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that it can release an active sacred energy, which

reverses the normal course of time and the forms

of social order, encouraging sacrilegious words

and deeds including sexual excesses. The festival

helps rediscover the creative chaos associated with

cosmic time and space and it may not only purify

and renew the established social order but change

it in fundamental ways.

Modern carnivals, however, are but dying

echoes of earlier festivals – for example, the joyful

destruction of a cardboard representation of a

buffoon-like king has little sacral relevance because,

when an effigy replaces an actual human

victim, expiation or fertility are not a likely


Caillois was a rigorous Durkheimian and his

analysis is in accord with Durkheim’s belief that

all forms of social phenomena that keep recurring

within societies of a particular species — whether

the phenomena superficially seem conformist or

deviant — are either themselves functional for

society as a whole or a necessary concomitant of

something that is functional.

Bataille significantly modified Durkheim’s distinction

between the profane and the sacred.

Durkheim distinguishes between phenomena or

categorizations, homogeneous internally but

heterogeneous each to the other, but Bataille reinterprets

the distinction as one between

the “homogeneous” and the “heterogeneous.”

The profane involves homogenization: deferred

gratification, analysis and calculation, planning

and utility, production and the controlled consumption

necessary for the reproduction and conservation

of economically productive human life,

conformist individuals experiencing themselves

as separate self-sufficient subjects, the possession

and consumption of objects.

The sacred is associated with heterogeneity:

socially useless activity, unlimited expenditure,

orgiastic impulses, sexual activity, defecation,

urination, ritual cannibalism, with extreme emotions,

tabooed objects and their transgression —

for example corpses and menstrual blood. The

sacred evokes feelings of both attraction and repulsion

and is linked with violence and its violent

containment; with the cruelty of sacrificing

others and with the subsumption of individuals

within totalizing group processes when they fearlessly

confront death and are willing to sacrifice

themselves. It is potentially dangerous and destabilizing.

More generally, while in contemporary

societies sacral processes have become more obscure

and suppressed, less obviously religious,

they are still present, as can be seen in the way

that men are attracted to sacrificial ceremonies

and festivals. This discussion is to be found in “The

Use-Value of D. A. F. de Sade: An Open Letter to My

Current Comrades” in “Attraction and Repulsion”

(Hollier, 1988: 106–22): “The Structure and Function

of the Army” (1988: 139–44), “Joy in the

Face of Death” (1988: 325–28), and “The College

of Sociology” (1988: 333–41).

Colle`ge de Sociologie Colle`ge de Sociologie


In fact, historically, the sacred has been generated

by taboo-violating rituals, and sacrifices have

been key elements in festivals which both regenerate

the sacred and corral it. The activities that

both Caillois and Bataille describe are renewing

and transforming cosmological social meanings

and interpersonal and social relations, but

Bataille provides a model which presumes a

much lower level of integration, and which assumes

less “societally functional” outcomes, than

does the model found in the discourses of

Durkheim (and Caillois). It is more marked by

contradictions and tensions and, hence, possibly

also subject to imperative elements.

The meetings of the Colle`ge de Sociologie consisted

of lectures followed by a discussion. Something

less traditional is hinted at in Bataille’s final

lecture at the Colle`ge. Bataille argues that the

sacred is produced when human beings communicate

in such a naked way that they form new

beings. When humans unite with each other, for

example through love, this always involves a

mutual tearing and wounding. But lovers fear

that sustaining their relationship for its own

sake may subvert their ability to love to the point

of losing themselves in love. Thus, to sustain the

intensity of their feelings they must give themselves

to turbulent passions and be with each

other in a state of heightened drama, even to the

point of being willing to embrace death. This may

involve just the two, but they may seek to increase

the intensity of their experience by incorporating

another person into their erotic domain, leading

to an even more annihilating expenditure. It is

not hard to see why Bataille would conclude his

lecture by claiming that eroticism slips easily into

orgy, but it is not as self-evident why he links this,

as he does, with sacrifice becoming an end in itself

and a universal value.

