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8/12/2019 john foran on theda skocpol - review.pdf http://slidepdf.com/reader/full/john-foran-on-theda-skocpol-reviewpdf 1/3 Review: [untitled] Author(s): John Foran Source: The American Political Science Review, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 222-223 Published by: American Political Science Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2952327 Accessed: 08/11/2010 00:53 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=apsa . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]  American Political Science Association  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The American Political Science Review. http://www.jstor.org

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    Review: [untitled]

    Author(s): John ForanSource: The American Political Science Review, Vol. 91, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 222-223Published by: American Political Science AssociationStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2952327

    Accessed: 08/11/2010 00:53

    Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at

    http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless

    you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you

    may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.

    Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=apsa.

    Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed

    page of such transmission.

    JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of

    content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms

    of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact [email protected]

    American Political Science Associationis collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to

    The American Political Science Review.

    http://www.jstor.org

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    Book Reviews: COMPARATIVE POLITICS March 1997

    plank in a revivified social democratic programme (p. 208).Perhaps this is Pierson's considered view, but it is notrepeated in the book's concluding chapter, which summarizeshis reasons for believing that marketsocialism cannot formthe basis of a revised strategy of the left (p. 213).In fact, Pierson's concluding chapter seems to contradictthe analysis that precedes it. What makes market socialismseem feasible is its attachment to the market,but that whichmakes it socialist is the very thing that renders it infeasible(p. 211). That is, market socialism is infeasible because it istoo radical. But now market socialists are taken to task forbeing insufficiently adical in their rethinking of the socialistidea (p. 218). Pierson charges them with paying insufficientattention to ways in which both the state and civil society maybe more thoroughly democratized and with not addressingthe question of ownership in a radical enough way. (Whatthis more radical questioning of ownership might be is leftrather vague.)The source of this logical muddle is easy to locate. Piersoncannot bring himself to say that the fundamental reason forthe infeasibility of market socialism is the sheer power of thecapitalist class. This class-the one percent or so of thepopulation which, in the United States, owns one-third ormore of all wealth- has rigged the electoral game so as tomake certain there will be no effective challenge to its power,at least not in the foreseeable future. References to this class,to its lock on the mass media, campaign financing, and soforth, are virtually absent from Pierson's book. Instead, heblames the infeasibility on market socialism itself, on itsexcessive/insufficient radicalism.It would have been better, I think, to have taken Plato'stack. In constructing his ideal Republic, Plato insists that it isworth knowing what a truly just society might look like, eventhough one cannot be sanguine about its coming into exis-

    tence. Pierson's decent book would have been a better bookif he had addressed the question of class power straight on.

    Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics, and Networks inUrban Quarters of Cairo. By Diane Singerman. Princeton:Princeton University Press, 1995. 335p. $39.50.Robert Bianchi, Attorney-at-Law, Chicago, Illinois

    Avenues of Participation argues that many residents of Cairo'solder neighborhoods rely on informal networks to advanceeconomic and political interests in a manner that partiallycompensates for their limited influence in Egypt's authori-tarian regime. The author presents her arguments in a seriesof narratives of her experiences during 1985 and 1986, whenshe lived with an Egyptian family. She examines several typesof activity, such as finding marriage partners, making per-sonal loans, private tutoring, trading subsidized foods, hold-ing multiple jobs, paying and avoiding taxes, working abroad,petitioning deputies, using day-care centers, and runningfamily businesses and small workshops.The book's primary contribution to scholarship is descrip-tion rather than analysis. Readers will enjoy Singerman'swillingness to share the fun of her fieldwork, but they maywish it had been accompanied by a bit more theoretical work.As are many imaginative studies, this one is still a work inprogress: The author thinks out loud about the possiblemeanings of her stories without coming to any solid conclu-sions. Anyone who has lived in Egypt recognizes that thesenetworks abound and operate as useful survival mechanisms.Nonetheless, it is hard to draw implications from her workabout the country in general.One problem is trying to understand who and what this

