Introduction to Political Sociology (4th Edition)

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9780139271533: Introduction to Political Sociology (4th Edition)

This comprehensive collection of readings shows the broad social bases of politics and identifies how politics and actions by government can influence the fate of nations and their citizens. The text provides insight into recent political sociological theories and helps students make sense of the many major social and political changes taking place in the world. Text focuses on the economy and politics, states and societies, civil society and politics, basic forms of political rule, power and equality in modern America, political parties and citizen participation. For individuals interested in a comprehensive look at social movements and political changes.

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From the Inside Flap:

Preface
to the Fourth. Edition

Several years ago I was asked by Baruch Kimmerling to write a brief essay on the field of political sociology and the course of its development in the United States. I agreed to do the essay, in part because I had not thought much about the field for some time, and I wanted the opportunity to discover where the field had come over the course of a decade or so since I had worked in it. I tried to capture some of the changes in the field by concentrating on the movement from its strong behavioral roots, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, to its greater emphasis on institutions and their development. This theme, I believe, was inspired by an article by David Brian Robertson, "The Return to History and the New Institutionalism in American Political Science," published in 1993 in the journal Social Science History.

I received some interesting reactions to my brief essay, most of which I had not anticipated. While some were complimentary, certainly there were defenders of the faith, such as Seymour Martin Lipset and Theda Skocpol, who read the field differently than 1. This started me on the course of rethinking my own view of political sociology, which I had first put in the form of a textbook late in the 1970s. How had the field changed since then? As it happened, I had the chance to put my thoughts into some order on the matter when Nancy Roberts, Publisher at Prentice-Hall, suggested that I revise the 1989 edition of my text. I was very pleased to take her up on the offer. I also was astonished, as I began to review writings in the field, to learn how much political sociology had changed in the course of the two decades since I first drafted the original framework for the book. And I must confess that I was a tad embarrassed because of my earlier failure to revise certain sections of the 1989 edition.

After some hesitation, I decided to embark on a thorough revision of the book. I also decided not to dedicate another four years of my life to such a project, largely because I was not sure whether I had another four years to spare, in part because of other things I wanted to write. The result is the current book.

This is in many ways a much different book than the third edition. Mainly that is because the world itself has changed so dramatically, forcing sociologists to rethink many old questions and issues. I have tried to pay as much attention to the changing world as to the new ideas populating the thinking of political sociologists. At the close of my 1996 essay, I spoke of my concern that political sociology was not nearly so vital a field of endeavor as it had been two or three decades earlier. Parts of the field were still very vigorous, such as the work on social movements, but other parts, such as work on the nature of power and politics in America, seemed almost moribund.

Having now spent the past year reading and reflecting on the field of political sociology, I would say that my assessment in 1996 was not quite accurate. There is a great deal of new and energetic work being done by political sociologists, but because of the rapid pace of events in the world, this work seems quickly outstripped in its relevance by the very changes taking place. I would like to think-though others must make their own judgments on this matter-that my efforts to redo the current edition of Introduction to Political Sociology represent at least one scholar's serious attempt to show the persisting relevance of political sociology for the important questions of our times. What are the best forms of government now available? How can the new nations become effectively and durably transformed into democracies? What role can the state play, not only in stimulating the economy, but also in making the lives of its citizens measurably better? How can everyday citizens work to transform the large-scale political institutions that surround them? And how do the lives of cities, and their residents, provide a way for understanding the political world in which we live?

In redoing this edition, I have found that many of the questions that seemed so academic and abstruse twenty, even ten, years ago, now have assumed a much greater urgency and immediacy. Matters of how to achieve democratic governance, and how it has been secured in the past, no longer seem to be merely the musings of scholars. Today they point to real concerns, and thoughtful and lucid answers to these questions can provide the shape of social and political institutions in the years to come. I think, as Baruch Kimmerling said to me some years ago, it is time that political sociologists actively reconnect to the world.

Two critics of my 1989 book played a vital role in helping me to redo this one; I thank them for their extensive and courteous efforts to review that book. One is Diane E. Davis of the New School for Social Research. Her comments were incisive and extraordinarily helpful. I almost think of her as the anonymous coauthor to the new edition. She provided extremely useful comments, not only on particular questions and issues, but also on the reorganization of the book. She also urged me to retain the perspective of Talcott Parsons, but to repackage it. I owe her a great debt of gratitude for the time and imagination she devoted to helping me, through her review, to rethink the format for this new edition. Equally I owe a great debt to Daniel Levy of Columbia University, who, through a similar exacting review, provided me with important new ideas and help in crafting this new edition. In addition, I'd like to thank Mary L. Ertel of Central Connecticut State University for her insightful comments. I, of course, remain responsible for its failings, particularly for my inability to include all the many new writings on the changing societies and politics of today. I hope that teachers who choose to use this book will see it as a device to encourage their students to probe more deeply into some issues that I could only cover here in a limited fashion.

There were many people who played a central role in helping me to craft the three previous editions of this text. Among them, those who played the most significant part were Neil Smelser and Mayer Zald. Though each of these fine scholars takes a different approach to the social world-particularly evident in their views of collective action and social movements-each also furnishes a wonderful role model for the rest of us to imitate.

Lastly, I want to thank the members of my family for their continuing support on this project as on all my other writings and work. They have managed to tolerate my preoccupations with the sort of patient kindness usually reserved for small children and the elderly. I want to dedicate this book, in particular, to my three children–Nicholas, Hannah, and Rebekah. I hope that the world of the twenty-first century is filled with much less violence and much more social justice than that of the century just passed and, especially, that each of my children, in his or her own way, will contribute to bringing such a world into being.

Anthony M. Orum

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