No. 075



TR Young




This Article first appeared in The American Sociologist, 1981, 16-2, May, in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of American Sociology.  Reprinted with Permission.


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The kindest thing one might say about American Sociology after seventy-five years of activity is that it has aided greatly the capacity of the human race to reflect upon its own behavior in undistorted ways... that it has provided people with the intellectual tools with which to assess and to assert that quality of life most cogent to the human process. The most unkind thing one might say is that American sociology has produced just those theories and just those methods by which to legitimate and perpetuate oppressive forms of social life.

The truth is more complex. One might rightly say that both views have merit. The fact is that American sociology has a history of considerable genius in the development of quantitative techniques and infuriating idiocy in such areas as criminology, urbanology and rural sociology. It is the very genius of American sociology which I would like to critique in this paper. Briefly, I would like to offer the thesis that scientific methods subvert folk methods of knowledge constitution. This subversion is, I think, innocent enough in an enthusiasm to perfect its intellectual and research tools. The point of this paper is to end that innocence by making that subversion more visible than it has been to date in a rather parochial profession. With the end of innocence comes something more human--personal and collective responsibility as well as the capacity to act upon that responsibility. The task requires that American sociology be understood as a knowledge industry and that this industry be contemplated from a sociology of knowledge perspective.

The sociology of knowledge takes as its quest the relationship between human ways of understanding and different ways of organizing society (Mannheim, 1936:264). In this paper, I'd like to try to sort out the social basis of two ways of knowing: on the one hand there are folk methods for constituting positive knowledge and on the other hand there are scientific methods of acquiring accurate, positive knowledge. Both kinds of methods try to solve the problem of subjectivity: privately, individually held states of knowing and understanding. In this endeavor, the very existence of social reality is at stake. If persons have, internally, states of understanding which are different from each other in any persistent and significant way, their behavior will be at cross purpose or to no human purpose and gradually behavior will drift irreconcilably apart. There are, of course, subroutines by which to re-synchronize behavior but these, too, are folk methods challenged by scientific methods. And, too, society itself has no positive knowledge of its own behavior--if private states of knowledge even if shared--vary in any permanent way from actual results, impacts, directions, and actual activities, that society is unable to control its own behavior and unable to adjust its own "mis"behavior. The process by which a society is able to reproduce its social life on down through the generations is impaired.

While, indeed, a good deal of social change arises from the misunderstanding by a society of its own behavior--a false consciousness about what results the behavior of its members does, in fact, produce--and while that is sometimes highly desirable, still the danger to a society unable to control itself is death. One would not want to preclude the desirability of sure and certain death for some social formations nor would one want to defend too strongly the claim that the good earth itself benefits from the presence of human society--these do inflict such great harm on all life systems--all the same there are few who would argue there is no niche in the biosphere for a good and decent society making limited, reversible inroads on the ecosystem. I reckon that the good earth could suffer some ten to forty billion humans on it if it were possible to know what harm different forms of social organization do to the earth. And there is no good reason to inflict indecent forms of social organization upon the rest of the living species on the earth even if, some time sooner or later, the earth itself will disappear from the vast cosmos of moving matter.

All this is to say that there is some human purpose to which authentic human knowledge is put and which justifies folk method as well as scientific method of knowledge constitution. Notice I did not say knowledge acquisition or knowledge accumulation. The emphasis here is on the knowledge constitutive process.

Constituting Knowledge: Folk and Scientific Method
. Before I focus fully on the main point, I would like to present the notion of folk methodology and contrast that notion with scientific methodology in order to make clear the reasoning of the analysis to follow. It is necessary to grasp the main difference between the two approaches in order to understand the strategic political advantage which impels the transition from folk to scientific social research.

I begin with the marxist point that knowledge does not exist objectively but rather is an interactive (dialectical) process by which people understand social reality in the process of creating and interpreting various forms of social relationship--indeed for Marx, this knowledge constitutive behavior was the uniquely human form of labor. The revolutionary animus in Marxian thought is directed against all those forms of social organization which impair the knowledge constitutive process. In that such activity involves insight, involvement, judgment, wisdom and a share in the means of producing knowledge, the concept of praxis was a useful way to embrace the heart of the idea. In that certain social forms impaired praxis, revolution was necessary as a way to transform those forms. Law, religion and morality were knowledge constitutive processes which, in the hands of a class, feudal (and certainly, bureaucratic) elite, systematically impaired the role of people in instituting--thus knowing intimately and collectively--work relations, family relations, political and religious relations as well as market relations. The literature of critical sociology is filled with instances in which workers, voters, consumers, soldiers, and the residents of occupied countries resist the knowledge constitutive processes when that process is controlled by elite. Indeed, a theory of underground literature requires one examine the loss of control over the routine means of constituting knowledge (Young, 1980).

