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Political Sociology

Ryan Calder and John Lie

Subject Law
Government, Politics, and Law » Political Sociology

Key-Topics power

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


Political sociology analyzes the operation of power in social life, examining the distribution and machination of power at all levels: individual, organizational, communal, national, and international. Defined thus, political science becomes a subfield of sociology. Parsons (1951) , for example, treated the political as one of the four principal domains of sociological analysis. In practice, however, political sociology has developed as a sociological subfield, with its distinct concerns and fashions. Aristotle, Ibn Khaldun, or Montesquieu may rightfully claim to be the founder of political sociology insofar as they highlighted the social bases of power relations and political institutions. However, most contemporary scholars trace their intellectual lineage to Marx or Weber. Political sociology emerged as a distinct subfield in the 1950s, especially in the debate between pluralists and elite theorists. In the 1980s and 1990s political sociologists focused on social movements, the state, and institutions. According to Marx (and Engels), economic structure and class relations are the basis for all political activity ( Miliband 1977 ). The dominant mode of production determines who wields power in society. Under the capitalist mode of production, the capitalist class controls the state, which serves to perpetuate its domination of subordinate classes and manage “its common affairs.” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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