Radical Sociology

By J. David Colfax; Jack L. Roach | Go to book overview

PART III · Radical Research
and Practice

ALTHOUGH it is relatively easy to sketch in broad outlines the political perspectives, methods, and values of a radical sociology, the ultimate test of such a sociology must rest upon its accomplishments. To what extent does radical sociology enable us to better comprehend and radically transform society? One might be tempted either to exaggerate the contributions of radicals in the profession or to rationalize their works with the claim that the radical perspective has not had adequate time to have a significant impact upon the discipline. Neither view is compelling. Radical sociologists have been engaged in highly significant actions which cannot and should not be evaluated in terms of traditional professional criteria. Little is gained by arguing, as has been done in the past, that organizing a political commune and writing a book are equally significant intellectual exercises or, for that matter, equally significant political acts. Nevertheless, radicals have produced a literature which most academic sociologists will recognize as scholarly, although typically they have not systematically incorporated conceptual elements in such a way as to generate a scholarship which exemplifies the unity of theory and practice.

In general, the papers which follow have a radical political perspective. In some instances this is explicit; in many more it is not. They are grouped under the headings of "The Empire At Home," "The Empire Abroad," and "Getting Organized." While this does not provide the kinds of distinctions necessary to or adequate for a radical analysis of contemporary society, it emphasizes the social context within which the work is carried out and stresses the primary task of analysis and practice: the examination and transformation of the capitalist, imperialist system of which it is a part.

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