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SOC3070 - Lecture 7 Thinking Big: Modern State, Democracy, Class.

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Presentation on theme: "SOC3070 - Lecture 7 Thinking Big: Modern State, Democracy, Class."— Presentation transcript:

1 SOC Lecture 7 Thinking Big: Modern State, Democracy, Class

2 1960s-1970s: renew historical sociology with grand scale studies on the dynamics and design of history.  Theories of social structuring A sample: -Perry Anderson (1974) -Eisenstadt (1963) -Barrington Moore (1966)

3 Moore: which are the conditions that permit/prevent the construction of democracy in the course of industrialisation? Anderson, Eisenstadt: which are the conditions under which the political systems of historical bureaucratic empires became institutionalised?

4 Anderson, Lineages of the Absolutist State What is the social nature of absolutism? Anomaly within Marxist theory Absolutist monarchies: crystallizations of feudal social power. Defend interest of feudal nobility (in spite of contrasting evidence)

5 What evidence for this? (evidence of action vs theory of structure)  Moore looks at the functions of absolutist regimes rather than at the intentions and beliefs of actors Meaning is revealed by function. This is a ‘soft functionalism’, without teleology

6 The dual character of absolutist states: functional for feudal elites and for emergent forces and capitalist relationships The new systems of property law functions both ways. Absolute property rights Methodology: comparative

7 Western Europe Eastern Europe Ottoman Empire Japan Feudalism/Absolutism/Capitalism Feudalism and Absolutism brought to capitalism only under certain specific conditions

8 Differential factor: the heritage of antiquity, and esp. Roman Law and the institution of private property Limits of Anderson’s approach

9 Moore, The Social Origin of Dictatorship and Democracy Relationship between landed upper classes and peasantry and they way they reacted to commercial agriculture  democracy, fascism, communism England, France, USA, China, Japan

10 Three possible outcomes of the resolution of the lord/peasants relationship: -Bourgeois revolution -Conservative revolution -Peasant revolution Form of argument: not ‘A  B’ But: ‘conditions under which A could be favourable to the growth of B’

11 Eisenstadt, The Political Systems of Empires So far: - indifference to intentions and dispositions of individuals whose lives made up the historical processes under study -focus on change rather than persistence Eisenstadt focuses on motives and stability

12 ‘Historical bureaucratic empires’ (including: Inca and Aztec states, the Mogul empire, the Roman and Byzantine empires, etc.) What they have in common are certain political characteristics, like centralisation, and esp. a certain autonomy of the political sphere from the rest of society

13 Also typical is the contradiction between the new goals of the rulers and their commitment to traditions How could they survive for so long (problem of persistence)? Rulers mange to balance opposite forces (state as a machine). The importance of bureaucracy (compare to Anderson)

14 E. P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class, 1963 Interpretive method The role of ‘experience’. Class consciousness: collectively created by actors using available resources to make sense of their situation

15 Focus on the agency of working people and they way they contributed to the making of history Three steps: 1- the political culture inherited by the laboring classes (late 18c) 2- how groups of working people experienced the changes that constituted industrialisation 3- how these groups in response to industrialisation forged an organised working class E.g.: the phenomenon of ‘Luddism’

16 Thompson’s interpretive method Cultural resources human agency Rather than causes and effects, he tries to make sense of a process, to provide a moving picture of a class over a period of time He is not imposing theoretical models upon history but providing interpretations


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