Societies have risen and fallen throughout history. This theoretical study seeks to understand the process by which societies succeed and fail, how societies evolve over time, and what role an individual leader can play in this evolution. Societal evolution follows a pattern that this study refers to as Punctuated Equilibrium, a term borrowed from evolutionary biology. Societies remain unchanged for long periods of time, and then rapidly change through destructive means in a short timeframe. A synthesis of Max Weber's works on Charisma and Politics as a Vocation with Michel Foucault's work on Parrhesia provides the possibility that a society can adapt to new conditions without having to dismantle and reassemble itself. While modern societies have not achieved this ideal, there may be unique opportunities for institutional reform that past societies have not been afforded.


Tierney, Thomas


Sociology and Anthropology


Theory, Knowledge and Science


weber, foucault, charisma, politics as a vocation, parrhesia, arendt

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2013 Edward Alter Day