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    book is about. The author refers to her subjects as thepeople or the popular sectors, but in Egypt as in manyother countries these are loaded expressions that includemany overlapping categories. Although Singerman fre-quently uses Arabic equivalents for these terms, saying themin another language does not help to narrow the choices. Likemost political slogans, they are shorthand phrases used inexhortations, jokes, and put downs, depending on the contextand audience. Whether in English or in Arabic, however, theydo not define clear social science concepts. Similarly, theinformal networks surveyed here cover too many differentkinds of relationships to tell us much about power. Ifinfluence were measured by one's skill in forming andmanipulating interpersonal ties, then most Egyptians wouldbe political superstars.It is difficult to connect this work with the larger body ofsocial science scholarship on Egypt. The author continues theefforts of a legion of investigators who have explored everyimaginable form of political participation in Egypt, includingmany that are informal, illegal, and implausible. Singermantells us frequently that her work breakswith previous politicalscientists, whose approaches to Egypt she describes as elitistand ethnocentric, but she does not support these claims witha critical discussion of any particularstudy or writer. Special-ists on Egypt may be grateful to be mercifully dismissed asthe usual suspects, but Singerman's readers will not learnmuch about the extended intellectual family whose debatesnurtured her research interests.The author avoids taking a stand on the question of howher subjects and their groups fit into the political system as awhole. No one doubts that informal networks of everydaypeople are part of the Egyptian landscape. But where do theyfit in and how important are they? This book reminds us thatsuch groups exist, that they perform important functions, andthat we should take them seriously. No model of Egyptianpolitics is threatened by this author's findings. Singerman haschosen a risk-free approach that leaves conventional wisdomundisturbed while appearing to challenge it. Anecdotally, wehave moved a step forward; theoretically, a step sideways.

    Social Revolutions in the Modern World. By Theda Skocpol.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 366p.$54.95 cloth, $17.95 paper.John Foran, Universityof California,Santa Barbara

    Along with Charles Tilly, Theda Skocpol is the doyen(ne) ofscholars of revolution in the English-speaking world. WhileTilly's name has been associated with the resource mobiliza-tion perspective and thus quite influential in social move-ments theory, Skocpol is probably the major figure for thoseinterested in social revolutions. Whereas Tilly has pioneeredsuch fruitful concepts as political opportunity and culturalrepertoires, Skocpol's main contribution has been to centerattention on the state and its relations with classes and otherstates, a focus that has been productively deepened anddebated by other scholars ever since the 1979 appearance ofher classic statement in States and Social Revolutions.The present volume is a collection of eleven of Skocpol'smajor essays from 1973 to 1989 (three are co-authored withMargaret Somers, Ellen Kay Trimberger,and Jeff Goodwin,and there is an additional essay by William H. Sewell, Jr., towhich Skocpol replies). These are framed by an introductionand a substantial concluding essay written especially for thisvolume, which offers Skocpol's most recent thinking on thefield of revolutions. All the pieces should be of interest toscholars in this field. We find, for example, critically appre-

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    American Political Science Review Vol. 91, No. 1

    ciative reviews of Barrington Moore, Jr., and ImmanuelWallerstein's classics, in which Skocpol begins to trace outher own approach to issues of macroscopic social change.These are followed by a programmatic essay on the uses ofcomparative history and by three essays that pre-date Statesand Social Revolutions and introduce its structural, institu-tional, and international emphases.The debate with Sewell over the role of culture andideology in the study of revolutions occupies a separate partof the volume. Here, Sewell argues for the indispensability ofsuch ideologies as Enlightenment thought in understandingthe French Revolution, and Skocpol counters with a deftdistinction between popular cultural idioms and more explicitrevolutionary ideologies. Together, these two 1985 pieces setin motion a research agenda on how to bring culture intotheories of revolution that a number of scholars are presentlytrying to advance.Four other essays from the 1980s constitute Skocpol's leadson how to apply the insights of her study of the classicalrevolutions of France, Russia, and China to more contempo-rary cases. These pieces both extend and defend the generalprinciples of States and Social Revolutions in the study ofmore recent Third World cases. A structural, state-centeredapproach is retained, with some new accents on the impor-tance of culture and ideology and clarification of how agencyfinds its place within Skocpol's framework of analysis. Theessay on Iran, for example, forthrightly addresses the urbanand religious aspects of this revolution as posing new theo-retical challenges. She and I disagree on whether Iran is anexception among Third World revolutions (her position), orsuggests a new framework for studying such cases (my own).All twelve of these reprinted essays are worth reading andrereading. Of further interest to scholars will be the newlycommissioned introduction and especially the conclusion tothe volume. In the former, entitled Explaining social revo-lutions: First and further thoughts, Skocpol clearly andsoberly introduces the themes of her work through a look atthe genesis and significance of each piece in this volume,situating them in terms of both the work available at the timeeach was written and the evolution of her ideas as newrealities and new theoretical avenues opened up in the 1980s.The concluding essay, Reflections on recent scholarshipabout social revolutions and how to study them, representsSkocpol's latest thinking on the subject and, given herchanging research interests in the direction of the origins ofwelfare states, possibly her final word for some time to come.Here, some sparks fly as she offers sometimes acerbic repliesto her toughest critics as well as.. hands out praise andcriticismof the current generation of scholars of revolution (Imust acknowledge that my own work is positively assessed).The essay opens with justly appreciative accounts of the workof Jeff Goodwin and Timothy Wickham-Crowleyon twenti-eth-century Third World social revolutions as the best recentcomparative-historical works on the subject. Both start closeto Skocpol's own orientation, and each adds significant newelements to the literature. Goodwin's ambitious study ofarmed insurrections in Southeast Asia and Central Americashows how the logic of the Sandinistas' success againstSomoza's neopatrimonial dictatorship in Nicaragua is similarto revolutions in directly ruled colonies such as Algeria,Vietnam, and Portuguese-ruled Africa, all of this contrastedwith cases in which revolutionaries have failed (Malaya, thePhilippines, and El Salvador). These arguments will soon betied together in a forthcoming book. Wickham-Crowley'sGuerrillasand Revolutions in Latin America (1992) is alsosingled out as remarkable and it is): A sophisticatedresearchdesignusingBooleanqualitative omparative nal-

