|Theory of Culture|
source ref: ebookcul.htm
|Part II:Culture, Collectiv purpose, And Polity|
alien purposes are more likely to have two or more superior gods. A multiple regression analysis finds that the value of b between absence of alien purposes and number of superior gods is .34 (p <01); the b for the presence of one or more differentiated levels of administration is .48 (p <.001), and R is .60 (p <.001).
These studies show that it is possible and useful to examine societies as collectivities, to describe the degree to which their activities are purposeful, and to look for conditions associated with differences in purposefulness. Action is defined as more fully purposeful according to the number of components of motivation that are present: for example, assessments of the relevance of collective action and of situations for collective values, commitments of standing organizational arrangements to the representation and monitoring of those assessments, the existence of organizational arrangements for implementing choices, and the presence of organizational arrangements that represent and pursue subordinate purposes within larger purposes. Studies based on the normative testimony-the collective interpretations-of participants show that fully purposive collective action is less likely under the following conditions:
-People are organized as social categories rather than as collectivities (for example, classifications of a population by categories of kinship versus organization of that population into large groups based on the same categories of kinship).
-Collectivities recurrently disperse and reassemble and also lack a continuing organizational center (for example, societies whose people regularly disperse for nomadic treks and also lack continuing elites or officials).
-Collectivities lack a continuing organizational center and are also organized on principles that simultaneously divide and unite their members (for example, societies that lack officials, depend heavily on hunting and fishing, are stratified by achieved wealth, or have systems of descent that are inconsistent with their "political" arrangements).
-Collectivities have an organizational center but lack continuing organizational arrangements for implementing that center's purposes (for example, societies with a hierarchy of at least three types of sovereign groups but one or no commmunal groups).
-Collectivities lack organizational structures devoted to implementing the cybernetic hierarchy entailed in purposive activity (for example, societies without standing administrative arrangements).
Some of the studies suggest ways in which people will act collectively in the absence of arrangements required for more fully purposive action: for example, people may solve problems by assembling the necessary components rather than by creating them, or participants may conduct collective relations more by getting things from one another than by explicit efforts to do things together. Most of the possibilities of identifying and studying these and other less than fully purposive activities remain to be exploited (Swanson 1970).
Collectivities differ in their abilities to take purposeful action. Among the collectivities capable of such action, there are differences in the place and interrelations of collective purposes. These differences have consequences. In this section I look at some ways in which collective interpretation is affected by inconsistencies in a collectivity's purposes; specifically, some effects of the following:
-The collectivity itself having inconsistent purposes (an effect: fewer social norms).
-The collectivity having within it collectivity-wide subgroups whose purposes conflict (an effect: the development, under certain conditions, of more communal groups to tie people together).
-The embracing by the collectivity of organized and competitive special interests that have a formal role in formulating its overarching purposes or in implementing them (an effect: a sharper differentiation within the collectivity and in its interpretations between overarching purposes and the organizational arrangements that bear them).
Collectivities with consistent collective purposes have more social norms. Normativity is the degree to which something affects the realization of a value. Social norms are socially sanctioned judgments about the degree to which things affect the realization of collective purposes.
Other things being equal, it should be easier to make these judgments if collective purposes are consistent: judgments should take less time and agreement on them should be easier to reach. It also seems likely-other things being equal-that more judgments will be made if it is easy to make them. Therefore, the more consistent a collectivity's purposes, the more norms it will produce.
Robert Barnes developed codes that catch certain consistencies and inconsistencies among collective purposes and that provide a count of certain social norms. He then applied these codes to a worldwide sample of forty primitive societies.
Barnes's argument can be seen as building on a point found in Durkheim and Weber. Both note that social solidarity based upon consistent immersion in an established way of life is different in character from solidarity based importantly upon formal authority. Both forms of solidarity embody collective purposes, but, as Barnes says, societies having the first form of solidarity (he calls it "ritualistic") view effective behavior as depending upon a person's being immersed in overt participation with others in common and customary activities, whereas societies having the second kind of solidarity (he calls it "traditional") stress the importance of a person's guidance by existing authorities or by authoritative institutions and their pronouncements.