When we reflect upon how it is that we are in a social relationship-that of Mother-daughter, owner-worker, doctor-patient, docent-student, master-slave, prostitute-John, it is clear that in the first instance meaning arises through a complex symbolic interactive process the rules of which we learn as we grow in mastery of the culture in which these meanings are found. The interactive process is, in turn, shaped by social control devices which are effective enough to produce a well-defined structure which one might recognize as a marriage, a funeral, a family system, or perhaps as the feudal system as well as the various structures of racism, sexism, age, grade, and religion. These control devices shape who we may talk to, the topics about which we may speak, the tone and kind of language we may use, as well as the degree to which we must be taken seriously. The symbolic systems used include voice, clothing, body and various behavioral patterns. All four systems work together to constitute an incredibly rich information field--if, indeed social conditions permit their use. Obstacles to information generation and flow at once destroy knowledge and the social relationship to which the knowledge is oriented.

If we were to examine more closely one of these relations in order to clarify the general form of folk method for knowledge constitution we would find both symbolic interactive and social control activity giving rise to shared understanding about what really exists. We may use the husband-wife relationship as an instance of folk methodology with which to make visible the general method. If two persons live together, share use of possessions, engage in the various forms of sexual intimacy, help with household tasks and rear children such behavior is not conceived as a marriage nor do the persons concerned view themselves as married without resort to the folk method by which sure and certain knowledge is constituted. Two persons, say my daughter and your son, live together under all these circumstances neither you nor I know them to be married until a fairly simple social rite involving law, religion and morality notions have been embodied. Two other persons, say your female cousin and my female student, living in such circumstances cannot be said to be a marriage in that we withhold the knowledge constitutive methods from them should they have the audacity to embark on such a venture. Steeped in the culture, these later two persons know full well that the folk methods for constituting a marriage are not available to them.

Were these two persons, cousin and student, to proceed to live together in the conditions above, social controls would be deployed as part of the method by which human behavior is given public (social) meaning. That most of these controls are themselves constituted as such is seldom given much thought. Constructed as they are of such flimsy material as belief and trust, still they produce shame and establish guilt. Flaunting social conventions produce curses and invite condemnatory rituals. A theory of corruption must begin with the failure of persons to observe those knowledge constitutive methods found in legal, religious or other ritual.

Perhaps the most difficult and subtle knowledge constitutive processes are found in the activity by which sons and daughters are defined as such. Ordinarily we take for granted these knowledge constitutive processes and do not reflect upon them except in rare and unusual circumstances. When a woman produces a female child, most of the time, we take for granted that the infant is a daughter. But sometimes other processes are invoked and that infant is constituted as another woman's daughter. If that woman is conceived as a wife, ordinarily the infant is known and understood to be the daughter of the husband and indeed the husband is known as the father. Even where the adult male is the biological father and where a "marriage" to the biological mother has been constituted, still some societies have disengagement routines by which the putative parents can deny the infant as "their daughter." All of this is strange and unusual but reveal the fact that these social relationships are not given in the world of nature but are--must be--constituted in and as part of a social world. These relations are constituted as known and knowable by means of ethnomethods--folk methods.

Scientific methods for constituting knowledge are objective
in that these methods take the subjective activity of human beings for granted just as folk methods take the objective structures produced by their highly sophisticated subjective activity for granted. Scientific methods (except for hermeneutical sciences) count marriage, citizens, crimes, divorces, children, votes, friendships, workers, mental patients and such without reflecting upon the highly variable and greatly assorted ways in which these social facts are constituted as knowable. Scientific methods in "modern" sociology take mathematical models of human behavior as the first stage in perfecting the knowledge process. Actually, mathematical models are simple-minded representations of the very, very complicated process of constituting social reality. The primitive character of mathematical models can be seen by noting the rug-weaving patterns of the Navajo of North America or the basketweaving of the Baganda in East Africa. The mathematics of these two "primitive" art forms is more complex than the most sophisticated algebraic model of marriage, mobility, or crime found in "advanced" sociology today. That a sixteen year old Navajo woman can create in one medium a mathematical system more complex than a professional sociologist can in the medium of mathematics is not a matter of any great shame for the sociologist. What is of interest to note is that sociologists attempt to enforce a fairly primitive system of constituting knowledge over and set above very, very complex folk methods of knowledge constitution. One may well wonder why. We'll return to that question in the next section.

