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from diverse progressive forces.

The history of social organization based on communist

ideology cannot be understood without

reference to socialism. While all forms of socialism

are critical of capitalist organization and the

resulting social inequality, not all variants agree

over a centralized role for the state and the elimination

of private property as preconditions for

a better society. Eduard Bernstein (1850–1932), for

example, embraced Marx’s scientific theory but

found it at odds with the real development of

industrial capitalism that showed an improved

standard of living and class inequalities far less

polarized than anticipated by Marx. He found a

pacification of class protests and institutionalization

of socialist and communist parties. Bernstein

emphasized the role of democracy and advocated

social reform. A departure from Marx in another

direction was made by V. I. Lenin, who forged the

idea of the necessity of a vanguard party that

would translate the interests of the workers into

revolutionary action. Lenin’s version of Marxian

theory stressed socialism as more than a transitional

phase: the bourgeois state would be eliminated

while the proletarian state would be built.

Marx had anticipated, on the contrary, that the

state would wither away. He did not use in his

writings the term “dictatorship of the proletariat,”

but subsequent ideologies and regimes,

and commentators on them, used the term to

establish or express the supreme role of the communist

party in state leadership. ANN VOGEL


A social philosophy that favors social formulations

of the good, communitarianism is often contrasted

with liberalism, which assumes that the

good should be determined by each individual.

To the extent that social institutions and policies

are required, these should be based on voluntary

agreements among the individuals involved, expressing

their preferences. In contrast, communitarians

view institutions and policies as reflecting

in part values passed from generation to generation.

These values become part of the self

through internalization, and are modified by persuasion,

religious or political indoctrination, leadership,

and moral dialogues.

In the 1980s communitarianism was largely advanced

by Charles Taylor, Michael Sandel, and

Michael Walzer. They criticized liberalism for its

communism communitarianism


failure to realize that people are socially “embedded,”

overlooking that people can have a strong

attachment to their societies. They lamented liberalism’s

focus on the individualistic concept of


Asian communitarians argue that, to maintain

social harmony, individual rights and political

liberties must be curtailed. Some seek to rely heavily

on the state to maintain social order (for instance,

leaders and champions of the regimes in

Singapore and Malaysia), and some on strong

social bonds and moral culture (as does Japan).

Asian communitarians also hold that the West’s

notion of liberty actually amounts to “anarchy”;

that strong economic growth requires limiting

freedoms; and that the West uses its idea of legal

and political rights to chastise other cultures that

have inherent values of their own.

In 1990, a new school of communitarianism was

founded. Among its leading scholars are William A.

Galston (political theory), Mary Ann Glendon (law),

Thomas Spragens, Jr. (political science), Alan

Ehrenhalt (writer), and sociologists Philip Selznick,

Robert Bellah and his associates, and Amitai

Etzioni who wrote books that, in 1990, laid the

foundations for responsive (democratic) communitarianism.

Key communitarian texts include Habits

of the Heart (1985) by Robert Bellah and colleagues,

The Spirit of Community (1993) and The New Golden

Rule (1996) by Amitai Etzioni, Communitarianism

and Its Critics (1993) by Daniel Bell, and The

Communitarian Persuasion by Philip Selznick (2002).

Responsive communitarians, a group founded

by Amitai Etzioni, assume that societies have multiple

and not wholly compatible needs, in contrast

to philosophies built on one core principle, such

as liberty for libertarianism. Responsive communitarianism

assumes that a good society is based

on a balance between liberty and social order, and

between particularistic (communal) and societywide

values and bonds. This school stresses responsibilities

people have for their families, kin,

communities, and societies – above and beyond

the universal rights all individuals command,

the focus of liberalism.

While a carefully crafted balance between

liberty and social order defines a generic concept

of the good society, communitarians point out

that the historical–social conditions of specific

societies determine the rather different ways a

given society in a given era may need to change

to attain the same balance. Thus, contemporary

Japan requires much greater tolerance for individual

rights, while in the American society excessive

individualism needs to be curbed.

Communitarians pay special attention to social

institutions. Several of these form the moral infrastructure

of society: families, schools, communities,

and the community of communities.

Infants are born into families whose societal role

is to introduce values and begin the development

of the moral self. The role of schools is to develop

the moral self and to remedy moral development

if it was neglected or distorted by the family.

