First Lectures in Political Sociology

First Lectures in Political Sociology

First Lectures in Political Sociology

First Lectures in Political Sociology

Excerpt

The materials of political science are so vast in scope and unlimited in detail as to depress a beginning student in search of generalities. Yet his political studies may benefit from an early understanding of certain key ideas. It is to political sociology that we may resort for this purpose, for political sociology treats of the social foundations of politics. It asks and gives answers to a number of questions the essential comprehension of which is the preliminary to further study of political behavior, political institutions, and public law.

Among the basic questions it considers are: What is the relation between economics and politics? How do economics, politics, and religious ideologies interact and affect one another? To what extent does the social configuration of society--its classes, occupations, and levels of opportunity-- permeate and condition political activities? Where does political power reside and how is it wielded? What general social changes are occurring and what political changes are associated with them? And who are the political leaders and what are their origins?

Possessed of general answers to these questions, even though they be valid only for the time being, a student of political science gains certain advantages. He can reject or shed a volume of the data that crowds him from all quarters, holding it to be irrelevant or superfluous. He can relate the data he retains to categories which are intellectually useful and capable of being remembered. He can guard himself against the dangers of one-sidedness, the curse of narrowly trained and formally preoccupied minds. He can congratulate himself that he is being realistic, escaping the accusing "qu'importe?" of critical laymen and scholars alike. He can . . .

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