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Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing: Bridging the Divide

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Athens: Pedio, Introduction in K. Karavidas, Agriculture: Comparative Study. Athens: Papazisis, Kontogiorgis ed. Athens: Exantas, Lampiri-Dimaki and N. In addition, the carnage of the First World War, in which millions were killed and wounded, dealt a severe blow to the smug assumption that Western culture and civilization were more advanced than elsewhere, and did little to confirm the view that technological supremacy was necessarily an advantage.

Whereas in Britain, diffusionism had less of an impact. In itself, this would be irrelevant, except for the fact that Parsons, one of the key figures in modernization theory, was strongly influenced by British social anthropology. Structural Functionalism : Malinowski to Parson In the opening decades of the twentieth century, evolutionism and diffusionism not only vied with each other, but also with structural functionalism, which was to become the dominant perspective in sociology and anthropology. Much of its increased influence was due to Malinowski — , who was perhaps the first to develop structural functionalism as a specific approach to fieldwork.

Malinowski insisted that to understand social life it is not enough to indulge in sociological abstraction. Instead, it is necessary to enter fully into the social situation we wish to understand, living with the indigenes, using their language, and not interpreters, joining in 13 The main proponents of British school of Diffusionism were G. Elliot J Perry and W. R Rivers.

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Harisson, op. We had to become a part of their culture, and their culture had to become part of us. Initially, there are individual needs for food, drink, sleep and sex. These are reflected in the needs of all members of society for safety, bodily comfort, health and so on. At a cultural level, there are derived needs for reproduction through kinship and health through the practice of hygiene.

In addition, social control is necessary, to regulate individual behavior, along with education to socialize the young. In this way, Malinowski moved, in fairly obvious stages, from the concept of basic needs of individuals to the derived needs that have to be met for the continued survival of entire societies and cultures. The notion of Malinowski profoundly influenced Talcott Parsons , one of the key figures in sociology and in post modernization theory. As we know, by the middle of the twentieth century, structural functionalists had come to dominate sociological theory and, among them, Talcott Parsons was pre-eminent.

Functionalism, for many sociologists, was the order of the day, and it was from the soil of Parsonian sociology that modernization theories sprouted. For Parsons, modern society is far less programmed, but offers more programs, than traditional society.

This includes roles, as well. Inclusion is a tolerance of the unusual, and a stepping stone for the pursuit of homogeneity among heterogeneity. But the process of inclusion, in an uncertain and instable world, is based on a smaller and smaller common ground. Value-generalization is easily translated into the levelling or standardization of value, or the abstraction of value.

Put differently, a generalized value is an ambiguous and vague value. Moreover, modern society is indicted for not living up to its professed values, as demonstrated by the existence of poverty and racial discrimination and the persistence of war and imperialism.. The French Revolution, a phase of the early democratic revolution, spawned the Jacobins, the absolutists of Rousseauean democracy. The student radicals of the New Left have begun to play an analogous role in the educational revolution. We face a paradox.

Revolutionaries resent hearing that they share any values with those whose immoral systems they seek to overthrow.

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As I have used the concept of 16 Ibid 17 Parson, The first is the institutionalization of accountability, one example of which is the accountability of elected officials to their constituencies. Economic markets perform analogous functions, though imperfectly, as do mechanisms for certifying competence in the academic world, the professions, and other fiduciary bodies. The second mode is the institutionalization of equality of opportunity so that no citizen shall for ascriptive reasons race, social class, religion, ethnic affiliation , be barred from equal access to opportunities for performance, as in employment, or to opportunities for making effective performance possible, like health and education.

This ideal is far from full realization, but the view, so prevalent today, that equality of opportunity is sheer mockery suggests that the ideal actually is being taken seriously. Neo — Evolutionism and Neo-Functionalism Either neo-evolutionism or neo-functionalism was a revival of classical evolutionism and functionalism. In his late work, Parsons tried to inject his structural-functionalist approach with some dynamism by integrating it with a neo- evolutionist perspective.

As societies move from lower to higher levels of complexity, multifunctional social units such as extended kinship groups become less self-contained, 19 Talcot Parson, On Institution and Social Evolution Chicago: The University Of Chicago Press, , p. This process of differentiation — provided it is accompanied by an effective integration of the differentiated parts — makes possible a more effective mobilization of available resources, and therefore a more successful adaptation to the changing environment.

Within this perspective Parsons uses what he calls evolutionary universals in an attempt to define some of the mechanisms that allow societies to increase dramatically their adaptive capacities.

Modern and Postmodern Social Theorizing: Bridging the Divide - Nicos P. Mouzelis - Google книги

J Levy — a neo-evolutionist, defined modernization a continuum, according to the degree to which inanimate power and tools were developed. In this sense, it might be argued that, for him, the key element in evolution was technological progress, and the process of evolution simply led to increased human control of the physical environment. Nevertheless, the social structural concomitants of this process are described in terms virtually identical to those employed by Parsons. For Levy, more than Parsons, modernization was inevitable, and would have occurred even without 22 David Larisson, op.


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However, Levy was well aware of the disruptive elements in modernization: with an increase in specialization and interdependence social structures come under attack, none more so than the family, which approximates increasingly to the nuclear family common throughout Western Europe and North America. Most of all, as Harisson quotes, with modernization comes instability: The more highly modernized the society concerned, the more involved in the process of modernization, the greater is the implication of instability emanating from any social context for its members… Vulnerability inheres in any contact the members of such societies have with those of relatively modernized societies.

Any such contacts increase interdependence. The path to relative modernity may be more fraught, but is is undoubtedly one in which increased Westernization continues to be the goal. Neo — Functionalism There are two well — known neo-functionalists i. If Parsons is the father of sociological theory, Jeffrey Alexander and Anthony Giddens are his main heirs pre-sumptive. Like Parsons, they both try to create a set of concepts to help raise interesting sociological questions and investigate the social world in a non-empiricist, theoretically rigorous manner. His aim, at least in his more theoretically orientated work, is to provide a fully concept, with the help of which we can 23 Ibid.