Social Structure and Mobility in Economic Development

By Neil J. Smelser; Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

4
PRE-INDUSTRIAL STRATIFICATION SYSTEMS

M. G. SMITH, University of California, Los Angeles

SOCIETIES that rely primarily on human or animal sources of productive power are usually regarded as "pre-industrial." This label involves no expectations about their future. Although pre-industrial societies vary greatly in their structure and developmental level, at this stage we need only distinguish traditional pre-industrial societies from the "national" units in which they are currently incorporated. Even when both these units are equally pre-industrial, they differ sharply in structure, boundaries and orientation. Industrialization appeals to few traditional preindustrial societies as a desirable programme. To "national" pre-industrial societies, it may be a structural necessity, and in emergent nations, industrialization is always a national programme, even where its impact on local units is greatest.


THE PROBLEM OF STRATIFICATION

The nature of stratification is more complex and critical for our discussion. The common distinction between concrete and analytic structures, that is, between membership units and generalized aspects of social process,1 suggests parallel distinctions between analytic and concrete concepts of stratification. Since the approach presented here differs from others in current use, I should try to indicate these differences at once.

Stratification is often conceived as the evaluative ranking of social units. Some theorists regard it as an abstract necessity of all social systems. Concretely, it refers to empirical distributions of advantages

____________________
1
Marion J. Levy Jr., The Structure of Society ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1952), pp. 88-89.

-141-

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