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POLITICAL

SOCIOLOGY
The study of politics and society

Nature of the Course


The course explores the social dimensions of power
and political institutions.
It examines social power and focuses on the political
attitudes, values and behaviour of people in different
societies
The study of the politicization of social cleavages
(divisions)such as:
class, race and ethnicity, gender, religion, and
nationality; changing social values and attitudes; and
political engagement and participation (such as
turnout and protest politics).

THE STUDY OF POLITICS IN


SOCIAL SCIENCES
Political science (institutionalist
approach)
Political Psychology (individualist
approach)
Political Anthropology (minimalist
approach)
Political Sociology (social approach)

POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY

Main focus of the discipline has been


on the political processes which take
place within human societies
Political processes such as
democratization, ideological affiliation,
revolution, political reforms, nationbuilding, citizenship, political identity
formation and development

Political Sociology
The issues studied in this field include
the nature of power and the state
relations between state and society,
social movements, political
organization and
civic participation, political culture,
voting behavior, and citizenship.

POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY &


POLITICAL SCIENCE
The general approach of the discipline
of political science towards politics has
been a state-centric one (except the
rising emphasis on the role and
influence of social factors in most
contemporary works), mostly ignoring
the factor of society and social
phenomenon in political processes

POLITICAL SOCIOLOGY &


POLITICAL SCIENCE
Political science: dealing with
states, inter-state relations, foreign
policy making and state institutions
Political sociology: dealing with the
relationship between state and
society on the bases of mutual
interaction (states shaped by the
society and societies shaped by the
state): A continuous mutual process
of social and political change

STATE-CENTRIC APPROACH
Ancient monarchic and imperial regimes
The Greek polis and Athenian
democracy
The Feudal era
National monarchies
The republican age and nation-states
World divided by ideologies (World Wars
and Cold War)
Globalization

STUDY OF POLITICS IN THE


GLOBAL ERA
The rebirth of identities in the political
arena
Globalizing economy
The rise of NGOs (civil society)
International migration
State policies and differing reactions
from among the societies
Increasing awareness on political issues
due to technological advancements

THE SOCIETY FACTOR


Reactions of people to political events,
phenomenon, political institutions and
processes and the sociological basis of such
differing political behavior is the forthcoming
issue of political sociology in the contemporary
academic world

STATE & SOCIETY


States founded by people whereas people
politically shaped and oriented by states
State policies
Political traditions
Political culture
Political propaganda
From social engineering towards political
engineering
Ideological state apparatus

SOCIETY and POLITICAL


BEHAVIOR

Ethnic identities

Social stratification and classes

Gender

Age groups

Urban & Rural culture

Traditionalism & Reformism

THE MAIN ISSUE: POWER

Power as the ultimate aim of all


political processes
Competition for power among different
social groups as well as states
Differing faces of power: political
power, economic power, cultural
dominance

Political Sociology is the


Study of the Social
Organization of Power.

Power is the ability to impose ones will on


others.
Group Power (Webers term) is a groups
ability to do so and constitutes most
political power.
Power is legitimate if it is recognised by
the groups under control.
Legitimate power is the defining
characteristic of authority.
When non-authorities seek to change power
structures, they engage in social
movements.

Power (and Politics) Exist in


Many Settings.
Any setting in which force (coercion)
is, or can be, used constitutes a
political setting.
Most authorities use force rarely to
maintain order- order is achieved
tacitly.
Political settings in which force is rarely
necessary reflect normal politics.

State Theories
The State is the ultimate authority,
meaning that its authority stands
above all others.
However, individuals in civil society
also have control over the state, even
in non-democratic societies.
Two very different theories have
evolved to address the relationship
between the State and civil society:

Pluralist Theory (W.


Domhoff)

We live in a heterogeneous society with many


competing interest and spheres of power.

Thus, no one group can control the State.

Politics must entail negotiation and compromise.

As long as society remains pluralist, democracy is


guaranteed.

Elite Theory (C Wright Mills)


Elites are small groups that occupy
the command posts of social
institutions (major corporations,
media, political party heads, etc).
Elites decisions profoundly affect the
lives of all others in society.
Elites can make decisions without
regard for elections or public opinion.
Elites are connected through social
bonds, but maintain unique spheres
of influence.

Criticisms of State Theories


Pluralist Theory:
Its nave. It does not acknowledge
serious disparities in wealth and power.
Moreover, those disparities are selfperpetuating: Privilege begets privilege.

Elite Theory:
Elections are important and do effect
changes in political structures.
Election victories often happen as the
result of mobilization of non-elites.

Theories of Social
Movements
Relative Deprivation Theory
Change occurs when people feel an
intolerable gap between what they think
they deserve and what they expect to
receive.
This gap is called relative deprivation.
Relative deprivation is very different from
poverty or absolute deprivation.
RDT has however been questioned because
leaders in social movements are usually not
deprived, relatively or otherwise.

Theories of Social
Movements

Resource-Mobilization Theory

Social movement can only occur when the


disadvantaged can marshal the resources to challenge
authority.

Resources include social ties, jobs, money, weapons,


and publicity, among others.

R-MT is mostly a description of social movements and


not a theory per se, which makes it difficult to
criticise or to evaluate.