At that time, Bataille hoped, by the ritual execution

of a consenting victim, to release sacred

energies. This was to have been a ritual enacted

by the members of the second Ace´phale, the anti-

Christian and Nietzschean secret society Bataille

formed in 1936 and for which the Colle`ge represented

an outside activity. Much has been revealed

in the recent volume edited by Marina Galletti,

L’Apprenti Sorcier du cercle communiste de´mocratique

a` Ace´phale: Textes, lettres et documents (1917–1962);

rassemble´s, pre´sente´s et annote´s par Marina Galletti

(1999). From this it is evident that Ace´phale’s

goals — “to change the torture that exists in the

world into joy within us; the Crucified into happy

laughter; our old immense weakness into will to

power” – were meant to be “communifying.” They

found a willing victim, probably Leiris, and it is

believed that Caillois was offered the role of the

sacrificer, the actual executioner. Immediately

after the sacrifice, the sacrificer was also expected

to kill himself – for Bataille, the executioner’s

desire was to be a victim. Caillois did not accept

the offer. Further, according to French sacrificial

theory, each sacrifice involves not only a victim

and a sacrificer but also a sacrifier (the source of

the desire for the sacrifice), and in this case each

member of the group was a sacrifier, and presumably

each of them – through “contagion” – could

have been both sacrificer and victim. The human

sacrifice never took place.

Now, in his sole lecture at the Colle`ge, “The

Sacred in Everyday Life,” Leiris’s emphasis was

psychological and personal. He was concerned

with the variety of things – objects, places, or

occasions – that awaken the mixture of fear and

attachment taken as indicating the sacred. Much

of his lecture was devoted to the symbolic meanings

and associations of the sacred things that he

was familiar with in his own early years, but this

style of engagement had few resonances with

other lectures at the Colle`ge. In fact, Leiris soon

distanced himself from its activities. One might

speculate that this was associated with the failure

of Ace´phale’s sacrificial promise, but, overtly

at least, he did so, from another place, as a professional

ethnologist. In a letter to Bataille he

suggested three major objections to the way the

activities of the Colle`ge had developed. It tended

to work from ideas that were ill-defined, thus

comparisons were often carelessly made with societies

which were very different from each

other; it was in danger of becoming a mere

clique; and, finally, it overemphasized the sacred,

thereby subverting Mauss’s idea of a total social

fact. Caillois had made clear that the quality of

the collective work should be such that its results

could be substantiated and that the research

would command respect. He had become increasingly

uneasy about the extent to which this was

being achieved. Indeed, his lecture “The Sociology

of the Executioner” could be seen as a critique

of Bataille’s overly voluntaristic and

socially decontextualized understanding of sacrificial

ritual, an understanding which also, it

might be added, underestimates the necessary

role that alea or chance plays in producing the

sacred. Eventually, Caillois also distanced himself

from the Colle`ge. Bataille, alone of the three, in

July 1939, attended the last session. In September

of the same year, all of its members withdrew

from Ace´phale. FRANK PEARCE

Colle`ge de Sociologie Colle`ge de Sociologie


Collins, Randall (1941– )

Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania,

Collins has made important contributions

to historical sociology, the study of networks, and

sociological theory. His work in macrosociology

has been influenced by Max Weber, and he has

developed a distinctive interpretation of Weber in

Conflict Sociology: Towards an Explanatory Science

(1975), The Credential Society. An Historical Sociology

of Education and Stratification (1979), Weberian Sociological

Theory (1986), and Max Weber. A Skeleton Key

(1986). From a Weberian perspective, Collins has

analyzed the rise and fall of major civilizations

and empires, and studied the conditions for capitalist

growth in Macro History. Essays in Sociology of

the Long Run (1999). His most ambitious and influential

study was on the global consequences of

networks for the development of philosophy in

his The Sociology of Philosophies. A Global Theory of

Intellectual Change (1998). He has also used the

work of Erving Goffman to develop a theory of

“interaction chains” to study such phenomena as

violence and sexual interaction in Interaction Ritual

Chains (2004). BRYAN S. TURNER


Often treated as synonymous with imperialism, it

seems helpful to distinguish between them. Imperialism

refers to rule by a superior power over

subordinate territories, but it is consistent, as

with the Roman Empire, with the extension of

citizenship to members of the conquered territories.

The early forms of colonialism, as with the

ancient Greeks, could also give rise to more or

less equal, self-governing colonies; but modern

colonialism, which has given the term its dominant

meaning, usually refers to a fundamental inequality

between metropole and colony, often

codified in law, and resulting in a basic dependence

of the colony on the metropolitan power.

