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Sociology Political Sociology
by
Jeff Manza

Introduction

Political sociology is the study of power and the relationship between societies, states, and political conflict. It is a broad subfield that straddles political science and sociology, with “macro” and “micro” components. The macrofocus has centered on questions about nation-states, political institutions and their development, and the sources of social and political change (especially those involving large-scale social movements and other forms of collective action). Here, researchers have asked “big” questions about how and why political institutions take the form that they do, and how and when they undergo significant change. The micro orientation, by contrast, examines how social identities and groups influence individual political behavior, such as voting, attitudes, and political participation. While both the macro- and micro-areas of political sociology overlap with political science, the distinctive focus of political sociologists is less on the internal workings or mechanics of the political system and more on the underlying social forces that shape the political system. Political sociology can trace its origins to the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, and Max Weber, among others, but it only emerged as a separate subfield within sociology after World War II. Many of the landmark works of the 1950s and 1960s centered on microquestions about the impact of class, religion, race/ethnicity, or education on individual and group-based political behavior. Beginning in the 1970s, political sociologists increasingly turned toward macrotopics, such as understanding the sources and consequences of revolutions, the role of political institutions in shaping political outcomes, and large-scale comparative-historical studies of state development. Today both micro- and macroscholarship can be found in political sociology.

Textbooks

For beginning students, several introductory political sociology textbooks provide a more basic entrée to the field. While covering much of the same ground, these also vary somewhat in topics emphasized or covered. The most comprehensive introductory work, rare for giving significant attention to both micro- and macrotraditions in political sociology while still providing a discussion of theoretical classics, is that of Orum and Dale 2009. Neuman 2008 provides a comprehensive introduction to the field in terms of topics treated (although giving relatively little attention to microquestions). Nash 2007 focuses on globalization, gender dynamics, and political change. Lachmann (2010) provides a historically grounded introduction to the rise of states and the relationship between states and domestic power structures.

  • Lachmann, Richard. 2010. States and power. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010.

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    A wide-ranging survey of the rise of modern states across five continents, with a special focus on war-making and taxation that provides a key introduction to the macro-tradition in political sociology.

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  • Nash, Kate. 2007. Contemporary political sociology: Globalization, politics, and power. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell.

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    Focuses on gender issues and globalization factors, as well as examining how culture impacts politics, and how cultural analysis might be brought into political sociology.

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  • Neuman, W. Lawrence. 2008. Power, state, and society: An introduction to political sociology. Waveland.

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    Covers a wider range of topics than do other textbooks and introductions to political sociology, although it gives little attention to microquestions. Includes a chapter on the political sociology of policymaking.

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  • Orum, Anthony, and John G. Dale. 2009. Political sociology: Power and participation in the modern world. 5th ed. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    A strong single volume introduction to the field that covers classical theoretical writings in political sociology, along with both the macro and micro sides of the field. A chapter on urban power describes political sociological work on local contexts. Two chapters on social movements provide an excellent introduction to the field.

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Handbooks

Three handbooks provide thorough scholarly introductions to the main subfields of political sociology. Each contains approximately thirty-five chapters on topics such as political sociological theory, political processes and institutions, political economy, collective action and political change, political culture and civil society. Janoski, et al. 2005 focuses entirely on these substantive topics. Leicht and Jenkins 2010 also contains several chapters on contemporary research methods. Nash, et al. 2011 provides shorter, more pointed essays with more of a European focus than the other two volumes.

  • Janoski, Thomas, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred Schwartz, eds. 2005. The handbook of political sociology. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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    The first handbook of the field to be produced, with thirty-two chapters written by leading scholars in the field. This handbook offers a more theoretical focus (with nine chapters on theoretical approaches in political sociology), and chapters on states and institutional politics, social movements, and political change, with some attention to micro topics (public opinion and voting behavior as well).

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  • Leicht, Kevin, and J. Craig Jenkins. 2010. Handbook of politics: State and society in global perspective. London: Springer.

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    In contrast to Janoski, et al. 2005, this handbook contains more of an empirical focus and provides chapters on some newer topics, such as environmental politics, political violence, spatial politics, transnational politics, and some older questions that have been less often discussed in recent years (such as elites and politics; there are several chapters on culture and politics). Also includes five chapters on methodological approaches.

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  • Nash, Kate, Alan Scott, and Edwin Amenta eds. 2011. The Blackwell companion to political sociology. 2d ed. Cambridge, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

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    While covering some of the same ground as do the other two handbooks, this handbook includes chapters that cover theoretical traditions and topics that have been more central to European political sociology than the American books.

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Data Sources

Rich and increasingly accessible data for studying public opinion and voting behavior abound. For comparative research, the most important sources are the International Social Survey Programme (ISSP) and the World Values Survey. For ongoing surveys of social and political attitudes, the General Social Survey (GSS) in the United States provides a rich source of survey data on social and political attitudes in the United States. Election data drawn from surveys of individual voters are conducted in virtually all democratic countries these days, but for academic research national election studies modeled on the American National Election Studies provide the best data available from surveys conducted by academic research institutes. An invaluable international collection of such research is housed at the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems. For examples of national election data sources, see the American National Election Studies (ANES). Further data archives for research on individual-level voting behavior and public opinion are available at the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR). For data on campaign finance and political lobbying in the United States, the Center for Responsive Politics provides an invaluable resource drawn from publicly available records of the Federal Election Commission. For data on party platforms and political manifestos, see the Manifesto Project.

  • American National Election Studies (ANES).

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    Established by the National Science Foundation in 1977, ANES is the premier source of data on voting, public opinion, and political participation in the United States. Based on a nationally representative sample of adults, it includes time-series data from pre- and postelection studies conducted in every presidential year since 1948, and postelection studies in every congressional election year.

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    • Center for Responsive Politics.

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      A nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit research group dedicated to tracking the flow of money into the American political system. The organization’s website maintains the most comprehensive database of information available on campaign contributions and lobbying data. It also provides news and real-time analysis on a variety of issues.

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    • Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.

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      Collaborative research effort by national election study teams from more than fifty countries. Each participating country includes a common public opinion survey module in its postelection survey and reports district- and “macro”-level data for each respondent that allows researchers to perform cross-national and multilevel analyses.

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      • General Social Survey (GSS).

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        The second most analyzed source of data in the social sciences in the United States after the US Census, the GSS has documented Americans’ changing social attitudes through a full-probability, personal-interview survey since 1972. Some key topics include “civil liberties, crime and violence, intergroup tolerance, morality, national spending priorities, psychological well-being, social mobility, and stress and traumatic events.” The website has easy-to-use tools for beginning users.

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        • International Social Survey Programme (ISSP).

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          An invaluable resource for cross-national research, the ISSP, begun in 1985, coordinates surveys currently being fielded in forty-three countries. Member countries field a topical module survey every year, drafted by member organizations from each country. The surveys are designed to be relevant and accessible to respondents across all countries. Recent topics include the role of government, religion, sports and leisure activities, social inequality, and the environment, with plans to study health and family and gender roles in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

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        • Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR).

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          ICPSR is a major social-science data repository that includes a huge number of datasets for use in social and political analysis.

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          • Manifesto Project.

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            Since 1989, this project of the Social Science Research Center Berlin has performed quantitative content analyses of party manifestos from fifty parliamentary democracies. In total, they have data on all parliamentary parties participating in democratic elections since 1945 for each country.

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            • World Values Survey.

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              An international network of social scientists who have collected data on the values and beliefs of citizens from more than eighty countries. There have been five waves of data collection (1981, 1990–1991, 1995–1996, 1999–2001 and 2005–2007), with a sixth wave planned for 2010–2012. Since 1995, coverage has been extended to a wider range of non-Western societies and developing democracies.

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            Journals

            Microlevel political sociology is found most commonly in various political science journals, as well as general sociological journals. Macropolitical sociology is published more frequently in a handful of journals with substantial political sociology content, including Politics and Society, Theory and Society, Research in Political Sociology, and Political Power and Social Theory. More specialized journals in smaller subfields of political sociology include social movements (e.g., Mobilization), media and communications (e.g., Political Communication, public opinion (Public Opinion Quarterly), and comparative-historical studies (Comparative Studies in Society and History).

