Why do people want what they want? Why does one person see the world as a place to control, while another feels controlled by the world? A useful theory of culture, the authors contend, should start with these questions, and the answers, given different historical conditions, should apply equally well to people of all times, places, and walks of life.Taking their cue from the pioneering work of anthropologist Mary Douglas, the authors of Cultural Theory have created a typology of five ways of life?egalitarianism, fatalism, individualism, hierarchy, and autonomy?to serve as an analytic tool in examining people, culture, and politics. They then show how cultural theorists can develop large numbers of falsifiable propositions.Drawing on parables, poetry, case studies, fiction, and the Great Books, the authors illustrate how cultural biases and social relationships interact in particular ways to yield life patterns that are viable, sustainable, and ultimately, changeable under certain conditions. Figures throughout the book show the dynamic quality of these ways of life and specifically illustrate the role of surprise in effecting small- and large-scale change.The authors compare Cultural Theory with the thought of master social theorists from Montesquieu to Stinchcombe and then reanalyze the classic works in the political culture tradition from Almond and Verba to Pye. Demonstrating that there is more to social life than hierarchy and individualism, the authors offer evidence from earlier studies showing that the addition of egalitarianism and fatalism facilitates cross-national comparisons.

chapter |18 pages

Sociocultural Viability: An Introduction

part One|82 pages

The Theory

chapter 1|14 pages

The Social Construction of Nature

chapter 2|15 pages

Making Ends Meet

chapter 3|13 pages


chapter 4|13 pages

Ringing the Changes

part Two|112 pages

The Masters

chapter 6|19 pages

Montesquieu, Comte, and Spencer

chapter 7|18 pages


chapter 8|14 pages


chapter 9|13 pages


chapter 10|19 pages

Malinowski, Radcliffe-Brown, and Parsons

chapter 11|18 pages

Merton, Stinchcombe, and Elster

part Three|63 pages

Political Cultures

chapter 13|13 pages

American Political Subcultures

chapter 14|13 pages

The Civic Culture Reexamined

chapter 15|15 pages

Hard Questions, Soft Answers