    ysis is used to examine more than two dozen instances ofattempted armed insurrection in Latin America since 1956 toaccount for successes in Cuba and Nicaragua and failureseverywhere else. Skocpol uses these works to assess what hasbeen learned about social revolutions to date, notably howneopatrimonial regimes prove vulnerable, the utility of con-junctural causal models, and the importance of transnationaland international processes.About half of the forty-page conclusion is devoted to aspiritedrebuttal of the critiques of Skocpol's work by MichaelBurawoy, Michael Hechter and Edgar Kiser, and WilliamSewell, Jr., representing Marxist,rational choice and cultural/narrativist alternative approaches, respectively. Skocpol ablydefends herself in these pages, although the work of Burawoyand Sewell in particular does provide directions worthy ofmore consideration than she accords them. Most remarkableis the tone of the debate: Although warned that her accountwill be personal and opinionated (p. 302) to makereading it as informative and entertaining as possible (p.303), the reader is still unprepared for the bite of herdismissals of these critics as overweening (p. 324), bom-bastic (p. 325), grotesque (p. 329), or utterly banal (p.332), among many other turns of phrase. The result is indeedentertaining but distractsfrom the substantive issues at stake.The essay and the book end with a glance at the horizons ofthe study of revolution, judiciously seen in terms of thecurrent preoccupation with folding culture and ideology intothe long-standing concerns put on the map by Skocpol'soeuvre.This is a well-chosen set of Skocpol's writingson revolutionover three decades, and it can be read profitably in whole orin part by all who would follow in her footsteps.

    What Was Socialism, and What Comes Next? By KatherineVerdery. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996.298p. $49.50 cloth, $17.95 paper.Sabrina P. Ramet, University of Washington

    As with all too many books being published today, this one ismistitled. Why is anyone's guess, but the mislabelling inevi-tably has consequences for how one reads the book. Had itbeen titled Aspects of the Post-Communist Transformationin Romania there would be no difficulty, since the bookclearly builds on the foundation of analysis of various aspectsof life in Romania since 1989. The sundry references toRussia, Poland, and other European states that have aban-doned communism indicate that the author is aware of theapplicability of some of the lessons that may be drawn fromthe Romanian case to other cases as of some areas ofcomparability. Alternatively, had the book been titled Re-flections on Post-Communist Romania and Its Lessons forEastern Europe Generally (granted, a nineteenth-centurysounding title), the reader would likewise know what toexpect. As it is, the subject matter comes as a bit of a surprise.Although I may complain about the title, I have only praisefor the contents. The author clearly knows Romania and tellsmany an interesting story, including that of the ill-fatedCaritas financial pyramid scheme of 1992-94. Other sub-jects explored in this book include the etatization of time inCeausescu's Romania, nationalism in postsocialist Romania,and property restitution in Transylvania. Drawing togetherpreviously published essays of Verdery's, the book will have abroad interest for Romania specialists and will surely makestimulating reading for anyone interested in contemporaryEastern Europe.Verdery is at her best when she describes the exigencies of

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