By W. G. Runciman
This moment of 3 volumes units out a common account of the constitution and evolution of human societies. the writer argues first that societies are to be outlined as units of roles whose incumbents are rivals for entry to, or regulate of, the technique of creation, persuasion and coercion; and moment, that the method through which societies evolve is one in every of aggressive choice of the practices wherein roles are outlined analagous, yet no longer reducible, to typical choice. He illustrates and checks those theses with proof drawn from the entire diversity of societies documented within the old and ethnographic checklist. the result's an unique, strong and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological concept with a view to give the opportunity to do for the type and research of societies what Darwin and his successors have performed for the class and research of species.
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Extra info for A Treatise on Social Theory, Volume 2
99), or in the society of Ancient Rome for which there is copious evidence of slaves passing for free, freedmen for equites, non-citizens for citizens and Egyptians for Greeks (Reinhold 1971), or in the societies of medieval Europe where dependent tenants might seek to pass as petty allodialists (Duby 1973, p. 238), or in early Islamic societies where converts might invent names and genealogies for themselves to avoid discrimination (Levy 1962, p. 60). Neither the structure of roles nor the institutions by which it is regulated are necessarily modified as such by the extent to which roles may be occupied under false pretences.
I) Persons are, strictly, the sole members of societies, since it is only they, not groups or categories or institutions, who perform the actions by which practices and therefore roles are defined. But the structure of a society is a structure of roles, not persons, and persons can occupy more than one role. Each point, therefore, which is drawn within the inverted pyramid designates an identifiable person in a specified role. But the number of such points will exceed the total adult population of the society by the number of different roles occupied by the same persons.
L8 SOCIETIES AS SUBJECTS FOR SCIENCE generate inconsistent rankings, even within the one dimension. Here again, there are sometimes ways in which they can be quasiexperimentally forced into a single dimension. But even if, say, the different elements of the prestige attaching to different roles in a ritual hierarchy can be tested against each other under the compulsions of a single focal ritual,* it may still be that under other conditions asymmetrical and inconsistent rankings will re-emerge. Economically, wealth or income may be inconsistent with security of entitlement to it; ideologically, symbolically valued function may be inconsistent with inherited status-group; coercively, high office may be inconsistent with military following; and so on.