Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview
as developed by Parsons and Linton respectively. I shall also make use of the idea of an "association" as a very general term for social structures like business firms, hospitals, governmental agencies, etc., which have delimited functions and are largely ruled by norm of universalism and achievement.
5.
Harvard University Press (for London School of Economics), 1954.
6.
I restrict myself here to gumsa organization. There is a different form (gumlao).
7.
Leach omits this last point from his list but from other evidence in his monograph I conclude he did it through oversight.
8.
M. Fortes and E. E. Evans-Pritchard (eds.), African Political Systems (New York, 1940), p. 275.
9.
E. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer (Oxford, 1954), pp. 211 ff.
10.
The typology of societies was developed at some length in the SSRC conference presentation from which this paper derives.
11.
S. F. Nadel's A Black Byzantium (Oxford, 1942) gives a good picture of this kind of structure in a Nigerian kingdom. I have also found instruction in Funck-Brentano's account of French villages before 1789, The Old Regime in France (London, 1929), Ch. VIII, and in Marian W. Smith's picture of the integration of Indian villages into wider political structures (American Anthropologist, LIV, 1952), pp. 41-56. "Federative" is perhaps too loose a term for what I have in mind; where there is a centralized "capital," the solidarity is radial and there is motivated opposition among the points (village committees) at the periphery.
12.
Cf. the survey of the backgrounds of parliamentary representatives in various European countries (including the Soviet Union) by Mattei Dogan, L'origine sociale du personnel parliamentaire dans l'Est et l'Ouest de l'Europe (Transactions of 2nd World Congress of Sociology, 1954, II, pp. 175-179).
13.
On this latter see the paper by Bottomore, pp. 143‐ 153 in the Transactions just cited.

9
A Developmental Approach to Political Systems

Gabriel A. Almond


The Capabilities of Political Systems

More than four decades ago when Max Weber delivered his lecture on "Politics as a Calling," he discouraged us from thinking of politics in terms of performance. He told us:

... The state cannot be defined in terms of its ends. There is scarcely any task that some political association has not taken in hand, and there is no task that has always been exclusive and peculiar to political associations.... Ultimately, we can define the modern state only in terms of the specific means peculiar to it ... namely, the use of physical force. 1

Contemporary empirical political theory tends to follow Weber in its stress on power and process, the "who" and the "how" of politics. It emphasizes two questions: (1) Who makes decisions? (2) How are decisions made?2 The performance of political systems tends to be inferred from structure and process or evaluated according to moral and ideological norms. When we introduce the concept of capabili‐

ties, their development and transformation, we explicitly add two more questions to the "who?" and the "how?" The first of these is what impact does the political system have, what does it do, in its domestic and international environments? And the second question is, what impact does the society and the international environment have on the political system?

Parsons comes closer to meeting the needs of the contemporary political theorist when he speaks of the function of the polity as that of the "... mobilization of societal resources and their commitment for the attainment of collective goals, for the formation and implementation of 'public policy.' " 3 Francis Sutton similarly emphasizes the importance of the functions of political systems in their social and international environments, stressing integration for the internal environment and representation for the international. 4 The development of the concept of the capabilities of political systems represents a pursuit of these leads, but we have had to go farther in specifying types of relationships between the political system and its environments, for "goal attainment," "integration," and "representation" must be broken down into their components, and these elements treated as continua, if we are to be able to

____________________
From Gabriel A. Almond, "A Developmental Approach to Political Systems," World Politics, XVII (April 1965), 195‐ 203. This excerpt from a longer article has been reprinted by permission of the publisher.

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