This year's volume of Political Power and Social Theory marks the end of my tenure as Editor. I thank the editorial board and all our dedicated readers for making this journal a leading venue for high quality scholarship in comparative and historical social science. I look forward to seeing the series continue under new leadership. The upcoming articles explore a variety of questions relating to states, citizenship and power, common themes examined with divergent analytical entry points and through deep knowledge of country cases as diverse as Russia, Germany, the United States, Israel, South Africa, Argentina and key nations in early modern Europe. Whether examined with a focus on revolutions and political parties, or cities and their physical and social transformation, or through development of the concept of the “familial state,” which marries a preoccupation with lineage and micro-cultures to that of national-state institutions, these articles expand our theoretical and methodological imagination of how citizens become included or excluded in local and national structures of power.
It is hard to imagine more thoughtful and stimulating responses to The Familial State (Adams, 2005a) than the four gathered in this symposium. Mounira Maya Charrad, Ivan Ermakoff, Edgar Kiser and Pavla Miller raise important challenges not only for me but for all those who tackle questions of large-scale comparative history. Rather than arguing about this or that point of specific interpretation – in fact I think that unlike some “Author Meets Critics” sessions, these commentators have the main arguments of the book nailed down – I will immediately turn to those issues. These include the relationship of the argument to today's patrimonial states; patriarchal power and internal family dynamics; the reasons for the decline of hegemonic powers; the microfoundations of collective action and the place of evolutionary biology in comparative historical explanation.
The key argument of the book is that parcellization of power between great merchant families and the patrimonial corporations they ruled, first fuelled the Dutch Golden…
The key argument of the book is that parcellization of power between great merchant families and the patrimonial corporations they ruled, first fuelled the Dutch Golden Age and then contributed to its demise. Even though farsighted contemporaries realized that a measure of centralization was essential, they were unable to loosen the patricians’ grasp of particular hereditary powers. Were the internal dynamics of elite families one factor in driving political fragmentation? Adams stresses that the “betrayal of the bourgeoisie,” routinely used as explanation of Dutch decline, can also be read as “loyalty of the patriarch,” and notes that the patriarchs acted in defence of the lineage continuity they themselves imagined and represented. In this area in particular, systematic attention should also be given to the urgings, imaginings and interests of other household and family members, and the cautionary tales of kin and friends who, in one way or another, missed out.