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Feudal America. Elements of the Middle Ages in contemporary society. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2011. 184 pages

Shlapentokh V., Woods J.
Feudal America. Elements of the Middle Ages in contemporary society. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2011. 184 pages
ISBN 978-0-271-03781-3

Размещена на сайте: 15.03.11

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Shlapentokh V., Woods J. Feudal America. Elements of the Middle Ages in contemporary society. University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2011. 184 pages


“Shlapentokh and Woods have not merely shed new light on American society, but have also contributed to an emerging way of theorizing. What they have done is analogous to what Impressionism did for art, showing that the same landscape might be revealed in different ways when viewed from multiple perspectives. And, like those of the Impressionists, their insights will challenge the status quo in sociological theory. In particular, they argue against the totalizing tendencies of most theorists. In place of an all-encompassing theory, they propose a ‘segmented’ neo-Weberian approach that is historically grounded but also self-limiting. Thus, the feudal model is proposed as one among several ideal types—other major types are authoritarian and liberal—that might fruitfully be used to interrogate American society.” —Lawrence Busch, Michigan State University and Lancaster University

“In this provocative study, a pair of sociologists—one Russian and one American—brings a novel framework to the analysis of contemporary American society, one they call the ‘feudal model.’ It is a framework that addresses phenomena not well explained in the more traditional ‘authoritarian’ and ‘liberal’ models of society. This approach is not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, these other models, one that facilitates a new perspective on numerous phenomena in contemporary America. The authors draw on a vast array of sociological and journalistic work and make extensive use of creative analogies to challenge preconceptions about the structure and functioning of American society. Reading this monograph will reward anyone seriously interested in understanding contemporary society in America.” —Richard E. Ericson, East Carolina University

“In this ingenious and imaginative work, Shlapentokh and Woods point to aspects of the social life of the Middle Ages that are found in the present. A sizable minority of us live in castles, or gated communities, and are protected by our modern-day knights—private security officers. We elect mini-dynasties to provide continuity in political life, and we celebrate our warriors. While modernity illuminates feudal societies, feudal patterns illuminate modernity as well. Differences in societies abound, but there are some universals in the social order that are revealed by this careful, comparative historical work.” —Peter K. Manning, Northeastern University

“When I read Vladimir Shlapentokh and Joshua Woods’s application of the concept of feudalism to American society, I realized that they had hit upon something important, something that helps overcome the difficulties of understanding American society within the confines of existing models of ‘democratic’ or ‘authoritarian’ societies. As the authors argue, ‘feudalism’ is a very useful complement to the standard analysis of American society. It helps greatly, for example, in explaining the recent U.S. financial crisis and the role of the ‘princes of the financial world’ in that crisis.

“Feudal America is an important book, one that forces the reader to reexamine existing assumptions about U.S. society. It should be read by every analyst of U.S. politics as well as by a broad range of involved citizens.” —Roger E. Kanet, University of Miami

Do Americans live in a liberal capitalist society, where evenhanded competition rules the day, or a society in which big money, private security, and personal relations determine key social outcomes? Shlapentokh and Woods argue that the answer to these questions cannot be found among the conventional models used to describe the nation. Offering a new analytical tool, the authors present a provocative explanation of the nature of contemporary society by comparing its essential characteristics to those of medieval European societies.

Their feudal model emphasizes five elements: the weakness of the state and its inability to protect its territory, guarantee the security of its citizens, and enforce laws; conflicts and collusions between and within organizations t

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feudalism to american society




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