Sociocultural Systems
260 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:15 May 2013

Sociocultural Systems

Principles of Structure and Change

Athabasca University Press

Macrosociology—the study of large-scale social structures andthe fundamental principles of social organization—was the styleof sociology practiced by the founders of the discipline. Today, thesocial theories of Karl Marx, Max Weber, Émile Durkheim, and HerbertSpencer (among others) are commonly studied as part of the history ofthe field, but, although the macrosociological approach that thesethinkers advocated is still employed, it no longer dominates thediscipline. Instead, sociologists typically adopt a narrower focus,specializing in areas such as social psychology, medicine, religion, orthe study of social stratification.

Sociocultural Systems aims to reinstate macrosciology as the heartof the discipline by demonstrating that both classical and contemporarymacrosociologists stand upon common ground. Focusing on the broadissues that concerned the founders, Elwell addresses questions such as:Historically, what factors accounted for the origin, survival, andevolution of sociocultural systems? Why were some societies moretechnologically advanced than others? What is the origin of capitalism?What factors determine the allocation of goods and services within andamong societies? What effects do changes in government and economicinstitutions have on communities?

Elwell argues that, as evolution does for biology, themacrosociological paradigm offers an analytical strategy that can beused both to guide and prioritize research in all of the myriadspecialties within sociology and to lay forth an orderly body ofknowledge for students. Clearly articulating important sociologicalprinciples, Sociocultural Systems provides a critical understanding ofsocial institutions and issues, while also furnishing a framework forpossible solutions to the perennial social crises that are part andparcel of the development of human societies.

RELATED TOPICS: Anthropology, Sociology

Frank W. Elwell is a professor of sociology and thedean of Liberal Arts at Rogers State University, in Oklahoma.He is theauthor of Macrosociology: Four Modern Theorists, among other works.

Acknowledgements- xi

Preface- xiii

Introduction- 3

1. Principles of Macrosociology- 7

2. Materialism in Macrosociology- 37

3. Evolutionism in the Work of the Founders- 67

4. Contemporary Social Evolution- 91

5. Bureaucratization- 125

6. Capital- 155

7. The State- 193

8. Rationalization- 221

9. The System- 239

A Glossary of Sociology- 265

Notes- 343

References- 365

Index- 371

Find what you’re looking for...
My alt text
Stay Informed

Receive the latest UBC Press news, including events, catalogues, and announcements.

Read past newsletters
Current Catalogue
Spring 2021 catalogue cover featuring a beige background and drawings of houses in a variety of colours
Publishers Represented
UBC Press is the Canadian agent for several international publishers. Visit our Publishers Represented page to learn more.