M. J. JR. LEVY L. A. FALLERS
In order to carry out comparative analysis, one clearly requires concepts on the most general level which are applicable to any society. The concept "family" is commonly used in this way; that is, it is commonly assumed that in every society there is something called "the family." We feel, however, that the concept as it is most often used is ill-adapted to comparative analysis. It is usually assumed, either implicitly or explicitly, that in every society there is a single social unit, which is invariably associated with certain functions. It may even be assumed that this unit is everywhere structurally the same.
Now progress in the field of comparative analysis of societies has regularly involved clearer distinction between structure and function and between concrete social units and analytically distinguishable aspects of such units ( Levy 1952). The political field provides a case in point. The term "political system" in its common-sense Western meaning refers to a series of specialized concrete social units (bureaucracies, legislatures, courts, parties) with particular structural forms (hierarchical in the case of bureaucracies, collegial in the case of legislatures, and so on) and having particular functions with regard to the exercise of power and authority (adjudicating disputes, making comparatively. On the one hand, by this definition many societies simply decisions, securing consent). However, a concept like this is of little use do not have "political systems." In many societies a single social unit--perhaps a unilineal kinship group--may combine the functions of "church," "state," and "firm" and it will very likely differ greatly in structure from any of the specialized political units characteristic of the modern West. On the____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Readings on the Changing Family. Contributors: David A. Schulz - Editor, Robert A. Wilson - Editor. Publisher: Prentice-Hall. Place of publication: Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Publication year: 1973. Page number: 41.
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