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[book cover] Sociocultural Systems

Frank W. Elwell

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June 2013

9781927356203 (Paperback)
9781927356210 (PDF)
9781927356227 (ePub)





About the Book

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, émile 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. Examining the bigger picture is a task often left to public intellectuals.

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.


About the Authors

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.



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Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.5 CA). It may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, provided that the original author is credited.


เกมส์ยิงปลาออนไลน์Download the entire book

Select a Chapter

DownloadFront Matter

DownloadTable of Contents




Download1. Principles of Macrosociology

Download2. Materialism in Macrosociology

Download3. Evolutionism in the Work of the Founders

Download4. Contemporary Social Evolution

Download5. Bureaucratization

Download6. Capital

Download7. The State

เกมส์ยิงปลาออนไลน์Download8. Rationalization

Download9. The System

DownloadA Glossary of Sociology





“This beautifully written book is one of those rare gems that one is fortunate to encounter in an increasingly disenchanted world. Every page provokes new thoughts and engages the emotions. Unlike the deconstructionists, Elwell reconstructs social theory? by connecting significant issues and social theorists from the past with the needs and passions of the present.? Above all, he finds what diverse thinkers held in common as they struggled to make sense of the social worlds. This book is a must read for students, professors, and laypersons alike”

—Stjepan Mestrovic, Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University


Sociocultural Systems provides a stimulating introduction to, and challenging ?overview of, macrosociology, that can be read with equal benefit by everyone from freshmen in Sociology 101 to graduate students in advanced theory courses. ?Elwell has done an excellent job of blending the development of macrosocial theory from the early classics to the present day with a strong emphasis on the substance and processes of social change throughout human history. ?Even faculty members who, themselves,?have never been introduced to a truly comprehensive and coherent ?theoretical framework for the discipline (and, sadly, that includes far too many) will benefit from this volume and find it intellectually rewarding. ?I believe?Sociocultural Systems merits serious consideration for the American Sociological Association's annual distinguished book award.”

—Gerhard Lenski, author of Power and Privilege and
Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology


“As a historian, I've always had a great deal of respect for the sister discipline of sociology. As a specialist in historiography, i.e., the study of historians and their interpretations of history, Elwell's work in sociological theory, specifically macrosociology, resonates a great deal for me. He insists that macrosociology ‘should not be considered just another specialty within sociology . . . [but rather] the holistic view of a sociologist's subject matter, the overall framework within which the specialities exist.’ I honestly believe I can make the same case for historiography in re history. This book should have value for those in all social science disciplines, not just sociology and history. Economists, for example, could benefit from Elwell's coverage of the origins of capitalism, the best explanation I've ever read, and political scientists from his discussion of the origins of the military-industrial complex. Indeed, this is a valuable work for any intellectually curious reader.”

—Davis Joyce, author of Howard Zinn: A Radical American Vision


“Although the joint systems and evolutionary frameworks sit uneasily together at times, Elwell refreshingly emphasizes what macrosociologists, particularly the 19th century classics of Malthus, Spencer, Marx, Durkheim and Weber, have in common rather than the more usual what divides them. All in all, this treatment of the material, structural and ideal features of societies is a worthy heir of Lenski.”

—Marion Blute, author of Darwinian Sociocultural Evolution:
Solutions to Dilemmas in Cultural and Social Theory