John W. Meyer
John W. Meyer is a sociologist and professor at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...

, located in Palo Alto, California, noted for his contributions to the study of organizations, diffusion, and modern mass education. He is best known in sociology for the development of the neo-institutional perspective on globalization, known as world society or world polity theory.

Education and career

He received his B.A. in Psychology from Goshen College
Goshen College
Goshen College, is a private Mennonite liberal arts college in Goshen, Indiana, USA with an enrollment of around 1,000 students. The college is accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities...

, located in Goshen, Indiana in 1955, his M.A. in Sociology from the University of Colorado
University of Colorado at Boulder
The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

 in 1957, and his Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 in 1965. Since 1966, he has been a professor at Stanford University (emeritus since 2001).


His areas of interest and research include political sociology, comparative sociology, organizations, world society, and sociology of education.

Meyer's early work focused on the sociology of education. Meyer was also an early contributor to the sociological new institutionalism
New institutionalism
New institutionalism or neoinstitutionalism is a theory that focuses on developing a sociological view of institutions--the way they interact and the way they affect society...

 (see Meyer and Rowan 1977), stressing the role of loose coupling
Loose coupling
In computing and systems design a loosely coupled system is one where each of its components has, or makes use of, little or no knowledge of the definitions of other separate components. The notion was introduced into organizational studies by Karl Weick...

 in organizational behavior and the conditions under which diffusion of practices takes place (e.g. Organizational Environments, with W.R. Scott, Sage 1983).

In 1980, he coined the term "world polity" to describe the stateless character of the international system and distinguish a civil society approach to globalization from existing world-systems analysis (see Meyer 1980). The development of this theoretical paradigm characterized much of his subsequent work. Accordingly, Meyer's earlier interests were frequently explored in the context of world society, e.g. the influences of modern world practices on educational systems and their expansion over time.

Meyer has authored or co-authored over 200 scholarly articles, books, and presentations. In 2009, Georg Krucken and Gili S. Drori edited a retrospective of Meyer's work titled World Society: The Writings of John W. Meyer. Currently, he is studying the impact of the human rights regime worldwide, and the impact of global society on national states and societies.

Selected publications

1977. "Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony" (with Brian Rowan), American Journal of Sociology, 83(2): 340-63.

1980. "The World Polity and the Authority of the Nation-State," in A. Bergesen (ed.), Studies of the Modern World-System, New York: Academic Press: 109-37.

1984. "The Expansion of the State" (with George Thomas), Annual Review of Sociology, 10: 461-82.

1985. "Explaining the Origins and Expansion of Mass Education" (with John Boli and Francisco Ramirez), Comparative Education Review, 29: 145-168.

1992. "World Expansion of Mass Education, 1870-1970" (with Francisco Ramirez and Yasmin Soysal), Sociology of Education 65(2): 128-149.

1993. "Institutional Conditions for Diffusion" (with David Strang), Theory and Society, 22: 487-511.

1997. "World Society and the Nation-State" (with John Boli, George Thomas, and Francisco Ramirez), American Journal of Sociology, 103(1): 144-81.

2000. "The 'Actors' of Modern Society: The Cultural Construction of Social Agency" (with Ronald Jepperson), Sociological Theory, 18(1): 100-120.

2003. Science in the Modern World Polity: Institutionalization and Globalization (with Gili S. Drori, Francisco Ramirez, and Evan Schofer). Stanford: Stanford University Press.

2006. Globalization and Organizations (with Gili S. Drori and Hokyu Hwang). Oxford University Press.

2006. Scientization: Making a World Safe for Organizing (with Gili S. Drori). Cambridge University Press.

2006. "Student Achievement and National Economic Growth" (with Francisco Ramirez, Xiaowei Luo, and Evan Schofer), American Journal of Education vol. 113.

2009. World Society: The Writings of John W. Meyer (edited by Georg Krucken and Gili S. Drori). New York: Oxford University Press.

Awards and recognition

Meyer has won numerous awards based on his research and service. Among recent awards are:
  • Honorary Doctorate of Sociology from the University of Bielefeld 2006
  • Honorary Doctorate of Sociology from the University of Lucerne
    University of Lucerne
    The University of Lucerne is a public university with a campus in Luzern, Switzerland. 1231 undergraduates and 1061 postgraduate students attend the university, which makes it Switzerland's smallest university....

  • Graduate Service Recognition Award, GSPB, Stanford University 2001
  • Honorary Doctorate of Economics from Stockholm School of Economics
    Stockholm School of Economics
    The Stockholm School of Economics or Handelshögskolan i Stockholm is one of Northern Europe's leading business schools. Its Masters in Management program is ranked no. 2 in Northern Europe and no. 13 in Europe by the Financial Times...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.