Typologies of pre-modern societies beyond feudalism: exploring alternative possibilities and the problem of their applicability in cases of peripheral European societies


Abstract

The most traditional approach of medievalists to articulate classification of pre-modern European societies is to consider whether particular pre-modern society is feudal or not. However I argue that this approach is quite complicated because of ambiguity and polysemy of the term. There are at least several Marxist and non-Marxist alternatives instead. Transcending the horizon of debates about feudalism proposes more creative possibilities and enlarges analytical capacities. Although discussion about the notorious Asiatic mode of production seems obsolete nevertheless there are other more promising and up-to-date concepts like the tributary mode of production, patrimonialism versus feudalism dichotomy or the so-called type/model of early Central European state (the system of Ius Ducale). The application of the concept of the African mode of production in the case of typology of some European pre-modern peripheral societies despite of its astonishing etimology also is plausible. Another perspective way of elaboration comparative researches of pre-modern European peripheries is combining Marxist and non-Marxist concepts (like patrimonialism and the tributary mode of production, for example). I would also like to emphasize that in some cases in order to develop adequate typological concepts the combining of evaluation of internal (evolving of socioeconomic structures) as well as estimation of external impact is inevitable.

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