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Feudal America

Elements of the Middle Ages in Contemporary Society

By Vladimir Shlapentokh and Joshua Woods

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: Penn State University Press

Front Cover

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Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-x

Judging by their commentary on American public opinion, their sharp debates on key social issues, and the wide variety of labels they place on society, the critics and observers of the United States seem to be talking about several different countries. Indeed, their portrayals of the country range from fascist state to ideal democracy. ...

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pp. xi-xii

We would like to convey our deep gratitude to Larry Busch, Peter Manning, Roger Kanet, and Chris Oliver for their helpful comments and ideas related to this book. We are particularly grateful to Sandy Thatcher, who supported this project from the very beginning. Our sincere thanks also go to Vera Bondartsova, Julie Gold, and Judy Spangole for their important editorial work. ...

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Chapter One: The Feudal Model in Social Analysis: From Medieval Europe to Contemporary America

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pp. 1-17

The concept of feudalism has received an increasing amount of attention in recent years but remains largely undeveloped and undertheorized. For us, the terms feudal, feudalism, and the feudal model refer to an ideal type of social organization—that is, a theoretical construct that generally corresponds to the essential features of concrete reality but never replicates them precisely. Such...

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Chapter Two: Feudal, Liberal, and Authoritarian Models as Tools for Analyzing the Middle Ages and Contemporary American Society

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pp. 18-32

The segmented approach outlined in chapter 1 assumes that most types of social organization that exist today can also be found in the past. The number of these is actually quite small. The most important forms of political organization are the authoritarian, feudal, and liberal capitalist models, which roughly overlap with the famous Aristotelian typology: the rule of one (authoritarian), ...

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Chapter Three: Big Money and Corporations as Promoters of Feudal Tendancies

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pp. 33-55

Feudal elements tend to emerge when the state is unable or unwilling to maintain order in society. This inability may stem from a lack of resources or from problems associated with corruption. One such tendency occurs when social actors, from individuals to large organizations, use their private resources to extract privileges from the state in a way that is incompatible with the public ...

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Chapter Four: The Feudal Model and the Organizational Level of Analysis

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pp. 56-77

In chapter 3, we applied the feudal model to an examination of interorganizational relations. We discussed, in particular, how corporations and governments collude and conflict with each other, resulting in various “feudal” elements, such as the purchase of political influence and the use of money in election campaigns. In this chapter, we pursue a similar approach, but apply the feudal ...

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Chapter Five: Private Coercion: A Feudal Aspect of Contemporary American Society

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pp. 78-98

One of the key functions of any society is to provide its members with safety and security. While the methods of carrying out this task vary greatly between societies and across time, the given approach represents one of society’s defining characteristics. Increasingly in the United States, private firms are performing the task of protecting individuals, groups, and assets. The safety and security ...

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Chapter 6: Personal Relations in American Politics and Business: A Feudal Phenonmenon

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pp. 99-121

One of the most obvious elements of feudalism in contemporary society is the role of personal relations in politics, the economy, and other spheres of social life. There are two types of personal relations. One type is based on the interaction between independent actors who attempt to achieve their goals through mutual cooperation. The other type is based on the clientele principle, or ...

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pp. 122-132

The country’s social, political, and economic ills are recurrent and widespread, but they cannot be explained by some fatal flaw in the essence of liberal democracy. As discussed throughout the book, many of these problems are generated by the liberal segment’s coexistence with other types of social organization, feudalism in particular.The feudal model attempts to recast a number of “tem- ...


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pp. 133-162


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pp. 163-170

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780271053653
E-ISBN-10: 0271053658
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271037820
Print-ISBN-10: 0271037822

Page Count: 184
Illustrations: 1 table
Publication Year: 2011