Agrarian Socialism: The Cooperative Commonwealth Federation in Saskatchewan, a Study in Political Sociology

By S. M. Lipset | Go to book overview
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Author's Preface

IT IS OBVIOUS that research studies are not a simple reporting of all the facts, or the relationships that exist within the area analyzed. A study can deal only with the questions which the researcher raises, and it is possible to ask an almost infinite number of questions about any sociological problem. Some sociologists unfortunately do not recognize this, and present their research reports as definitive and "correct" studies of class, race relations, the family, and so on.

The theoretical framework within which one operates determines in large measure the results obtained. This does not mean that it is impossible to be objective because all the variables in a situation are not studied. Within the context of a given theoretical system and set of research questions it is possible to measure objectively the relationship among the variables that seem significant. One can, for example, study class structure by raising the question, as W. Lloyd Warner has done, of the relation between the status structure and the customs and institutions of society. It is equally possible to study the implications of a hierarchical societal structure in' terms of its organized power and influence, as the Lynds did in their Middlatown studies.

I personally believe that the problems raised by the Lynds are more important for an understanding of the way in which our society operates; but, regardless of how different sociologists look at the problem of class structure, each can make an "objective" study. This does not suggest that one conceptual scheme is as good

-xiii-

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