Gellner, Ernest. 1987. "Trust, Cohesion, and the Social Order." (R030) (Dunlap Bravo)



This first reading takes us across the border from "simple" thinking about groups as the primary meso-structural element giving rise to social order to recognition that networks might play a role here too.

You should start by troubling yourself over the question of how a network is different from a group. Using the anthropological/historical examples in this excerpt, what's "groupish" and what's "networkish" about the structures described?


Ernest Gellner (1925–1995) was a philosopher, social anthropologist, and social theorist. Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) was a 14th century Islamic thinker often seen as an important "pre-sociology" theorist.

Leading Questions

1.Describe the basics of the anthropological foundation of Khaldun/Gellner theory that anarchy leads to social cohesion.

2.At 300.9 Gellner notes that "[t]his is teleological of 'functional' argument." What does this mean?

3. Cities, specialists, markets: incapable of cohesion and governance (304). Explain.

4. Describe the process of network realignment and re-equilibration Gellner presents (302-303)


See also