Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X

The Social Conditions of Political
Modernization

INTRODUCTION
TO THE READINGS

This chapter deals with the broad social-structural conditions of modernization that create the basic propensity to change in modern societies. The first section is devoted to the analysis of the structural conditions of modern societies and the spread of political participation.

The excerpt from Weber explains the crucial importance of representation as one of the specific mechanisms through which the center and the periphery are linked in modern societies. At the same time it shows the fragility of this link from the point of view of the institutional stability of modern political regimes.

The excerpt from de Tocqueville stresses the importance of equality in its different structural aspects—as related to property and family tradition —for the crystallization of the modern sociopolitical order.

Deutsch's article spells out the broad structural‐ demographic characteristics of modernization with emphasis on the process of "social mobilization."

Rokkan's contribution analyzes the structural implication of the different types of extensions of suffrage for the creation of the conditions for modernization and sustained change.

The article by Bellah stresses the propensity to systemic transformation and to sustained change which is, as we have seen, central to the understanding of modernization. Bellah underlines the cultural roots and problems of this tendency.

The second section of the chapter deals with the process of elite formation. This is one of the broad structural conditions of modernization, and, as we have seen above special importance is to be attached to it.

Aron's article analyzes the differences between the ruling class—the elite—and the social class in different types of modern societies, while Shils's stresses the importance of intellectuals in the formation of modernity.

The articles by Walzer, Smith, Benda, and Weiner analyze different types of modernizing elites in different periods and situations of modernization.

Walzer analyzes one of the first of such elites, the Protestant (especially Calvinist) intellectual elite, which was certainly not modernizing in intent but only in consequence. The importance of this elite for modernization was originally stressed in Weber's famous Protestant Ethic thesis.

Smith analyzes the unusual case of the relatively successful modernizing aristocratic-oligarchic elite that guided the transition to modernity in Japan.

Benda analyzes the emergence of intellectual elites in Southeast Asia and the problems which they face —and which they pose for their societies by virtue of their being almost the only modernizing elite in their setting.

The article by Weiner presents an analysis of the development of new types of political elite in one of the relatively most stable of New States— India.

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