A Treatise on Social Theory, Volume 2 - download pdf or read online

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 construction, persuasion and coercion; and moment, that the method through which societies evolve is one in every of aggressive choice of the practices in which roles are outlined analagous, yet now not reducible, to usual choice. He illustrates and checks those theses with proof drawn from the complete variety of societies documented within the historic and ethnographic checklist. the result's an unique, strong and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological thought so as to give the opportunity to do for the category and research of societies what Darwin and his successors have performed for the category and research of species.

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33) - but to be so may well be to betray, as Bloch puts it (1961, p. 84), an 'inability to lay aside the spectacles of men of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries': the fact that such donations were often made under duress does not mean that they always were. MOBILITY OF PERSONS AND ROLES 35 ridicule as the principal instrument of social control has been best documented, whether it takes the form of jokes or gossip or slangingmatches or rituals of disapproval or disesteem, and whether or not the same motives are also expressed and the same functions served by such more formal practices as the denial of association and commensalism or exclusion from attendance at or participation in meetings or ceremonials.

At any one time, the importance to a society of any particular systact, and of the nature and extent of its members' awareness of their common interest, will depend not merely on its size and location but also on the degree to which the behaviour of the members of other systacts is a response to it. But over a period it will often turn out that a small and ostensibly insignificant group or category becomes, because and only because of the nature of the common interest which first binds its members together, of quite unexpected importance for the future course of social evolution, whether the minority factions of the Bedouin of seventh-century Arabia who accorded recognition to Muhammad, or the merchants and artisans of the North Italian cities of the late eleventh century who instituted the role of elective consul, or the armed retainers of tenth- and eleventh-century Japan who attached themselves to regional lords at the expense of the power of the central government, or the baillis who first appear in the administrative echelons of the French monarchy in the reign of Philippe Auguste.

G. Mandelbaum (1955, p. 238) for an example where the relative importance of age and kinship in determining ceremonial precedence among the Kota is decided in practice by majority support. THE DIMENSIONS OF SOCIAL STRUCTURE 19 reference to either or both an inter-societal system within which power is unequally distributed and/or one or more intra-societal associations or corporations within which some of the society's members are ranked but to which other of its members do not belong and may not even relate at all.

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