Gary Alan Fine Brooke Harrington Sandro Segre

Politics in the Public Sphere. The Power of Tiny Publics in Classical Sociology



The structure of society is shaped within small groups, a feature of social order that we have termed "tiny publics." These tiny publics provide the basis of collective action and political change. Yet, in current sociological theorizing this meso-level of analysis has often been downplayed. In this article, we argue that classical sociological theorists, particularly Simmel, Durkheim, and Weber, recognized the essential role of small groups in political and economic life, creating a local sociology. To focus on small groups as a field of action recognizes the centrality of interaction and negotiated order as standing at the heart of the political process.


  • small groups
  • tiny publics
  • political sociology
  • social psychology
  • classical theory


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