Following the seminal contributions of Marx, Tocqueville, Durkheim, and Weber, the field of political sociology is in some...

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POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY

Following the seminal contributions of Marx, Tocqueville, Durkheim, and Weber, the field of political sociology is in some disarray, with the boundary between it and political science unclear. British sociologist Bottomore (Sociology as Social Criticism, Marxist Sociology, etc.) tries to provide some cohesion on the level of a college introductory text, but young scholars are likely to be confused nonetheless. Bottomore first explains that there are different theoretical approaches to the study of power in society (his definition of political sociology). He then lines up these approaches as oppositions between theories that focus on conflict and those that emphasize harmony; those that assume that politics forms a sphere independent of society and those that don't; etc. When he shifts to discussing topics, however, Bottomore takes elements from each of these approaches and synthesizes them without regard to their mutually exclusive orientation. An example is his discussion of democracy, where he gives the Marxist view that democracy is a product of transformations in the social sphere, and also the opinion of Schumpeter that democracy is merely a technical means for the choice of elites. For Bottomore, both views contribute to the study of democracy--which indicates that political sociology hasn't gotten very far in the study of democracy. Other topics similarly covered are political parties, social classes, types of political systems, and nationalism, while the concluding chapter deals with the current hot topic in political sociology, the ""crisis of legitimacy"" of the modern state occasioned by economic stagnation. Bottomore's pluralist approach gives up in methodological rigor what it gains in superficial breadth.

Pub Date: Feb. 27, 1980

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1980