Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

A. PRIMITIVE POLITICAL SYSTEMS

CHAPTER II

The Embedment of the Political
in Social Structure in Primitive Societies:
Introduction

I

The fascination with primitive political systems is of long standing in the history of political and social thought and theory, and has its roots in the assumed equivalence between primitive and elementary. It was often believed, or tacitly assumed, that in a simple society, the simplest, most basic elements of social behavior and relations in general and of political behavior and relations in particular can be discerned and that it is there that the basic nature of pure politics has remained unadulterated by any additions derived from the accumulation of more complex superstructures. This assertion or assumption may seem rather paradoxical, as it has been quite obvious that primitive (or simple) societies are, by definition, the least differentiated or specialized. Hence, they lack also any highly developed and centralized political institution; or, to use a very widespread term, they are "stateless." 1

But in some ways it was indeed this simplicity or statelessness of primitive societies that seemed to justify their special importance for political and sociological analysis. In older evolutionary theories, it was believed that it is in the transition from the stateless to the first states, in situations of so-called "origin of the state," that this pure essence of politics could be found and fully analyzed. This view equated this pure essence of politics or of state with exploitation in general and with conquest in particular and with the possibility of accumulating some surplus which can then be exploited and monopolized by the rulers and used by them, in turn, to maintain their coercive powers. The fullest expression of this view could be found in Franz Oppenheimer's famous The State. 2 It was, however, also very widespread among many sociologists and anthropologists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This assumption tended to persist, even if in a modified way, among modern approaches, too, such as those of Sahlins, Diamond, and Krader, 3 who do not fully accept such simple evolutionary or historical views. Among other scholars it was the very lack of full-fledged political institutions in primitive societies that indeed seemed to make possible the analysis of the pure nature of the political struggle or process, disembedded, as it were, from the "external" paraphernalia of formal political institutions.

In order to be able to evaluate the extent to which these assumptions and approaches contain an element of truth, and hence to evaluate the importance of the analysis of primitive political systems for political sociology, it is necessary to examine them from the point of view of the major problems and criteria of analysis which have been presented above.

-77-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Political Sociology: A Reader
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 632

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.