Barnes based a code for these two kinds of solidarity on societies' theories about the causes of crime and other forms of deviance and on their methods for "reforming" and controlling deviants. Tabulations (Swanson 1990, table A-5) show that there is a strong relationship (r = .68, p <.001) between Barnes's coding of a society as traditional rather than as ritualistic and Murdock's (1980, column 32) coding of that society as having a structure of governance that transcends local communities.
Like Durkheim and Weber, Barnes sees traditionalism and ritualism as incompatible and not merely as different. Authorities and authoritative institutions typically try to strengthen their own resources and operations by modifying some features of customary ways of doing things and are resisted when they do so. If the two forms of solidarity are inconsistent, it should follow that collectivities with strong elements of both kinds of solidarity should have fewer social norms than those with just one form of solidarity.
Barnes's coders counted the number of norms concerning eating, dress, and adornment found in each society in his sample. (He focused on these areas of normativity because they are not as dependent as, say, technological inventions, on the presence of environmental conditions required for their production.) In his sample, societies with strong elements of both ritualistic and traditional solidarity have fewer norms concerning eating and apparel than do societies based primarily on one form of solidarity: r = -.56, p <.01. This finding is especially interesting because the societies based importantly on both forms of solidarity are not, on the average, as simple in number of jurisdictional levels or technology or as small in population as those coded as ritualistic. The data are consistent, therefore, with the argument that incompatible collective purposes lead to the production of fewer social norms-fewer collective interpretations.
Groups that implement the purposes of a superordinate sovereign group are more likely to develop if the members of that superordinate group are cross-pressured by the requirements of less embracive sovereign groups that compete with one another for support. Ethnographers are often impressed by the elaborate normative and organizational systems found among some peoples whose cultures are very simple in other respects. As we have seen, an efflorescence of norms is more likely in simple or complex societies that have consistent collective purposes. Societies, some of them simple, also differ in the number of communal groups in their populations. (We were introduced to these groups in study 4.) For example, the Timbira, a Brazilian society of about three hundred people, are reported (Nimuendaju 1946) as having twenty-seven communal groups, including age classes, groups of clowns, curing societies, and other groups having specialized rituals.
What determines the appearance of such groups? They are, of course, more prevalent in societies that are complex in other respects. In the samples I used in studying high gods, the correlation between number of sovereign groups and number of communal groups is .72 (p <.001). Eighty-eight percent of the societies having five or more types of sovereign groups have at least two communal groups; 94 percent of those having two or fewer sovereign groups have no communal groups or only one. In the remaining societies, however, the number of communal groups varies considerably.
Some years ago, S. N. Eisenstadt (1956) offered an explanation for the presence of one type of communal group: age sets or classes. It can be generalized to encompass others. Eisenstadt noted that age classes bring together members of different kinship groups and of different economic or other groupings, obliging them to live and act together in the service of society-wide purposes. That tends to be the role of all communal groups (Jorgensen 1980, 1987).
Eisenstadt noted that the demands made on individuals by kinship groups often compete with those made by economic groupings and that age groups serve to unite people across these conflicting purposes. Using a very large, worldwide sample, he showed that age groups are likely in societies in which large, organized kinship groups and also groups based upon other, especially economic, ties are important.
It seems plausible that communal groups of many kinds will help to overcome the sorts of cross-pressures that Eisenstadt identified and that cross-pressures other than those involving kinship and economic relations can have similar outcomes. Certainly conflicts that people experience between (a) their attachments to one another as members of a society and (b) their interests as occupants of competing positions in any developed system of stratification would seem to provide such cross-pressures.
Data relevant for this line of argument are available for the peoples included in the study of high gods. I will focus on the thirty-six of those peoples who are intermediate in number of sovereign groups (those having three or four such groups) and for whom there are codes on the number of communal groups. Approximate indices for Eisenstadt's "independent" variables are available in Murdock's (1981) codes on the presence of organized kinship groups larger than the nuclear family (his columns 20, 22, and 24) and on the presence in a society of social classes (his column 67), the latter indicating bases for relations other than those grounded in kinship. Among my own codes is one indicating whether the ultimately sovereign group (the "society") in these thirty-six populations is itself organized on the basis of kinship (for example, as a lineage or phratry).
If we generalize Eisenstadt's explanation, it predicts that communal groups will be more prevalent where people are cross-pressured as members of groupings that are society-wide and that make conflicting demands on individuals. The results in table 7.2 are broadly consistent with that prediction.
