Collins, Randall, 2000, "Situational Stratification: A Micro-Macro Theory of Inequality," Sociological Theory, 18(1): 17-43.
My argument is that microsituational data has conceptual priority. This is not to say that macrodata means nothing; but amassing statistics and survey data does not convey an accurate picture of social reality unless they are interpreted in the context of their microsituational grounding. Microsituational encounters are the ground zero of all social action and all sociological evidence. Nothing has reality unless it is manifested in a situation somewhere.
My argument is not simply that historically macrostructures once dominated, and that now the microsituational order has come loose from the macro order. The macrostructure, in any historical period, is always composed of microsituations. What I am saying is that the microsituations today are stratified by quite different conditions than existed in the early 20th century or earlier.
Contemporary social structure generates a life experience in which most individuals have at least intermittent, and sometimes quite extensive, situational distance from macrostructured relationships.
The trend of contemporary life, based on the momentum of macroinstitutional patterns, is in the other direction. We are increasingly a world in which power operates only within specific organizations and casts no halo; in which economic class is meaningful largely if one stays within the circuits of exchange which generated the money, with some small microsituational advantages that come from investing money into material consumption which helps dominate face-to-face situations; in which categorical reputations have largely dissolved, and personal reputations circulate only in limited networks, except for the artificial reputations of entertainment stars.