            Classic Works

            The ancient political philosophers (Plato, Aristotle) had important observations about political life, but the classic origins of political sociology lie in the works of Locke (Locke 2002) and Rousseau (Rousseau 2003) (and Hobbes before them). The subfield can trace its modern origins to the writings of Karl Marx, Max Weber, and Alexis de Tocqueville. Marx’s contributions are somewhat inseparable from his broader contributions to the emergence of modern political economy, but his political writings linking class development to political conflicts in France constitute some of the first pieces of what we would now recognize as political sociology (Marx and Engels 1978). The same could be said of de Tocqueville’s analysis of American society and politics in the 1830s (Tocqueville 2003). Weber’s incomparable writings introduced the power of comparative-historical analysis and a range of concepts (legitimate authority, bureaucracy, and status group struggle) to the modern canon (Weber 1978). Contemporary classics listed here both laid the foundation for contemporary debates and remain essential reading today. Polanyi’s writings on the relationship between states and markets remains foundational in both economic and political sociology (Polanyi 2001). Moore’s classical study of the different pathways to authoritarian and democratic governance established the logic of comparative-historical political sociology, and established theories about revolutions important for that topic (Moore 1993). Finally, largely because of its influence in political science generally, and because the subfield of political sociology has frequently been oriented against some of its animating positions, the classic work Downs 1997, which develops an economic model of politics, should be read.

            • Downs, Anthony. 1997. An economic theory of democracy. New York: Addison-Wesley.

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              The foundational work in the economic analysis of politics, introducing a version of rational choice theory that has remained deeply influential. The focus is mostly on voting and parties, but the insights have been readily applied to the study of bureaucracies and legislatures in later work. Originally published in 1957.

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            • Locke, John. 2002. The second treatise of government and A letter concerning toleration. Mineola, NY: Dover.

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              Locke’s classical theory of civil liberties and civil society as an alternative to the divine right of kings as the foundation of political order. This edition also includes his Letter, a further statement of the importance of civil liberties and civil society. The notion of the “social contract” is a key foundation of liberal political theory. Originally published in 1690.

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            • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Marx-Engels reader. 1978. 2d ed. Translated and edited by Robert Tucker. New York: Norton.

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              The Tucker edition of Marx’s work, including those written in collaboration with Friedrich Engels, remains an excellent source of Marx’s key writings. For political sociologists, key works include The Communist Manifesto (pp. 469–501), his preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (pp. 3–6), The German Ideology (pp. 146–203), and The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (pp. 594–618). Works originally published between 1844 and 1883.

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            • Moore, Barrington. 1993. TThe social origins of dictatorship and democracy: Lord and peasant in the making of the modern world. Boston: Beacon.

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              Classical comparative-historical treatment of two types of modern governance: authoritarian and democratic. Modern political systems arise through the interaction of social struggles (including revolutions) and the institutions they give rise to. Of lasting importance was Moore’s focus on the relationship between states and dominant economic classes in shaping the pathways toward democratic capitalism, fascism, or communism. Originally published in 1966.

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            • Polanyi, Karl. 2001. The great transformation: The political and economic origins of our time. Boston: Beacon.

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              Polanyi’s great analysis of the social and political foundations of markets makes the strong case for the broader relevance of political sociology and the study of states and social forces. Originally published in 1944.

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            • Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. 2003. On the social contract. Mineola, NY: Dover.

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              Rousseau’s classical statement of the sources of political inequality, famously derived from a vision of a “state of nature” in which individuals are hypothetically free of political constraint. Originally published in 1944.

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            • Tocqueville, Alexis de. 2003. Democracy in America. New York: Penguin.

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              Tocqueville’s classic study of American society, a monumental achievement that provides several key foundations for political sociology. It provides a remarkably sophisticated analysis of the role of individualism and egalitarian beliefs in American political life, themes that continue to be debated today. It also closely examines the connections between American ideals and institutions, another set of questions that have influenced political sociologists. Finally, it provides a landmark contribution in subjecting democratic governance to empirical scrutiny. Originally published in 1835.

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            • Weber, Max. 1978. Economy and society: An outline of interpretive sociology. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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              Weber’s masterwork, a collection of various studies and theoretical writings, published posthumously and reprinted in an outstanding edition here with a valuable biographical essay by Guenther Roth. Key sections for political sociologists include “The Types of Legitimate Domination” (pp. 212–301), “Political Communities” (pp. 901–940, “Bureaucracy” (pp. 956–1005), and “Patriarchalism and Patrimonialism” (pp. 1006–1069). Weber’s other fundamental contribution to political sociology, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, is not included here, but it too is of foundational importance. Originally published in 1922.

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            Power

            Political sociology’s central questions revolve around problems of power and authority. For both Karl Marx and Max Weber, political systems were first and foremost defined by the ways in which power is distributed and exercised. While contemporary scholarly writings on “power” can be found in several sociological subfields, in political sociology several debates have been especially important. The classic postwar debate was between “pluralists” (Dahl 2005) and “power elite” analysts (e.g., Mills 2000; see also Domhoff 2009). More recent theoretical contributions have sought to transcend these debates by recognizing the operation of power at multiple levels of conflict (Lukes 2004). Mann’s multivolume history of power (Mann 1986–1993) attempts to reconstruct the evolution of power across ideological, economic, military, and political realms. The writings on power in Foucault 1980 provide a necessary backdrop for current debates; Gorski 2003 offers a modern and empirically driven reinterpretation of the rise of the modern state that elegantly synthesizes Foucault and Weber. Clegg 1989 and Wrong 1996 are useful overviews and summaries of the ongoing debates on power, while Domhoff 2009 provides an updated statement of the author’s “power elite” perspective.

            • Clegg, Stewart. Frameworks of power. 1989. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.

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              A well-regarded textbook that approaches power from an organizational angle, distinguishing “micro” and “macro” approaches, situating the problem of power in organizational contexts. Includes detailed discussions of the major classic and contemporary theorists of power.

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            • Dahl, Robert. 2005. Who governs? Democracy and power in an American city. 2d ed. Yale Studies in Political Science 4. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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              The classical statement of the pluralist model of government, with empirical application drawn from a study of local political conflict in New Haven, Connecticut. Originally published in 1961.

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            • Domhoff, G. William. 2009. Who rules America? Challenges to corporate and class dominance. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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              A classic work in the power elite tradition, with significant empirical foundation in analysis of the corporate community and interlocking social networks, the policy-planning community, and the effort to control/influence public opinion. A comprehensive theory of political power in the United States that incorporates insights about entrance into the social upper class by individual actors through to the composition of governing elites.

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            • Foucault, Michel. 1980. Power/knowledge: Selected interviews and other writings, 1972–1977. New York: Pantheon.

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              The French social theorist Michel Foucault’s classic writings on power have been widely influential across the social sciences and are a necessary starting point for work in this area. This work is a collection of essays and lectures that provide a good sense of Foucault’s thinking about power.

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            • Gorski, Philip. 2003. The disciplinary revolution: Calvinism and the rise of the state in early modern Europe. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              A study of the rise of the modern state in Europe that synthesizes Foucault and Weber to develop an understanding of the critical role of social discipline in enabling states to exert power by means other than force.

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            • Lukes, Steven. 2004. Power: A radical view. 2d ed. New York: Macmillan.

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              Influential essays on the “three faces” of power: visible and overt struggles, power to set the agenda, and power to influence other actors. Lukes’s original essay on power, published in 1974, has become a classic in the field. It goes beyond the pluralism/power elite conflict to specify how power operates in different ways at different levels of analysis.

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            • Mann, Michael. 1986–1993. The sources of social power. 2 vols. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Sweeping historical study in two volumes, positing four distinct types of social power: ideological, economic, military, and political. Varying across time and space, social power arises and evolves across each of these four domains. Mann plays particular attention to “extensive” power (the ability to project power across space), and “intensive” power (the ability to control citizens within a given territory).

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            • Mills, C. Wright. 2000. The power elite. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Classic statement about power in America, arguing that a narrow group of powerful actors dominates the political process. Originally published in 1956.

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            • Wrong, Dennis. 1996. Power: Its forms, bases, and uses". New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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              Distinguishes between forms of power (authority, persuasion, force) and the social contexts in which power arises (such as through political mobilization or individual resources). Goes beyond questions of political power to consider the “micro-politics” of parent-child relationships.