The cross-pressures Eisenstadt has in mind are presumably less likely in (a) societies organized preponderantly by kinship (those organized on kinship principles and also having corporate kinship groups) and (b) societies that are not so organized and that also lack cross-pressures associated with social classes. Table 7.2 shows that only one of the nine societies in these categories has two or more communal groups.
By Eisenstadt's reasoning, the relevant cross-pressures are most likely in societies having social classes and also strong but not preponderant sets of kinship ties. Twelve of the eighteen societies having those characteristics have two or more communal groups. (Overall, the thirty-six societies in table 7.2 tend to have more communal groups if they have social classes and are not based preponderantly on kinship; r = .45: p <.01.)
The data do not allow us to decide whether this association is due to cross-pressures associated with classes that are not subordinated to kinship. That question will require further study. We can say that, for these thirty-six societies, the distinctions noted in table 2 are not related to indicators of "cultural complexity" identified by Murdock and Provost (1980): for example, size of settlements, density of population, development of agriculture, and number of occupational specializations. We must look elsewhere for an explanation of the pattern in table 7.2.
The purposes of a collectivity are more likely to be sharply distinguished in interpretations from its organization, acts, and agents if special interest groups have an important formal role in forming and implementing those purposes. This study, like studies 6 and 7, shows some consequences of inconsistencies or incompatibilities in collective purposes. In study 6, the purposes seemed those of the society itself, and their inconsistency was related to the production of fewer social norms. In study 7, society-wide organizations made conflicting demands on individuals and on subgroups. Communal organizations were seen as being formed to provide bonds that united people across those conflicts. In this study, the overarching purposes of societal collectivities are contrasted with the purposes of other groups in the population. My proposal here is that, if those more specialized groups have an important role in formulating or implementing the society's purposes, a sharper distinction will be made between societal purposes and the organization that bears and serves them.
I first saw this pattern when studying the spread of Protestantism through the states of Europe from 1520 through 1685 (Swanson 1967). A comparison of essential differences in Protestant and Catholic doctrine set the problem of relations between collective purposes and a collectivity's organization.
By the sixteenth century, the Western church (and the Eastern as well) had defined its sacramental acts as those of God. Thus, when the Church acted through its ordained agents and in its sacral capacity, God himself was acting: forgiving, baptizing, marrying, confirming, ordaining. And it was the very essence of God in Christ that the communicant received in the eucharistic elements. What is more, the "mind" of the Church as embodied in its authoritative experience and teaching was one with the Bible as a source of ultimate truth-whether the Church recognized that truth immediately or only later. Many doctrines were validated by this experience and by reflection upon it rather than by the Bible; for example, beliefs in the nature and the salvific role of the Virgin and the saints, in Purgatory, in the efficacy of prayers for the souls of the dead, and in the power of the Church's acts of "indulgence" to remit punishments for sin.
Protestantism denied or qualified each of these claims. In its view, no historically existing person or organization could legitimately claim to be God in action or claim to be able, at its discretion, to dispense any portion of God's good will or personal essence. To Protestants, God had promised to be with his people, an active participant with them in the sacraments and in everyday life, but his presence was at his own discretion and took the form of a divine personality offering a personal relationship and never, even in the Eucharist, of a kind of "medicine." As concerns salvation, God in Christ had said and done what was necessary and anything beyond the scriptural account was unjustified.
Whatever else it meant, the spread of Protestantism indicated disbelief in many of Catholicism's claims or of indifference to them, in particular, the claim that God's divine essence or will was embodied in the organization or acts of the historically existing church and was available to be drawn upon, dispensed, or interpreted by ecclesiastical authorities. This difference between Catholic and protestant views was what I tried to understand.
I cast the problem as one of the acceptance and spread of Protestantism rather than as one of origin. The origins of the Reformation, as of any social movement, involve many factors and many contingencies (Bouwsma 1974; Kouri and Scott 1987; Spitz 1985): the competition between the Church and emerging national states, the spread of learning, the Church's difficulties in preparing, sustaining, and disciplining its clergy, the role of the Church as a secular power in European affairs, and so on. In the end, explanations of a particular social movement are limited by the difficulties of dealing with a singular case. It may be possible, however, to identify conditions that lead to the acceptance or rejection of a movement's orientations. A range of cases can be examined, "variables" can be controlled, and explanations can be evaluated against comparative evidence. The results may even have implications for the question of origin.
