Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics

By Seymour Martin Lipset | Go to book overview

FOREWORD

EVER since the term sociology was first applied to the systematic study of social relationships, the analysis of political processes and institutions has been one of its most important concerns. No sociologist can conceive of a study of society that does not include the political system as a major part of the analysis. And many political scientists, particularly in recent years, have argued, sometimes with others in their own field, that it is impossible to study political processes except as special cases of more general sociological and psychological relationships. The increasing collaboration, as well as the acceptance of common concepts and methods, among those studying political behavior within the fields of political science, sociology, psychology, and anthropology (each of the latter three now having a recognized sub-discipline dealing with politics) is new evidence of the basic unity of the social sciences. The study of man in society cannot fruitfully be compartmentalized according to substantive concerns.

This book is intended for a number of audiences: people generally interested in politics, academic analysts, students, and practitioners. Some readers will be predominantly concerned with the causes and consequences of political behavior; others, with the theoretical and methodological problems of the academic discipline. I trust that both groups will be satisfied by the package presented here: some of the methodological discussions have been placed in appendixes to chapters (see Chapters II and XII), so that those less interested in such matters may skip them.

The main problem with which this book deals is democracy as a characteristic of social systems. The principal topics discussed are the conditions necessary for democracy in societies and organizations; the factors which affect men's participation in politics, particularly their behavior as voters; and the sources of support for values and movements which sustain or threaten democratic institutions.

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