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one-dimensional approach to social analysis that is

inadequate to the complex or multidimensional

character of social phenomena. Few sociologists

would identify with economism in an extreme

form, even though many would regard the economy

as a central (perhaps the central) aspect of

social structure, power, and social inequality.

The idea of economism rests on the modern

assumption of a social differentiation. This

perspective sees society as becoming differentiated

into distinct spheres – the economy, government,

law, and culture – that are autonomous

from one another and centered on specialized

institutions – such as markets and factories, parliaments

and law courts, and so forth. The idea of

differentiation, however, raises questions as to the

relationship between different spheres, in this

case between the economy and the rest of society.

While economistic thinking sees this in terms of

the causal primacy of the economy over polity and

culture, this assumption remains controversial.

Sociologists generally prefer alternative accounts

which emphasize the role of government and

culture in the constitution and regulation of

economic life. ROBERT HOLTON


In the most simple and general sense, the concept

of the economy is used to refer to the social

organizations and institutions that are involved

in the production and distribution of goods and

services in society – firms, labor, money-capital,

and the markets and networks by which they are

connected and articulated. The term is derived

from the ancient Greek oeconomicus which referred

to the practical activity of household (oikos)

management. From the late Middle Ages onward,

particularly in western Europe, the social organization

of production and exchange became

increasingly detached from the feudal and communal

social relations of households, manors, and

patrimonial estates. Home and work gradually

became structurally separated. An early sociological

analysis of this process is contained in

Max Weber’s General Economic History (1927 [trans.


Early nineteenth-century classical economics saw

the resulting “economy,” comprising the factors

of production of land, capital, and labor, as a relatively

autonomous subsystem of society that was

governed by the economic laws of the market, conceptualized

by Adam Smith (1723–90) as the “invisible

hand.” This approach identifies the “economy”

with the “market.” Talcott Parson’s social theory

endorsed this distinction between “economy” and

“society”; but there have also been two critical

responses within sociology to this conceptualization.

First, Karl Polanyi, following Karl Marx and

Weber, contended that the modern market economy

should be understood as a historically specific

type of economy in which production and

exchange had become separated, or “disembedded”

from wider social relations and norms. Second, as

Mark Granovetter has argued, economic relations

in modern economies are also social relations.

In a critique of the postulate of natural scarcity

in classical economics, Marx argued that it was a

socially produced consequence of the unequal

and exploitative relations in the economy. He classified

different types of economy as historically

located modes of production, distinguished by different

technological “means” and “social relations”

of production between owners and nonowners.

Marx identified a sequence of development from

primitive communism – through ancient, Asiatic,

feudal, and capitalist – to communismor socialism.


The general Marxian approach to the analysis of

economies is developed by the modern Parisian

Regulation School, exemplified in Michel Aglietta’s

The Theory of Capitalist Regulation (1979). Regulation

theory identifies three successive modes of regulation

of capitalist economies from the middle of the

nineteenth to the late twentieth century: (1) the

nineteenth-century competitive mode of regulation;

(2) twentieth-century “monopoly capitalism”

and mass production or Fordism (see Post-Fordism);

and (3) the 1970s crisis of Fordism and the

subsequent partial disintegration of flexible specialization,

and development of regional industrial

districts, or disorganized capitalism.

In The Long Twentieth Century (1994), Giovanni

Arrighi synthesized the Marxian and Weberian

classical sociology with the economics of Adam

Smith (1723–90) and with the history of Fernand

Braudel (1902–85), to produce an analysis of the

successive hegemonies of structurally different

capitalist economies from the Renaissance Italian

city-states, to the Netherlands, Britain, and the

United States.

