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The State

Return To The State, Instrumentalism And Structuralism, Derivationism, Systems Analysis, Organizational Realism, Economics And The State

The concept of the state was central to the social sciences until temporarily displaced in the 1950s by a concept of the "political system" that is mainly associated with Talcott Parsons's (1902–1979) systems analysis. Parsons's sociology identified the political system with behaviors and institutions that provide a center of integration for all aspects of the social system. David Easton echoed Parsons by declaring that "neither the state nor power is a concept that serves to bring together political research" and instead defined the political system as "those interactions through which values are authoritatively allocated for a society" (p. 106). Systems analysis was tied closely to various theories of decision making, but most notably to pluralist theory, which viewed decision making as the outcome of peaceful bargaining between interest groups in society. Pluralist theory implicitly assumed that key sources of power such as wealth, force, status, and knowledge, if not equally distributed, are at least widely diffused among a plurality of competing groups in society.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)