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Roberto Michels’ First Lectures in Political Sociology

Roberto Michels’ First Lectures in Political Sociology

Copyright Date: 1949
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 180
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  • Book Info
    Roberto Michels’ First Lectures in Political Sociology
    Book Description:

    A number of papers on key ideas in the social sciences are made available to Americans for the first time in this book. Representative of Western European culture, Roberto Michels, author of the famous POLITICAL PARTIES and many other works, asks and gives answers to a number of questions basic to the further study of political behavior, social-economic institutions, and public law. There parade before the reader of this volume the really great European contributors to social science of the last century: Saint-Simon, Karl Marx, Gabriel Tarde, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto, Max Weber, Werner Sombart, Georges Sorel, and many other critics and scholars. At every step the sociologist, the economist, the psychologist, and the political scientist -- for Michels was all of these -- intermingle and reinforce each other. German born, Roberto Michels studied at Paris, Munich, Leipzig, Halle, and Turin, and taught successively in some of Europe’s greatest universities. In 1927 he lectured in America at the University of Chicago and elsewhere.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3653-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-9)
    Alfred de Grazia

    The materials of political science are so vast in scope and unlimited in detail as to depress a beginning student in search of generalities. Yet his political studies may benefit from an early understanding of certain key ideas. It is to political sociology that we may resort for this purpose, for political sociology treats of the social foundations of politics. It asks and gives answers to a number of questions the essential comprehension of which is the preliminary to further study of political behavior, political institutions, and public law.

    Among the basic questions it considers are: What is the relation...

  4. CHAPTER I The Origins of Economic and Social Class Theories
    (pp. 10-23)

    The Arab philosopher, Ibn Kaldun, who lived in the third century, may have been the earliest scientific exponent of the economic conception of history. He believed that the leading thread of history lay not in military or political vicissitudes, but rather, as he expresses himself, in man’s social state. He means thereby man’s degree of civilization, and its causal or concurrent conditions such as barbarism, the improvement of manners, the formation of families, of tribes, and all the various elements of superiority that people acquire in the course of one event or other. From these originate dynasties and empires, social...

  5. CHAPTER II The Relation of Economic Events to Personality and Politics
    (pp. 24-62)

    As we have hitherto stated it, the theory of historical materialism teaches us that a social group behaves to a high degree according to economic motivation. However, we have agreed with Pareto that it helps if one bears in mind that it is not possible to separate the economic from the social aspects of phenomena in the analysis of basic events, for the social interlace with the economic in a manner that is sometimes inextricable. The social group, furthermore, cannot always obey economic considerations if only because it lacks knowledge of what is expedient or economically useful. While it believes...

  6. CHAPTER III The Elite
    (pp. 63-87)

    The doctrine of the “circulation of the elites” enunciated by Vilfredo Pareto can be considered one of the most remarkable theories of the philosophy of history of recent times. This theory, briefly, maintains that no association can do without a dominant class, but that the dominant classes undergo rapid decay. At first they become enervated; then they experience a process of dissolution; finally they morally and physically succumb and yield the field to a new dominant class that arises from the people.

    The people as a collectivity never can democratically govern itself, but the rulers themselves change continually.¹ However it...

  7. CHAPTER IV Democratic and Aristocratic Tendencies in Modern Politics
    (pp. 88-102)

    The history of the nineteenth century was symbolized by universal suffrage. For the suffragists, the extension of this right represented the peak value of the century and gave tangible proof of the right of all, including the substantial illiterate portions of some countries, to participate, at least legally and abstractly, in parliamentary elections, and thus in public affairs. This guarantee was wrested, in part forcibly, from the middle classes by the property-less in the ingenuous belief that it would be a panacea capable of healing all their real or pretended sufferings. Yet Mosca is also right when he speaks of...

  8. CHAPTER V Social Metabolism and Postwar Events
    (pp. 103-118)

    Changes in the social class of individuals in a capitalistic order rest on three basic factors: (a) their relationships to the economic and productive process, (b) the fecundity of the various social and occupational groups, and (c) the dynamics of mobility.¹

    The second factor is important in social change in that occupational groups that are not prolific tend to become exogenous. They lose the capacity to recruit their needed functional adherents from among their own stock and occupation. The classes with a higher and less-controlled birth rate, unless deficient in ambitions to rise, are endogenous; they not only replenish the...

  9. CHAPTER VI Charismatic Leadership
    (pp. 119-133)

    Rapid change in social conditions in modern times revived in political science the concept of the elite, which previously seemed to have been totally abandoned. In democratic countries there is no single unit of the political elite. In democracy, indeed, there can be perceived various elites, which in the form of political parties, all governed by a special staff, struggle for power. From this derives that lack of stability, one of the most remarkable characteristics of the system of “rotation in office,” as the Americans say, which makes the periods of government of short duration. Now such a system, without...

  10. CHAPTER VII The Sociological Character of Political Parties
    (pp. 134-155)

    The political party, etymologically and logically, can embrace only a part of the citizenry, politically organized. The party is a fraction; it is pars pro toto. Let us endeavor briefly to analyze its causal origin and its behavior.

    According to Max Weber, the political party has a dual teleology. It is a spontaneous society of propaganda and of agitation seeking to acquire power, in order to procure thereby for its active militant adherents chances, ideal and material, for the realization either of objective aims or of personal advantages, or of both. Consequently, the general orientation of the political party, whether...

  11. CHAPTER VIII Patriotism
    (pp. 156-166)

    Fatherland (patria) is the land of one’s father, of one’s ancestors, and also of one’s mother if she has not changed her abode before giving birth. The derivation finds even more intimate expression in the Italian term la madre patria (mother Fatherland). The Englishman ignores the family connection and uses the broader concept of the region or country (which concept is also found in other languages, in, for example, pays, paese, Land). Thus patriotism, love of the Fatherland, is an attachment to country and to kin. It is of the least value where it coincides with the protection of one’s...

  12. Index
    (pp. 167-173)