Feudal America: Elements of the Middle Ages in Contemporary Society

Feudal America: Elements of the Middle Ages in Contemporary Society

by Vladimir Shlapentokh, Joshua Woods

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Do Americans live in a liberal capitalist society, where evenhanded competition rules the day, or a society in which big money, private security, and personal relations determine key social outcomes? Vladimir Shlapentokh and Joshua Woods argue that the answer to these questions cannot be found among the conventional models used to describe the nation. Offering a new analytical tool, the authors present a provocative explanation of the nature of contemporary society by comparing its essential characteristics to those of medieval European societies.

Their feudal model emphasizes five elements: the weakness of the state and its inability to protect its territory, guarantee the security of its citizens, and enforce laws; conflicts and collusions between and within organizations that involve corruption and other forms of illegal or semilegal actions; the dominance of personal relations in political and economic life; the prevalence of an elitist ideology; and the use of private agents and organizations for the provision of safety and security. Feudal America urges readers to suspend their forward-thinking and futurist orientations, question linear notions of social and historical progression, and look for explanations of contemporary social problems in medieval European history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271075020
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 02/18/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 184
File size: 531 KB

About the Author

Vladimir Shlapentokh is Professor of Sociology at Michigan State University.
Joshua Woods is Assistant Professor, Division of Sociology and Anthropology, at West Virginia University.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

Acknowledgments xi

1 The Feudal Model in Social Analysis: From Medieval Europe to Contemporary America 1

2 Feudal, Liberal, and Authoritarian Models as Tools for Analyzing the Middle Ages and Contemporary American Society 18

3 Big Money and Corporations as Promoters of Feudal Tendencies 33

4 The Feudal Model and the Organizational Level of Analysis 56

5 Private Coercion: A Feudal Aspect of Contemporary American Society 78

6 Personal Relations in American Politics and Business: A Feudal Phenomenon 99

Conclusion 122

References 133

Index 163

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