In order to constitute a given statement as a scientific fact, sociology relies upon the authority of mathematical measures of concentration, dispersion as well as probability statements about variations from chance distributions. In this approach to knowledge constitution, interaction of the objects of study (not subjects) is unnecessary. And, even more interestingly, social control is not necessary. A fact is constituted outside the structure of social relations. Interaction and social control are not involved. It is a matter of some curiosity that sociology strips methodology of its social matrix--at least it appears so. If one wants to know how much crime is produced or divorce, or productive work teams or how party allegiance is increased, one need not be a criminal, a worker, a plaintiff, or a Republican--one has only to count, measure, and calculate.

The degree to which scientific methods replace folk methods in the constitution of human knowledge has not been the topic research nor do we know the harm done to the social process by such displacement. We do have some indirect measures which may have no relationship to such substitution. Measures of alienation in the workplace may be related to the adoption of scientific methods of work control as may be the case for the decline or demise of family relations as scientific method of childrearing and formal relations in the school impair the social process. We really don't know. A third important kind of knowledge we should generate has to do with the particular mix of folk and scientific methods which is optimal. In the final sections of this paper, I will argue that scientific methods should be subordinated to folk methods. I shall also argue that the realm of the cultural (practical reason) should always preempt the realm of the technical (technical reason). Again, there is no certainty to this position--merely the insight from extensive reflection and reading.

Why is such knowledge once, twice and thrice removed from its source? What advantage accrues to the user to such remoteness from the everyday activity of interacting persons? Why has scientific method replaced, in part, social/folk methods for determination of the facticity of given relationships? The answers to these questions require that we call into question the taken-for-granted aspects of scientific scholarship. Only by doing so may one contribute to the authentic self-knowledge of sociology and thus, returning to Marx and Mannheim, locate knowledge processes in the social matrix which produces them. The task is to restore its sociology to sociology. We can make a small contribution to the vast literature on the social character of scientific social research by considering the possibility that contemporary (not advanced) sociological methods stand in subtle but hostile opposition and conflict to folk methods.

Scientific Method as Conflict.
At some point in the course of social evolution, the various folk methods for establishing knowledge were supplemented and, to some small extent, replaced by scientific methods. The history of this particular transition is precisely the history of sociology itself as a professional discipline--of the history of its allied disciplines; law, economics, geography, political science, psychology and other knowledge institutions. Newspapers, news programs, literary criticism, news magazines and social historians as well as anthropologists all industriously pursue the methods by which facts are constituted (not accumulated) by selection, interpretation, and legitimation. It is a growth industry and has been since, especially, the time of Cromwell. What I would like to propose here is that scientific methods in sociology as well as other disciplines become of interest and are allocated resources in those who control resources, when the ordinary folk methods of knowledge constitution are an obstacle to the purpose of those who control the resources. Scientific methods replace folk methods when conflict relations obstruct naive, trusting, open interaction. Scientific methods do serve the purposes of their sponsors and all too often those purposes are hostile to the purpose to which ordinary folk put their knowledge-constitutive capacities.

The first systematic "objective" study of a society which I am able to locate is one commissioned by Cromwell after the slaughter of Irish defenders of Dragheda and Wexford--"a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches" to put it in Cromwell's words. In order to repair the harm done to the knowledge process by ethnic, linguistic, religious and economic cleavages between the Irish and the English which interfered with the subjective folk methods of constituting friend, law, justice, loyalty, commercial exchange and political allegiance, Cromwell turned to objective methods and commissioned a study of Ireland. One can hypothesize that objective knowledge processes replace subjective processes to the extent conflict relations grow between social entities. Conflict gives rise to professional sociology when violence fails to generate behavior of the sort desired and defined by the powerful outsider/enemy. Objective knowledge is a poor and frail substitute for the richness of subjective knowledge occasioned by the breach in social relations accruing from economic exploitation, religious oppression, political animus or sexist advantage. There exists the distinct possibility that espionage, remote sensing, secret codes, signs and countersigns, private languages as well as social research arise under conditions of overt, sustained conflict in which one party has neither the interactive capacity or legitimate right to shame the consciousness of another party. Social research as a knowledge constitutive process is but one of a whole set of indirect technologies by which to give form and shape to knowledge when intimate, direct, and trusting modes are not possible. Part of the anguish found in the current interest in the ethics of the profession may arise from a dim awareness of the partisan character of sociological research. Why have a set of ethics for a neutral science--one might well ask.

The major thesis of this section of the paper then is that sociology--as well as law and other knowledge constitutive processes--are political devices by which one set of persons in conflict with another set of persons preempt the knowledge constitutive processes in order to supplement and circumvent social cleavages.

