Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations: Cultural Dimensions
The human history has evidenced various systems of hierarchy and power in different spheres of social life. The relations of hierarchy and power are relevant for every sphere as they penetrate the whole life of a society and represent a sort of framework for an individual's activity. The cultural sphere (in the wide sense of the word) is not an exception, although, of course, it has great peculiarities in the manifestation of power-hierarchical relations. The relations here are usually informal and more often connected with traditions than with norms, there are much less power structures that have the legal right for coercion. The book consists of two main parts. The papers included in the first section discuss the dynamics and potentials of newly emerging socio-cultural network structures and the ways in which they reconceptualize socio-cultural organization through innovative forms of spatial practice. The second section is dedicated to the study of new models of communication whose influence overcomes states' borders and which have a great potential and capabilities for destroying the basis and cultural values of the society.
We would like to conclude this volume with the same statement that we used to start it: The human history has evidenced various systems of hierarchy and power, various manifestations of power and hierarchy relations in different spheres of social life from politics to information networks, from culture to sexual life. We hope in this volume we have succeeded in studying the role of the cultural aspects of power-hierarchical relations and modern mass media in the public sphere. But of course there are a huge number of other cases that are no less interesting and many other important fields of research in which the problem of specificity of hierarchy and power relations is a core one. Naturally nobody can express all of them adequately. But one may try to describe at least some of them. So we would like to offer our readers two other volumes connected with the hierarchy and power's problems. These are the following volumes: Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations: Ancient and Medieval Cultures (which opened Social Evolution & History Monographs series) and Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations: Political Aspects of Modernity. Let us provide some more information about them.
The human history has evidenced various systems of hierarchy and power, various manifestations of power and hierarchy relations in different spheres of social life from politics to information networks, from culture to sexual life. A careful study of each particular case of such relations is very important, especially within the context of contemporary multipolar and multicultural world. In the meantime it is very important to see both the general features typical for all or most of the hierarchy and power forms, and their variation. This set of issues has been treated by a series of international conferences titled ‘Hierarchy and Power in the History of Civilizations’ held in 2000–2006. Most articles of this volume were originally presented at the 4th conference of this series (Moscow, 2006). Needless to mention that all those presentations have been substantially re-worked for the publication in this volume.
As is well known, inequality is typical of every or at least most societies (e.g., Davis and Moore 1945: 243). Sociology considers power, wealth, prestige, status and privileges to be the main social benefits and resources, whose distribution defines the major forms of inequality (see e.g., Davis 1942; Smelser 1988; Lenski 1966; Sullivan 1998; Collins 2004)1. Sometimes education (or more generalized – ‘skill capital’ [Perrucci and Wysong 1999]) is included in this list. For instance, Berger points out that education is the main ‘capital’ of the new ‘knowledge-class people’ (Berger 1986; see below about it; see also Coser and Znaniecki 1968; Gouldner 1978); Giddens supposes that education reflects and affirms the existing inequality rather than encourages its elimination (Giddens 1993). Toffler and others quite rightly regard knowledge among such resources (see e.g., Toffler 1990).