Peter M. Hall

Peter M. Hall
Emeritus Professor

Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Research and Teaching: 

My current scholarly agenda has three interrelated areas--the policy process, social organization, and educational policy.

Most existing models of policy or the policy process in the social sciences are incomplete or misleading. My purpose is to critique the current approaches and offer an alternative, based in interactionism, that explores the entire process across space and time and shows how it is socially organized (see 1995 The Sociological Quarterly article). The primary work in this area will be a monograph on the state educational policy process research funded by the Spencer Foundation. Three chapters on the national context, state legislative process and state bureaucratic program development have been drafted. Remaining chapters on state implementation, local district program development, local implementation and practice and a conclusion are to be written. In addition two papers, one explicitly on the social organization of the policy process and the other comparing this approach with one grounded in Habermasian critical theory (with P. McGinty - 1996 Missouri Sociological Society meeting), are being developed. A third paper (with J. Glazier) on the construction of isomorphism in an interorganizational network is being prepared for a special journal issue on recent advances in social structural theory and research.

The second area represents a continuation of the perspective labeled mesodomain analysis which was introduced in the 1986 Missouri Sociological Society presidential address, explored in the state policy process research, and expanded in the 1995 The Sociological Quarterly article. In an in-process paper with S. Saxton for the 1996 Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI) - Stone-Couch Symposium and the keynote address at the 1996 Annual SSSI meetings. I want to discuss multi-level social domains, collective actors, intersituational linkages and institutionalized power. On one level, social organization will be analyzed as linked networks of action, historical and structural contexts where there is a processural ordering through a conditional matrix, where action is both conditioned and consequential and where multiple linked sequences of conditions-actors-consequences constitute social organization. On another level, the analysis will focus upon how social constructions (e.g. action consequences, rules, conventions, formats, distributions of opportunity and resources) by some actors shape, influence and condition later actors conditions and action, to some degree without their awareness. For interactionism to have a continuing impact it must address these issues. The culmination of work in this area would be a book, following, at least, several articles.

The third area consists of studies of specific educational policies. Policy is defined as a process of the transformation of intentions where the consequences, content and practices are generated in the dynamics. This process is analyzed through the use of concepts of collective activity, network, power, conventions and organizational structure and culture. Using this approach, a pilot study of a high school in the early phases of restructuring is under way. In the spring, a proposal (with Margaret Placier -- College of Education) to extend and expand the study will be made to the University Research Board. (This study will serve as the dissertation data for P. McGinty.) In addition, through my involvement with Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, its Re: Learning program (providing incentives and professional development to restructuring schools), and their assessment of these schools' progress, a proposal to private funding is being formulated to study the change process in 3-5 high schools for 3-5 years using qualitative methods. A second segment of this area is the research on district multicultural policy. It is expected that additional articles will be written next year for educational policy journals. There is also the possibility, given available time and personnel, that additional data will be collected at the school site level.


  • Political Sociology
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Recent Theories in Sociology
  • Social Organization
  • Sociology of Education