It is necessary to study Irish, women, workers,Blacks, consumers, voters, "criminals," and such when the relationship between the sponsors of the research and the objects of research is so bad that interaction and social controls as knowledge constitutive activities are rejected or resisted by the object group.

When Cromwell could not get the Irish to comply to the British mode of constituting social (especially exchange) relations by force of arms, he turned to "objective'' science. The same pattern is true for the first studies by Taylor of the work process. The persons who purchased the labor power of workers could not establish by interaction and by . wage incentive the facticity of a more accelerated (and more profitable) work process, they turned to Taylor and his students in order to study and learn how, unilaterally, to get more production. The process by which workers (and others) are excluded from the knowledge process is called objectification in marxist analysis. It is a process which subverts praxis and, perhaps, the human enterprise itself. These are not nice things to say about sociology and research methods.

Scientific Method and Social Control
. People are more easily managed if the knowledge constitutive process is removed from their direct participation and vested in the person of a ''scientific" consultant. There are several subtle changes which enable scientific methods to replace social/ folk methods. In the first instance, the object of research does not know the things that the sponsor of research knows and this is at a disadvantage in selecting work, consumer goods, services, candidates and even, these days, universities. The research done enables the purchasers of knowledge to quietly/secretly use the unshared knowledge to private advantage. Social research, the more valid it is, better helps reproduce the social relations which are oppressive, exploitative, and unjust-relations which cannot stand open and undistorted processes of direct discourse. By discourse, I mean a special form of interaction in which the rules of social interaction are themselves taken as the topic of reflexive judgment.

Scientific methods also validate given social paradigms as natural, really existing, and "true." Ordinarily, in folk methods, the validity and truth value of a given relationship is asseverated (and thus constituted) by traditional authority--priests, parents, courts, as well as by esteemed elders. Sociology in particular and social science in general offers itself as a substitute validator of the truth value of given social paradigms (and the theories which describe them), and debunks as myth and magic the capacity of priests and secular authority to legitimate a social paradigm. The artful manipulation of secret rituals (Regression Analysis, path analysis, Chi Square and Kendall's Tau) awe and astonish the lay person. However, these magical manipulators do not readily enter into the society as truth-sayers but first require a wide variety of political tools. Neither workers nor racists acceded gracefully to the superior merits of scientific ''findings"--both resisted fiercely. In the first instance, owners used physical and economic power to substitute Taylor's truth for the truth as set by workers. In the second instance, the Supreme Court and the State (reluctantly mobilized by Eisenhower) enforced the new social relations set forth by sociology as opposed to the truth of separate but "equal'' education. The informal social controls of shame and guilt which establish as true (in the normative sense) a given social relation are replaced by the formal controls of law, fine and prison in the course of substituting a foreign truth as normal.

Scientific Method as Antipraxis.
Scientific knowledge turns back against workers, voters, students, natives, women and minority groups in ever more serious and harmful fashion as the division of labor between knowledge producers and knowledge users on the one hand unilaterally enforce their objective truth upon unwilling workers, natives, and students. Project Camelot is the most notorious instance of sociology, anthropology and other professional disciplines constituting the knowledge of a society. This knowledge is unavailable within the structure of non-exploitative, non-hostile social relations wherein trust, belief, faith and relatedness all combine to provide a full-blown knowledge of social life. The whole purpose of Project Camelot was to help maintain a wide range of conservative governments in South America by the U.S. State Department, the C.I.A., and other agents of the U.S. during the Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Ford administrations in opposition to the folk methods for creating the facticity of "the official government" of Brazil, Columbia, Chile, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Mexico. The sad tale of that venture must be seen in terms of the political and economic advantages of objectivized social research.

A lesser known instance is that research commissioned to study the Yanomamo. These people are studied not so much as to contribute steadily to a finite fund of knowledge but rather to constitute new, useful knowledge on how to deal with them in the effort to get access to the rich uranium deposits upon which they sit. The A.E.C. would prefer not to use the genocidical tactics used against native peoples in other places and in other years. However, if sociology fails, there is always the C.I.A. to act on these interests.

Scientific Method as Class Conflict
. In these times, the proliferation of a separate, professional group which responds to the funding possibilities in a class based, racially organized, sexist society promises further inroads upon folk methods of constructing social reality. Without raising any ethical questions in the A.S.A., a joint committee was organized in 1975 in order to "help educate the public on the uses and values of survey research and to help monitor reported abuses of the survey method'' (Footnotes,May, 1979:11). The committee, composed of the Association for Consumer Research, the American Marketing Association, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, the American Sociological Association, the American Psychological Association as well as other research-oriented groups, were concerned about the decline of public (state) support as well as public (mass) resistance to questionnaires, came out with a pamphlet entitled "Surveys and You.'' The possibility that such public resistance was well founded was not at issue-the point was to overcome that resistance; not evaluate it and, perhaps, dismantle the research machines behind the various committees listed.

