Title page from Political Institutions, being Part V of the Principles of Sociology

Political Institutions, being Part V of the Principles of Sociology

This is part of Spencer’s most extensive treatment of sociology, The Principles of Sociology. It is the section dealing with the nature of political institutions such as political heads like chiefs and kings, consultative bodies, the military, and the judiciary. It also contains his most important discussion of the difference between the militant and the industrial types of societies.

Key Quotes

Origin of Government

Whence it follows that the desire "not to be dependent on foreigners' is one appropriate to the militant type of society. So long as there is constant danger that the supplies of needful things derived from other countries will be cut off by the breaking out of hostilities, it is imperative that…

War & Peace

Those who are forced to send their children to this or that school, those who have, directly or indirectly, to help in supporting a State priesthood, those from whom rates are demanded that parish officers may administer public charity, those who are taxed to provide gratis reading for people who…


The days when “paper constitutions” were believed in have gone by—if not with all, still with instructed people. The general truth that the characters of the units determine the character of the aggregate, though not admitted overtly and fully, is yet admitted to some extent—to the extent that most…