Mann Returns

Social power goes global in 2013!

I forgot to make a note of this yesterday, so I’ll do so now: Kieran Healy of Crooked Timber has flagged the fact that Mann’s conclusion to The Sources of Social Power is going to be published in two parts. Volume 3 will be entitled ‘Global Empires and Revolution, 1890-1945’, which is a bit odd as Volume 2 already covered social change up to the First World War. Volume 4 will be ‘Globalizations, 1945-2011’, which indicates that Mann eventually decided against emphasising global crises in the title.

I wish I had known this about 2 months ago when I wrote a review for Mann’s ‘Power in the 21st Century’, in which Mann discusses (with eminent sociologist John A Hall no less) the evolution of his thought between Volumes 2 and 3. Oh well. My review, to be published by the end of the year, should at least come out ahead of the publication of Volume 3.

In any case, Vols. 3 and 4 may have been a long time coming (19 years) but it seems very likely that they will cement Mann’s position as the most compelling grand theorist in historical sociology alive today. Hopefully international relations theorists will sit up and take notice, not just because of the theoretical sophistication and empirical detail of Mann’s work but also due to the fact that the two new volumes look like they will squarely confront many of the issues on the home turf of IR theory such as war, hegemony and global empire. Unfortunately Mann, Tilly and other historical sociologists have never had the impact their work deserves in IR theory. Indeed much of the engagement on the part of IR scholars has been cursory and shallow. But these are failings within the discipline and their discussion belongs in a different post.


Posted on September 6, 2012, in Michael Mann, theorists. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I confess to not having read ‘Sources of Social Power’, though I have heard generally good things about it. Still, it seems strange not even to mention Wallerstein when talking about grand theory in historical sociology. (I should note under the ‘disclosure’ rubric that he was a reader of my dissertation, though I did not do a ‘world-system’ thesis).

    Wallerstein brought out the fourth vol. of ‘The Modern World-System’ in 2011. The only volume I’ve closely read is the first, which I think is a great work, notwithstanding the criticisms that have been leveled against it and notwithstanding that I might not agree with some of it.

    Given that Wallerstein is, as far as I’m aware, still alive (and, I believe, planning to bring out a fifth volume), to write a post dubbing Mann “the most compelling grand theorist in historical sociology alive today” and then not to even mention Wallerstein seems a little weird, at least to me.

  2. Hi there. I actually didn’t realise that Wallerstein was still conducting on original research, much less that he had brought out the fourth volume of The Modern World System. I thought he had gone into semi-retirement some time ago, passing the baton to people like Arrighi rather than continue to debate with rivals and elaborate his thesis. Certainly, it’s a long while since people in the IR discipline have really engaged with Wallerstein – which is probably why I overlooked him when I jotted this blog. I found Wallerstein to be a really useful starting place when I was an undergrad and masters’ student, but I didn’t engage with his work that extensively during my doctorate because of the problems with his framework, e.g. the view of the world-system as strongly functionally integrated whole that he puts forward. But I’m slowly working through a lot of the classics of historical sociology on my ‘to read’ pile, so I should probably give take another look at Wallerstein’s work at some point in the near future.

  1. Pingback: Plough, Sword and Book: Gellner and the Structure of International History I « Chaos and Governance

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