The hostile intent of research activity engaged in by members of the Association for Consumer Research and by the American Marketing Association needs little development by most of the readers of this paper. The knowledge generated by this knowledge industry is clearly oriented to the constitution of needs, motives, wants, impulses, attitudes and behavior leading to the unreflective compulsion to purchase high profit; cheaply produced goods even when dangerous to personal health, family, budget and social needs. Where undistorted interactive processes used to constitute these needs, motives, behaviors then personal health, family requirements, and social needs might take precedence over profit realization needs of those who use those research agencies. That this is a form of class conflict is not readily appreciated. Most of the time, the irritating things which workers do to improve working conditions, get higher wages, oppose speed-ups and stretch-outs are readily conceived to be class struggle. The things that corporate officers do to extract more profits from workers or from consumers, to evade labor laws, pollution laws, or consumer protection laws are not seen as class struggle but rather the ordinary and natural activity of professionals ... including the work of social researchers they hire.

Scientific Methods as Technical Reason
. The hostile relationship between folk methods and scientific methods for constituting public opinion is not clear. In another place, I have tried to explore this hostility in some small detail (Young, 1980b), but the gist of it is that the mass opinion of isolated individuals is quietly substituted for the public opinion of interacting persons. This requires the development of the concept of public opinion and distinguishing it from mass opinion as well as from social opinion in the effort to make visible the fraud involved in ''public opinion" surveys.

Marcuse (1964), Habermas (1975), Horkheimer (1972) and many others have warned against the substitution of technical reason for practical reason (praxical reason). The crux of the matter is that decisions are made which affect the quality of life of a society. These decisions are not mediated by either self or public-structures of reflexive discourse. Rather they are mediated by the interests and imperatives of economic or administrative organization--both of which thrive nicely upon technical reason; neither of which are helped by the practical reason of a collective.

Technical reason encompasses the formal, inflexible logics of logical positivism, interval and rational numbering systems, equations and blueprints. In technical reason, the point is to approximate as closely as possible the parameters and pathways of mathematics. Practical Reason, on the other hand, has no necessary relation to a predetermined and fixed set of relationships. Practical reason encompasses the non-logical, non-linear world of language, value and purpose. The world of technical reason is causal while the world of practical reason has a dialectic between means and ends which is remarkably variable. Much as one could write this paper in a number of ways beyond counting, practical reason a human creation requiring judgment, insight and wisdom. Technical reason, as useful as it is, requires no thought or judgment once the equation is set: all that is required of technical reason is the mechanical discipline of a more-or-less complex machine. One can readily understand the desirability of technical reason from the point of view of administrators, architects, and engineers--it makes things simple, predictable and controllable in ways practical reason does not. Technical reason and the world which answers to it makes gods of its practitioners; practical reason makes servants of managers, administrators and public officials. One can see the preference for scientific methods applied to people over that for folk methods in constructing health and medical, educational, military or economic systems.

The hostile relation between folk methods of constituting public opinion and the scientific methods of constituting mass opinion is clearly seen in the use of survey polls and sample during election campaigns--especially this year's as advertising agencies are used by candidates to construct a favorable, sellable image of that person as a good president, senator, council person or whatever apart from a critical, undistorted analysis of the political record of the candidate. Any number of books and articles report the growing use of scientific methods with which to constitute the dramaturgical image of authentic public agency on the part of this or that candidate. Of these, Maginiss' The Selling of the President and Halberstam's The Powers That Be stand out for their explicit and informed narration of how it's done.

The Point of all this is that the professional societies such as the A.S.A. do not reflect deeply upon the continued growth of objective methods--nor do they see as unethical the activity of pollsters. samplers and surveyors such as Gallup. Harris. N.O.R.C. and 1.8.S. There is considerable unreflexive outrage by sociologists when Congress cut 14 million from its N.S.F. research budget or when Senator Proxmire denigrates the value of social science activity. However, a better, more adequate response is to study the whole research industry and try to evaluate its product in terms of criteria specified openly and critically. In the sections which follow, I present: 1) some normative characteristics as a point of departure, 2) a procedure for critical research adopted from Comstock (1980), and 3) some practical elements of dialectical methodology adapted from Freiberg (1980). The point of these sections is to relocate scientific methods within the framework of folk methods of constituting practical knowledge. The purpose of such relocation is to transform American sociology from a scientific specialty to a practical (praxical) collective endeavor.

