This analysis of the concept of authority in Western society constitutes a central work in political sociology and a fundamental critique of the process of modernization. Schaar proposes that legitimate authority is declining in the modern state. Law and order, in a very real sense, is the basic political issue of our time -- one that conservatives have understood with greater clarity than their liberal adversaries. Schaar sees what were once authoritative institutions and ideas yielding to technological and bureaucratic orders. The later brings physical comfort and a sense of collective power, but does not provide political liberty or moral autonomy. As a result, he argues, all modern states exhibiting this transformation of authority into technology are well advanced along the path of a crisis of legitimacy.