In thinking about the spread of Protestantism, I drew on the type of research I have been reviewing here. Because God is a high god, I focused on differences in the ultimately sovereign decision-making structures of European societies, especially the structures that were most embracive. I interpreted the Protestant-Catholic differences as concerned with the role of societal purposes in the decision-making structures supposedly designed to serve them.
What leads people to doubt that the structure and the acts of an organization are authentic embodiments of collective purpose? Such doubts are common. They arise from signs that special interests, and not just the common interest, are being served and that they are being served illegitimately.
How is an organization able to retain credibility and loyalty despite such doubts? In many cases, it is not challenged because people think that the organization is what it should be despite its being misused. Misuses can be corrected without fundamental changes in the organization.
The situation is different, however, if people find that service to special interests, as well as to overarching collective purposes, is built into the very structure of the organization. In this circumstance, the organization's structure and acts will represent some mixture of common and special interests and people must be wary about confusing one with the other. The two must be distinguished and differentiated.
Given this reasoning, the pre-Reformation decision-making structures of societies that adopted Protestantism should embody an important, even legitimate, role for special interests in the definition and implementation of overarching collective purposes. Because Calvinism and Zwinglianism are more thoroughgoing than Lutheranism or Anglicanism in their versions of Protestant themes, their acceptance should be associated with an even stronger participation of special interests in the formulation and pursuit of societal purposes.
These expectations were confirmed in the history of religious and political developments in most of the societies I studied. I examined the historical record for forty-two states of Europe that had sufficient independence at some period between 1520 and 1685 to develop and implement an indigenous response to the Reformation. This sample included all of the major states, including the larger states in Germany, and many smaller ones, among them the several Swiss cantons and, in Italy, the city-states of Venice and Florence. By current estimates (De Vries 1984:36, 269-287; McEvedy and Jones 1978), these states encompassed about 77 percent of the European population (about sixty-two million people) of Western Christendom as of 1500 and more than 90 percent of the people in the politically independent states of the area.
My sample did not include any of the Imperial Free Cities, and it has been suggested (Midelfort and Edwards 1972; Ozment, 1975; Wuthnow 1985, 1987:299-330) that the story there might have been different from the one I found for larger states. There were more than sixty such cities, most of them very small, and they varied in their degree of independence from Imperial control. In a supplement to this chapter (Swanson 1990), I show that the relations found in my original study appeared again for the eight imperial cities that were by far the largest. All of them were relatively independent in settling on a response to the Reformation.
Compared with most primitive societies, the European states in my samples had more differentiated structures for making authoritative decisions and all of them had come to distinguish between what Bracton (circa 1250-1256) and other medieval thinkers called gubernaculum and what they called jurisdictio . I found this distinction helpful when thinking about operational definitions of the penetration of societal purposes by special interests. For present purposes, an abbreviated description of this distinction must suffice.
Speaking broadly, gubernaculum corresponds to the principal executive and higher judicial powers. In principle, these maintain and implement collective purposes. In the states of early modern Europe they would have included the power to make war or conclude a peace, to create supreme magistrates, to establish a system of judicial appeals, to pardon adjudged offenders, to coin money, to receive allegiance or fealty or homage, to grant patents, including those of monopoly, and to convoke and control the militia of the state. Jurisdictio, by contrast, included rights to define the range of subjects over which gubernaculum might be exercised, to set the level of financial and other support that the population would provide for collective activities, and to consent to, or to reject, actions that might determine the future existence or basic organization of the society as a collective enterprise. In early modern times these actions included all or more of the following: approval of the making or changing of laws, consent to codifications of law, exercise of ultimate judicial functions in cases affecting the existence or basic structure of the state (for example, treason, rebellion, or lese majesty), approval of declarations of war or of treaties of peace, and approval of proposals to levy or renew taxes or to make or obtain loans.
