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The Sociology of the State

Too often we think of the modern political state as a universal institution, the inevitable product of History rather than a specific creation of a very particular history. Bertrand Badie and Pierre Birnbaum here persuasively argue that the origin of the state is a social fact, arising out of the peculiar sociohistorical context of Western Europe. Drawing on historical materials and bringing sociological insights to bear on a field long abandoned to jurists and political scientists, the authors lay the foundations for a strikingly original theory of the birth and subsequent diffusion of the state.

The book opens with a review of the principal evolutionary theories concerning the origin of the institution proposed by such thinkers as Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. Rejecting these views, the authors set forward and defend their thesis that the state was an "invention" rather than a necessary consequence of any other process. Once invented, the state was disseminated outside its Western European birthplace either through imposition or imitation. The study concludes with concrete analyses of the differences in actual state institutions in France, Prussia, Great Britain, the United States, and Switzerland.

182 pages | 5.25 x 8.5 | © 1983

Political Science: Diplomacy, Foreign Policy, and International Relations

Sociology: Social Institutions

Table of Contents

Translator’s Note
Part One - The State in Sociological Theory
1. The Classical Theories
Marx’s Two Theories of the State
Durkheim, the Division of Labor, and the State
Weber, the State, and Western Rationality
2. The Failure of Contemporary Sociology
The Neofunctionalist Model of the State
Toward a Critique of the Functionalist Model
Part Two - State, Society, and History
3. State, Division of Labor, and Capitalism
4. State and Social Structure
5. State, Culture, and the Emergence of the Political System
6. The Transfer of the Idea of the State from Europe to Its Colonies
Part Three - State, Center, and Power in Contemporary Societies
7. Government via the State: Power to the Bureaucracy
The State Model: France
A Case of Incomplete
Institutionalization: Prussia
8. Government by Civil Society: The Weakness of the Bureaucracy
The Weak-State Model: Great Britain
The American Case
The State and Consociational Democracy

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