Communitarians emphasize that children

reared in well-functioning families and schools

will still not be sufficiently equipped for membership

in a good, communitarian society. This is a

point ignored by those social philosophers who

assume that, once people have acquired virtue

and are habituated, they will be adequately

guided by their inner moral compass. In contrast,

communitarians assume that commitments to

moral values tend to deteriorate, unless these are

continuously reinforced. A major societal role of

communities is to reinforce these commitments

in their members. This is achieved by the community’s

“moral voice,” the informal sanctioning of

others, built into a web of informal affect-laden

relationships, that communities provide.

Within this context, responsive communitarians

point out that, if a society has communities

whose social webs are intact, who share a moral

culture, and whose members are willing to raise

their moral voice, such a society can rest its social

order largely on moral commitments rather than

on the coercive state. That is, the moral voice can

reduce the inevitable tension between liberty and

social order and enhance both.

In the same vein, communitarians argue that,

while everyone’s right to free speech should be

respected, some speech – seen from the community’s

viewpoint – is morally highly offensive and,

when children are exposed, damaging. For instance,

the (legal) right to speak does not render

verbal expressions of hate (morally) right.

While sociologists made numerous contributions

to altered communitarian thinking, this

philosophy challenged sociology to face issues

raised by cross-cultural moral judgments. Sociologists

tend to treat all values as conceptually equal;

thus sociologists refer to racist Nazi beliefs and

those of free societies by the same “neutral” term,

calling both “values.” Communitarians use the

term “virtue” to indicate that some values have a

high moral standing because they are compatible

with the good society, while other values are not

and hence are “aberrant” rather than virtuous.

In the same vein, communitarians reject the

claim of cultural relativism that all cultures

communitarianism communitarianism


command basically the same moral standing, and

do not shy away from passing cross-cultural moral

judgments. Thus, they view female circumcision,

sex slaves, and traditional hudud laws (such as

chopping off the right hand of thieves) as violations

of liberty and individual rights, and abandoning

children, violating implicit contracts building

into communal mutuality, or neglecting the environment

as evidence of a lack of commitment to

social order and neglect of social responsibilities.

Communitarian terms became part of the

public vocabulary in the 1990s, especially references

to assuming social responsibilities to

match individual rights, while the term communitarianism

itself is used much less often. The

number of articles about communitarian thinking

in the popular press increased during the

last decade of the twentieth century.



Critics argue that the concept of the community

is of questionable value because it is so ill defined.

In Colin Bell and Howard Newby’s edited

The Myth of Community Studies (1974), Margaret

Stacey argued that the solution to this problem

is to avoid the term altogether. Bell and Newby

similarly pointed out, “There has never been a

theory of community, nor even a satisfactory

definition of what community is” (1974: xliii).

Amitai Etzioni (New Golden Rule, 1996) points

out that community can be defined with reasonable

precision. Community has two characteristics:

(1) a web of affect-laden relationships among

a group of individuals, relationships that often

crisscross and reinforce one another (as opposed

to one-on-one relationships); and (2) a measure

of commitment to a set of shared histories and

identities – in short, a particular culture. David E.

Pearson states:

To earn the appellation “community,” it seems to

me, groups must be able to exert moral suasion

and extract a measure of compliance from their

members. That is, communities are necessarily,

indeed by definition, coercive as well as moral,

threatening their members with the stick of

sanctions if they stray, offering them the carrot of

certainty and stability if they don’t. (“Community

and Sociology,” 1995, Society)

Critics generally suggest that those who long

for communities ignore the darker side of traditional

communities. “In the new communitarian

appeal to tradition, communities of ‘mutual aid

and memory,’” writes Linda McClain in “Rights

and Irresponsibility” (1994: 1029) in the Duke Law

Journal, “there is a problematic inattention to the

less attractive, unjust features of tradition.” Amy

Gutmann (“Communitarian Critics of Liberalism,”

1985, Philosophy and Public Affairs) pointedly remarks

that communitarians “want us to live in

Salem,” a community of strong shared values that

went so far as to accuse nonconformist members

of witchcraft during the seventeenth century.

