The earlier images of modern states shaping formerly traditional societies were based on presuppositions about the overall role of politics in the organization of society and the dynamics of social and political change. This chapter presents an alternative understanding of the role of politics in society and a model of how to approach the question of overall societal change. The state-in-society approach brought that confidence about the power of the state in the Third World, and elsewhere, into question. It led social scientists to reassess the character and capabilities of states, such as China, India, Egypt, Russia, and the United States. Images in scholarly works of integrated centers swallowing hapless peripheries, of Great Traditions subsuming little traditions, of modern states and allied organizations shaping heretofore traditional societies all had reverberating effects. Oddly, the earliest theories in the 1950s and 1960s that addressed state-society relations rarely mentioned the state at all.