A forum to foster dialogue across disciplines on issues related to culture and development.and their implications for public action. Based on the book:

Culture and Public Action, Vijayendra Rao and Michael Walton (editors), Stanford University Press, 2004. The South Asia Edition has been published by Permanent Black.


Contributors (In Order of Chapters in the Book):

Amartya Sen, Arjun Appadurai, Mary Douglas, Marco Verweij, Timur Kuran, Arjo Klamer, Lourdes Arizpe, Sabina Alkire, Anita Abraham, Jean-Phiippe Platteau, Monica Das Gupta, Carol Jenkins, Fernando Calderon, Alicia Szmuckler, Simon Harragin, Shelton Davis,Vijayendra Rao, Michael Walton

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The Sociological Classics and Development

As a legacy, the classical works of this period still enjoy a prominent status in the sociological study of development. Marx's analytical framework stressed that alliance and conflict among different classes are crucial for explaining variation in economic progress. In a similar vein, Marx conceived conflicting classes and their mobilization as influencing social and political outcomes such as the transition to democracy or the implementation of welfare policies (Marx 1963; Marx 1964; Marx 1967). Weber emphasized a combination of historical and socio-structural features to explain why the transition towards capitalism first took place in Western Europe. In Weber's view, the conjuncture of the emergence of a central state and the rise of urban burgher classes weakened the feudal order and allowed new ideas and belief systems such as the Protestant "spirit of capitalism" to flourish and transform the economic order (Weber 1952; Weber 1978). Durkheim portrayed societies as integrated systems with functionally compatible roles and institutions. Based on an evolutionary approach he argued that societies progress from undifferentiated to more complex types with an extensive division of labor fulfilling all necessary social functions in a more effective manner. For Durkheim, this transition can best be explained by demographic change and technological innovations in the domain of transportation and communication (Durkheim 1984). These three classical works of sociology shared as a consideration the belief that the economic, social, and political development processes taking place in Europe was highly problematic and therefore worth theorizing about their origins and consequences.

[Further Reading]


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