micromacro links 3001

low authority positions are of another gender,
the dynamics of the encounter say, status,
roles, expectation states, emotions, frames,
exchanges, and other processes driving the for
mation of encounters will all be loaded by this
pattern of embeddedness. Moreover, it becomes
possible to develop abstract principles about
these loadings that are more than empirical sum
maries. For instance, we might assume that, if
there is a high correlation between rank and
categoric unit membership at the meso level,
then encounters will reveal particular patterns
of expectations states, rituals, framing, emo
tional arousal, and other forces operating at the
micro level. Such an approach bridges the gap
by seeking patterns at one level as they are con
ditioned by laws operating at higher levels.
One could argue that this solution to micro
macro linkage biases inquiry toward the macro
chauvinist side of the debate. After all, it takes
many more events at a given level to influence
higher levels. For example, what transpires in
one encounter is not likely to affect the division
of labor of a corporate unit, whereas virtually
every encounter will be influenced by each
individuals position in a corporate unit and
membership in a categoric unit. Or, the beha
vior of one organization in an economy rarely
impacts institutional systems to a significant
degree. Thus, the fact of embedding biases
theories toward a top down perspective. It is
true, no doubt, that an economy is, in some
ultimate sense, built from micro level encoun
ters. However, the dynamics of these encoun
ters are not likely to change the dynamics of the
economy as much as the embedding of the
encounter in the economy, via corporate and
categoric units, will influence what transpires
in the encounter. Hence, most bridging laws
developed from this perspective will be of a
top down character. We should not forget that
sometimes what occurs in encounters in corpo
rate units or in categoric units does influence
the values of the variables in laws about macro
level structures and cultures. It is possible to
make bridging statements that are bottom up,
such as when one has a special interest in the
initial emergence of macrostructures. Thus,
whether the principles one develops from this
perspective appear to favor micro to macro or
macro to micro bridges will likely depend on
the interests of the theorists utilizing the
approach, e.g., whether they focus on the emer
gence of social structures or on the impacts of
extant structures.
Note that these efforts to link levels of reality
revolve around seeing how one level loads the
values of variables in propositions governing
the operating of another level. The debate is
not about which level is primary but about
whether or not the propositions can explain
the operation of forces at any given level. As
bridging propositions are developed, forces at
one level will be increasingly linked to forces
operating at another level. Thus, so long as the
goal of theory is to develop laws that explain
the operation of dynamics at one level of social
reality and, then, to supplement these laws with
bridging propositions across levels, the micro
macro problem becomes solvable in theoretical
rather than philosophical terms.


A multilevel theory has one or more bridges
across levels of analysis. These may include
micro to macro bridges, macro to micro bridges,
or both. To aid in the production of multilevel
theories whether via the approach just
described or some alternative orientation we
need to specify some provisional criteria that
should promote explicit and concise micro
macro linkages, apply to any substantive units
of sociological interest, and establish points of
contact for linkages to theories that may address
phenomena at even more macro or more micro
levels (Markovsky 1997). Arguably, the greatest
impediments to building micromacro linkages
are ambiguities in the language used to express
theories and in the logic used to derive their
conclusions and predictions. These issues are
not mere formalities: first, ambiguity in the
terms referring to micro units or macro units
will transfer to any cross level linkages invol
ving those terms, leaving different readers with
varying impressions of the authors intended
meanings. Second, logical gaps rob theoretical
conclusions of their force by disconnecting them
from the very justifications offered to support