Macrosociology-the study of large-scale social structures and
the fundamental principles of social organization-was the style
of sociology practiced by the founders of the discipline. Today, the
social theories of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Herbert
Spencer (among others) are commonly studied as part of the history of
the field, but, although the macrosociological approach that these
thinkers advocated is still employed, it no longer dominates the
discipline. Instead, sociologists typically adopt a narrower focus,
specializing in areas such as social psychology, medicine, religion, or
the study of social stratification.
Sociocultural Systems aims to reinstate macrosciology as the heart
of the discipline by demonstrating that both classical and contemporary
macrosociologists stand upon common ground. Focusing on the broad
issues that concerned the founders, Elwell addresses questions such as:
Historically, what factors accounted for the origin, survival, and
evolution of sociocultural systems? Why were some societies more
technologically advanced than others? What is the origin of capitalism?
What factors determine the allocation of goods and services within and
among societies? What effects do changes in government and economic
institutions have on communities?
Elwell argues that, as evolution does for biology, the
macrosociological paradigm offers an analytical strategy that can be
used both to guide and prioritize research in all of the myriad
specialties within sociology and to lay forth an orderly body of
knowledge for students. Clearly articulating important sociological
principles, Sociocultural Systems provides a critical understanding of
social institutions and issues, while also furnishing a framework for
possible solutions to the perennial social crises that are part and
parcel of the development of human societies.
Frank W. Elwell is a professor of sociology and the dean of Liberal Arts at Rogers State University, in Oklahoma.He is the author of Macrosociology: Four Modern Theorists, among other works.
Acknowledgements- xi Preface- xiii Introduction- 3 1. Principles of Macrosociology- 7 2. Materialism in Macrosociology- 37 3. Evolutionism in the Work of the Founders- 67 4. Contemporary Social Evolution- 91 5. Bureaucratization- 125 6. Capital- 155 7. The State- 193 8. Rationalization- 221 9. The System- 239 A Glossary of Sociology- 265 Notes- 343 References- 365 Index- 371