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A Treatise on Social Theory
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  • Cited by 40
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    1989. Books Received. The Sociological Review, Vol. 37, Issue. 3, p. 610.

    Pahl, R. E. 1991. R.E. Pahl replies. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Vol. 15, Issue. 1, p. 127.

    Giesen, Bernd 1991. Code, Process and Situation in Cultural Selection. Cultural Dynamics, Vol. 4, Issue. 2, p. 172.

    Boucher, David 1992. Evolution and politics: The naturalistic, ethical and spiritual bases of evolutionary arguments. Australian Journal of Political Science, Vol. 27, Issue. 1, p. 87.

    Haldon, John 1992. The army and the economy: The allocation and redistribution of surplus wealth in the Byzantine state. Mediterranean Historical Review, Vol. 7, Issue. 2, p. 133.

    Taras, Raymond and Zeringue, Marshal 1992. Grand strategy in a post-bipolar world: interpreting the final Soviet response. Review of International Studies, Vol. 18, Issue. 04, p. 355.

    ANDORKA, RUDOLF 1993. Regime Transitions in Hungary in the 20th Century: the Role of National Counter-Elites. Governance, Vol. 6, Issue. 3, p. 358.

    Haldon, John 1994. Invisible cities, hidden agendas. Journal of Peasant Studies, Vol. 21, Issue. 2, p. 308.

    Smail, David 1994. Community psychology and politics. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 4, Issue. 1, p. 3.

    Smail, David 1995. Power and the origins of unhappiness: Working with individuals. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 5, Issue. 5, p. 347.

    McLennan, Gregor 1995. The craft of large-scale theory: W. G. Runciman and the neo- traditionalist revival in sociological theory. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Sociology, Vol. 31, Issue. 2, p. 93.

    Camic, Charles and Gross, Neil 1998. Contemporary Developments in Sociological Theory: Current Projects and Conditions of Possibility. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 24, Issue. 1, p. 453.

    Hobson, John M. 1998. Debate: The 'second wave' of Weberian historical sociology - The historical sociology of the state and the state of historical sociology in international relations. Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 5, Issue. 2, p. 284.

    Spruyt, Hendrik 1998. Historical sociology and systems theory in international relations. Review of International Political Economy, Vol. 5, Issue. 2, p. 340.

    John, Peter 1999. Ideas and Interests; Agendas and Implementation: An Evolutionary Explanation of Policy Change in British Local Government Finance. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, Vol. 1, Issue. 1, p. 39.

    Windmeyer, J. 2000. THE OTAVALEŃOS OF ECUADOR. Acta Ethnographica Hungarica, Vol. 44, Issue. 3-4, p. 355.

    Callinicos, Alex 2002. Historical Materialism and Social Evolution. p. 129.

    Jenkins, Richard 2002. In the present tense. Anthropological Theory, Vol. 2, Issue. 3, p. 267.

    John, Peter 2003. Is There Life After Policy Streams, Advocacy Coalitions, and Punctuations: Using Evolutionary Theory to Explain Policy Change?. Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 31, Issue. 4, p. 481.

    Galjart, Benno 2003. Sociaal kapitaal, vertrouwen en ontwikkeling. Sociologie, Vol. 50, Issue. 1, p. 26.

  • Volume 2: Substantive Social Theory
  • W. G. Runciman, Trinity College, Cambridge
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Book description

This second of three volumes sets out a general account of the structure and evolution of human societies. The author argues first that societies are to be defined as sets of roles whose incumbents are competitors for access to, or control of, the means of production, persuasion and coercion; and second, that the process by which societies evolve is one of competitive selection of the practices by which roles are defined analagous, but not reducible, to natural selection. He illustrates and tests these theses with evidence drawn from the whole range of societies documented in the historical and ethnographic record. The result is an original, powerful and far-reaching reformulation of evolutionary sociological theory which will make it possible to do for the classification and analysis of societies what Darwin and his successors have done for the classification and analysis of species.


‘This is a masterpiece: in its scope and its command of historical and ethnographic detail, it is reminiscent of Economy and Society; in its systematization more gripping.’

David Lockwood

‘It is an astonishing bravura performance … I have not come across another approach to comparative history which has impressed me so much.’

Eric Hobsbawm

‘This is an important and remarkable book. It is extremely ambitious offering nothing less than a general theory of human society, and the confrontation of that theory with the historical material. The quality of the material is commensurate with the ambition.’

Ernest Gellner

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