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2. European Societies

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Chapter Summary

Europe's diversity and the multiplicity of its political units make it particularly interesting as an object of comparative sociology. For the past few centuries, the North and West of Europe have tended to dominate the South and East culturally and economically; this disparity was both counter-balanced and reinforced in the period 1945-1989 by Soviet political domination of much of Central and Eastern Europe. The French Revolution, which removed one of Europe's most powerful monarchs at the end of the 18th century, sets a model for political modernity that has shaped the world. Europe was shaped politically by its empires, both at home and overseas; by its nation-state structure; by democratic and dictatorial politics and, in the past fifty years, by what has become the European Union. The position of Russia remains a major source of theoretical as well as political uncertainty.

Keywords: comparative sociology; European Union; nation-state structure; political modernity



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