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            The State

            Research on “the state” is perhaps the most widely studied topic in political sociology over the past three decades. While analysts differ somewhat in how they characterize and define the permanent institutions of the state, debates have centered on the degree of “autonomy” of the nation-state (Nordlinger 1981) versus its “embedded” character in broader social and class structures (Block 1987) and the impact of globalization on the state (Schinkel 2009). Marxist theories of the state highlight the links between economic forces and political outcomes (see Jessop 1991 for a sympathetic review and van den Berg 2003 for a critical one). “New” or “historical” institutionalists, by contrast, focus on state policies as they reflect previous institutional developments and “path dependence,” in which outcomes at one point shape the possibilities for future political change (for reviews, see Pierson and Skocpol 2002). “Power resource” theorists of the state emphasize the balance of class forces in shaping state policy (Hicks and Esping-Andersen 2005). Mueller 2003 provides an introduction to “public choice” theories, an important alternative model of the state from the perspective of neoliberal economic theory. Alford and Friedland 1985 provides a comprehensive and exhaustive general overview of the “state debate” in political sociology from the classics through the mid-1980s.

            • Alford, Robert, and Roger Friedland. 1985. Powers of theory: Capitalism, the state, and democracy. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Comprehensive and authoritative summary of state theories through the mid-1980s that provides a thorough discussion of pluralist, “managerial,” and class perspectives on the capitalist state.

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            • Block, Fred. 1987. Revising state theory: Essays in politics and postindustrialism. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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              A collection of essays that develop a middle ground between those who champion “state autonomy” and those who believe that states are completely determined by economic forces.

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            • Hicks, Alexander and Gosta Esping-Andersen. 2005.Comparative and historical studies of public policy and the welfare state. In Handbook of political sociology. Edited by Thomas Janoski, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred Schwartz, 509–525. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Overview of the power resources model in relation to other theories of the welfare state.

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            • Jessop, Bob. 1991. State theory: Putting the capital state in its place. University Park: Penn State Univ. Press.

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              Reviews theories of the state from a Marxist perspective, exploring the contexts in which states develop limited forms of autonomy to protect the underlying economic structures of capitalism.

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            • Mueller, Dennis. 2003. Public choice III. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Public choice theory was developed by economists trying to understand how citizens and states pursue their own interests through the public sector, and how democracies may lead to suboptimal outcomes. Although not widely discussed by political sociologists, this body of work constitutes a major alternative model of the state. This book provides a comprehensive and authoritative presentation of public choice theories.

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            • Nordlinger, Eric. 1981. On the autonomy of the democratic state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              The author argues that if states in democratic polities with strong civil societies can retain a high degree of autonomy, state autonomy is likely to be even stronger in other types of societies. Develops a theoretical typology of different types of state autonomy, ranging from strong to weak. Although the empirical foundations of the book have not been borne out by later work, it continues to provide an important statement of the state autonomy position.

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            • Pierson, Paul, and Theda Skocpol. 2002.Historical institutionalism in contemporary political science. In Political science: The state of the discipline. Edited by Ira Katznelson and Helen V. Milner, 693–721. New York: Norton.

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              Summary of recent work on historical institutionalism by the two leading practitioners. Covers methodological questions relating to path dependence and the role of timing and sequence in the development of public institutions.

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            • Schinkel, Willem, ed. 2009. Globalization and the state: Sociological perspectives on the state of the state. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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              Contains chapters by political sociologists and social theorists debating various aspects of the impact of globalization on the state, focused especially on the increasing role of punishment in the pantheon of state activities.

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            • van den Berg, Axel. 2003. The imminent utopia: From Marxism on the state to the state of Marxism. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.

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              A searching and powerful critique of Marxist theories of the state. The author argues that Marxist theories frequently make untestable claims, or that when the claims are stated in a way that is testable, the results are no different from non-Marxist theories of the state.

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            State Formation

            The focus of theory and empirical research on the state has for a long time been historical, particularly since the 1970s. The study of processes of “state formation” examines how state institutions grow and change over time. Good introductions and overviews of these literatures can be found in Ertman 2005 and Markoff 2005; the typology of state formation and development developed by Poggi 1978 is both a good introduction and remains influential today. Literature on state formation in early modern Europe (cf. 1500–1750) has long been the focus of intensive research effort. Lachmann 2002 provides a neo-Marxist account that centers on the role of economic elites, while Gorski 2003 focuses on religious cultures shape the pattern of state formation. Tilly 1975 focuses on the role of military conflict between states in the shaping of state institutions. The study of how revolutions shape state formation has long held a special place in these debates; see Skocpol’s classic work on state formation after the revolutions in France, Russia, and China (Skocpol 1979). Goodwin 2001 explores the role of successful and failed revolutions in the context of the 20th century.

            • Ertman, Thomas. 2005. State formation and state building in Europe. In Handbook of political sociology. Edited by Thomas Janoski, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred A. Schwartz, 367–383. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Discusses classic theories of state formation (such in the work of Otto Hintze and Max Weber) and the reemergence of scholarship on state formation in the 1970s and 1980s (Perry Anderson, Charles Tilly, Theda Skocpol) through to more recent work.

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            • Goodwin, Jeff. 2001. No other say out: States and revolutionary movements, 1945–1991. Cambridge Studies in Comparative Politics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              An important study of the revolutions in the second half of the 20th century that provides a detailed case analysis for all of the major successful revolutions and other “failed” revolutionary struggles. Chapter 1 provides the most comprehensive introduction to the “statist” tradition in the study of state formation and breakdown.

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            • Gorski, Philip. 2003. The disciplinary revolution: Calvinism and the rise of the state in early modern Europe. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Situates state formation around questions of what the author calls social discipline—the idea that successful state building requires citizens who actively consent to being governed, and that distinct religious traditions can give rise to different patterns of state formation.

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            • Lachmann, Richard. 2002. Capitalists in spite of themselves: Elite conflict and economic transitions in early modern Europe. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              A study of the transition from feudalism to capitalism that provides a synthesis of Marxist and elite theories to account for the divergent pathways in the epochal development of the state in early modern Europe.

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            • Markoff, John. 2005. Transitions to democracy. In Handbook of political sociology. Edited by Thomas Janoski, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred A. Schwartz, 384–403. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Survey of the political sociology of democracy, a particular kind of state-building that has over the past 150 years been a steadily increasing feature of governance across the world. (See section on Democracy).

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            • Poggi, Gianfranco. 1978. The development of the modern state: A sociological introduction. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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              Theoretically informed typology and analysis of different state types: feudalism, the “standestaat,” absolutism, and modern states.

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            • Skocpol, Theda. 1979. States and social revolutions: A comparative analysis of France, Russia, and China. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Landmark and widely influential statement about the centrality of the “autonomy” of states as a critical variable for understanding revolutionary outcomes and postrevolutionary state building. Perhaps the single most widely cited work of political sociology over the past four decades.

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            • Tilly, Charles. 1975.Reflections on the history of European state-making. In The formation of sation-states in western Europe. Edited by Charles Tilly, 3–83. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              An early version of Tilly’s work on the importance of military conflict in the rise of the nation-state.

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            Welfare State

            The most widely debated aspects of contemporary states are the forms of social provision provided by governments to citizens. These “welfare state” programs include both social insurance programs that protect individuals against specific threats and “welfare” programs that seek to reduce poverty. Welfare-state programs may have universal eligibility (where all citizens individuals qualify for benefits), or they may be “means” -tested programs that provide benefits only to poor citizens. The political sociology of the welfare state has focused on three questions: (1) what social, economic, and political factors give rise to the welfare state in the first place, and how do these factors vary cross-nationally or over time? (2) how do welfare states differ in terms of the benefits they provide and the impact of those benefits on society? and (3) what is the fate of welfare states in an era of globalization? Two major competing theoretical traditions currently frame debates about the welfare state: the “power resources” model represented in Esping-Andersen 1990; and the “path dependency” model, deployed, for example, in Hacker 2002, a historical study of the American welfare state. Pierson and Castles 2007 is a collection of classical and contemporary readings on the welfare state. Arts and Gelissen 2002 and Korpi 2003 provide review essays summarizing the field. A textbook treatment covering both the political origins and consequences of modern welfare states can be found in Béland 2010.

            • Arts, Wil, and John Gelissen. Three worlds of welfare capitalism, or more? A state-of-the-art report. 2002. Journal of European Social Policy 12.2: 137–158.

              DOI: 10.1177/0952872002012002114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Review essay on the generation of welfare state scholarship that followed in the wake of Esping-Andersen 1990, a seminal work.

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            • Béland, Daniel. 2010. What is social policy? Understanding the welfare state. Political Sociology series. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

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              Introduction to the welfare state, covering both the political origins of the welfare state, the different types of social policies found in modern welfare states, and ways in which welfare states differ cross-nationally.

