How Is Feudalism Different From Popular Sovereignty – Night of August 4th, Abolition of Feudalism and Fiscal Privileges, by Léopold Morice / Photo by Teofilo, Wikimedia Commons
The concept of feudalism has received increasing attention in recent years, but is still largely undeveloped and under-theorized. For us, the terms feudal, feudalism and
How Is Feudalism Different From Popular Sovereignty
Feudal model refers to an ideal type of social organization – that is, a theoretical construct that generally corresponds to the essential features of concrete reality, but never exactly replicates it. Such a model, as Weber (1949, 93) wrote, is a “limited concept against which the real situation or action is compared and mapped for the explanation of certain of its significant components.” Following Weber, we suggest that feudalism can be found in different societies over different time periods. Medieval France serves as the empirical basis for the feudal model, but even this society values only ideal-typical feudalism.
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The model suggests that the feudal state manages to persist over long periods, despite the problems associated with political fragmentation, instability and the state’s dependence on other social actors and organizations. In this way, ideal feudalism is neither “ideal” in the conventional sense nor a metaphor for social chaos and disorder. It is a dialectical construction, at the center of which lies a suboptimal but sustainable brand of central authority.
To develop the feudal model as an analytical tool, we begin by examining how it has been used by other investigators, past and present, and then synthesize some of these treatments into a coherent conceptual framework. This treatment of feudalism builds on some of our previous work (Shlapentokh with Woods 2007; Shlapentokh 1996a, 1996b, 1997a, 1997b, 2003, 2004; Shlapentokh, Levita and Loiberg 1997 and 1999; Shlapentokh 1997 and 1999).
The term feudalism is used in the discourse on today’s society in a number of different ways. The “feudal perspective” cuts across a large academic field, bridging the work of journalists, sociologists, political scientists, experts in international relations and historians. One group of writers includes journalists and pundits who, ignoring scholarly research on feudalism, apply the term loosely to a variety of corrupt, corrupt, or backward aspects of society. Based on an electronic search of major world newspapers, these authors are more likely to associate feudalism with developing countries than with Western ones (Glionna 2008; Matthews and Nemsova 2006).
Another group offers a more coherent conceptual framework and uses it to illustrate the problems with Western democracy and capitalism. A typical representative of this group is Farmer (2006), a dark portrait of Walmart, the leading baron of big-box grocery stores. The founder of Walmart, Sam Walton, appears as a “neo-feudal knight” who ignores social and legal standards and maintains a business climate “characterized by economic wars, gold and absolutely significant autonomy” (Farmer 2006, 157).
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The third group, consisting mainly of American exceptionalists, is interested in how a society’s feudal heritage, or lack thereof, affects its development in contemporary circumstances. For example, Schlesinger (1999, 152) suggested that America was “uncontaminated by feudal memories,” while Hartz (1955, 99) wrote that the country was “not familiar with the legacy of feudalism” and that these circumstances ” which defines the American liberal experience” 
The latter group draws on feudalism to describe the processes in both post-communist societies and other non-Western countries that have recently undergone major political or economic transformations. In the late 1990s, the feudal perspective became quite modern in the analysis of so-called transitional societies, especially post-communist Russia. Through
Unable to regulate the new and very powerful social actors and organizations that emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The new business moguls, regional governors and criminal organizations further weakened the state, encouraged corruption and hindered the transition to democracy and a market economy.
These “feudal” circumstances were seen as similar to the social reality in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire (Shlapentokh with Woods 2007). Latynina (2000, 2001, 2002, 2005), a well-known Russian political commentator, regularly refers to Russian “industrial feudalism” and refers to large corporations as a “feudal empire.” A number of other well-known Russian researchers also use the feudal metaphor in their descriptions of post-Soviet Russia (Konchalovskii 2006; Grinberg 2006; Orekhovskii 2005; Danilov 2000; Guriev 2001). Although less popular outside the country, some foreign experts also refer to feudalism. Ericson (2000), for example, uses the feudal model in his analysis of the Russian economy. IN
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Shadow Politics, Stavrakis (1997, 8) discusses the deinstitutionalization of the state, especially in the peripheral regions, arguing that “Russia is now closer to a feudal system rather than a federal system.” Treisman (2002, 58) takes a similar line, noting that Yeltsin-era provincial governors had the power to fight and negotiate with the Kremlin and exploit their regions as “feudal fiefs.” Although Russia receives the most attention in this sense, the feudal model (or the direct comparison with medieval Europe) was also used in analyzes of Chechnya (Lieven 1998), Romania (Matei 2004), the former East Germany (Meier 1990) and Bosnia. and Herzegovina (Deacon and Stubbs 1998).
