Status, Power, and Legitimacy presents methodological, theoretical, and empirical essays by Joseph Berger and Morris Zelditch, Jr.—two of the leading contributors to the Stanford tradition in the study of micropro-cesses. This three-part volume brings together major contributions to the development of this tradition, in addition to a number of newly written essays published here for the first time. Berger and Zelditch integrate the essays and relate them to a larger body of theory and research as they explore the importance of a generalizing orientation in sociology. Their view of theory as flux and process, the blending of social process with theory-building, produces a picture of the social world in line with the great tradition of George Herbert Mead, Max Weber, and Georg Simmel.
Status, Power, and Legitimacy explores the relation between the scope of a theory and testing, applying, and developing it; the relation between abstract, general theories and empirical generalizations; and how to use an understanding of this relation to construct theories that are neither historically nor culturally bound. In the first part, Berger and Zelditch discuss strategies of theory construction, the development of abstract, general theories of social processes, and the different ways in which theories grow. Status processes are the focus of the second part, which includes: the formation of reward expectations; the role of status cues in interaction; the evolution of status expectations; and the application of status characteristics theory to male-female interaction. Lastly, the authors dissect power and legitimacy: the effect of expectations on power; the legitimation of power and its effect on the stability of authority; and legitimation under conditions of dissensus.
This volume is a fine theoretical effort of great depth and breadth. Berger and Zelditch review the background of each paper, place the new concepts and principles introduced by each paper in context and examine subsequent research generated by the paper. They carve out new research areas in the social world of class, status, power, and authority. This volume will be of interest to those in the fields of sociology and, in particular, social theory.