Methodology for a Critical Sociology
. At present, social research, for the most part, is seen in terms of its private value. It serves the special interests of those who fund it. The official canons of social research specified by Merton (1964) are explicated in such a way as to strip social methods of their value context while making the findings available to those who have private values to advance (Wunderlich and Minichino, 1980). Social research could be reintegrated into the social process rather than alien to it if certain explicit controls upon its use were enforced by the A.S.A., the A.P.A. and other professional organizations which claim (sincerely enough) to have the public interest at heart. Below I suggest some norms which might be useful as a place to start to make social research methods an integral support for the social process rather than destructive and oppositional to it.

American sociology, in the peculiar context of American capitalism and corporate liberalism, has taken Merton as its mentor together with some lesser luminaries as Lundberg, Davis/Moore, and now, Blalock. In the next seventy-five years, it must delegitimate Merton, Weber, Lundberg and others as the very model of sociological enterprise and install them as minor scholars who contribute something of value at the edges of human knowledge. One must resist the temptation to replace them with other stars and heroes. Still more pressing is the need to reverse the growing monopoly over social knowledge claimed by the A.S.A. membership and relocate that process in the public sphere rather than in the private sphere of market research, the state sphere of social problem research, or the professional sphere of academic research. This division of labor between those who study and know and those who are studied and vulnerable is a moral calamity.

Of the four ''canons" of science elaborated by Merton (1964), only the canon of "Communism" is relevant to a critical sociology--and then only if one revises Merton's meaning of communism. In that meaning, communism is merely freedom of information--a bourgeois notion which places information in the marketplace of ideas to be chosen (purchased) by private individuals for private purpose (profit). This is, of course, a travesty on the notion of communism. In the marxist usage, and the one adopted here, the canon of communism holds that knowledge is collectively produced--not privately used.

The other three canons of social research are directly, specifically, pointedly, hostile to folk methods. Folk methods are not skeptical--they require faith, belief, innocence and naivete in order to constitute social reality/knowledge. And, as Wunderlich (1980) points out, so does "normal'' science. A little skepticism is necessary in a cooperative society. It is in a society of knaves, rascals, frauds, charlatans, public relations, and advertising executives where a full-blown skepticism is necessary. Conflict relations destroy faith, belief, and innocence; they make skeptics and cynics of us all.

creates a mechanical world in which all decisions, judgment, creativity and rebellion are subjugated to the uniform application of impersonal rules. Universalism is in direct opposition to praxis in its moments of creativity and autonomy. Universalism creates the well-ordered world so necessary to sustain exploitative relations by asserting particularism as an antiquated folk method. It is this very particularism which brings history into human affairs. Each person, each group, each society in order to function in its own socio-ecological niche must be slightly/significantly different from all other such groups unless each entity lives exactly in the same environment and if the environment stayed exactly the same throughout eternity (Young, 1978). Universalism is the dream of a clock-maker.

is the most dangerous advice Merton has given to American sociology. It makes moral cretins of us all. It puts us and our work in the service of whomever has the price to use social science methodology for whatever private interest comes to hand. Merton is properly concerned that one's interests does not lead one to slant one's research design or to falsify one's data in order to advance one's pet theory. The problem here is that one cannot be disinterested. The very act of conceptualizing problems, variables and hypotheses is loaded with human history. If Pasteur, Salk, or Koch were disinterested, they could have as easily worked on germ warfare as preventative medicine. In order to relocate sociology in a prosocial context, the norms adumbrated below are in opposition to those of Merton.

1. All social research should be in dialectical relationship with folk methods of constructing social reality. By this I mean that scientific methodology should be oriented in such a way as to facilitate democratic interaction and collective control of social facts. More particularly, research methodology should take as its proper domain the activities and vulnerabilities of the structures of domination: class, racist, sexist, and power rather than study the objects of oppression. This canon asserts that research findings be available to the public (Merton's canon of communism), but more than that, subservient to collective methods of constituting social relations. This means research must be used collectively to help dismantle these oppressive structures and not used to reproduce them or to substitute ''real" science for collective judgment and creativity. There are ways of living as yet uninvented and therefore outside normal science as it is constituted by Merton's norms.

