Truly interdisciplinary work between Sociology and History is are, because one discipline usually exploits the concerns or data of the other. Eric Carlton, however, has succeeded in bringing together the distinctive orientations of sociology and ancient history into a clearly written discussion of concerns crucial to both disciplines. Based on a comparative analysis or two pre-industrial civilisations, those of Ancient Egypt and Classical Athens, the study is primarily concerned with three issues. The first is the relationship between belief and action: does belief (intellectualised as ideology) affect or determine social behaviour? Second, the author examines the ways in which belief contributes to stability and ‘good order’ in society, and asks to what extent such factors as social status and social change are related to institutionalised mechanisms of social control. Finally, he indicates possible sociological frameworks or models which are ideological rather than stratificatory, whereby complex pre-industrial systems might be analysed. By analysing the societies of Ancient Egypt and Classical Athens in institutional terms, Eric Carlton examines the potency and pervasiveness of the ideological factor and shows that it is a persistent and determinative feature of this type of society.
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