Political Sociology as a Field of Study
Jan W. van Deth
Political sociology deals with the nexus between social and political life. Traditionally, the political consequences of social arrangements are stressed, but attention has also been paid to the social consequences of political arrangements. Combining these two perspectives, political sociology studies links political and social phenomena; that is, it is an interdisciplinary endeavor combining social and political factors to explain distributions of power and dominance in state and society. Almost by definition, intermediary actors and institutions such as interest groups, political parties, and voluntary associations play an important role. The main research topics of political sociologists are voting behavior, new social movements, parties, civil society, and interest groups (usually input-oriented microlevel approaches), on the one hand, and state formation, transformations of political systems, and political reform processes (usually output-oriented macrolevel approaches), on the other. In the past decades, the distinction between state and society gradually disappeared and has been replaced by ...