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            • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 1990. The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              The single most widely cited work on the contemporary welfare state. Two contributions have proved especially central: (1) the development of a political theory of the rise of the welfare state emphasizing the role of class forces; and (2) a distinction between the “social democratic” welfare states of Scandinavia, the welfare states in continental Europe, and those of the Anglo-American “liberal” democracies.

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            • Hacker, Jacob. 2002. The divided welfare state: The battle over public and private social benefits in the United States. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              A study of the rise of the American welfare state that highlights how policy outcomes at one point in time constrain later policy developments because of the institutional configurations they produce.

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            • Korpi, Walter. 2003. Welfare-state regress in Western Europe: Politics, institutions, globalization, and Europeanization. Annual Review of Sociology 29:589–609.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.29.010202.095943Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Review essay on the welfare state that emphasizes the importance of the declining commitment to full employment in the rich democracies as a critical indicator of welfare state restructuring.

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            • O’Connor, Julia, Ann Orloff, and Sheila Shaver. 1999. States, markets, families: Gender, liberalism and social policy in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              A study of social policies across the Anglo-American welfare states from a feminist perspective. The authors argue that the interaction between public policy and markets impacts family and gender relations in different and sometimes subtle ways.

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            • Pierson, Christopher, and Francis G. Castles, eds. 2007. The welfare state reader. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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              Comprehensive collection of classical writings on the welfare state, including foundational works, left- and right-wing views of the welfare state, debates on contemporary issues, and future challenges to the welfare state.

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            Globalization and the State

            The increasing importance of economic globalization since the 1970s has led many political sociologists to consider how the underpinnings of the modern welfare state are eroding in the face of pressures to constrain costs and conform to a “neoliberal” economic order. McMichael 2007 provides a textbook view of globalization from a historical perspective, while Frieden 2006 provides a comprehensive historical survey of the ebb and flow of globalization and capitalism. Boswell and Chase-Dunn 1999 presents a strong version of the argument that economic globalization is imperiling national sovereignty. Pierson 1996 and Brooks and Manza 2007 argue that the political foundations of the welfare state are robust in the face of retrenchment pressures.

            • Boswell, Terry, and Christopher Chase-Dunn. 1999. The spiral of capitalism and socialism. Boulder, CO: Lynne Riener.

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              The authors argue that economic globalization has led to the decline of the nation-state. Defending a very strong version of the state-decline thesis, this work represents one corner in a longstanding debate.

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            • Brooks, Clem, and Jeff Manza. 2007. Why welfare states persist: The importance of public opinion in democracies. Studies in Communication, Media, and Public Opinion. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Considers the evidence for how public attitudes may influence the size of national welfare states. Documenting a lack of evidence for either convergence or retrenchment in terms of the national welfare effort in the rich welfare state countries, the authors argue that public opposition to welfare state retrenchment is a critical bulwark against any significant retrenchment that globalization models predicted.

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            • Chorev, Nitsan. 2010. On the origins of neoliberalism: Political shifts and analytical challenges. In Handbook of politics: State and society in global perspective. Edited by Kevin Leicht and J. Craig Jenkins, 127–144. Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. New York: Springer.

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              A summary and overview of the rise of neoliberal social policies in the context of state-economy relations in the late-20th and early-21st centuries.

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            • Frieden, Jeffrey. 2006. Global capitalism: Its fall and rise in the twentieth century. New York: Norton.

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              A monumental history of the rise, fall, and reemergence of global capitalism, paying special attention to the role of global finance and that of state institutions in fostering and embracing globalization in spite of the costs it imposes on some of its citizens.

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            • Held, David, and Anthony McGrew, eds. 2003. The global transformations reader: An introduction to the globalization debate. 2d ed. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

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              Collection of readings debating all aspects of the globalization debate, including the impact of globalization on national sovereignty.

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            • McMichael, Philip. 2007. Development and social change: A global perspective. 4th ed. Sociology for a New Century. Los Angeles: Pine Forge.

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              Textbook examining the globalization/development paradox, with historical summaries of the colonial, development, and globalization eras, and case studies of each.

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            • Pierson, Paul.1996. The new politics of the welfare state. World Politics 48.2: 143–179.

              DOI: 10.1353/wp.1996.0004Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Considers how the welfare state is faring in the face of retrenchment pressures; argues that interests and constituencies created around the welfare state provide powerful pressure to maintain programs and resist significant changes. In this way welfare state institutions can be said to be “path dependent.”

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            Nationalism and the Nation-State

            States form within, and often reshape, national boundaries. By contrast, political movements rooted in national identity often arise in response to imperial conquest or conflict between nations. The political sociology of the state thus inevitably raises questions of nationalism, national identity, and the nation-state. But nationalism is also a subject unto itself, raising microquestions about national identity and collective memory. Reviews of the scholarship on questions of nationalism and states are provided in Calhoun 1998 and Vujacich 2002. Anderson 2006, on “imagined communities,” transformed the field by challenging views that national identities are deeply rooted in the social fabric; it argues instead that they are created in particular contexts by political elites and broad social forces. The social anthropologist Ernest Gellner’s widely discussed writings on the subject rooted the rise of nationalism in industrial society; a short summary statement of his views can be found in Gellner 1997. Brubaker 1992 develops an influential comparative-historical examination of the different modes of citizenship and nationalism in France and Germany. Greenfeld 1992, a collection of exhaustively researched case studies of the varieties of European and American nationalisms, argues that rather than reflecting a certain level of socioeconomic development, nationalist movements themselves become the driving force behind the rise of modern societies. Hutchinson and Smith 1995 provides a comprehensive collection of classical and contemporary writings on nationalism.

            • Anderson, Benedict. 2006. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Rev. ed. London: Verso.

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              The single most widely cited work on nationalism in the social sciences when it first appeared in 1983. In this updated version Anderson expands on his original argument that nations are fictive creations of powerful social and political movements. National communities, he argues, are inevitably artificial creations that arise in particular contexts.

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            • Brubaker, Rogers. 1992. Citizenship and nationhood in France and Germany. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Argues that the rise of citizenship is a form of “social closure” that, depending on how open or closed a society is, will produce different patterns of inequality. France and Germany are the contrasts considered here.

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            • Calhoun, Craig. 1998. Nationalism. Concepts in Social Thought. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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              Primer on nationalism with discussions about its relationship to imperialism and colonialism that would be useful for students at all levels.

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            • Gellner, Ernest. 1997. Nationalism. New York: New York Univ. Press.

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              A concise summary statement of Gellner’s analysis of nationalism, and his response to some of his critics. Gellner’s earlier book Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1983) remains essential reading as well.

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            • Greenfeld, Liah. 1992. Nationalism: Five roads to modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              An extraordinarily detailed set of case studies on the role of nationalism in the rise of the modern state and social and cultural systems. The nationalist project is viewed, albeit with significant variations across the cases (England, France, Russia, Germany, and the United States), as a key part of agents of social and economic development.

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            • Hutchinson, John, and Anthony Smith, eds. 1995. Nationalism. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Collection of classical and contemporary readings on nationalism.

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            • Mann, Michael. 2005. The dark side of democracy: Explaining ethnic cleansing. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Mann argues here, in a book combining theoretical argument and original empirical research, that the forms of extreme nationalism expressed in episodes of ethnic cleansing (that is, times when one ethnic group seeks to literally remove another ethnic group from a particular region) typically arise in democratizing moments. In the early phases of the founding of democratic regimes, anti-ethnic movements are particularly likely to appear.

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            • Vujacic, Veljko. 2002. States, nations, and European nationalism: A challenge for political sociology. Research in Political Sociology 11: 123–158.

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              Dissects the traditional neglect of nationalism and national movements in political sociology. Argues that state-centered theories should distinguish between state- and nation-building and the autonomous role of historical circumstances in different national contexts.

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            Development and the Developmental State

            The role of state institutions in shaping economic development, especially in the less developed parts of the globe, provides another lens for political institutions and their evolution over time. Scholarship on the “development state” has often taken a global view, arguing that nation-states are situated in a global environment that sets sharp limits on their capacities. Huber and Stephens 2005 and Lange 2010 provide summaries and analyses of these debates. Immanuel Wallerstein’s work on the “world system” as a set of embedded states distinguished by their relationship to the core or periphery of the world economy represents a classical contribution; for an introduction and summary to his work, see his own short statement of his position in Wallerstein 2004. Evans 1995 has developed an influential synthesis between the world-systems approach and contemporary “new” institutionalist ideas, emphasizing variation in the pathways of developmental states. Chibber 2003 provides an influential Marxist treatment of state formation and economic development. Scott 2007 usefully compares sociological work on states and development with that found in neighboring social science disciplines. Gough, et al. 2008 examines the welfare regimes of developing societies. Finally, political sociologists have been highly critical of the “neoliberal” model of political-economic development (the notion that freeing markets from government intervention provides the best path to development); for a summary of recent thinking in this area, see Chorev 2009.