Modern sociology, for example in P. Hall and

D. Soskice (eds.), Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional

Foundations of Comparative Advantage (2001),

has been concerned with the question of the diversity

of modern capitalist economies. In the first

place, the success of East Asian capitalism and the

rapid advance of the German and French economies

after World War II led to a debate on

whether there existed equally efficient and effective

forms of capitalism to the Anglo-American

liberal market system. In Stock Market Capitalism:

Welfare Capitalism, Japan and Germany Versus the

Anglo-Saxons (2000), Ronald Dore argued that

Japan and Germany had been able to combine

economic success with social welfare. The debate

continues in the context of the relatively poor

performance of these economies from the late

twentieth century. Second, the transition from

the central planning of communism in the former

Soviet Union and the continued liberalization and

growth of the Chinese economy have stimulated a

debate on the type of capitalist economy that is

likely to develop in the former state socialist


A further important consideration, also discussed

in Bruno Amable’s The Diversity of Modern

Capitalism (2003), is whether economic globalization

will reduce the existing diversity of different

types of capitalism in a process of convergence

towards the Anglo-Saxon liberal market type of



A concern with education has been inseparably

linked with the development of sociology,

especially in the French tradition. In defining sociology,

Auguste Comte argued that there had been

a historical progression in the advancement of

all science from deploying religious and metaphysical

conceptual frameworks to adopting

procedures of positivist analysis, based on observation.

This intellectual progression was mirrored

institutionally by corresponding forms of social

organization – from feudal and aristocratic

systems to that culminating form which would

be the consequence of secular, social engineering.

The emergence of positivist analysis of human

and social relations would necessarily entail the

construction of forms of social organization

which, for the first time, would be founded on

science rather than prejudice or privilege . Positivist

scientists would become the legislators of mankind.

Comte was aware that the prevalence of

positivist principles in social practice in mass society

would require some emotional underpinning,

and he proposed the institutionalization of

a positive religion which would generate a sense

of ideological and social inclusion, operating as a

secular, surrogate Catholic Church.

The third French Republic – of “intellectuals” –

tried, from 1871, to introduce a system of state

education which would perform the function that

Comte had projected for an organized positivist

religion. The function of the education system

would be to generate social solidarity by initiating

the whole population of the country into the secular

values which informed its organization and

operation. It was E´mile Durkheim who tried to

implement Comte’s program in the 1890s by

carrying out sociological research and by articulating

rules which should govern the method of

sociological enquiry, but it is important to remember

that he taught pedagogy at the same time

as sociology for the whole of his life. In his first

post at the University of Bordeaux, from 1887

until 1902, he gave weekly lectures on pedagogy

to teachers and, when he moved to Paris, it was

to the Chair in the Science of Education at the

Sorbonne. Durkheim’s writings on education

were assembled posthumously, notably Education

and Sociology (1922 [trans. 1956]), Moral Education: A

Study in the Theory and Application of the Sociology of

Education (1925 [trans. 1961]), and Pedagogical Evolution

in France (1938 [trans. 1977]). In his introduction

to the first of these texts, Paul Fauconnet

insisted that Durkheim’s parallel attachment to

economy education


sociological and educational analyses was not at

all accidental, but, rather, that “it is in as much as

it is a social fact that he approaches education: his

doctrine of education is an essential element of

his sociology.” The two dimensions of Durkheim’s

thinking explain the traditional affinity between

sociology and the study of education: on the one

hand pedagogical practices within the educational

system were necessary instruments for fulfilling

the social mission which was the legacy of

Comtist thinking. On the other hand, it was important

that the study of education should exemplify

sociological rigor. Typically, Durkheim began

his discussion in Education and Sociology with a

critical examination of the existing definitions of

education. He argued that the word had been used

too broadly to include the influence of nature on

human will and intelligence and that, instead, it

should be restricted to mean solely the action

which adults exercise over the young. To define

this education more closely would entail an analysis

of educational practice in different times and

places. In faithful positivist fashion, Durkheim


We do not know a priori what is the function of the

respiratory or circulatory systems for living beings.

By what privilege should we be better informed

concerning the educative function? ... Hence, must it

not be the case that to constitute a preliminary

notion of education, to determine the thing which is

denominated in this way, historical observation

appears to be indispensable.

His social history of pedagogy in France fulfilled

just this function. For Durkheim, the sociology of

education was to be pedagogically prescriptive by

being methodologically exemplary.

