Pre-Industrial Societies
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Pre-Industrial Societies : New Perspectives on the Past

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Description

One would not normally expect students of biology to dissect frogs without prior knowledge of frog anatomy; yet students of history are regularly expected to analyse pre--modern institutions and events without any prior knowledge whatsoever of the general anatomy of pre--industrial societies. Gifted students will often acquire considerable knowledge of their particular areas -- own individual frogs, so to speak -- but the extent to which these conform to or depart from a common pattern remains unknown to them, a fact which seriously limits their capacity for interpretation. What goes for students goes for non--academic readers too. They have at their disposal a mountain of historical works written at every conceivable level of popularization and specialization. But most of these works are devoted to specific historical phenomena, or at most to a comparison between two or three; and those which attempt more general surveys tend to be either inordinately long or else inordinately abstract. Where does one turn for a brief summary of the ground--rules? A bluffera s guide to the behaviour of pre--modern societies does not seem to be available.
What this book attempts is precisely that: to offer a bluffera s guide to the nature of pre--industrial societies, or more precisely to pre--industrial societies of the complex type (omitting primitive societies whose nature, again, is different). It sketches out the general anatomy of all such societies without attempting a full description of any one; and it is neither excessively long nor (it is hoped) excessively abstract. Armed with this book, the reader ought to find the specific cultures, societies, institutions and events of pre--industrial history considerable less puzzling than they are when approached directly.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 228 pages
  • 141 x 213 x 14mm | 282g
  • Blackwell Publishers
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0631156623
  • 9780631156628

Back cover copy

One would not normally expect students of biology to dissect frogs without prior knowledge of frog anatomy; yet students of history are regularly expected to analyse pre-modern institutions and events without any prior knowledge whatsoever of the general anatomy of pre-industrial societies. Gifted students will often acquire considerable knowledge of their particular areas - own individual frogs, so to speak - but the extent to which these conform to or depart from a common pattern remains unknown to them, a fact which seriously limits their capacity for interpretation.

What goes for students goes for non-academic readers too. They have at their disposal a mountain of historical works written at every conceivable level of popularization and specialization. But most of these works are devoted to specific historical phenomena, or at most to a comparison between two or three; and those which attempt more general surveys tend to be either inordinately long or else inordinately abstract. Where does one turn for a brief summary of the ground-rules? A bluffer's guide to the behaviour of pre-modern societies does not seem to be available.

What this book attempts is precisely that: to offer a bluffer's guide to the nature of pre-industrial societies, or more precisely to pre-industrial societies of the complex type (omitting primitive societies whose nature, again, is different). It sketches out the general anatomy of all such societies without attempting a full description of any one; and it is neither excessively long nor (it is hoped) excessively abstract. Armed with this book, the reader ought to find the specific cultures, societies, institutions and events of pre-industrial history considerable less puzzling than they are when approached directly.
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Table of contents

Introduction What is a Complex Society?. Part 1 The Pre-Industrial Pattern: Socio-economic Organisation; The State; Politics; Culture; Society and the Individual; Religion. Part 2: The Departure from the Pattern; The Oddity of Europe; Modernity.
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About Patricia Crone

Patricia Crone is Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and University Lecturer in Islamic History.
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Rating details

119 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 29% (35)
4 30% (36)
3 29% (35)
2 8% (10)
1 3% (3)
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