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Unequal Friendship

The Patron-Client Relationship in Historical Perspective


Antoni Mączak

This book analyzes the patron-client relationship over both space and time. It covers such areas of the globe as Europe, Africa and Latin America, and such periods in time as ancient Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Poland, as well as twentieth-century America. It also analyzes clientelism in U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War and in Richard J. Daley’s mayoral rule over Chicago. In his comparative approach the author makes broad use of theories from such fields as history, sociology, anthropology and linguistics while considering the global scale of the patron-client relationship and the immense role that clientelism has played in world history.

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Final Thoughts: On Reservations, and Values


Co-existence among people should be regulated by norms that are recognized (it does not matter for what reasons) as objective, not by values. […] Only when transformed into objective norms, legal norms, can values be the regulators of social life and its conflicts.

Krzysztof Michalski1079

An author’s experience teaches us that practically every reviewer, not to mention many of the students for whom a book was intended, skims only the book’s first chapter and its conclusion, which explains why many American scholars include in their works a simplified summary. I appreciate the wisdom behind such a summary, which is often recommended by publishers and authors of textbooks aimed at students. But it is unsuitable for the material contained in this book. In these final reflections I will mainly raise doubts and discuss my reservations; the questions will multiply.

I thus wonder if any conclusions I might draw here could be proportional to the range of material from which I drew the cases discussed in my work. If the thesis I presented above regarding the diverse manifestations of informal power proves to be correct, the question arises: are the variations and examples presented here not just a drop in the bucket? Such doubts accompanied me particularly when I raised the topic of the Third World and as I was putting together press clippings: every issue of the New York Times (I went through only one year of the NYT systematically), the New York Herald...

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