            • Chibber, Vivek. 2003. Locked in place: State-building and late industrialization in India. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              A major study of the political economy of development that argues that divergent paths to development hinge on domestic class relations and state institutional capacity. Chibber contrasts the failure of economic development in India with the successful case of South Korea, where political elites succeed in harnessing domestic capitalists to their side.

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            • Chorev, Nitsan. 2009. Remaking U.S. trade policy: From protectionism to globalization. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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              Historically grounded account of the politics of protectionism and free trade since the 1930s, with a theoretical focus on developing an account of the institutionalization of globalization and the impact of neoliberal policy agendas.

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            • Evans, Peter. 1995. Embedded autonomy: States and industrial transformation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Comparative study of state-led development in India, Brazil, and South Korea in the high-tech economic sectors, pinpointing the critical role of states and state autonomy in nudging economic development along certain paths in some places but not others. The relatively greater autonomy of the state in South Korea and the other rapidly growing economies of East Asia hinged in part on the ability of the state to actively intervene against local capitalists.

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            • Gough, Ian, Geff Wood, Armando Barrientos, and Philippa Bevan. 2008. Insecurity and welfare regimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America: Social policy in developmental context. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              The political sociological literature on the welfare state has focused almost exclusively on the world of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This book provides a systematic examination of the forms of social provision found in the developing world. Translates the notion of the “welfare regime,” originally developed to distinguish among rich welfare states, to the developing world context, emphasizing the linkages between informal systems of provision rooted in families and communities to the nascent and frequently very limited forms of social support provided by governments and foreign aid.

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            • Hall, Peter and David Soskice, eds. 2001. Varieties of capitalism: The institutional foundations of comparative advantage. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              This collection outlines a model of how and why capitalist economies evolve in different ways, and has launched a significant debate in political sociology. Building from new institutional economics, the introductory chapter by the editors describes how firms must adapt to state policies in ways that over time produce sharply different types of capitalism, varying in terms of the degree of coordination. Other chapters trace out these patterns in different social domains.

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            • Huber, Evelyn, and John Stephens. 2005. State economic and social policy in global capitalism. In The handbook of political sociology. Edited by Thomas Janoski, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred A. Schwartz, 607–629. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Overview of theoretical debates and case-study literatures of the state and development.

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            • Lange, Matthew. States and economic development. 2010. In Handbook of politics: State and society in global perspective. Edited by Kevin Leicht and J. Craig Jenkins, 263–278. New York: Springer.

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              Review essay on the role of the state in economic development.

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            • Scott, Zoe. 2007. Literature review on state building. Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, Univ. of Birmingham.

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              Thorough review of the state-building literature that starts from the current geopolitical context of efforts to find policy solutions to underdevelopment. Goes far beyond the political sociological contributions to consider the full range of research in international relations, comparative political science, and economics, as well as political sociology.

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            • Wallerstein, Immanuel. 2004. World-systems analysis: An introduction. Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press.

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              The remarkably influential thesis of the capitalist world system first developed by the author in the 1970s is summarized here in its most lucid and accessible version. Long before the advent of globalization, Wallerstein’s world-systems thesis laid out the view that individual nation-states have little power or autonomy because they are embedded in a world economic order.

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            War, Violence, and Revolutionary Social Change

            Political change happens in a variety of ways, some of which involve violence in various guises. War making has been critical both in the evolution of states and in state formation, a central theme in the comparative-historical writings of Max Weber but largely ignored by political sociologists until the 1970s. In his various writings, Charles Tilly (e.g., Tilly 1990) has done more than anyone else to revive the debate over the role of military conflict in the making of political change; a more recent assessment of work in the field can be found in Scott 2006. Mann 1986, a history of power, provides a theory of the interrelationship of military power to other types of power. Debates about the nature of revolutions and their impact constitute one of the earliest sources of the field of political sociology. A textbook treatment is provided in DeFronzo 2007; a fine reader containing classical and contemporary work can be found in Goldstone 2002. Finally, terrorism, in a variety of guises, has been a recurring form of political conflict. Goodwin 2006 provides a concise statement of the varieties of approaches to terrorism, while key works on contemporary terrorism include Krueger 2007 on individual-level factors drawing people into terrorist movements, and Sageman 2004 on terrorist networks.

            • DeFronzo, James. 2007. Revolutions and revolutionary movements. 3d ed. Boulder, CO: Westview.

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              A textbook treatment providing coverage of both the history of major revolutionary movements and an introduction to theoretical debates over the origins and outcomes of revolutions.

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            • Goldstone, Jack, ed. 2002. Revolutions: Theoretical, comparative, and historical studies. 3d ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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              A reader containing major classical works of Marx, Weber, and de Tocqueville through to modern debates over structural versus cultural approaches to revolutions, and a substantial selection of works on the outcomes of revolutions for systems of social inequality.

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            • Goodwin, Jeff. 2006. A theory of categorical terrorism. Social Forces 84.4: 2027–2046.

              DOI: 10.1353/sof.2006.0090Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Careful theoretical analysis and typology of the diverse forms of terrorism since the mid-19th century.

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            • Krueger, Alan. 2007. What makes a terrorist? Economics and the roots of the new terrorism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              In the first part of this book, economist Alan Krueger asks a fundamentally sociological question: Why are so many terrorists from middle-class backgrounds? He also explores the contexts and countries where terrorist movements have grown, and the social costs of terrorist activity measured in a variety of ways.

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            • Mann, Michael. 1986. A history of social power. Vol. 1, A history of power from the beginning to A.D. 1760. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              The first volume of Mann’s multivolume history of power. In the first chapter, he lays out a model of how military power relates to other types of power (ideological, economic, political), and how military conquest has frequently intertwined with other kinds of power.

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            • Sageman, Marc. 2004. Understanding terror networks. Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania Press.

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              Few book-length treatments of terrorism by political sociologists have appeared. Sageman draws on his unusual background as both a sociologist and former CIA officer. This quirky study, based on data on contemporary Muslim terrorists, nonetheless offers an important, and deeply sociological, portrait of networks of political action that are of relevance to terrorist movements everywhere.

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            • Scott, Alan. 2006. The political sociology of war. In The Blackwell companion to political sociology. Edited by Kate Nash and Alan Scott, 183–194. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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              Good short introduction to political-sociological analyses of wars and their social and political impact.

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            • Tilly, Charles. 1990. Capital, coercion, and European states, 990–1990. Studies in Social Discontinuity. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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              Tilly’s single most sweeping account of state building through military power. He argues that states develop infrastructure and capacity when they go to war; they have to develop their capacity to tax citizens, mobilize an army, and administer complex foreign conflicts. The ebb and flow of nation-state strength over the course of European history reflects the interaction of military conflict and commercial and institutional development.

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            Civil Society

            Civil society refers to the social spaces and institutions that are separate from government control or influence. If research on the state sits at the heart of much of contemporary “macro” political sociology, theory and research on civil society connect “micro” practices of individual citizens with the intermediate organizations through which citizens build their social and political worlds. Civil society is one of the oldest concepts in the systematic study of politics, found in ancient political theory in various guises through to modern conceptions of civil society as the center of political dissent and oppositional politics. Habermas 1989 developed a classical account of the rise of the “public sphere.” Arato and Cohen 1992 focuses on the role of social movements. The widely cited and discussed notion of social capital in Putnam 2000 draws heavily on the idea that it is in civil society that individuals and groups come to acquire network resources that allow them to sustain democratic political life, while Putnam’s earlier work (Putnam, et al. 1993) fueled empirical interest in how the strength of civil society may influence governmental effectiveness. Some scholars have speculated that a global civil sphere may be emerging as a consequence of the new technologies, a rising sense of truly global social problems (such as nuclear war, terrorism, and environmental threats), and the increased capacity of citizens to communicate across borders (see, for example, Keane 2003). Hodgkinson and Foley 2003 provides a collection of classical writings on civil society.

            • Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2006. The civil sphere. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Argues that social solidarity, trust, and civil values arise from the institutions of civil society. Liberal democracy is possible, Alexander argues, only with one another.

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            • Arato, Andrew, and Jean Cohen. 1992. Civil society and political theory. Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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              Mammoth theoretical and historical study of the role of civil society in creating the conditions for democratic political practice. Pays special attention to the role of social movements forged in civil society in articulating the concerns of ordinary people to their rulers.

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            • Habermas, Jürgen. 1989. The structural transformation of the public sphere: An inquiry into a category of bourgeois society. Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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              Historical study and analysis by the famous philosopher of the rise of the “bourgeois” public sphere and its role in creating the conditions for democracy. Habermas argues that “public” opinion only becomes conceivable with the rise of the public sphere. Originally published in 1962.

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            • Hodgkinson, Virginia, and Michael Foley. 2003. The civil society reader. Lebanon, NH: Univ. Press of New England.

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              Contains twenty-two classic essays on civil society, from Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel to Shils, Walzer, and Putnam.

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            • Keane, John. 2003. Global civil society? Contemporary Political Theory. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Explores the dynamics of the modern world that may be creating the conditions for citizens to engage one another across the world and create transnational forms of dialogue. The rise of truly global social problems (such as global warming), neoliberalism as a global form of economic management, and transnational social movements all contribute to the possibility that a global civil sphere is emerging.

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            • Putnam, Robert, Robert Leonardi, and Raffaella Nanetti. 1993. Making democracy work: Civic traditions in modern Italy. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              An analysis of Italian regional politics that argued that the strength of social capital and civil society significantly influences governmental effectiveness and levels of corruption.

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            • Putnam, Robert. 2000. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. New York: Simon and Shuster.

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              A famous and widely debated analysis of the decline of “social capital” in the United States, it builds on the idea that the strength of civil society enables citizens to maintain meaningful connections with one another, and in turn that trust is a precondition for a healthy, vibrant democracy.

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            Democracy

            Democracy refers to a particular set of governing institutions that include universal suffrage, freedom of expression and the right to form political parties, holding regular elections, and regular turnover in office. See Dahl 1998 for a useful overview and discussion of the history of democracy around the world. For some political sociologists, however, these formal democratic institutions fail to capture the full range of questions. Tilly 2007 expands the conventional list to include networks of trust, equality, and institutions sufficiently robust to prevent powerful forces from undermining democracy. Markoff 1996 provides a textbook treatment examining the history of democracy and the spread of democratic institutions over time around the world, emphasizing the importance of social movements in creating and maintaining democratic governance. Another critical set of questions concerns what Burstein 1998 calls “empirical democratic theory”: the degree to which citizens (in the aggregate) get what they want from government. Optimistic views of policy responsiveness have been advanced in the United States by Erikson, et al. 2002, and in comparative perspective by Soroka and Wlezien 2009. More skeptical views about the degree of policy responsiveness are developed by Jacobs and Shapiro 2000. In the case of the United States, political sociologists have expended considerable effort exploring some the limits of democracy, including the role of money in the political system, and restrictions on the franchise and class bias in political participation. Manza, et al. 2005 provides a review of these latter issues.

            • Burstein, Paul. 1998. Bringing the public back in: Should sociologists consider the impact of public opinion on public policy? Social Forces 77.1: 27–62.

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              Raises the question of how political sociologists should think about the creation of public policy, and in particular criticizes the field for failing to take seriously the ways in which ordinary citizens can influence policy outcomes when politicians act in accordance with their opinions. Examining the case study literature on policy outcomes, Burstein shows that nearly every study that includes a measure of public opinion finds it to be significant.

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            • Dahl, Robert. 1998. On democracy. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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              Introduction to the rise of democratic governance and its contemporary problems by the very influential theorist/analyst of democracy.

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            • Erikson, Robert S., Michael MacKuen, and James Stimson. The macro polity. Cambridge Studies in Political Psychology and Public Opinion. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002.

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              Mammoth study of the factors that move public opinion, and how shifts in aggregate public opinion influence policy outcomes. The models here suggest a very strong degree of causal impact.

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            • Lawrence Jacobs and Robert Shapiro. 2000. Politicians don’t pander. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              The authors argue that American politicians actively shape public opinion rather than simply respond to it. Presidents and party elites in the modern political system have at their disposal an array of opinion-shaping weapons, including polling to test out different rhetorical frames before they are introduced, “crafted” talk, and strategic use of timing and sequencing to manipulate legislative and media debates. These can often reverse the flow of causality from politicians to public opinion.

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            • Manza, Jeff, Clem Brooks, and Michael Sauder. 2005. Money, participation, votes: social cleavages and electoral politics. In The handbook of political sociology. Edited by Thomas Janoski, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred A. Schwartz, 201–226. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Reviews the literature and evidence about social and class divisions in turnout, voting, and campaign contributions (with the latter focused specifically on the United States).

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            • Markoff, John. 1996. Waves of democracy: Social movements and political change. Sociology for a New Century. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge.

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              Short introduction to the history of democracy. Argues that global movements toward democratization or reversion to authoritarian rule happen in cycles around the world, with the post-1989 wave representing only the latest of the cycles.

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            • Soroka, Stuart, and Christopher Wlezien. 2009. Degrees of democracy: Politics, public opinion, and policy. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Advances and tests a “thermostatic” model of public opinion and public policy. The model holds that public demand for policy change eventually produces policy change, which in turn causes less public demand for policy. The model suggests a political system in which public policy and public opinion move in relation to one another.

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            • Tilly, Charles. 2007. Democracy. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Setting aside the conventional focus of democracy on elections, parties, and freedom of expression and opportunity to form parties, Tilly instead examines the role of three critical precursors to democracy: the existence of strong networks of trust, sufficient equality to permit citizens to participate meaningfully in the democratic life of the polity, and robust institutions that can respond to conflicts and disruptions that elections and other kinds of democratic practices sometimes produce.

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            Elections, Political Participation, and Public Opinion

            The “micro” tradition in political sociology can be found most prominently in research on elections and public opinion, although the vast bulk of scholarship on these topics is done by political scientists, not political sociologists. That said, some of the most influential early works in political sociology examined what came to be known as the “social bases of politics,” that is, how different social groups come to be politically aligned in democratic elections. One line of classical work in voting studies after World War II, associated with Paul Lazarsfeld and Bernard Berelson, focused on how individuals’ social and political attitudes and political participation are rooted in social networks such as in families, workplaces, churches, or unions (Berelson, et al. 1954). Lipset 1981 (first published in 1960) is a classical work that examined how such characteristics as class and education influence individuals’ political attitudes and voting behavior, including a famous analysis of working-class support for far-right and fascist political parties. Brooks, et al. 2003 provides a scholarly review essay situating these debates in historical context, noting the contrast with “rational choice” and cognitive psychological studies of voting behavior in the present era. Another important area of research has been on social differences in political participation, primarily voting but also other types of participation such as volunteering or donating money for political causes. The most comprehensive investigation of differences in political participation across the full spectrum of activities in American politics is developed by Verba, et al. 1995; a review of research on political participation in comparative perspective can be found in Lijphart 1997.

            • Berelson, Bernard R., Paul F. Lazarsfeld, and William McPhee. 1954. Voting: A study of opinion formation in a presidential campaign. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Classic work of the “Columbia School” of political behavior research. The authors developed an earlier analysis of how social cleavages, social networks, and other factors shape voting behavior.

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            • Brooks, Clem, Jeff Manza, and Catherine Bolzendahl. 2003. Voting behavior and political sociology: Theories, debates, and future directions. Research in Political Sociology 12: 137–173.

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              Review essay that covers both the contemporary relevance of classical debates, and their intersection with newer scholarship in political psychology that has become increasingly influential among political scientists.

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            • Lijphart, Arend. 1997. Unequal participation: Democracy’s unresolved dilemma. American Political Science Review 91.1: 1–14.

              DOI: 10.2307/2952255Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              An elegant summary of what several generations of research on political participation in cross-national perspective has taught us. Differences in rates of participation between groups are largest in countries where turnout is lowest, but when turnout rises these group-based differences tend to disappear.

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            • Lipset, Seymour Martin. 1981. Political man: The social bases of politics. Expanded ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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              The classical study of “social cleavages” in electoral politics and the study of public opinion. Among the most important ideas were the notion of “working class authoritarianism,” a theory of the attractions of fascism among disadvantaged and marginalized groups, and the rootedness of political party systems in class alignments. Originally published in 1960.