The inaugurating concern of sociology with

education was the product of a particular set of

social and intellectual circumstances in France at

the end of the nineteenth century. Consideration

of the legacy of this concern raises broad questions

about the transcultural and transtemporal

applicability of the social sciences. In considering

the “predisciplinary history of social science” in

general, in his The Rise of Social Theory (1995), Johan

Heilbron has argued that this rise was part of a

progressive secularization of human societies. At

first this involved a return to the works of classical

antiquity, and to Aristotelian “practical philosophy”

in particular, but this was the starting-point

for the articulation of modern notions which characterized

the predisciplinary history of social science.

There followed stages of development which,

in Heilbron’s view, moved from primary interest

in conceptions of state and law to concern with

economic theory until, in the eighteenth century,

there emerged a secular approach to the concept

of society which meant breaking with both

theology and political theory.

There is a reciprocal relationship between developing

social conditions which generate new

social sciences and the contributions which social

scientific analyses of these emergent developments

make towards their realization. Durkheimian

sociology of education was in a reciprocal

relationship with those social and political forces

which suggested that the introduction of a statecontrolled

national education system would actualize

the concept of a conscience collective which

would ensure social cohesion and foster a national

identity. There was an affinity with the distrust

of individualism manifested at the same time in

Germany in the formulation of the notions of

Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (see Ferdinand


In the United Kingdom in the same period,

the response to similar forces arising from similar

phenomena of industrialization (see industrial

society) and democratization (see democracy)

developed within a different conceptual framework

– that of liberalism. In his contribution to

The Rise of the Modern Educational System: Structural

Change and Social Reproduction, 1870–1920 (1987), the

English Marxist social historian, Brian Simon,

demonstrated that the consequence of the United

Kingdom Elementary Education Act of 1870 was

that three levels of schooling came into being

in the period from 1860 to 1900: “public” schools

for the upper middle class, elementary schooling

for the working class, and a new set of schools

aimed at accommodating the middle classes. The

outcome, he contended, was “the establishment of

a highly differentiated system in which each level

served, in theory at least, a specific social class (or

subsection of a class), with each having a specific

function.” In the early years of British sociology,

the problem of education was much less central

than in France precisely because education was

not required to perform the same social function.

There was little expectation that the educational

system should contribute towards the development

of a self-conscious social democracy and, rather,

the enlargement of educational provision was a

carefully regulated mechanism for legitimating

the allocation of individuals to pre-established,

stratified, social and professional positions.

In general terms, the liberal tradition led to

research which focused on the performance of

individuals and on the relationship between educational

and occupational hierarchies. In part, the

education education


emphasis was on educational psychology and

the measurement of intelligence. In so far as this

tradition generated a sociology of education, it

was a sociology which, particularly in the United

States, responded to the given structure of relations

between education and the economy. It

was the impulse towards egalitarianism provided

by World War II which, in the United Kingdom,

stimulated an adoption of a Durkheimian orientation

towards the sociological analysis of education.

It is significant that it was in this period that

Durkheim’s texts on education were first translated

into English, and sociological analysis began

to operate reciprocally in tandem with the movement

towards the comprehensivization of the

schooling system.

The stimulus given to British sociology of education

by the publication in 1971 of the collection

of articles edited by M. F. D. Young, entitled Knowledge

and Control. New Directions for the Sociology of

Education – which first popularized early articles

by Basil Bernstein and Pierre Bourdieu – came

largely from a re-discovery of Durkheim’s societal

perspective. In France, however, Bourdieu’s work

was provoked by his sense that the official ideology

of the French educational system masked

social differentiation and that it was no longer

possible, in any case, to assume that the achievement

of equality within an educational system

could guarantee social equality. Bourdieu problematized

the systemic legacy of Third Republic

educational ideology and also refused to limit the

sociology of education to the analysis of pedagogical

relations within schooling institutions.

