Mass Society, Pluralism, and Bureaucracy: Explication, Assessment, and Commentary

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Three major social theories--mass society, pluralism, and bureaucracy--are often employed to interpret and explain modern societies. Although frequently invoked, the theories themselves are poorly understood. This book seeks to clarify the background, context, and major arguments of the theories, assess the claims and validity of each, provide expert commentary, and suggest avenues for further work in each area. Drawing on work in the humanities, history, sociology, economic history, and political science, Hamilton is able to provide readers with a clear, concise, and accurate overview of the adequacy of these theories as well as their empirical validity. Beginning with the mass society theory, Hamilton offers a systematic empirical assessment of its major tenets and its abundant shortcomings. While the validity of the mass society theory does not hold up, there is more support for pluralism, and Hamilton adeptly assesses its arguments while suggesting a more realistic and partitive reading of the theory. And while the image of an all-pervasive and growing bureaucracy seems to overwhelm society, Hamilton argues that the theory seriously misrepresents the character of modern life. Working through each of these theories using an integrated approach, the author concludes each assessment with suggestions for which elements of the theory should be retained, which should be reworked, and which should be discarded altogether.