A Treatise on Social Theory

A Treatise on Social Theory

by W. G. Runciman
     
 

This second of three volumes sets out a general account of the structure and evolution of human societies. The author argues first that societies are to be defined as sets of roles whose incumbents are competitors for access to, or control of, the means of production, persuasion and coercion; and second, that the process by which societies evolve is one of competitive…  See more details below

Overview

This second of three volumes sets out a general account of the structure and evolution of human societies. The author argues first that societies are to be defined as sets of roles whose incumbents are competitors for access to, or control of, the means of production, persuasion and coercion; and second, that the process by which societies evolve is one of competitive selection of the practices by which roles are defined analagous, but not reducible, to natural selection. He illustrates and tests these theses with evidence drawn from the whole range of societies documented in the historical and ethnographic record. The result is an original, powerful and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological theory which will make it possible to do for the classification and analysis of societies what Darwin and his successors have done for the classification and analysis of species.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This is a masterpiece: in its scope and its command of historical and ethnographic detail, it is reminiscent of Economy and Society; in its systematization more gripping.' David Lockwood

'It is an astonishing bravura performance … I have not come across another approach to comparative history which has impressed me so much.' Eric Hobsbawm

'This is an important and remarkable book. It is extremely ambitious offering nothing less than a general theory of human society, and the confrontation of that theory with the historical material. The quality of the material is commensurate with the ambition.' Ernest Gellner

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521272513
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
03/28/2006
Series:
Treatise on Social Theory Series, #1
Pages:
364
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.83(d)

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