How to Study Intersecting Processes of Mobilization in Different Social Spheres? a Comparison of Process Tracing and Sequences Analysis

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:36
Location: Hörsaal 18 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ana Carolina ALFINITO VIEIRA, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Germany
Sigrid QUACK, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany
Recently, many scholars in the social sciences have emphasized the importance of time and process to understanding society. However, in an ever more complex world undergoing globalization and differentiation, a renewed emphasis on process creates conceptual, methodological and empirical challenges. How are we to conceptualize and study phenomena such as mobilization in transnational activist networks that shift between and span across different places and scales? How can we analyze institutional change that is brought about by overlapping processes of subnational and national contestation? Such phenomena are often addressed through the concept of multi-level analysis, applied in a quantitative or qualitative manner. The multi-level approach, however, has its shortcomings because it tends to assume a hierarchical form of social organization, suggests a separation between social spheres and neglects interaction effects. In this paper, we propose that it might be more useful to think of processes cutting across different social spheres without assuming hierarchy and separation between them. The purpose of the paper is threefold: Theoretically, we critically asses the multi-level concept contrasting it with the concept of “social fields” and “social worlds”. Methodologically, we introduce two methods used in the social sciences to analyze social phenomena over time and discuss how they can be used to capture overlapping and intersecting processes: historical process tracing (frequently used in political sociology) and sequence analysis (common in life course and career analysis). Empirically, we apply these concepts and methods to two illustrative examples drawn from indigenous mobilization over land tenure in Brazil.