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Societies, Types of

Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/b0-08-043076-7/01967-7
  • Economics
  • Political Science


The concept of society is one of the commonest sociological notions, and yet it is also one of the most ambiguous; the question has recently been raised whether it should be considered obsolete or even harmful. Therefore, the ambiguities of the concept cannot be ignored. This is also the case with typologies that have been constructed around it, and that can be considered as useful only within quite well-defined boundaries. It is undoubtedly legitimate, and probably inevitable, to classify social realities into types. Yet one must avoid the temptation of considering societies as well-defined objects. A ‘type’ is always the outcome of a process of classification, and can never be taken as revealing an ‘essence.’ It is with these limitations in mind that various typologies (economic, political, etc.) are examined.

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