Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics

By Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER I
The Sociology of Politics1

ONE of political sociology's prime concerns is an analysis of the social conditions making for democracy. Surprising as it may sound, a stable democracy requires the manifestation of conflict or cleavage so that there will be struggle over ruling positions, challenges to parties in power, and shifts of parties in office; but without consensus -- a political system allowing the peaceful "play" of power, the adherence by the "outs" to decisions made by the "ins," and the recognition by the "ins" of the rights of the "outs" -- there can be no democracy. The study of the conditions encouraging democracy must therefore focus on the sources of both cleavage and consensus.

Cleavage -- where it is legitimate -- contributes to the integration of societies and organizations. Trade-unions, for example, help to integrate their members in the larger body politic and give them a basis for loyalty to the system. Marx's focus on unions and work

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1
A number of bibliographic reports dealing with political sociology and political behavior research may be of interest. A few recent bibliographic reports dealing with politics are: R. Bendix and S. M. Lipset, "Political Sociology -- A Trend Report and Bibliography," Current Sociology, 6 ( 1957), pp. 79-169; Joseph R. Gusfield, The Sociology of Politics, in Joseph B. Gittler , ed., Review of Sociology ( New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1957), pp. 520-30. Compendia of important research are: Robert E. Lane, Political Life ( Glencoe: The Free Press, 1959) and Heinz Eulau, Samuel J. Eldersveld , and Morris Janowitz, eds., Political Behavior ( Glencoe: The Free Press, 1956).

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