The Iron Law

William Sims Bainbridge


Star Wars: The Old Republic and Fallen Earth are two of the many recent online gameworlds that depict disintegrating and conflict-ridden societies, in which the very legitimacy of the law is in doubt. Thus they become vehicles for critique of real modern society, and intentionally or unintentionally reflect social-scientific theories of social disorganization, institutional functionality, and the origins of law. This essay examines these examples in terms of the Iron Law of Oligarchy proposed a century ago by Robert Michels, and related classical theories that either contradict or extend it.


political sociology, Star Wars, game

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