Other scholars apply feudalism to broader discussions of Eastern European (Verdery 1996) or post-communist countries in general (Karstedt 2000, 2003). For example, Fairbanks (1999, 2000) suggests that the weakness of many post-communist states represents an unusual case in history. “Most transitions away from authoritarian rule over the past two hundred years, whether revolutionary or turbulent, have not weakened the state. If they have not gone to democracy, a strong authoritarian regime has usually emerged, sometimes after a short period of time. of anarchy” (Fairbanks 2000, 35). In contrast, almost all former communist regimes experienced a weakening of the state and fragmentation of political power during the two decades after the start of perestroika. Fairbanks (2000, 35) goes on to say that the closest historical comparison to these circumstances – “an overwhelmingly powerful and intrusive state followed by very weak states” – was the collapse of the Roman Empire, and this was the justification for “feudalism” use the analysis of the post-communist country. Our approach
Is closely aligned with the views of Fairbanks and other post-Soviet scholars. However, as discussed below, our treatment of feudalism has some important deviations from this group, as well as from the others.
While our interpretation of feudalism overlaps, to varying degrees, with the four groups discussed above, our key assumptions are best understood as they contrast with these approaches. Not surprisingly, the feudal model deviates farthest from the loose, journalistic treatment of the term. Given the lack of consensus on the meaning of feudalism, its use requires careful definition.
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Ideal feudalism also differs in meaningful ways from the other three groups. First, unlike most members of these groups, we do not make direct comparisons between the United States and the European Middle Ages, although in some cases these parallels are extremely interesting. As noted, we compare various aspects of modern America to the feudal model, which allows researchers to draw comparisons between societies and across time periods. Feudalism, according to Weber (1978, 1070), is found not only in medieval Europe, but also in the pre-classical period in Greece, in the last period of the Roman Republic, in medieval China, and even in Ptolemaic Egypt. As suggested in the Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages
(Cantor 1999, 164) feudalism can be used as “an abstract model or ideal type not only relevant to medieval Europe”. This perspective is particularly at odds with the approach of American exceptionalists, whose emphasis on the sequence of historical events and the specific course of institutional development contrasts with the notion of universal models and leads them to make only concrete comparisons between America and medieval Europe. draw
Our approach is partly inspired by Simmel’s “formal sociology,” a perspective that rejects the idea that new historical events change the essential nature of human interaction. Simmel claims that society consists of universal patterns of interaction that occur and repeat themselves throughout history and across different social and cultural settings. Two completely different types of human behavior or interaction can be understood using the same formal concept or model. For example, in many ways conflicts between nations resemble conflicts between men and women. As another example more similar to the feudal model, the need for personal protection and people’s willingness to do so lead to a universal form of social interaction between providers and recipients of protection (Simmel 1968, 1978; see also Coser)
A parallel perspective is shared, at least in part, by Simpson (1998), a medieval legal historian, who constructed a feudal model and used it to describe not only life in the Middle Ages but also various aspects of the American society. Among other things, he compared the ideal typical relationships between medieval lords and vassals – their mutual rights and duties, and sources of power – with the organized crime syndicate led by Al Capone in the 1920s.
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1930s. Karstedt (2000) supported the universalist perspective when he suggested that the patrimonial and feudal structural patterns never disappeared in medieval Europe. Smelser (1994) compared the development of the Middle Ages with the circumstances of failed contemporary states. Webber and Wyldavsky (1994, 228), also consistent universalists, suggested.
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