tjir5-1_2a - Political Sociology in Light of Globalization:...

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1 Political Sociology in Light of Globalization: New Perspectives and Future Directions Amandeep Sandhu* In this essay, I examine political sociology under the light of the process of globalization and argue that it needs to change its focus and expanse to sustain itself in the new global society. I argue that political sociology as a field is marked by its own western traditional understanding of bases of power. I critically examine the three traditional approaches to understanding power in sociology: pluralism, elite theory and Marxist theory of power and points to the strength and weaknesses of each approach. I draw upon examples from politics in the Muslim world to point to the inability to a western centered political sociology to account for the religious basis of political power. The contemporary global politics, I argue, is held in the shadows of 1989, with the demise of Soviet Union and the consolidation of capitalism into one global system—and the resistance to this has increasingly become fragmented. For a fully rounded analysis of the contemporary political situation in the global society, political sociology will have to include new bases of power along with the historical conceptions and it will have to bridge its nation-centric concepts into more transnational concepts to capture changing nature of global politics. The main question for political sociology is, as Harold Laswell has it, who gets what, when and how. This approach is different from political science approach because political sociology looks for the answers to these questions in the social formation, in social institutions that underpin both the social and the political. The contemporary global society is marked by a skewed distribution of resources and capabilities accorded to different groups in the world and therefore a skewed distribution of power and capacity. The contemporary global society is also a society in transition, in the sense that some fundamentals changes to the structure of world economy—
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2 namely, globalization—are leading to new developments that have not been the purview of political sociology as conceived at the time of bounded nation-state units, the hallmark of the times when political sociology came of age. It is important to remember that the field of political sociology as conceived in those times was also a product of a certain social and cultural milieu— which shows up in the importance accorded to topics that flow from the heart of European philosophy and history. Therefore I will argue here that the questions asked and the answers given also exhibit the limitations of these perspectives and the questions of power as conceived in political sociology leave out issues that arise in communal settings with religious centrality. Therefore, whether the ideas flow from pluralist, elite or Marxist approaches in political
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This note was uploaded on 02/01/2012 for the course HIST 101 taught by Professor Wormer during the Fall '08 term at Boise State.

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tjir5-1_2a - Political Sociology in Light of Globalization:...

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