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            • Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Schlozman, and Henry E. Brady. 1995. Voice and equality: Civic voluntarism in American politics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              The most comprehensive study of political participation ever undertaken. The authors surveyed 15,000 Americans about their diverse types of political activity. The central findings include the importance of social networks in drawing individuals into political participation, and the importance of money, time, and “resources” (including education) in enabling individuals to participate more often and in more venues.

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            Race, Ethnicity, and Politics

            The role of racial and ethnic divisions in political systems around the world has been the focus of much research in political sociology. Research on the sources of racial attitudes and prejudice is an important topic in its own right. Sears, et al. 2000 contains a collection of significant studies analyzing the sources of racial attitudes in America, where racial prejudice has been most systematically studied. Racial attitudes may influence public policy, either those that directly have a racial component (see also Krysan 2000 for a good review), or nonracial welfare state policies (Manza 2000 provides a review of the literature on the latter). One striking finding is that social programs tend to be most generous in countries with more homogenous populations, a finding that may help to account for important cross-national differences (Alesina and Glaser 2004). The history of race/ethnicity and racial or ethnic group conflict can have an important impact on the development of a political system. Olzak 2006 develops a global perspective on ethnic violence and conflict. Fredrickson 2002 provides a concise introduction to the evolution of racial and ethnic stereotypes since the Middle Ages. The special case of the strong influence of race in American political history is given an extended historical treatment in Goldfield 1997.

            • Alesina, Alberto, and Edward Glaeser. 2004. Fighting poverty in the US and Europe: A world of difference. Rodolfo Debenedetti Lectures. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              Alesina and Glaeser’s study of comparative welfare state differences is an important contribution to the welfare state literature and also demonstrates the importance of racial and ethnic heterogeneity in shaping the levels of welfare state spending in different societies.

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            • Frederickson, George. 2002. Racism: A short history. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              Frederickson is a historian who has written major comparative studies of racism across the world. Here he provides a concise summary of these investigations and the patterning of racial conflict.

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            • Goldfield, Michael. 1997. The color of politics: Race and the mainsprings of American politics. New York: New Press.

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              A sweeping overview of American history that places race and racial conflict at the center of five key turning points: the drafting of the Constitution, the Populist challenge of the 1880s and 1890s, the Civil War, the New Deal and its aftermath in the late 1940s, and the upheavals of the 1960s.

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            • Krysan, Maria. 2000. Prejudice, politics, and public opinion: Understanding the sources of racial policy attitudes. Annual Review of Sociology 26:135–168.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.soc.26.1.135Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Excellent overview of the state of the art in the study of racial attitudes in America.

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            • Manza, Jeff. 2000. Race and the underdevelopment of the American welfare state. Theory and Society 29.6: 819–832.

              DOI: 10.1023/A:1026547309084Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              This review essay considers scholarship on the history and contemporary practice of racial politics in the United States.

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            • Olzak, Susan. 2006. The global dynamics of racial and ethnic mobilization. Studies in Social Inequality. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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              The author develops and tests a theory of racial and ethnic group mobilization around the world.

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            • Sears, David, Jim Sidanius, and Lawrence Bobo, eds. 2000. Racialized politics: The debate about racism in America. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

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              Collection of essays by leading scholars on racial politics in America, focused centrally on attitudinal studies. The contrast between “symbolic” and interest-based interpretations of racism is made clear in the different contributions to the volume.

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            Gender and Politics

            In the past two decades, feminist political sociologists have challenged the field to consider some of the ways in which states and political systems have hidden gender biases embedded within them. Hobson 2005 provides an introduction. Pateman 1988 and MacKinnon 1989 offered early and now classical treatments of how the basic foundation of the legal systems in Anglo-American democracies creates and reinforces gender inequality. One political arena that has been subjected to especially close scrutiny is the welfare state, where seemingly “universal” benefits linked to employment may treat women as second-class citizens. Orloff 1993 provides an important theoretical synthesis, while O’Connor, et al. 1999 develop an empirical comparison of social policies. The increasing participation of women in political life since World War II is impressive, but Paxton and Hughes 2007, research on women’s representation in legislatures around the world, shows we are far from reaching political equality. In recent years, an important type of scholarship has been developed that emphasizes the importance of how gender intersects with other types of social inequalities to impact social and political processes; Collins 2000 has been particularly influential, while McCall 2005 provides an incisive overview and critique.

            • Collins, Patricia Hill. 2000. Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment. 2d ed. New York: Routledge.

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              Important theoretical statement of the intersecting cleavages of race and gender. Collins here elaborates a feminist theory of politics that links to race. Tenth anniversary edition.

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            • Hobson, Barbara. 2005. Feminist theorizing and feminisms in political sociology. In The handbook of political sociology. Edited by Thomas Janoski, Robert Alford, Alexander Hicks, and Mildred A. Schwart, 135–152. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Overview and scholarly introduction to the varieties of feminist analysis of politics and the state.

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            • MacKinnon, Catherine. 1989. Toward a feminist theory of the state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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              Influential radical feminist approach to law and legal structure of intimate relationships (in particular) and patriarchy in general.

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            • McCall, Leslie. 2005. The complexity of intersectionality. Signs 30.3 (2005): 1771–1800.

              DOI: 10.1086/426800Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              The author provides a searching assessment and critique of theories of “intersectionality,” the intertwining of race, class, and gender.

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            • O’Connor, Julia S., Ann Shola Orloff, and Sheila Shaver. 1999. States, markets, families: Gender, liberalism, and social policy in Australia, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

              DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511597114Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Comparative study with both empirical and theoretical aspects, of how four Anglo-American democracies (Britain, the United States, Canada, and Australia) differ in the treatment of women across the labor market, in the welfare state, and in the right to abortion.

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            • Orloff, Ann. 1993. Gender and the social rights of citizenship: The comparative analysis of gender relations and welfare states. American Sociological Review 58.3: 303–328.

              DOI: 10.2307/2095903Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              A rich theoretical analysis of how theories of citizenship, and their implementation around the world, have important gendered components.

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            • Pateman, Carole. 1988. The sexual contract. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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              Challenges the view that modern democratic societies grow out of the “social contract” articulated by Locke and Rousseu. The author suggests that a second, “sexual contract” has existed alongside it, in which women were historically excluded from full rights of the social contract.

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            • Paxton, Pamela, and Melanie M. Hughes. 2007. Women, politics, and power: A global perspective. Sociology for a New Century. Los Angeles: Pine Forge.

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              A comparative examination of the presence of women in national legislatures and governments.

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            Class Inequalities and Politics

            One important and widely debated question has been the role of “class” on citizens’ opinions and voting behavior. Svallfors 2006 offers a state-of-the-art comparative treatment about class differences in attitudes, while the collection of studies in Evans 1999 examines class differences in voting behavior. The model of class structure and its impact on class politics in comparative perspective developed by Wright 1997 has been widely influential. Another question has been the impact of class forces on welfare state outcomes. Esping-Andersen’s many contributions to the study of the class bases of the welfare state have been accompanied by analyses of the nature of class power in impacting social policy outcomes (see Esping-Andersen 1999 for a representative treatment). The famous studies of social provision in the United States in Piven and Cloward 1993 emphasized the importance of disruption from below in shaping benefits.

            • Domhoff, G. William. 2009. Who rules America? Challenges to corporate and class dominance. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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              Latest edition of a work first published in 1967, the author traces the sources of political power in the United States to elite control of the policy-planning process, public opinion, and elections. Crisply written and forcefully argued introduction to contemporary elite-based class theory of politics.

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            • Esping-Andersen, Gøsta. 1999. Social foundations of postindustrial economies. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

              DOI: 10.1093/0198742002.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines how changing class structures of postindustrial societies are shaping contemporary welfare state development.

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            • Evans, Geoff, ed. 1999. The end of class politics? Class voting in comparative context. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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              In the microtradition of political sociology, the study of “class voting” has held a special place. This volume contains studies of class voting in a number of countries, including Britain, France, Norway, Japan, the United States, and Germany.

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            • Piven, Frances Fox, and Richard A. Cloward. 1993. Regulating the poor: The functions of public welfare. Expanded ed. New York: Vintage.

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              Reissue of a classic 1971 work, with two very substantial new chapters responding to critics and expanding the analytical scope of the theoretical model contained in the original study. The authors argue that welfare benefits tend to be expanded when political elites feel pressure from below and decline when that pressure is removed. Poor people benefit from a “politics of disruption.”