The shift in his thinking was accurately reflected

in the English rendering of the title of his book on

reproduction which, in France in 1970, was subtitled

“Elements for a Theory of the Educational

System”, but, in English in 1977, was called Reproduction

in Education, Society and Culture. Writing

within the Durkheimian tradition, Bourdieu

offered a framework for analyzing the function

of schooling within a society which was conceived

as being in a state of conflict or competition,

where educational attainment, cultural taste, occupational

position are mobilized in interacting

ways to acquire and legitimize the acquisition

of power. Without renouncing the ideal of the

socialist tradition – of achieving social equality,

solidarity, and inclusion – Bourdieu provided a

conceptual apparatus which could accommodate

the interests of the liberal tradition. It is significant

that Bourdieu’s work of the 1960s became

available in translation in the United States at

the end of the 1970s. The technocratic model of

education had become dominant in the United

States. It operated on the assumption that the

graded performance of students in education

was a reliable indicator of eligibility for posts

in a correlative hierarchy of occupations. Several

challenges to this assumption emanated from the

United States: the de-schooling movement;

the articulation of the influence of a hidden

curriculum in formal learning contexts; and

the critiques of credentialism. In different ways,

these were all attempts to rescue the sociology of

education from subservience to the status quo

of assumed relations between school and work

and, therefore, between educational and economic

opportunities. The refusal to accept the acultural

assumptions of the technocratic model

was strengthened by the association with the

civil rights movement (see social movements)

and the concomitant interest in affirmative action

as a way of enabling educational opportunity to

overcome cultural disadvantage.

If we accept, first, that the sociology of education

at any time is in reciprocal relationship with

educational policies; second, that it has emerged

in the West in two, ideal-typical, philosophical

traditions of socialism and liberalism; and, third,

that its history in the West demonstrates the

effects both of the internal reciprocity between

theory and practice and of cross-cultural conceptual

transfer between these competing traditions –

then, two provocative questions arise, one local

and the other global. If the hegemony of the conservative

party in British politics from the 1970s

to 1997 suppressed the resurgence of a socialist

sociology of education, has the effect of the

New Labour accommodation with Thatcherism,

associated with the sociological work of Anthony

Giddens, neutralized sociological critique and

encouraged the development of a postmodern

version of the technocratic model? Does the appropriation

of cultural difference through the overriding

force of economic performativity now

mean that a sociology of international education

is doomed to stand impotently by as the

technocratic model begins to prevail globally?


Eisenstadt, Shmuel Noah (1923– )

Emeritus Professor in the Department of Sociology

and Anthropology at the Hebrew University of

Jerusalem and a recipient of the Balzan Prize in

1988, Eisenstadt has made important contributions

to comparative, historical and political sociology.

In The Political System of Empires (1967), he

examined pre-industrial societies to establish the

education Eisenstadt, Shmuel Noah (1923– )


conditions that contributed to their instability

and ultimate transformations. He made a major

contribution to the study of generations and

social change in From Generation to Generation: Age

Groups and Social Structure (1971). Eisenstadt was in

general concerned to understand development in

non-western societies in terms of the legacy of

Max Weber in The Protestant Ethic and Modernization

(1968). He has been fascinated by Japanese society

in Japanese Civilization (1996), because Japan raises

many acute questions about whether the western

model of development is unique. Eistenstadt has

therefore been influential in arguing that there

are many forms of modernity rather than a single,

uniform process of modernization. His idea

of “multiple modernities” has been explored in

Patterns of Modernity (1987) (with D. Sachsenmaier),

and he edited Reflections on Multiple Modernities:

European, Chinese and other Interpretations (2002)

and Comparative Civilizations and Multiple Modernities

(2003). He has also contributed to the sociological

understanding of fundamentalism in Fundamentalism,

Sectarianism and Revolution (1999), arguing that

Islamic fundamentalism is not anti-modern or

even traditional, but another type of modernity.


elective affinity

– see Max Weber.

Elias, Norbert (1897–1990)

Born in Breslau, German sociologist Elias studied

medicine and philosophy before graduating with

a doctorate in philosophy in 1922. He worked with

Alfred Weber, before becoming academic assistant

to Karl Mannheim in Frankfurt in 1929. After fleeing

to Paris in 1933, following the rise of the

Nazis, Elias settled in England in 1935, taking a

research fellowship at the London School of Economics.

In 1954, he was appointed to the subsequently

influential Sociology Department at the

University of Leicester. He also held university

positions in Frankfurt, Ghana, Bielefeld, and

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