Randall Collins makes a strong and counterintuitive
claim that "society itself is ultimately based not upon
reasoning or rational agreement but upon a nonrational foundation"
(1992:4). He begins by discussing two reasons why rationality
is not a sufficient basis for social life. First, Collins
argues that even fully rational actors can create irrational
outcomes when they focus too much on following rules or procedures
efficiently but slavishly, rather than trying to achieve the
intended goals of those rules (1992:4-5). Second, he argues
that rational actors will choose to cheat others, at least in
the short term, thus making lasting social relations based solely
on rational contracts unlikely (Collins 1992:14).
All references must be identified
by the last name of the author, year of publication, and page
number. A colon (no spaces) separates the year and page number.
Notice that the last quotation marks go before and the
period goes after the year and page number in parentheses,
when a direct quotation is embedded in the text.
If the author's name is not
in the sentence, insert name, year of publication, then a colon
and the page number, all enclosed in parentheses. The date should
always be included in a citation.
Collins concludes that social
relations depend on what Emile Durkheim called "the
precontractual basis of social solidarity" (1985:161)
or an underlying feeling of trust. Such trust is necessary because
social relations require that people have faith that other people
will uphold their agreements. Collins argues that such
faith or trust is achieved most notably through "social
rituals" (1992:29), in which people collect together
and focus their attention on a single "symbolic object,"
thereby generating solidarity in the group and trust in each
When citing a source found
in a collection of readings or an edited volume of articles,
cite the author's name, not the editor's name, and
date and page number of the collection.
Always cite the source whenever you use someone's ideas, whether
you quote directly or paraphrase.
While Collins's main
examples involve religious rituals (1992:30-59), his argument
may apply even to seemingly mundane interactions. For instance,
gossip, "evaluative talk about a person who is not present"
(Eder and Enke 1991:494), may constitute
a social ritual in which people focus their attention on a symbolic
object (the missing person), thus increasing the solidarity of
the group as well as generating trust, even if the person being
gossiped about is a member of the group. Why trust is generated
in this case requires further explanation. . .
Place citations so that your
own ideas are clearly distinguished from those of the author(s)
Collins, Randall. 1992. Sociological Insight: An Introduction
to Non-Obvious Sociology. New York: Oxford.
Author. Year. Book Title. Place Published: Publisher.
1985 . "Precontractual Solidarity." Pp. 161-174
in Three Sociological Traditions: Selected Readings, edited
by Randall Collins. New York: Oxford.
Author. Year [Year Originally Published]. "Title of Article."
Page Numbers in Title of Collection, edited
by Editor. Place Published: Publisher.
Eder, Donna and
Janet Lynne Enke. 1991. "The Structure of Gossip: Opportunities
and Constraints on Collective Expression among Adolescents."
American Sociological Review 56:494-508.
Author. Year. "Title of Article." Journal Title.
In a final section titled
"REFERENCES," list all items cited in the text alphabetically
by author [and, for multiple items by same author, by year of
The bolded generic versions
of these examples include all the information which you must
include (in that order) in a given kind of reference.
Underline book titles if
italics are unavailable.
Use a "hanging indentation"
for reference-list entries, if possible.
Reference lists should include
only the books or articles you actually cite in the text.
Putting a book or article into the reference list, tells the
reader that you personally have consulted that source.