By W. G. Runciman
This moment of 3 volumes units out a common account of the constitution and evolution of human societies. the writer argues first that societies are to be outlined as units of roles whose incumbents are rivals for entry to, or keep an eye on of, the technique of creation, persuasion and coercion; and moment, that the method wherein societies evolve is one in all aggressive choice of the practices wherein roles are outlined analagous, yet now not reducible, to typical choice. He illustrates and assessments those theses with proof drawn from the full variety of societies documented within the old and ethnographic list. the result's an unique, robust and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological thought so one can give the opportunity to do for the type and research of societies what Darwin and his successors have performed for the category and research of species.
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Extra info for A Treatise on Social Theory, Volume 2
If the entire population become anchorites, there is no mode of production; if every citizen takes the same view of government as the ' Professor' in Conrad's The Secret Agent (who said he was prepared to blow himself up, if arrested, by setting off a device attached permanently to his person, and was believed by the police when he said so), there is no mode of coercion; and if nobody shares standards of social worth, legitimacy or merit with anybody else, there is no mode of persuasion. But there is no society where this is so nearly the case as to undermine its analysis in terms of the rival interests of the incumbents of distinguishable roles.
And so on. That there is an inherent tendency towards congruence between the three dimensions of social structure - or more generally, between all forms or aspects of ranking in human societies - has been argued by proponents of would-be general social-psychological theories of'status crystallization' or 'cognitive dissonance'. But this is yet another question to be examined case by case. It is true that to a holder of power of one kind there will inevitably accrue power of another to the extent that the institutions of the society do provide for convertibility between them.
But what then follows? The failure of nineteenth-century evolutionary social theory in its several forms provides both an explanation for the subsequent reaction against evolutionism in general and a warning against some of the errors which any theory with a better chance of success will need to avoid. Such a theory will have to 38 SOCIETIES AS SUBJECTS FOR SCIENCE acknowledge that social evolution is not to be construed as a unilinear process in which one stage leads always and inevitably to the next; that there is no pre-emptive sense of'progress' in which one society can be credited with superiority over others in its approach to some predetermined goal; that there is no direct analogy between biological and social survival; and that evaluative presuppositions are as irrelevant to the secondary, explanatory understanding of social evolution in their Marxian (or 'left-wing') as in their Spencerian (or 'right-wing') versions.
A Treatise on Social Theory, Volume 2 by W. G. Runciman