2. Social science methodology in its quantitative mode should recognize the primitive character of its operations and not insinuate these as superior to folk methods. One should realize that quantification is a process by which the richness of everyday life is made progressively more barren as it proceeds. One discards information (variety) as human behavior is organized into word sets. Still more information is discarded as one transfers data from word sets into number sets--a number set simply is not as informative as a word set since word sets are not limited by the constraints on number sets--ordinality, intervality, and ratio-nality. One loses still more information as one converts descriptive parameters into summary statistics. Quantification, then, is a process by which information is systematically discarded. One must not assume that, since valuable information is obtained by such distillation, this knowledge surpasses that produced by symbolic interaction using words or by behavioral interaction.

3. Social Science methodology should not be used to trump the legitimation processes of ordinary people. One should not accept as definitive the authority of social research in affirming the desirability of this system of work or that system of education. This strips human activity of its historical character; of its moral character; of its subjective (intentionality/praxical) character and establishes as oppressive structure of domination which benefits those who control the means of production of knowledge.

A value-full sociology recognizes that there are many ways to pursue work and education, family life and spiritual (aesthetic/moral) life. While there may be no history in the physical world, i.e., eternally changeless relationships between mass, energy, force fields and velocity; human life has history and, given the proper organization of its knowledge-suites, can come under democratic self-control.

Where scientific methods replace folk methods, judgment, wisdom and moral responsibility are lost. A people cannot be responsible for its actions if it becomes objects brought into rational (mechanical) relationship. The marxian point that one creates oneself in concert with others through a special form of labor called praxis warns us away from a world organized to fit the simple and rigidly constrained modes of mathematical reasoning.

4. Sociological methodology should not take the development of formal theory as its goal but rather critique. Formal theory has some ugly characteristics. It must be complete, coherent and universal. These characteristics define spontaneity, creativity, historicity, and reversibility out of the system. A coherent system requires that one part of the theory be logically derivative from another part. It is this feature which makes prediction (hence control) possible. While regularity in human affairs certainly exists, one should pause before one assumes it must exist and pause again before one insists that this particular relationship endures for all time and place. One must admit into one's theoretical model the possibility of revolutionary/radical change between elements of the system. For example, being Black need not predict upon I.Q. except in 20th century America.

Were one to accept this very uncommon view of the goal of social research methodology; critique rather than formal theory, one must then proceed to analyze the forms of critique. There are two general forms of critique: immanent and transcendent. An immanent critique requires one evaluate the behavior of a social formation in terms of what it promises to do. If a corporation promises to produce safe, necessary, economical goods in an efficient and safe way, one can critique it in those terms. If a society claims to be democratic, oriented to human rights, equal standing before the law, and personal privacy all well and good but the immanent question is to what degree does its performance match its prophecy.

A transcendent critique requires one go outside the system and evaluate it upon standards which may be different from those the system employs itself. Rather than critiquing a social formation on its own terms, one may critique on terms specified carefully. If one uses transcendent standards, one must be prepared to defend one's choices. Justification of critique must be a collective and uncoerced process if the critique itself does not become itself an instrument of alienation. While I won't take the space here, elsewhere I have argued that community, praxis, and ecological integrity are universally valid points of transcendent critique. Others use caloric intake, income inequality, infant mortality rates together with other indices to compare and contrast differing social formations.

5. Sociological methodology should recognize a wide diversity of methodologies by human knowledge is constituted, enriched, made more reflexive and more democratically based. Reporting of the sort done by David Halberstam should have equal footing to that done by G. William Domhoff. Literary criticism of the New York Review of Books should be seen as equally important to the Robust Estimation of Hoaglin. The qualitative analysis offered in Qualitative Sociology should receive as much honor as the quantitative analysis of A.S.R.--maybe more. The work of Telos is vastly underrated when compared to the A.J.S. Theory and Society, the Insurgent Sociologist, NACLA and MERIP are more oriented to the human project than are most of the mainline journals sponsored by the A.S.A.

6. Finally I would argue that the stilted, depersonalized, depoliticized linguistic style of the A.S.A. journals is itself hostile to the human condition--of those who write it if not those whose behavior is affected by the application of the findings. If the quality of human life is intimately connected to the quality of its symbolic systems (as indeed they are). then passion, anger, joy, disgust, hope and rage should not be excluded from the pages of authentically human endeavor. The languages of business, mathematics, computers and science are too poor a vehicle upon which to place the fate of human society. They are too meagre, too remote, and too barren a soil in which to plant ideas. I find the student polemics of some left publication overblown and paranoiac--as bad as they are they are better oriented to human, social, activity than the deadly, dull and lifeless prose of American sociology.

One cannot speak of the range and scope of human endeavor with the narrow and dusty language of social science as now conceived--it is necessary to restore human forms of speech--folk methods of conceptualizing--to American sociology; that may be the most important task for the next seventy five years.

