In social sciences, several classifications of analytical levels are accepted: micro-level, meso-level, and macro-level. On the micro-level, social scientists focus on individuals and their small groups (e.g. families); on the meso-level, which is also known as the middle-range level, social scientists focus on communities, organizations, and states; and on the macro-level, social scientists focus on nations, societies, civilizations, as well as focus on international and global events. In political science, the levels of analysis are conceptualized as individual, domestic, systemic, and global. In these, the individual level includes analysis of the impact of individuals, domestic – the impact of states and their economies or other domestic aspects (agriculture, industry), systemic – the impact of a state’s position in the international systems, and global – the impact of various global factors on political processes (Jepperson & Meyer 54).
Analyzing Tilly’s works, it can be said that he alternates between various levels of analysis but global. In particular, in his book Coercion, Capital, and European States AD 990-1990, Tilly theorizes the processes of state formation relying on micro-level and meso-level analyses (war and role of leaders in war as a means of state formation) and considers primarily domestic and individual factors, with only a slight focus on systemic (on the level of Europe) and absolutely no focus on global factors. This is view is also supported by Tilly’s critics (Krinsky & Mische, “Formations and Formalisms: Charles Tilly and the Paradox of the Actor”). Just like Tilly, Williams alternates between various levels of analysis, yet his emphasis is, above all, on the macro-level events, where he primarily considers global, systemic, and (to a lesser extent) domestic factors and gives little consideration to individual factors. Specifically, in his work States and Social Evolution, Williams explains the political processes in Central American states in the light of “shocks from the world system” (1) and the impacts of the world capitalist system (13).
His approach to analysis of political processes in several Central American states is systemic, because he considers these different states as a cluster; he also takes into account the domestic level as he explains the differences between states’ processes. Only small consideration (mention of “coffee township”) is given to the micro-level analysis. Given William’s focus on global and systemic factors, his level of analysis is more appropriate for today’s thinking about states, whereas Tilly’s lack of focus on the global is a disadvantage.
- Jepperson, Ronald and John W. Meyer (2011). “Multiple Levels of Analysis and the Limitations of Methodological Individualisms.” Sociological Theory 29.1 (2011): 54-73. Print.
- Krinsky, John & Ann Mische. “Formations and Formalisms: Charles Tilly and the Paradox of the Actor.” Annual Review of Sociology 39 (2013): 1-26. Web. 28 June 2016.
- Tilly, Charles. Coercion, Capital, and European States AD 990-1990. Wiley-Blackwell, 1992. Print.
- Williams, Robert. States and Social Evolution. UNC Press, 1994. Print.