Introduction to Political Sociology






Politics is a struggle for power—power over access to and the distribution of resources, over personal and collective status, and over the ability to define legitimate categories of thought. While politics can be found in all domains of social life, the ultimate site of political contestation is the state, which holds the legitimate monopoly on physical and symbolic violence. Hence, much political sociology is concerned with the relationship between the state and society: how the modern state came to exist, how it came to be viewed as legitimate, what factors shaped processes of democratization, how cleavages based on class, race, and gender affect democratic representation, how liberal democracies structure their welfare state policies, how states create and manage markets, and how social movements strive to effect political change by making claims on state actors. This course will offer an overview of these varied substantive topics, while exposing students to the analytical power of a sociological approach to politics.