Society and Culture reclaims the classical heritage, provides a clear-eyed assessment of the promise of sociology in the 21st century and asks whether the `cultural turn' has made the study of society redundant. Sociologists have objected to the rise of cultural studies on the grounds that it produces cultural relativism and lacks a stable research agenda. This book looks at these criticisms and illustrates the relevance of a sociological perspective in the analysis of human practice. The book argues that the classical tradition must be treated as a living tradition, rather than a period piece. It analyzes the fundamental principles of belonging and conflict in society and provides a detailed critical survey of the p
Chapter 4: Solidarity
The problem of social order is constitutive of sociology as such. That is, the question concerning the nature of social order is a question which sociological theory cannot ignore. Any sociological statement about social reality must carry with it, whether overtly or covertly, some set of assumptions about the very possibility of social order. The issue may be expressed in various ways, but ultimately this debate is best summarized by the title of a famous essay by Georg Simmel (1971): how is society possible? In these introductory comments, our approach is obviously influenced by what we take to be the principal twentieth-century analytical location of this debate, the work of Talcott Parsons (1937).
For Parsons, this question had its roots in Thomas Hobbes's theory of ...