The English translation of Habermas's The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere converges with a recent trend toward the revival of the "political culture concept" in the social sciences. Surprisingly, Habermas's account of the Western bourgeois public sphere has much in common with the original political culture concept associated with Parsonian modernization theory in the 1950s and 1960s. In both cases, the concept of political culture is used in a way that is neither political nor cultural. Explaining this peculiarity is (...) the central problem addressed in this article and one to follow. I hypothesize that this is the case because the concept itself is embedded in an historically constituted political culture (here called a conceptual network)-a structured web of conceptual relationships that combine into Anglo-American citizenship theory. The method of an historicalsociology of concept formation is introduced to analyze historically and empirically the internal constraints and dynamics of this conceptual network. The method draws from new work in cultural history and sociology, social studies, and network, narrative, and institutional analysis. This research yields three empirical findings: this conceptual network has a narrative structure, here called the Anglo-American citizenship story; this narrative is grafted onto an epistemology of social naturalism; and these elements combine in a metanarrative that continues to constrain empirical research in political sociology. (shrink)
Reinhard Bendix made a major contribution to the early reception and interpretation of Max Weber's work. His classic study, Max Weber: An Intellectual Portrait (1960), developed a remarkably consistent interpretation of Weber as a comparative historical sociologist. Bendix also emulated and subtly reinterpreted in his own work key aspects of Weber's comparative method and research strategies. By searching for a middle course between `Scylla and Charybdis', between the abstractions of theoretical concepts and the richness of empirical evidence, Bendix sought (...) to reinterpret and renew the vital centre of Weber's comparative enterprise as a study of western uniqueness. In so doing, he decisively challenged Talcott Parsons's alternative methodological reading of Weber's work. Yet, curiously Bendix's status as a Weber interpreter and comparative historian profoundly influenced by Weber's legacy has often been neglected or misinterpreted. This article re-examines Bendix's classic reading of Weber's corpus, and the way in which he sought to keep alive in his substantive work the promise and spirit of Weber's comparative historicalsociology. (shrink)
This article examines the recent work of the sociologist Arpad Szakolczai as he attempts to conceptualize the programme of ‘reflexive historicalsociology’ in the ‘life-works’ of Max Weber, Eric Voegelin and Michel Foucault as well as Norbert Elias, Lewis Mumford and Franz Borkenau. Particular attention is paid to the innovative manner in which the work of the anthropologist Victor Turner is used to explore the biographies of these social theorists as in effect performative life-works in which crucial liminal (...) periods and experiences are seen as facilitating new understandings. It is suggested that the life-work approach to social theory adds an important reflexive dimension to the analysis of social thought. (shrink)
Force, Fate, and Freedom serves as an introduction to historicalsociology, as well as a critical analysis of the belief in economic and political progress through social knowledge. Reinhard Bendix offers a development of the historicist approach to social change first championed by Max Weber, and presents an overview of the foundations of political authority in Japan, Russia, Germany, France, and England.
Covering a period from the Middle Ages through the 1990s, and addressing phenomena overlooked by Rokkan such as statebuilding and nationalism, this book demonstrates that Rokkan's models continue to be relevant to modern political science and sociology. Kommisrud's study is a valuable contribution to Rokkanian approaches and the understanding of Eastern European development within the historical and geographic context of Europe as a whole.
