Saturday, December 22, 2012

Passages from Michael Mann's first volume

On page 503(first edition):"The comparative method has no solution to these problems, not because of any general logical or epistemological defects it might have but because, in dealing with the problems we simply do not have enough autonomous, analogical cases. Confronted by that empirical reality, we must turn to pragmatically to the second method, of careful historical narrative, attempting to establish "what happened next"to see if it has the "feel" of a pattern, a process, or a series of accidents and contingencies. Here we will need broad concepts and theories about how socities generally work and how human beings behave, but we employ them in a historic narrative, looking for continuity or conjecture, pattern or accident.  Historical not comparative, sociology has been my principal method."
In an earlier chapter on 'Comparative excursus into world religions'(page371), he says " From then on India, China, Islam, and Europe went different ways. Global comparative sociology-always difficult in my view- now becomes too difficult. From now on I chronicle only one case, Christian Europe and its offshoots"
Given this, it is not clear to me how useful these volumes will be in Indian context. Things like caste and status do not play any role in the next part. In any case, I am continuing with Volume 2 and also his book on 'The Darkside of Democracy'.
Several essays on the first two volumes and Mann's response are in 'An Anatomy of Power' edited by J.A. Hall and Ralph Schroeder, available online.

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