Political sociology is an interdisciplinary field of inquiry developed by sociologists and political scientists to study the dynamic relationship between society (a complex web of social institutions and social behavior) and politics. Much of the impetus for the development of the field grew out of the turbulent events and trends of the twentieth century mass politics, economic depression, two world wars, fascism, totalitarianism, the cold war, the nuclear age, modernization, nationalism, and the proliferation of new nation-states. Great optimism was attached to the possibility of building a better world with the aid of social science and research. Initially, the interest was in identifying the social roots of democracy, the organization and impact of the state, and the role of social scientists in building and testing theories, measuring people's political attitudes and behavior, and applying the social sciences to public policy. By the late 1950s, leading sociologists and political scientists saw the need for a comparative perspective in trying to understand the interplay between social and political forces. The formal establishment of political sociology as an international field of study occurred during 19591960 with a proposal for a new Research Committee on Political Sociology (CPS) at the Fourth World Congress of the International Sociological Association (ISA) meeting in 1959 and the ISA's acceptance of the proposal in 1960. For more than three decades, the CPS has been a center of cross-national research activity and communication for like-minded sociologists and political scientists.
[...] Lipset and Rokkan's Frozen Cleavage Hypothesis A second hypothesis providing direction and continuity in political sociology is the frozen cleavage hypothesis put forth by Lipset and Rokkan in their classic volume, Party Systems and Voter Alignments. In many ways, Lipset and Rokkan's volume reflects the early thinking of the contributors to the volume and the CPS membership. When the book was originally published, most members of the CPS were Western, with the bulk of the articles focusing on Continental and Northern Europe, the English-speaking countries of England, United States, and New Zealand, and several latter chapters on emerging nations” of Japan, Brazil, and in West Africa. [...]
[...] The dominant international political sociological paradigm is the “sociology of the state” approach where the principal question addressed is which social, economic, and cultural factors have what kinds of impact on the modern states? Both the democratization and frozen cleavage hypotheses are reflections of this perspective. Yet, the social root of politics approach has been criticized for dominating much of the conceptual and research focus in both sociology and political science. Undoubtedly, the rapid growth of states since the 1960s has given impetus if not a sense of urgency to a better understanding of the state in an international system of competing nation-states. [...]
[...] Future Trends, Changes, and Paradoxes: The Global Context It was out of the tumultuous events, trends, and changes surrounding the Second World War that international political sociology developed as a formal specialty area, and it will be the current and future trends that will direct the work of political sociologists in the new millennium. In the 1990s, a spate of books appeared assessing the 20th century, making predictions about the world's future, and offering suggestions for coping with, if not improving, social and political life. [...]
[...] Due to the complexity and diversity of this demanding research agenda, skilled uses of quantitative and qualitative research methods as well as the investigation of interaction effects become essential for international studies. In an era of rapid global and cultural transformations, static, cross-sectional survey designs appear less useful than more dynamic temporal approaches, such as longitudinal, time series, panel, and life-history designs. In every world region, the changes have been dramatic and are predicted to accelerate in the 21st century. The map of international political sociology will continue to be charted, modified, and filled in, [...]
[...] With this goal in mind, the focus in this chapter is on the development of international political sociology both organizationally and substantively. First, the origins and growth of the field are described, emphasizing the early days of the CPS and the expanding scope of political sociology as a comparative area of scholarly interest. Next, the process of mapping out international political sociology is illustrated by describing how two landmark hypotheses that launched the field in the early 1960s have been scrutinized, researched, and modified over the course of three decades. [...]
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