Robert Michels was a German sociologist who spent the last 10 years of his life in Italy. In the English-speaking world, he is most famous for his book "Political Parties" (1911), in which he formulated the problem of the oligarchic tendencies of organizations. "He who says organization," he asserted, "says oligarchy." But political parties, he believed, are less oligarchic than single-purpose organizations concerned with specific reforms or with technical problems. An important study of the International Typographical Union, "Union Democracy" by Seymour M. Lipset, Martin A. Trow, and James S. Coleman (1956), has been said by some scholars to challenge many of Michels's findings about organizations. Rather, by pointing out the essential characteristics of a democratic trade union, this book confirms Michels's thesis. Michels also wrote about democracy, socialism, revolution, class conflict, trade unionism, mass society, nationalism, imperialism, and intellectuals, and he made intensive studies of the politics of the working class.
American political theorist and sociologist, Seymour Lipset, was born in New York City and educated at City College of New York and Columbia University. Lipset has taught at a number of universities, including the University of Toronto, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, Harvard University, and Stanford University. A senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, he is also a member of the International Society of Political Psychology, the American Political Science Association, and the American Academy of Science. Lipset maintains that contemporary democracy is flawed; nevertheless, he believes that it is still "the good society itself in operation." Applying both political science and sociological approaches to political systems, he supports a trend to replace political ideology with sociological analysis. Among Lipset's many works are "Political Man: The Social Bases of Politics" (1960), "Class, Status, and Power" (1953), and "Revolution and Counterrevolution" (1968). He has also contributed articles to a number of magazines, including The New Republic, Encounter, and Commentary. Lipset has received a number of awards for his work, including the MacIver Award in 1962, the Gunnar Myrdal Prize in 1970, and the Townsend Harris Medal in 1971.