There have been two main forms of modern

colonialism. In the first, inhabitants of one country

establish colonies in another country, often in

the process displacing or even exterminating the

indigenous inhabitants of that country. This was

the case, for instance, with the British colonies in

North America, Australia, and New Zealand;

though originally unintended, this also turned

out to be essentially the condition of the Spanish

and Portuguese colonies in the New World. Even

though it is clear that the colony is an off-shoot of

the parent body and remains tied to it in many

ways, the similarity of sentiment, habits, and political

attitudes between metropole and colony

tends to mean that the colonies eventually aim

at independence and self-rule – even if, as in the

case of some of the American colonies, this has to

be accomplished by force. We can – cautiously –

call this the Greek model, as it follows the basic

pattern of Greek colonization in the ancient


The other form of modern colonialism is closer

to the old Roman model. Here a superior power

incorporates, usually by conquest, peoples of different

ethnicities and levels of development.

Examples of this form would include the European

colonization of much of Asia, Africa, and

the Pacific in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

In this form, colonialism shades over into

imperialism. There is usually an official ideology

of “the civilizing mission,” whereby the colonizing

power aims to bring up the colonies to the levels

of culture and material standards of its own society.

There is no expectation, in principle at least,

that the colonies will eventually achieve independence,

though their people may well, as in

the case of certain French colonies, achieve

degrees of citizenship. Though the civilizing mission

is offered as justification to the world at

large, to their own peoples colonial powers usually

justify colonial possessions in terms of their

benefit to the mother country. They are expected

to be a source of wealth and power, and to provide

raw materials and markets for the goods of the

colonial powers, together with opportunities for

investment. The fact that in very few actual cases

have things turned out as the colonizers hoped

has not prevented many people from continuing

to believe in the benefits of colonies – the Nazis,

for instance, attempted a form of colonialism in

Eastern Europe, as did the Italian fascists in North


In the best-known instances of colonialism, the

colonies are overseas, separated from the metropole

by large distances. But there can also be “internal

colonialism,” in which what are effectively

colonies exist on the doorstep of the metropole.

Such, argued Michael Hechter in an influential

book Internal Colonialism (1975), is the case of the

United Kingdom, with the English the dominant

“colonial” power in relation to the “colonized”

Welsh, Scottish, and Irish. A similar argument

has been made about Russia in relation to its

eastward expansion, especially as regards regions

such as Siberia. There is an obvious degree of truth

in this conception, but the limitations of the internal

colonialism model become apparent in the

cases of Spain and Canada, where the regions of

Collins, Randall (1941– ) colonialism


Catalonia or Quebec do not at all fit the idea of

exploited “colonies,” whatever the protestations

of the inhabitants.

Colonialism gave rise in due course to decolonization,

especially in the period following World

War II, when most European empires shed their

colonies, with varying degrees of violence and

usually under the pressure of nationalist movements.

Decolonization was generally hailed as a

victory for the principles of democracy and national

self-determination, and in some senses

therefore could be held to be the fulfillment of

the western mission, since the principles clearly

derived from western thought and practice. But to

many observers the triumph was hollow, since

what took the place of formal colonialism was

informal neo-colonialism. In this view, the colonies

achieve formal independence and national

sovereignty, but remain in many essential respects

as dependent on the former colonial

powers as when they were colonies. This is shown

in such matters as a narrow economic specialization,

geared to the requirements of the economies

of the advanced nations, and a culture that is

equally dependent on foreign, mostly western,

sources. Neo-colonial theorists point, as a telling

parallel, to the situation in Latin America, whose

countries were never formally colonized but

whose pattern of development was in important

respects dictated by the needs and interests of

dominant foreign powers, notably Britain and the

United States.

One should mention, finally, post-colonialism.

Unlike the other terms, this refers mainly to a

school of cultural criticism and analysis concerned

with the conditions of societies that have

achieved independence, following a period of

dependence and subordination as a part of colonial

empires. Its most thriving branch to date has

been on the Indian sub-continent, especially in the

work of the Subaltern Studies group; but it is

normal also to refer, for the founding texts, to

such works as Franz Fanon’s The Wretched of the

Earth (1961) and Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978).

