Historical sociology
in The houses of history
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Many theorists have agreed that a sociology that explains as well as describes must be a historical sociology. Historical sociology addresses directly the distinction between explanations based on structure and those based on agency. It has tended to focus on several major topics, in particular the growth of modernity in all its guises. This chapter focuses on Max Weber and his theories. Weber's model of social action was influential in the twentieth century. Michael Mann argued that societies and their histories were best described in terms of the interrelations of four sources of social power: ideological, economic, military, and political relationships. Theda Skocpol argued that social revolution was a conjuncture of three developments: the collapse or incapacitation of central administrative and military machineries; widespread peasant rebellions; and marginal elite political movements. The chapter shows some of the details of Skocpol's argument and examines the responses to her book.

The houses of history

A critical reader in history and theory, second edition

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