Communitarians counter that behind many

of these criticisms lies an image of old, or total,

communities, which are neither typical of modern

society nor necessary for, or even compatible

with, a communitarian society. Old communities

(traditional villages) were geographically bounded

and the only communities of which people were

members. In effect, other than escaping into noman’s-

land, often bandit territories, individuals

had few opportunities for choosing their social

attachments. In short, old communities had

monopolistic power over their members.

New communities are often limited in scope

and reach. Members of one residential community

are often also members of other communities,

for example, work, ethnic, or religious ones (see

work and employment, ethnicity, and religion).

As a result, community members have multiple

sources of attachments; and if one threatens to

become overwhelming, individuals will tend to

pull back and turn to another community for

their attachments. Thus, for example, if a person

finds herself under high moral pressure at work

to contribute to the United Way, to give blood,

or to serve at a soup kitchen for the homeless,

and these are lines of action she is not keen to

follow, she may end up investing more of her

energy in other communities – her writers’ group,

for instance, or her church. This multicommunity

membership protects the individual from both

moral oppression and ostracism. AMI T A I ETZIONI

community enterprise

– see social economy.

community studies

These studies are concerned with interrelationships

of social institutions in a locality. Some studies

encompass all such relations, while others (for

example Michael Young and Peter Willmott’s

Family and Kinship in East London, 1957) focus on

particular relations. Community studies traditionally

understand “community” as a space defined

by multiple contiguous social networks. Studies

often share a number of characteristics. They

often use participant observation with the researchers

living in the locale, sharing some of

community community studies


the experiences of the inhabitants, for whom they

consequently display sympathy. They tend to offer

detailed and lively descriptions of community life

but may not be extensively theorized. Robert and

Helen Lynd’s classical Middletown: A Study in American

Culture (1929) charted cultural change and

strain in a “typical” American town, organized

around six themes – “getting a living,” “making

a home,” “training the young,” “using leisure,”

“religious practices,” and “community activities.”

Many studies followed, one of the most famous

being W. F. Whyte’s Street Corner Society (1943), a

study of gang life in Boston’s East End. Community

studies remained popular through the 1950s

and there were several classical British studies

including N. Dennis, F. M. Henriques, and C.

Slaughter, Coal is Our Life (1956), but the method

was increasingly criticized as a-historical, having

an implicit model of functional equilibrium and

difficulty analyzing change. Ray Pahl’s six-year

study of the Isle of Sheppey (1978–83), later published

as Divisions of Labour (1984), addresses these

criticisms by exploring changes in household divisions

of labor over time in relation to broader

social structural processes. But in a period of

high social mobility, internet communications,

and transnational networks, the notion of

spatially defined communities has become less

central to sociology. LARRY RAY

companionate marriage

– see marriage and divorce.

comparative method

It is rather paradoxical to write about comparative

method. All sociological method is intrinsically

comparative in the sense that it either involves

explicit and direct comparison of time and/or

space differentials or involves concepts that

were developed through such comparisons. E´mile

Durkheim was well aware of this paradox already

when he argued that “comparative sociology is

not a particular branch of sociology; it is sociology

itself, in so far as it ceases to be purely descriptive

and aspires to account for facts,” in The Rules of

Sociological Method (1895 [trans. 1982]). But what

exactly did comparison mean? Did it mean simply

to compare and contrast across time and space?

Did it mean to search for analogies and parallels

across cultures and societies? Max Weber certainly

opposed such simplistic comparisons. In a note on

method hastily added to his The Agrarian Sociology

of Ancient Civilizations (1909 [trans. 1976]), almost as

an afterthought, Weber suggested that

[a] genuinely analytic study comparing the stages of

development of the ancient polis with those of the

medieval city would be welcome and productive . . .

Of course . . . such a comparative study would not

aim at finding “analogies” and “parallels,” as is done

by those engrossed in the currently fashionable

enterprise of constructing general schemes of

development. The aim should, rather, be precisely

the opposite: to identify and define the individuality

of each development, the characteristics which

made the one conclude in a manner so different

from that of the other. This done, one can then

determine the causes which led to these differences.