By these definitions, jurisdictio refers to the continuous establishing of a collectivity's boundaries and of bonds between collective interests and personal and special interests. In jurisdictio, people and groups appear as the creators of a societal collectivity and as continuously reestablishing that collective relationship. Gubernaculum, however, refers to the formulation and guidance of collective acts based upon the prior existence of collective relations. By this reasoning, the existence and operation of collective purposes is most evident in the exercise of gubernaculum . If those purposes are less clearly expressed in the organization and the acts of societies in which special interests play an important role in the specification and implementation of collective purposes, then it is the legitimated role of special interests in the exercise of gubernaculum that should have special attention. That was my focus in studying the spread of the Reformation.
I found that Protestantism was officially (and, usually, popularly) accepted in those societies in which groups pursuing special interests had previously come to have an important, legitimate role in gubernaculum and that Catholicism was retained in those in which this was not the case. The involvement of special interests in the exercise of gubernaculum varied in nature from one society to another. In some, it meant that representatives of special interest groups (for example, guilds, circles of nobles, city wards, counties) comprised a council that had ultimate authority. That was the case, for example, in such Swiss cantons as Basel or Zurich and in the United Provinces of the Netherlands. In other societies, a deep penetration of gubernaculum was effected by having representatives of special interests serve as the king's council or by requiring that the consent of those representatives be obtained before the king's nominees to his council, or to major administrative posts, could take office. Patterns of this sort appeared in Bohemia, Hungary, Transylvania, and, with a small self-perpetuating council serving as chief magistrate, Geneva. In still other societies, representatives of special interest groups were designated as the proper implementers of the state's programs; thus they served as the hands and feet of legitimate action: assessing and collecting taxes, raising militia, enforcing the law, adjudicating in important legal questions, building roads, supporting the poor, regulating markets, and so on. That was the role of people representing their localities in England, Sweden, Brandenburg, Prussia, Hesse, Saxony, Wurttemberg, and Denmark. (In a separate report , I consider a question raised about my coding of these matters in England and France.)
There were, of course, powerful special interest groups in all of the other European societies, and their struggles comprise a large part of the history of those societies. They did not, however, as special interests, have the formal prerogative to choose representatives who could, of right, promote special, as well as common, interests. In some societies gubernaculum was exercised through a council that was legitimated as representing the common interests, this legitimation being implemented by the requirement that decisions be made through unanimity or very large majorities, by providing very short terms for major officials, and by selecting councillors or other officials by lot. These types of practices appeared in such Swiss cantons as Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Fribourg, in Venice and Florence, and, for a considerable time, in Poland. (As these cases show, my account does not turn simply on an association between "democracy" and Protestantism [Brady 1978:10-11, 20; Ozment 1975: 9-11].) In other societies, all powers in gubernaculum were formally vested in a prince and the agents whom he chose and whose powers could be withdrawn at his discretion. That was the arrangement in France, Spain, Austria, Bavaria, and several smaller states.
Table 7.3 shows the chief results. All societies having a formal role for special interests in the central exercise of gubernaculum became Zwinglian or Calvinist; all providing such a role in the local implementation of central programs became Lutheran or Anglican; eighteen of the twenty-one societies that provided neither role for special interests remained Catholic: H = .86, p <.001.
Certain additional findings (including those for the Imperial cities in Swanson 1990) sustain the likely importance of this correlation in understanding the spread of the Reformation. First, before the period from 1450 to 1480, none of these societies provided the role for special interests in gubernaculum that I associated with Protestantism. Second, the special interests concerned varied in character from one society to another (for example, upper nobility, all landowners, merchants, guildsmen), but it is the way in which they were involved in acting on collective purposes and not their other characteristics that is associated with the form of religion that was adopted. Third, before 1620 there were several important shifts in the role of special interests in the central operations of the state in Poland and in Austria. In both countries, each shift was soon followed by the adoption of a specific version of Protes-
tantism, or by a return to Catholicism, as predicted in the patterns in table 7.3. Fourth, since the completion of this study of the Reformation, I have found that several phenomena that distinguish Protestant and Catholic outlooks are correlated with the role of special interests in other samples of societies or in families. (For a review of these, see Swanson 1986; Swanson and Phillips 1989.)
Studies 1 through 5 showed that we can identify differences in the degree to which collectivities are capable of acting purposively and some consequences of those differences. Studies 6 through 8 show that relations among collective purposes, and relations between overarching purposes and special interests, can be identified and that hypotheses about their effects can be tested.