Procedures for Critical Research.
Comstock (1980) has identified seven steps in critical research to stand against the procedures currently offered as "the'' scientific method in American sociology. The procedures currently set as comprising the scientific method are oriented to developing nomological (general laws) theory. The steps set forth in Comstock's alternative are oriented to collective praxis. One method serves the interest in prediction, control and stability while the other is oriented to praxis and change.

In Table 1, below, we can note that the procedures for a Critical sociology expose the researcher/advisor to the political wrath of privileged classes and congeries. The current procedures are politically safe. The critical methodology is a collective enterprise offering to reduce alienation in social relations while current methodology has its roots in the assumption that alienation is a psychological, private matter entailing separation of the individual from perfect knowledge of eternal truth. There are many fine and subtle differences between the two approaches to doing sociology but, in the final analysis, the critical procedure is an open statement of political purpose while current procedures permit the oppressive and private use of knowledge to be alienated from its producer, the sociologist.

(Table I here)

Practical Elements of Dialectical Methodology. Freiberg (1980)is in discontent with the imperfect and unperfected state of dialectical methodology. In order to repair this disaffection, he has laid out some practical elements of dialectically oriented social research.

Table 2



While this table has many interesting features explained in detail in the Freiberg paper, it is the dialectics of content which ties this approach to a critical sociology. These elements--research oriented to class struggle and to structural (over) determination which gives that research its critical, emancipatory character. I would add several dimensions not mentioned by Freiberg. I would add as elements of dialectical-elements those oriented to the structures of sexist domination, sexual repression, racist oppression, national chauvinism, religious bigotry (but not spiritual/aesthetic activity). and age-grade alienation. The myopic focus of traditional class domination underestimates the capacity of humans to oppress each other. There is a need to be sensitive to the scope of human oppression as well. I have come to view the structure of international capitalism as the most dangerous beast feasting off the wealth of the world. However, the private, face to face cruelty captured so easily by Jules Feifer are also important. It is easy to push small gauge problems aside and to prefer to deal with the most extensive forms of exploitation but emancipatory science requires many fronts and many areas.

The central feature of interest in the Freiberg formulation is its concern with structural transformations rather than, as in the case of contemporary sociology, structural regularity and permanence. Freiberg's elements define a genuinely revolutionary sociology rather than a static one. It is this revolutionary science I urge over sociology as it is currently oriented.

Conclusion. In this analysis of American sociology, I have tried to play off the attributes of folk methods against those of current social science methods in constituting human knowledge. In doing so, I have exaggerated the faults of sociological methodology and ignored the flaws in folk methods in order to make the hostile contrast more visible ... in order to surmount the blindness we all have to the things we've learned to take for granted. A more kindly, more balanced, more richly detailed analysis is appropriate when the negativity of American sociology has registered more fully on the consciousness of its practitioners.

I have, rather self-consciously, adopted the cartoon style of a Conrad or a Herblock in setting forth this negatively. Just as Herblock tried to make visible the Nixon behind the P.R. image put together by Halderman, Ailes, Klein, and Erlichman ... the fake piety, the ability to serve one master while proclaiming the public good; the darker face behind the clean-shaven, sanitized image as Halberstam put it. By this caricature, I do not mean to argue that American sociologists are cynical, self-serving scoundrels. It is important to understand that good and decent people can be part of an ugly and oppressive structure. I have great esteem and respect for the Blalocks, Cosers, Goodes, and Blaus of the profession. I do not deny their many personal virtues. And I can see the flaws of those in the radical camp--the Gouldners, Syzmanskis, Leggetts and Piccones are not without the ordinary human frailties. It is American sociology as a system I wish to caricature, not the good and fine people who are part of it.

One may well argue that the cartoon format has no place in a scholarly critique of the A.S.A. Why not? If it contributes to the authentic self knowledge of American sociology, why reject it? If it hurts too much in this form, I regret it. However, I want it to hurt as I see it hurting the human project by its division of the knowledge process and abrogation of it from the general public. At some point we must recognize and accept that negativity of our work if we are to transcend it.

We must not assume that what we have learned as good is good because we have learned it well. We must not assume that which we practice is good since we practice it excellently well. We must not confound between the excellence of evil practice and evil itself. To do evil excellently may well be more immoral than to do good in ugly and ungenerous ways. We should be very careful not to take our personal prosperity and our present forms of sociology as an adequate test of the moral worth of our pursuits. There are any number of instances in history where genius has been linked to oppression and has been well rewarded by the oppressors. We must seek to know our own ugliness and evil.

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