By W. G. Runciman
This moment of 3 volumes units out a normal account of the constitution and evolution of human societies. the writer argues first that societies are to be outlined as units of roles whose incumbents are opponents for entry to, or keep an eye on of, the technique of construction, persuasion and coercion; and moment, that the method through which societies evolve is one in all aggressive choice of the practices during which roles are outlined analagous, yet no longer reducible, to usual choice. He illustrates and assessments those theses with proof drawn from the full diversity of societies documented within the historic and ethnographic checklist. the result's an unique, strong and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological thought on the way to give the chance to do for the class and research of societies what Darwin and his successors have performed for the type and research of species.
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Additional info for A Treatise on Social Theory, Volume 2
Indeed, it is in some contexts more plausible to regard persons as themselves creating, as they move up or down the structure, the roles which they then come to occupy. Nor are these the only distinctions which need to be drawn before the movement upwards or downwards of persons and/or roles within the space of the inverted pyramid can be reported to the satisfaction of all rival observers. * For another thing, some persons other than children may have only derivative or 'secondary•' rather than 'basic' rank:f many women, in particular, may have a location defined only by that of their husbands (and sometimes vice versa).
But once again, there is no warrant to treat either as privileged over the other. The reason for distinguishing separate systacts in the first place is that lines have to be drawn wherever the researcher finds significant differences in the power attaching to the roles of definable groups or categories of people. Whether this leads to an emphasis on culture or structure will depend on what he finds. Indeed, even where a cultural criterion seems appropriate (as, say, in a form of social organization based on strict but informal rules of commensalism and endogamy) it is pertinent to ask about the pattern of status-group distribution in social space; and even where a structural criterion seems appropriate (as, say, in a form of social organization based on legally sanctioned barriers to mobility) it is pertinent to ask about the content of the rules which give the behaviour justifying the metaphor of a physical barrier its meaning.
It may be that in all societies there are some people so impervious to the rules of the institutions that govern them and the sanctions and inducements available to sustain them that they can hardly be counted as members of their society at all. But they cannot be other than a minority. If the entire population become anchorites, there is no mode of production; if every citizen takes the same view of government as the ' Professor' in Conrad's The Secret Agent (who said he was prepared to blow himself up, if arrested, by setting off a device attached permanently to his person, and was believed by the police when he said so), there is no mode of coercion; and if nobody shares standards of social worth, legitimacy or merit with anybody else, there is no mode of persuasion.