• Why do people like books, music, or movies that adhere consistently to genre conventions? • Why is it hard for politicians to take positions that cross ideological boundaries? • Why do we have dramatically different expectations of companies that are categorized as social media platforms as opposed to news media sites? •
The answers to these questions require an understanding of how people use basic concepts in their everyday lives to give meaning to objects, other people, and social situations and actions.
In this book, we present a new model of concepts and categorization that can guide sociological and cultural analysis of a wide variety of social situations.
Social classification―the establishment of categories and the sorting of entities into those categories―is the critical juncture at which cognition and social organization intersect. As such, it is a central topic that cuts across many fields of sociology and other social sciences. This volume integrates work from the most productive and promising program of theory and research on social classification into a coherent statement that will inform sociological thinking for years to come.
This formal foundation of categorization processes represents a massive step forward in our theoretical understanding of categories, their evolution, and their influence on decisions. The authors do an excellent job of motivating these cognitive foundations in terms of their relevance to sociological questions of interest.
Concepts and Categories is at once foundational and generative―the kind of book in which you will fill the margins with new learnings and insights. I highly recommend it both to newcomers to the sociology of markets as well as to established scholars looking for their next novel idea.
Hannan and collaborators have produced a masterful interdisciplinary intervention, the first to bridge research on the nature of concepts in cognitive psychology and sociological work on organizational and market categories. The book provides solid theoretical foundations tightly linked to formal measurement tools that should prove foundational to future advancements in the field.