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            • Svallfors, Stefan. 2006. The moral economy of class: Class and attitudes in comparative perspective. Studies in Social Inequality. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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              The best single-volume comparative study of class divisions in attitudes, in particular attitudes toward work, inequality, families, and social provision through the welfare state. The author draws on the various surveys of the International Social Survey Program and provides an elegant statement of the problems and contemporary dilemmas of a class analysis of politics.

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            • Wright, Erik Olin. 1997. Class counts: Comparative studies in class analysis. Studies in Marxism and Social Theory. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Wright’s Marxist approach to class analysis has always paid special attention to how class structures shape the possibilities of class-based political alignments. This monumental work includes data from surveys carried out in twelve countries.

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            Culture and Politics

            The role of “cultural” factors in influencing political contests has been studied more and more in recent years, after a long period in which structural factors such as political institutions and class power dominated the focus of most of political sociology. The edited collection Steinmetz 1999 provides an excellent source of scholarship on how cultural factors influence state development in a variety of case studies and contexts; the editor’s introduction provides a useful entrée into the debates. “Culture” may have a variety of meanings in the political sphere. Gamson 1992 and Chong and Druckman 2007 examine some of the ways in which cultural analysis can be used to examine how deeply held cognitive “frames” draw on existing widely shared cultural ideas to shape the way ordinary citizens think about political or political questions. Steensland 2007 applies a cultural analysis of frames to study elite attitudes about social provision. “New institutionalist” scholars have developed models of how cultural ideas and schemas come to be embedded in economic and political institutions; the work of John Meyer and his students (Meyer, et al. 1997) has been especially influential in this regard in pushing culture models of the state to the global level. Armstrong and Bernstein 2008 provides a recent exploration of some of the scholarship on the connections between culture and political and social movements. Religion, one critical component of culture, is important in many political contexts (see Manza and Wright 2003 for one review). Finally, while political sociologists have traditionally been resistant to theories that ideas themselves matter (as opposed to the social and political actors promoting them), Campbell 2002 reviews some fresh thinking on the role of ideas in reshaping policy debates.

            • Armstrong, Elizabeth, and Mary Bernstein. 2008. Culture, power, and institutions: A multi-institutional politics approach to social movements. Sociological Theory 26.1: 74–99.

              DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9558.2008.00319.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              An analysis of the intersection of cultural forces and institutional contexts in shaping social-movement politics. Focusing especially on insights from the study of gay and lesbian movements, the authors synthesize a variety of strands of recent work in political culture.

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            • Campbell, John. 2002. Ideas, politics, and public policy. Annual Review of Sociology 28:21–38.

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              An overview of political sociologists’ disagreements about the issue of when and why policy ideas can influence policy struggles.

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            • Chong, Dennis, and Jamie Druckman. 2007. Framing theory. Annual Review of Political Science 10:103–126.

              DOI: 10.1146/annurev.polisci.10.072805.103054Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              State-of-the-art examination of the literatures and research on how and when frames impact public opinion, and how framing practices can be studied in political communication.

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            • Gamson, William. 1992. Talking politics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Landmark study exploring the “frames” through which citizens engage in political deliberation and test them in a series of focus group investigations. Part of the larger movement in public opinion research toward examining how the framing or presentation of issues shape citizens’ responses.

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            • Manza, Jeff, and Nate Wright. 2003. Religion and political behavior. In Handbook of the sociology of religion. Edited by Michele Dillon, 297–314. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              Overview of research on how religion influences political behavior across the rich democracies.

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            • Meyer, John, John Boli, George Thomas, and Francisco Ramirez. 1997. World society and the nation-state. American Journal of Sociology 103.1: 144–181.

              DOI: 10.1086/231174Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              John Meyer and his students have, in a wide range of studies, explored the idea of “global culture” and what they describe here (in this excellent introduction to their work) as a “world society” in which the post–World War II-era national governments face considerable pressure to conform (or appear to conform) to global norms on such matters as human rights, democracy, education, environmental standards, statistical data collection and reporting, and so forth. When governments fail to live up to these commitments, citizens and interest groups gain powerful leverage to push for conformity.

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            • Steensland, Brian. The failed welfare revolution: America’s struggle over guaranteed income policy. 2007. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

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              This study makes two contributions. First, it provides an excellent introduction to the variety of ways in which cultural approaches may contribute to studies of policy and political conflict. Second, it develops a case study application to welfare policy in the United States.

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            • Steinmetz, George, ed. 1999. State/culture: State-formation after the cultural turn. Wilder House Series in Politics, History, and Culture. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

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              Collection of essays by scholars exploring the boundaries of the relationship between political institutions and political culture. The editor’s substantial introduction provides both a rich overview of the history of the treatment of culture in recent political sociology.

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            Contemporary Controversies and New Directions

            Political sociology is a dynamic subfield being reshaped in a variety of ways. Several exciting lines of inquiry and critique can be identified. In the macrotradition, the classic focus on the “state” has been critically reexamined in a variety of ways. Mitchell 1991 argues in a forceful essay that the very concept is too broad and undifferentiated to be analytically useful, while Laumann and Knoke 1987 introduced the important notion that rather than from a single undifferentiated “state,” public policy results from the interaction of interest groups and state actors working inside distinct policy networks or policy domains. Auyero 2007 suggests another way in which the “state” can be decomposed, through the introduction of ethnographic methods to examine how states interface with local political processes and political struggles. The traditional focus of political sociologists on the nation-state as the primary unit of analysis in an increasingly global world has been questioned beyond the insights of the Wallersteinian tradition of world-systems research (see Development and the Developmental State). For example, Koreniewicz and Moran 2009 argues that the patterning of economic inequality moves across the global in meaningful ways that are not well captured by single-country analyses (or even multicountry comparisons). In the microtradition, the reintroduction of the study of how the contexts of political behavior influence citizens’ participation is of particular importance. Also of particular importance here is the increasing focus on network dynamics, which opens the possibility for new research directions (see Zuckerman 2005). Finally, the increasing use of experimental methods in the study of political phenomena promises a new wave of scholarship on traditional questions that lay at the center of micropolitical sociology (see Green, et al. 2006).

            • Auyero, Javier. 2007. Routine politics and collective violence in Argentina: The gray zone of state power. Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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              A political ethnography of neighborhood collective action focused on the December 2001 food riots in Argentina that ultimately toppled the government. The “gray zone” refers to the level at which party brokers act as mediators between citizens’ demands from below and institutionalized political power from above.

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            • Green, Donald, James Druckman, James Kuklinski, and Arthur Lupia. 2006. The growth and development of experimental research in political science. American Political Science Review 100.4: 627–635.

              DOI: 10.1017/S0003055406062514Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              An overview of the growing use of experimental techniques in political research. Use of experimental designs—in field studies, in the lab, or in survey research—can provide a more rigorous method of isolating causal effects.

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            • Korzeniewicz, Roberto, and Timothy Moran. 2009. Unveiling inequality: A world-historical perspective. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

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              The authors argue that the nation-state literature in political sociology and sociology as a whole has neglected the patterning of inequality across national boundaries. This study produces the conclusion that much of the earlier globalization literature asserted, but did not rigorously demonstrate: that national states may be declining in their ability to influence the patterns of social and economic distributions.

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            • Laumann, Edward, and David Knoke. 1987. The organizational state: Social choice in national policy domains. Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press.

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              Impressive and underrated study advancing the idea that instead of a single state-structure, distinct policy domains consisting of public and private interest groups aligned in “policy networks” are the actual shapers of public policy.

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            • Mitchell, Timothy. 1991. The limits of the state: Beyond statist approaches and their critics. American Political Science Review 85.1: 77–96.

              DOI: 10.2307/1962879Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Challenging essay arguing that the long hold of the state metaphor on analysts of macropolitics cannot withstand careful scrutiny. The concept of the state, the author argues, is overburdened by the underlying assumption that states can “act.” Since states always consist of competing nodes of power, this assumption rarely if ever holds, and this insight threatens the entire usage of the “state” concept in political research.

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            • Zuckerman, Alan, ed. 2005. The social logics of politics: Personal networks as contexts for political behavior. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press.

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              Recent collection of papers examining various “contexts” of politics, including the role of social and family networks. The author’s introductory chapter usefully introduces the importance of context and calls for a new generation of scholarship on it.

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            LAST MODIFIED: 07/27/2011

            DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199756384-0001

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