Western University SociologyFaculty of Social Science
Sam Clark

Photo by Eric Simard

Samuel Clark, Professor

Ph.D. Harvard UniversityCV
M.A. University of Toronto
B.A. Carleton University

Samuel Clark is a historical sociologist whose work has focussed primarily on Western Europe (mainly Britain, Scotland, Ireland, France and what is now Belgium) during the Early Modern and Modern periods. His sociological interests have been broad, including social movements, state formation, power, inequality, collective action, disciplinary regimes, and theory. His first major project was on the Irish Land War of 1789-82, in which he sought to demonstrate the role of social changes, especially changes in the structure of peasant social relationships over the preceding half century, in determining the characteristics of this political movement. He then turned his attention to the transformation of aristocratic and bourgeois power in Belgium during the Industrial Revolution. This research gave rise to a larger project on the effect of state formation in Early Modern Western Europe on the economic, political, cultural and status power of the aristocracy. His interest in status power then led to his most recent large project: a monumental study of the evolution of state honours in Western Europe from the Middle Ages to the Great War. Examining cultural, social, and political changes that generated the massive growth in state honours and shaped their characteristics, this study demonstrates their functions as instruments of power. The role of military medals is a particular focus. More generally, the book contributes to the larger (and much ignored) question of why we have so many awards and prizes in today’s society.

Current Research Projects

Generalization in comparative history: when can we do it?

Assumptions about agency in the functionalist arguments that are pervasive in current sociological literature

Selected Publications
>for more see CV


(2016) Distributing Status: The Evolution of State Honours in Western Europe, McGill-Queen’s University Press.

(1995) State and Status: The Rise of the State and Aristocratic Power in Western Europe, McGill-Queen's University Press.

(1979) Social Origins of the Irish Land War, Princeton University Press


(2013) "Strange bedfellows? The Land League Alliances" in Fergus Campbell and Tony Varley eds., Land Questions in Modern Ireland, Manchester University Press.

(2008) "Aristocracy: Europe" in Peter Stearns ed., Encyclopedia of the Modern World 1750 to the Present, Oxford University Press.

(2005) "Human intentionality in the functionalist theory of social change: the role of French provincial intendants in state-society differentiation" Archives européenes de sociologie/European Journal of Sociology/ Europäisches archiv für soziologie 46:213-62.

(1998) "International Competition and the Treatment of Minorities: Seventeenth-Century Cases and General Propositions" American Journal of Sociology 103(5): 1267-1309.

(1984) "Nobility, bourgeoisie, and the Industrial Revolution in Belgium" Past and Present 105: 140-75.