The HingeCivil Society, Group Cultures, and the Power of Local Commitments

The HingeCivil Society, Group Cultures, and the Power of Local Commitments

Gary Alan Fine

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780226745527

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


The Hinge is an exploration of the way in which vibrant groups and established local communities help to create bonds within civil society and lead to the development of institutional commitments. Drawing from his extensive background in social psychology and micro-sociology, Gary Alan Fine provides a richly detailed theoretical argument about why and how social relations are integral to political life. Fine argues that scholars must incorporate essential building blocks in understanding the development of allegiance to society, drawing on the existence of collaboration, friendships, associational life, place-based action, conflict, social control, and the extension of these relations through social media. Core theoretical concepts that organize the development of civic cultures are the interaction order (how behavior is stabilized, given a set of local norms and expectations), group culture, circuits of action (the routinization of behavior patterns), and tiny publics (those communities in which belonging leads to participation in civil society). In each chapter, Fine presents three detailed case studies that reveal how the building block concepts have been utilized in social science research. The book’s central contribution is in making the case that rather than conceiving of societal attachment only through the existence of macro-level structures, focusing on the meso-level of sites of interaction is essential for appreciating how social relations and expectations of interaction shape and promote stable societies.