Publications

Pirkey, Melissa Fletcher. 2015. People Like Me: Shared Belief, False Consensus, and the Experience of Community. Qualitative Sociology.. 38:139-164.

Contemporary theory on community suggests that disagreement or conflict over foundational beliefs and values greatly decreases the chance that a successful, sustainable community experience will develop. My findings suggest, however, that feelings of community can develop despite incongruous ideologies through the perception of shared beliefs and values. Using an ethnographic case of a voluntary non-profit organization,  I demonstrate how three types of mechanisms operate jointly to maintain a community without shared beliefs: environmental mechanisms related to the division of labor, relational mechanisms associated with selective recruitment and homophily, and a cognitive mechanism that produce the feeling of consensus in the absence of objectively shared beliefs combine to allow a powerful experience of community to flourish in a context where we might expect, based on previous research, no community experience at all.

An earlier draft can be read here.

Lizardo, Omar and Melissa Fletcher Pirkey. 2014 “How organizational theory can help network theorizing: Linking structure and dynamics via cross-level analogies.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations. 40:33-56

Traditionally, organizational theory has been a receptacle of methods and mechanisms from network theory. In this paper, we argue that organizational theory can also be an active contributor to network theory’s conceptual development. To that end, we make explicit a theoretical strategy that has only been used informally by network theorists so far, which – following Vaughan (2002) – we refer to as analogical theorizing. Using the basic correspondence between dyadic relationships as the most minimal form of “organization,” we show that processes and mechanisms extracted from various theoretical strands of organizational theory can be mapped onto the dynamics of social relationships. This allows us to build novel theoretical insight as it pertains to issue of relationship emergence, maintenance, and decay in social networks.