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A Treatise on Social Theory: Volume 1

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In this first volume of a projected trilogy, the author argues that a methodology adequate to solve the long-standing debate over the status of the social as against the natural sciences can be constructed in terms of a fourhold distinction between the reportage, explanation, description and evaluation of human behaviour. The distinction rests on an analysis of the scope and nature of social theory which is not only original in conception but far-reaching in its implications for the assessment of the results of ...

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Overview

In this first volume of a projected trilogy, the author argues that a methodology adequate to solve the long-standing debate over the status of the social as against the natural sciences can be constructed in terms of a fourhold distinction between the reportage, explanation, description and evaluation of human behaviour. The distinction rests on an analysis of the scope and nature of social theory which is not only original in conception but far-reaching in its implications for the assessment of the results of sociological, anthropological and historical research. In this volume, there are set out the separate and distinctive criteria by which the reports, explanations, descriptions and evaluations put forward by social scientists of rival theoretical schools require to be tested. These criteria will then be applied in Volume II to a substantive theory of social relations, social structure and social evolution, and in Volume III to a detailed analysis of the society of twentieth-century England. Each of the three volumes can be read independently of the others. Thus the trilogy will, when completed, be seen to form a coherent and unified whole.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521249065
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/3/1983
  • Series: A Treatise on Social Theory , #1
  • Pages: 362

Table of Contents

Preface xi
1 Introduction: societies as subjects for science 1
What are societies made of? 1
The dimensions of social structure 12
Roles and systacts 20
Mobility of persons and roles 27
Competitive selection and social evolution 37
Inter-societal comparisons and principles of taxonomy 48
Conclusion 60
2 Social relations 61
The range of variation 61
Standard roles and routine careers 70
Functional differentiation and the accretion of power 76
Ranks, distances and barriers 86
Systactic identity and collective consciousness 97
Pervasive roles and central institutions 113
Conclusion 121
3 Social structure 123
Stability and dissent 123
Reproduction, polarization and compression 138
Systactic patterns and modes of the distribution of power 148
Contradictions and constraints 172
Functional alternatives (1) 182
Functional alternatives (2) 208
Functional alternatives (3) 244
Inter-societal relations 266
Conclusion 283
4 Social evolution 285
Processes of change 285
Regressions and catastrophes 310
Dead-ends and turning-points 320
Rebellions, reforms and revolutions 340
Test cases 367
Test cases (2) 386
Test cases (3) 411
Hegemony and decline 433
Conclusion 448
List of references 451
Index 481
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