Gerhard Lenski's 
Major Work

Power and Privilege: A Theory of Stratification

1966 Gerhard E. Lenski, New York: McGraw-Hill. 

From the Publisher:
A far-ranging and profound inquiry into the causes and effects of human inequality as well as into the foundations and consequences of political and economic power....In a tour de force of sweeping scholarship Lenski guides us through the centuries to the most remote corners of the earth....A masterpiece of comparative social analysis." -- Heinz Eulau 

Using a dialectical view of the development of thought in the discipline, Gerhard Lenski describes the outlines of an emerging synthesis of theories. 


  • The Problem: Who Gets What and Why? 
  • Man and Society 
  • The Dynamics of Distributive Systems 
  • The Structure of Distributive Systmes 
  • Hunting and Gathering Societies 
  • Simple Horticultural Societies 
  • Advanced Horticultural Societies 
  • Agrarian Societies: Part I 
  • Agrarian Societies: Part II 
  • Industrial Socieities: Part I 
  • Industrial Societies: Part II 
  • Industrial Societies: Part III 
  • Retropsect and Prospect 
  • Bibliography 
  • Author Index 
  • Subject Index 

Human Societies: An Introduction to Macrosociology

1970 (in 9th edition, 1999), Lenski, Gerhard, Jean Lenski and Patrick Nolan. New York: McGraw- Hill, Inc. 

From the Publisher:
A classic, Human Societies differs from most texts written for the introductory sociology course, being neither a survey of contemporary Americana society nor an eclectic, encyclopedia-like collection of topics, perspectives, and conflicting theories. Taking a macrosociological, global approach, it offers an introduction to sociology that is truly comparative, cross-cultural, and historical. It compares societies over time and across environments, emphasizing the dynamics of social change. Diversity and multiculturalism are its hallmarks. Its clearly developed and strongly anchored ecological- evolutionary perspective provides a powerful theoretical framework for understanding the dizzying array of social arrangements found in human societies over the past 100,000 years, helping students see their own society (and other contemporary societies) in a broader and more meaningful way. It stresses the relationship between social arrangements and environmental and technological context, and encourages students to look for the reasons why social arrangements are the way they are, and why they change over time. The seventh edition features a new chapter on the successes and failures of Marxist societies as social experiments, as well as an increased focus on comparisons between industrial and nonindustrial societies. 

Part One: Theoretical Foundations 

  • The Human Situation 
  • Human Societies as Sociocultural Systems 
  • The Evolution of Human Societies 
  • Types of Human Societies 
Part Two Preindustiral Societies 
  • Hunting and Gathering Societies 
  • Horticultural Societies 
  • Agrarian Societies 
  • Some Evolutionary Bypaths and a Brief Review 
Part Three Industrial Societies and Industrializing Societies 
  • The Industrial Revolution 
  • Industrial Societies: Information and Population 
  • Industrial Societies: Their Economies 
  • Industrial Societies: Their Polities 
  • Industrial Societies: Social Stratification 
  • Industrial Societies: The family, the Media, and More 
  • Industrializing Agrarian Societies 
  • Industrializing Horticultural Societies 
  • Retrospect and Prospect 
  • Glossary 
  • Appendix 
  • Notes 
  • Indexes 

Ecological-Evolutionary Theory: Principles and Applications
by Lenski, Gerhard

About this title:
For forty years, in a variety of books and articles, Gerhard Lenski has become the most influential proponent of ecological and evolutionary explanations of human societies, their development and transformations, from the Stone Age to the present. In his newest hook, Lenski offers a succinct but comprehensive statement of the full body of his theory followed by demonstration of how it can be used to generate new and valuable insights when applied to a set of highly diverse issues. These include debates concerning the origin of ancient Israel and its distinctive culture, the rise of the West in the modern era, the highly varied trajectories of development of Third World nations in recent decades, and the failure of Marxist efforts to transform society in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. In the concluding chapter, Lenski discusses a number of other issues and areas where ecological-evolutionary theory may be fruitfully applied in the future.

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