As always, these findings hold within certain constraints. Some constraints are unknown; others can be stated. Thus the societies that form communal groups to overcome cross-pressures from incompatible subordinate groups must have resources to make that possible. The development of communal groups may be less likely in the very simple primitive societies that contain the internal divisiveness described in connection with the appearance of tricksters (study 3). Again, sharp distinctions between ultimate sources of purpose and organizational arrangements inferred from Protestantism are unlikely in societies less differentiated than those that appeared in early modern Europe (Swanson 1971b). The discovery of such requisite contexts for any relationship is, of course, a continuous process.
The studies I have presented show that it is useful to think of collective action as purposeful. They offer some hypotheses about the sources and effects of those purposes, and they show that one can test these hypotheses even when the purposes are those of whole societies.
These demonstrations are, necessarily, limited. Some important topics would be difficult or impossible to address with the types of data I have used. For example, the ethnographic reports rarely allow us the historical depth or the detailed information on collective processes (discussed in Swanson 1970) that we would need to study the development of collective purposes: the processes through which participants come to feel that they must act together and decide upon one rather than another set of objectives as adequate or as the only possibility-on a "one-possibility world" (Geertz 1966:24-40). (The data on the Reformation are longitudinal and therefore better suited to studies of process or causation.) My ethnographic findings do show that collective purposes, like other collective phenomena, rarely have the simple, direct relations with phenomena at other levels of analysis that Hamnett (1984), Underhill (1974, 1976), Swanson, (1974b, 1976), or Simpson (1979, 1984) propose when they suggest that societal purposes are directly grounded in geography, demography, technology, or the ecological distribution of other organisms. Indeed, I have repeatedly noted the absence of such connections with conceptions of spirits.
The data I have used have another limitation. They would not take us far if we wanted to get at the microprocesses through which people arrive at their interpretations of the collective purposes they encounter. It is useful to show that particular interpretations, for example, those found in conceptions of gods and other spirits, are associated with specific ways in which purposeful collective activity is organized (Bergesen 1984; Robertson and Lechner 1984; Winter 1984). If we want instead to show the steps by which people arrived at these interpretations and became committed to them, we shall again need information on collective processes. The existence of collectively purposeful action does not, of itself, produce an interpretation of that action any more than the mere use of a language by adults produces linguistic skills in a child. And the existence of collective purposes is not sufficient to produce one interpretation as against another: for example, in the studies I have presented, an interpretation framed in the action of deities rather than a secular interpretation.
Nor are my studies exceptions to the rule that research on motivation must, at some points, employ indirect evidence. This is the case for research on the motivations of individuals as well as of collectivities.
In studying motivation in individuals, evidence of many kinds has a role. It includes signs of motivational arousal (physiological signs, signs from projective and other inquiries, and so on), signs that the individual uses the same criteria in formulating behavior across widely differing situations, signs that the individual is trying to manage the strength of arousal (to heighten, dampen, or otherwise control it), signs of satiety or of dissatisfaction, and so on (Sorrentino and Higgins 1986). The more points on which there is supporting evidence, the greater the confidence about the presence of motives and about their nature and role (Swanson 1989).
In the end, all of this evidence is indirect. There is no direct access to psychological processes as such. But the indirect evidence has often proven sufficient to develop and test hypotheses, some of which seem to order wide ranges of observations that are otherwise problematic. (For a recent, powerful example on motivational matters, see Petty and Cacioppo's  systematization of research on persuasion and attitude change.)
I make these points because questions about collective purpose are sometimes avoided on the ground that one cannot obtain "objective, direct" evidence, especially on the purposes of whole societies. If all motivational phenomena entail subjective processes, then the "evidence" for them will always involve inference as well as observation. The results of research on individuals' motivations and the studies of societal purposes that I have presented suggest that the consequences are not fatal: that we need not join Wuthnow (1985:804) in despairing of the possibility of scientific research on these subjects. (Despite his reliance on indirect evidence, it can be "objectively" shown that Wuthnow's own account of the spread of the Reformation must be incorrect.
Research on collective purposes, including my own studies, does make clear that collective purposes can serve as reasons, causes, or consequences, and it thereby sets aside long-standing debates as to whether collective values, motives, and motivation should be placed in "infrastructure" or "superstructure." The question at stake in these debates is that of the role or weightiness of collective purpose in causation or of the extent to which its ontological status is formal or empirical.