(1976: 385)

For Weber, then, comparison did not consist in

drawing parallels and analogies but in exploring

the trajectories of social institutions in their irreducible

differences and singularities (for example,

Stephen Kalberg, Max Weber’s Comparative-Historical

Sociology, 1994). Here, as elsewhere, Weber’s debt

to Nietzsche’s conception of genealogy is unmistakable

and perhaps remains one of Weber’s

lasting legacies for empirically grounded theorizing

(for example, David Owen, Maturity and Modernity:

Nietzsche, Weber, Foucault and the Ambivalence

of Reason, 1994). ENGIN ISIN

complexity theory

A recent development in social theory, gaining

currency through the last decade of the twentieth

century, this has been described as an amalgam or

“rhetorical hybrid” of a range of insights drawn

from a variety of different fields, mainly in the

natural sciences, and applied to social relations.

Complexity theory is closely associated with the

foundation of the Santa Fe Institute in 1984, an

interdisciplinary research institute comprising

physicists, mathematicians, computer programmers,

and systems analysts. It was also championed

by world-systems sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein

and Nobel-prize-winning scientist Ilya Prigogine

(1917– ) in the Gulbenkian Commission’s influential

1996 report on the restructuring of the social

sciences, Open the Social Sciences. The theory is essentially

concerned with issues of order, adaptation,

and feedback emerging from interactions

between the different elements or parts of complex

systems, from weather systems to business

organizations. While it has produced compelling

insights in economics it is probably too soon to

say how fruitful it will prove to be in sociology.

An essential point for complexity theory, as it is

for realism, is that the properties, powers, and

effects of the system or entity that emerges from

the combination of parts can be both greater than

companionate marriage complexity theory


and different from the parts themselves. In Global

Complexity (2003), John Urry explains this, using the

taste of sugar as an example. This taste is simply

not present in the prior carbon, hydrogen, and

oxygen atoms that need to combine to produce

sugar. The flavor of sugar is thus an “emergent”

property that results from the relational interaction

between the parts. It is a “nonlinear” consequence

(one that differs from a “linear,” billiard

ball, conception of cause and effect, in which neither

the ball that is hit nor the ball that hits alters

its essential properties) that arises from a transfiguring

combination of individual components.

Complexity theory embraces insights from

chaos theory, sharing the latter’s emphasis on

nonlinear laws, but its focus is ultimately on order

rather than anarchy. Chaos theory concentrates

on the disruption of order, on turbulent behavior

in complex systems in instances where nonlinear

laws amplify the smallest of changes in initial

conditions, as in the classic example of the flapping

of a butterfly’s wings producing large

weather effects on the other side of the world.

Complexity theory is more interested in the combination

of order and disorder that is produced by

such emergent interactions, stretching away, as

they do, across space and time in open and interdependent

networks. Institutionalized social processes,

from households to large international

organizations, are in fact conceptualized as

islands of order within a sea of disorder. However,

even these forms of order themselves, manifested

as they are in billions of repeated social actions,

are seen to be constantly changing and transmuting,

as the tiniest of local changes in these

repeated, iterated, actions generate “unexpected,

unpredictable, and chaotic outcomes, sometimes

the opposite of what agents thought they were

trying to bring about.” Thus there are “pockets”

of relative order existing within an overall patterning

of disorder, and the relations between

the two are complex. The effects of any particular

localized action within this context is said to be

highly contingent; they can be microscopic or

global. Relatively ordered systems that appeared

robust can turn out to be vulnerable, and the

reverse can equally be the case. Metaphors, from

attractors and fractals, through implicate orders

and self-organization, to autopoeisis and emergent

orders, have been liberally imported from

many natural and social science paradigms

and combined in an attempt to theorize this sense

of “order on the edge of chaos” and guidance

without a guide. ROB STONES

Comte, Auguste (1798–1857)

A grand philosophical synthesizer who coined the

term sociology, he was the first to attempt its

establishment as a science. For Comte, society

was a rule-governed order of reality, irreducible

to the individuals who comprised it, and sociology

was a fundamental branch of knowledge which,

together with mathematics, astronomy, physics/

chemistry, and biology, made up knowledge as a

whole. Comte’s approach to sociology was comparative

and historical, aiming to understand

how each type of society was institutionally constituted,

and by what logic of development human

society passed from one form to another. Comte

divided his sociology into a “statics” (laws of order)

and a “dynamics” (laws of progress). The first

stressed the fragile relations between individual

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