Taxonomies have played a much more important role in the development of the sciences than is generally recognized by sociologists. They have provided both a foundation for the formulation of basic theory and a spur to innovative research. This paper traces the development from ancient times to the present of efforts to create a taxonomy of human societies, the most basic and inclusive of all social systems. It concludes with a discussion of the question of whether there are compelling reasons for preferring any one of the various taxonomies that have been devised. Four principles for evaluating taxonomies are proposed and applied.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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