History Makers: Leaders, Rulers, Roles, Systems.
The world order is being transformed and a historical-sociological perspective is required. At issue are the dynamic relationships linking national populations and leaders, including the mediating parts played by movements and institutional orders (the ‘systems’ and ‘structures’) that legitimize and channel popular aspirations and the actions of leaders. New national political leaderships are emerging and new demands made by national populations. These developments need to be placed in their proper comparative-historical contexts.
Investigation should be pursued along two cross-cutting axes. One is between theories of systems and structures, including, for example, work by Parsons, Lockwood, Dahrendorf, Luhmann, Giddens and Alexander, and approaches to comparative historical sociology, especially those combining empirical and theoretical concerns, as exemplified by Elias, Mann, Geertz, Moore and Arnason. The other focuses on the interplay between socio-political structures undergoing processes of integration, disintegration and reorientation and the emergence of new leaders within the interstices of these change processes.
At the intersection between these two axes arise crucial questions about emerging leaders, historically and in the present. For example, to what extent and in what ways have potential ‘history makers’ with crucial decision-making powers been able to weaken, ignore or transform established practices embodied in specific complexes of roles and rules. How do members of insurgent movements respond when ‘leaders’ become rulers? How much capacity do such innovators possess to control and shape the roles they fill? How much ‘transgression’ is ‘permissible’ within such roles and in the application of the rule-based order in which they are set?