Patrons, Clients and Friends
The form of social relations described by the terms 'patronage' and 'patron-client relations' is of central concern to sociologists, anthropologists and political scientists today. Characterised by its voluntary and highly personal but often fully institutionalised nature, it is a type of behaviour found in almost every human society. It touches upon basic aspects of the construction and regulation of social order and is therefore closely connected to major theoretical problems and controversies in the social sciences. This book analyses some special types of these interpersonal relations - ritual kinship, patron-client relations and friendship - and the social conditions in which they develop. The authors draw upon a wide range of examples, from societies as diverse as these of the Mediterranean, Latin America, the Middle and Far East and the U.S.S.R., in their study of the core characteristics of such relationships. They look at them as mechanisms of social exchange, examine their impact on the institutional structures in which they exist, and assess the significance of the variations in their occurrence. Their analysis highlights the importance of these relationships in social life and concludes with a stimulating discussion of the ensuring tensions and ambivalences and the ways in which these are dealt with - though perhaps never fully overcome. Patrons, clients and friends is the first systematic comparative study of these interpersonal relations and makes the first attempt to relate them to central aspects of social structure. It will therefore be an important contribution to both comparative analysis and social theory and will be of interest to a wide range of social scientists.