In this chapter Stephen Barley discusses his path to becoming an institutionalist through his immersion in the research of the Chicago School sociology of the 1950s and 1960s, especially Everett C. Hughes and Anselm Strauss. His claim is that the Chicago School sociologists were wrestling with the same problem that currently preoccupies many institutional theorists: the relationship between institutions (or structure) and action. He reviews three current literatures that seek to address this problem: institutional entrepreneurship, institutional work, and inhabited institutions, with an eye toward how close each brings us to the study of action and interaction orders. He also proposes a fourth approach, “working institutions,” which argues that we could learn much by studying occupations whose work focuses on creating, changing, and maintaining institutions.
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