Sociological miniaturism: Seeing the big through the small in social psychology

John F. Stolte*, Gary A Fine, Karen S. Cook

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The distinctive contribution of sociological social psychology can be referred to as sociological miniaturism, a way of interpreting social processes and institutions that is microsociological more than it is psychological. We argue that social psychology of this variety permits the examination of large-scale social issues by means of investigation of small-scale social situations. The power of this approach to social life is that it permits recognition of the dense texture of everyday life, permits sociologists to understand more fully a substantive domain, and permits interpretive control. In the chapter we provide examples of this approach from two quite distinct theoretical orientations: symbolic interactionism and social exchange theory. We discuss the ways in which the study of two substantive topics, social power and collective identity, using these perspectives can be informed by closer collaboration between theorists within sociological social psychology. In the end it is our hope that pursuing such integrative theoretical and methodological efforts will produce a more complete understanding of important social phenomena. We offer sociological miniaturism as a promising vehicle for advancing the earlier call for greater mutual appreciation of and rapprochement between diverse lines of social psychological work in sociology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-413
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Sociology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Collective identity
  • Negotiated order
  • Power
  • Social exchange
  • Symbolic interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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