Post-colonial studies cover a wide variety of fields,

but are especially marked by their exploration

of the complex and often contradictory effects of

the interaction between the colonized and the

colonizers in imperial settings, and of the lasting

legacy of this experience in the post-colonial


color blind

– see prejudice.

commodity Fetishism

– see alienation.


As a form of social organization and ideas about

it, the term indicates societies in which property

is commonly and fully owned and shared. In this

sense, the only societies to which this definition is

empirically applicable have been pre-agrarian

(hunter and gatherer societies) or early agrarian

stateless societies. This so-called primitive communism

is said to have disappeared with sedentary

living, economic surplus, and social status

differentiation related to material wealth. In Karl

Marx’s stage-theory, history began with primitive

communism. Within modern state societies, forms

of communal living with shared property have occurred,

but for sociological purposes are not

treated as examples of communism. Likewise, contemporary

hunter–gatherer societies have escaped

this label in sociological theorizing, partially as an

outcome of disciplinary struggles with anthropology.

In contemporary usage in the social sciences,

communism is often used as a shorthand for the

political regimes of the twentieth century that

were based on a diverse range of interpretations

of Marxist theory and doctrine. China, Cuba, and

North Korea are contemporary examples of societies

explicitly led by communist doctrine.

Where it is used as regime-type label, however,

the connotation deviates sharply from the original

theorizing of communism by Marx and

Friedrich Engels, where it did not signify a future

and desirable ultimate type of society (as interpreted

by the Young Hegelians), but a “real movement”

to transcend contemporary society

grounded in the present – for example in the

German Ideology (1845 [trans. 1965]) of Marx and

Engels. Therefore in Marx’s system of thought,

communism was no utopia. Marx’s concept

of communism is deeply rooted in philosophical

debates, specifically the Hegelian concept of

time. Disagreeing with Hegel’s conception of

the Spirit and its role in history, Marx understood

the transcendence of time and history as resulting

from human action. Seeing humans as expressing

themselves and their purposes, rather than

merely reproducing themselves, when engaging

in economic activities, Marx came to define the

workers as the agents of such transcendence. This

proposition introduced a much-debated paradox

into Marx’s theorizing, because he had to argue

that, at the same time as the material conditions

of capitalist production brought drudgery and

color blind communism


misery to the workers, work itself was also the

source of human creativity and self-fulfillment

for the laboring class. The crux of the matter for

Marx was that labor time, not labor as such, was

commodified in the capitalist mode of production,

thus leaving a residual for the self-actualization

of labor. As he argued, with what now

appears as great foresight, taking control of labor

time becomes a paramount concern in class

struggle, industrial relations, and management

in capitalism.

Within this paradox, Marx – decisively for

future generations of Marxian faith-based political

systems – had carved out a charismatic role

for labor, in the form of collective proletarian

revolutionary action. This vision contradicted his

evolutionary understanding of history, according

to which gradual progress within existing bourgeois

institutions (the fulfillment of particular

objective material factors) would eventually bring

about ultimate human freedom. Marx took the

concept of communism to mean the social movement

uniting all revolutionary proletarians, but it

remains unresolved as to how proletarian autonomy

and consciousness, necessary to transcend

the current conditions, can be achieved against

the historical-materialist axiom of the theory

that social existence determines consciousness

and not vice versa.

Marx’s writings show incoherence in terms of

his assessment of the possibilities lying in the

empirically existent working class during his

lifetime. On one hand, he argued, the totality of

the relations of production, constituting the economic

structure, is the foundation of the legal–

political superstructure, corresponding to definite

forms of social consciousness. The working class

thus was locked into structures provided by the

laws of history (see social structures). On the

other, as he and Engels argued in The Communist

Manifesto (1848) and observed in reality, he saw

some societies at the eve of a revolution, and

hoped this would carry enough critical mass to

overthrow the ruling classes and deliver a wholesome


Marx himself, after many years as a commentator

on labor’s collective action, became the leader

of the first International, which was founded in

1863 by labor leaders as a nation-spanning alliance

of workers in pursuit of the replacement

of the current economic system with one of collective

ownership of the means of production. The

International became an active political threat to

those in fear of the “specter of communism”

the Manifesto had promised, and although it

dissolved in 1876 it was followed by two more

Internationals. The political movement behind

the International featured both agreement and

disagreement about the overthrow of capitalism

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