink must include a link between the macrointerpretations of the sociologist and the everyday microinterpretations of actors. This would have been a richer and more satisfying book had Collins included an empirical examination of the interpretiveexperiences of philosophers. Collins himself has quite recently provided a counterexampleto the anti-interpretive approachused in The Sociology of Philosophies. His (2000) article, "SituationalStratification:A Micro-MacroTheory of Inequality," dropsthe focus on an objective definition of
' Since this review was written,there has been a review symposium in Philosophy of the Social Sciences (30:2) and an insightful review essay in Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (36:2), but, despite their fine work, these are usually not seen as mainstreamphilosophy journals.

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COLLINS'S SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES AND SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY 101 emotions embedded in a rational choice analysis and does a sensitive reading of the relation between everyday microinterpretations of hierarchy and the macrointerpretations of sociologists. It is the mark of a great theorist that he produces his own critique.

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