Like other aspects of collective relations, collective purpose emerges from social interdependence. Social interdependence is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for the appearance of collective relations. On the other hand, the existence of collective purposes, and of organizational arrangements through which they are implemented, makes it more likely that collective relations will persist. Collective purposes are also preconditions for processes of organizational differentiation and reintegration and for the appearance of normativity based on collective values. If "infrastructure" stands for causal priority, collective purposes sometimes have that role and they sometimes do not.
Again, individuals and collectivities are actors, whereas collective purposes are aspects of action and are defining properties of collectivities. But there are no collectivities without individuals or collective purposes. And, as motivations, collective purposes structure action processes and are structured by them. The structuring is both formal and empirical. Thus, depending upon where we enter the connections among these entities, we highlight the role of collective purposes as reasons, causes, or consequences: as aspects of collective actors or as themselves developed through social relations among actors, individual or collective.
A failure to make these distinctions can lead to explanations that are clearly insufficient. Wallerstein's (1974) provocative account of the "origins of the European world economy in the sixteenth century" provides an example that deals with events I have treated in this chapter.
Wallerstein follows most historians in saying that western and northern Europe were afforded an opportunity for commercial expansion by, among other things, their demographic growth, the emergence of strong national states (France and Spain are his chief examples), and the weakening of Italian and other southern commercial powers by military threats from Turkey and North Africa. He fails to consider whether the most commercially successful of the northern states had organizational and cultural characteristics that enabled them to take advantage of these opportunities. (This omission stems, in part, from his effort to show that the new centers obtained their predominance by exploiting an "unearned" position rather than through any "virtues" of their own, virtues that might be emulated by countries seeking a comparable prosperity.)
For Wallerstein (1974:156, 207, 353), the Reformation was irrelevant to commercial expansion. It was simply an expression of nationalism that was imposed by states such as England where the king and other elites had until then been too weak to establish the control over ecclesiastical properties and preferments that had been won earlier by the strong monarchies in France and Spain. Whatever the correctness of Wallerstein's argument (I think it wrong), an interpretation that accounts for the organization of societal purposes suggests other, or additional, sources of the economic growth of northern and western Europe. It opens the possibility (Swanson 1967:247-252) that the guilds, regions, and other centers of purposes and "interests" were legitimized in entrepreneurial efforts by their greater importance in the central polities of these countries-that it was entrepreneurial efforts so legitimized that enabled these countries to exploit their opportunities. It raises the possibility that Protestant formulations of societal purposes as guides of societal activities, but as differentiated from the current organization for promoting those activities, may have been important in integrating societies in which "special interests" associated with commerce were to have an unusually free play. (And an account that takes collective purpose seriously seems also to provide grounds for understanding the significance of specifically religious doctrines such as those on predestination or on the nature of the Eucharist.)
My point, of course, is not that the considerations with which Wallerstein deals are unimportant but rather that they are insufficient for his purpose. An approach from collective purpose seems to help us understand what happened.
I began by saying that I would focus on collective purpose because it is often identified with culture or is itself the focus of collective interpretation and interpretations in which culture is often said to consist. This approach from collective purpose is stimulating because it opens new opportunities for dealing with basic questions. Many phenomena that have resisted systematic understanding seem importantly constituted by collective purpose and await studies that take it into account. Some of these phenomena are general and fundamental to all social relations: for example, the emergence of normativity and of its variant forms and the processes through which normativity becomes attached to collective acts or becomes attached to interpersonal relations and to principles for adjudicating between them. Equally basic and puzzling are such related topics as collective irrationality or the dynamics of mythic plots or the experience of being empowered for a life career. Every social scientist can add to the list.
Some questions are equally critical but less general. They center on the purposes of whole societies: for example, the nature and grounding of secularization, the underpinnings of the purposes of societies that are unable to exercise their sovereignty (for example, Poland or Ireland in the long periods when they were occupied by foreign powers), the existence in a society of norms and values that are universal in reference rather than particular to that society, and the denigration of magic and spiritualism in modern societies and the recent popular appeal of such beliefs in many of those societies. The agenda is immense.
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