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Montesquieu, Charles de Secondat

Page history last edited by Devon Riley 15 years, 2 months ago

Montesquieu has been considered the first sociology thinker, and his work was very influential in creating democratic societie, including America. He was the one to say, "government should be set up so that no man need be afraid of another," which was one a fundamental aspect in creating the American constitution.


He was writing from the time of the early enlightenment, and much of his work dealt with forms of government and his ideal type. Forms of government, he said, represent underlying structure in the society that are only manifested in the ways that society governs itself. All of the institutions within a system also influence the ways that government is practiced; education and religion, for example, are influenced by and influence the political system. Montesquieu had strict notions of freedom and its relation to power which he expressed in his treatise about government. He said that power should be distributed between individuals and groups so that everyone has the most power possible and that there should be societal checks, laws, to ensure that power is not abused.


Montesquieu also postualated many ideas about societal classifications. Because of the categories of societies, there are different modes of governing that are better suited for adhering to the needs of civilizations. He argues that a republic is the best form of government for a smaller population and can be extended to a federal republic if the population grows to large. In this system, democracies especially, all citizens are supposed to be equal. In a monarchy, however, all citizens are part of the same social class within which there is a varying degree of social stratification. He also characterizes the particular society in which there is no organization as despotism. In his study of political systems, Montesquieu emphasizes the reciprocal nature of society and politics.

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