This paper discusses the prospect of the "new social history" guided by the recent work of Charles Tilly on the methodology of social and historical explanation. Tilly advocates explanation by mechanisms as the alternative to the covering law explanation. Tilly's proposals are considered to be the attempt to reshape the practices of social and historical explanation following the example set by the explanatory practices of molecular biology, neurobiology, and other recent "success stories" in the life sciences. Recent work (...) in the philosophy of science on these practices by Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden, Carl Craver and others is used as the foil to disclose the difficulties of Tilly's project. Most important among them is the dilemma of specification: if diagrams (standard forms of the representation of mechanisms) are intended as representations of robust causal processes, they cannot be specific enough to provide complete mechanism schemata, and are bound to remain mechanism sketches. If mechanism sketches are elaborated in detail by tracing particular causal processes, they provide representations of fragile causal processes, which cannot be considered as mechanisms comparable to those in advanced life and other special sciences. Tilly's work on the explanation of mechanisms can be considered as symptomatic for the recent trend to visualize the forms of historical representation. As far as diagrams seem to be able to communicate stories in a direct way (without narrative discourse), this trend is a challenge for the theory of historical representation. The new theories of scientific explanation focusing on the explanatory practices of the life sciences can provide examples and be the source of inspiration for the work on the theory of historical and social explanation, going beyond the confines of the received framework of the covering law model of explanation. (shrink)
In an effort to clear away confusions regarding the role of cultural analysis in historical explanation, this paper proposes a new approach to the issue of cultural autonomy. The premise is that there are two forms of cultural autonomy, analytic and concrete. Analytic autonomy posits the independent structure of culture-its elements, processes, and reproduction. It is achieved through the theoretical and artificial separation of culture from other social structures, conditions, and action. Concrete autonomy establishes the interconnection of culture with (...) the rest of social life, and is achieved by fleshing out the historically specific formulation of particular cultural structures. In addition to theoretically specifying the two forms of cultural autonomy, I demonstrate analytic and concrete autonomy in practice by examining two works that incorporate culture into the analysis of the same historical event. The rewards of recognizing both analytic and concrete cultural autonomy are twofold. First, cultural reductionism can be countered by establishing that culture is structural. Second and more important, once the independent nature of a cultural form is established, its causal contribution to concrete historical situations can be assessed accurately and integrated into historical explanation. (shrink)
This essay proposes an approach to understanding changes in political responses to crime in England and Wales over the last third of the twentieth century and developments in criminological knowledge over the same period. To explore the association between these in some empirical detail, we argue, would provide a historical?sociological understanding that is currently lacking, notwithstanding Garland's significant intervention in The Culture of Control. We take issue with some aspects of Garland's account, on both methodological and substantive grounds, and (...) delineate certain distinctions between his ?history of the present? and the historically situated hermeneutics that we favour. The latter, we suggest, can be more attentive to particular political and intellectual struggles that have had a formative bearing on the current field and, as such, offer new perspectives on the position of crime and punishment in contemporary political culture. (shrink)
In reply to the contributions to Social Imaginaries vol. 4, no. 1, this article reviews the development of the research programme that the author has been pursuing over more than three decades. It places the emphasis on the conceptual and methodological requirements for a historicalsociology of social change. It insists, on the one hand, on the need to avoid overly strong conceptual presuppositions to analyze social phenomena of large scale and long duration, while, on the other hand, (...) sustaining the notion that a minimum of social and political philosophy as well as philosophy of history is necessary to comprehend the ways in which history is directed. Further emphasis is given to the difficulties that arise when studying social phenomena before 1800 and outside Europe, due to the strong epistemic impact European global domination has had since the “great divergence” at around 1800. The article concludes with reflections on the adequate kind of conceptual distinctions that are needed when analyzing large-scale phenomena such as “societies” as well as on the link between scholarly work and a critical, action-oriented diagnosis of the present time. (shrink)
Law and the Formation of Modern Europe explores processes of legal construction in both the national and supranational domains, and it provides an overview of the modern European legal order. In its supranational focus, it examines the sociological pressures which have given rise to European public law, the national origins of key transnational legal institutions and the elite motivations driving the formation of European law. In its national focus, it addresses legal questions and problems which have assumed importance in parallel (...) fashion in different national societies, and which have shaped European law more indirectly. Examples of this are the post-1914 transformation of classical private law, the rise of corporatism, the legal response to the post-1945 legacy of authoritarianism, the emergence of human rights law and the growth of judicial review. This two-level sociological approach to European law results in unique insights into the dynamics of national and supranational legal formation. (shrink)