Samuel Clark offers a theoretically informed and evidence-based examination of the rise of the centralized state and its implications for the power of the aristocracy in Western Europe during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Making use of extensive empirical evidence and recent developments in comparative historical sociology, he tracks a path midway between the myth making and story telling of traditional narrative histories and the rich complexity of narrower studies. In so doing, he overturns the stereotypical portraits of the aristocracies in France and in England, and challenges us to look again at the fundamental question that dominated classical sociology: how did modern society come into being? The social transformation that occurred in Western Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries preoccupied thinkers from Karl Marx to Herbert Spencer to Max Weber, and even Emile Durkheim, dismissive as he was of “historicist” reasoning, was primarily interested in how modern society came to be what it is. Samuel Clark documents the resurgence of interest in these big questions by historical sociologists armed with new tools.
Forget, E.L. (2008), "Unpacking terminology, reassessing theory", Samuels, W.J., Biddle, J.E. and Emmett, R.B. (Ed.) A Research Annual (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 26 Part 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-91. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0743-4154(08)26008-6
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