A Treatise on Social Theory, Volume 2 by W. G. Runciman

By W. G. Runciman

This moment of 3 volumes units out a normal 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 through which societies evolve is considered one of aggressive collection of the practices wherein roles are outlined analagous, yet no longer reducible, to common choice. He illustrates and checks those theses with facts drawn from the complete variety of societies documented within the old and ethnographic list. the result's an unique, robust and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological concept in order to give the chance to do for the category and research of societies what Darwin and his successors have performed for the type and research of species.

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Cf. Cobban (1964, p. 21): 'To appreciate a man's real position in French society it would have been necessary to know, as well as his legal status, also his actual economic functions, the sources and extent of his wealth, his mode of life, his profession or office, his family, and during the revolution even his political affiliations. His rank on one scale might be very different from that on another. To add a final complication, the man who fell only into a single category was by no means the rule and might even have been the exception.

To use again the example of Rome, the motives of the power-hungry nobles of the late Republic can be sufficiently well documented from the extant literature for the relative importance to them of wealth, prestige, and political-cum-military office to be invoked as part of the explanation of the breakdown of their inherited institutions and the unintended transition to monarchy by way of a political revolution which nevertheless left the economy and the status-system unchanged. To some readers, there may be an initial difficulty to be overcome in treating equally seriously the desire for personal advancement in all three dimensions of social structure.

It may be just as difficult to convey * Admittedly, there are examples in the historical and ethnographic record where this is demonstrably so: the aristocracy of Sarawak, for example, first lost its economic and then its military power and was in consequence left with ritual status only (H. S. Morris 1980). But in 17th-century France, by contrast, political power was closely tied to prestige 'because it was remarkably hard to enforce decisions or impose sanctions except by indirect, intangible means' (Beik 1974, p.

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