Mann, Michael(1942-) British historical sociologist and analyst of SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, whose book The Sources of Social Power (1986, volume 1 of a planned three-volume work) attracted critical acclaim from historians as well as sociologists. Having previously written incisively on contemporary political culture and class (e.g. Consciousness and Action in the Western Working Class, 1973), Mann turned his attention to historical analysis with the aim of bringing about a total reorientation in the treatment of POWER and SOCIAL CHANGE in sociology. The distinctive focus of Mann's approach to POWER is his insistence that it has four principal sources: economic, ideological, military and political, with none of these being alone decisive, and with no simple evolutionary or developmental pattern of social change (see also EPISODIC CHARACTERIZATION). The range and acuity of his account of the development and operation of power from neolithic times, through the civilization of the Near East, the classical age, and medieval Europe, to 1760 (the concluding point of volume 1) is remarkable. Volume 2 of Mann's planned trilogy, subtitled The Rise of Classes and Nation-states 1760-1914, appeared in 1993.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000