Race and the Social Sciences

Race and the Social Sciences

Race and the Social Sciences

Race and the Social Sciences

Excerpt

There is no field of intellectual inquiry with so much potential value for dealing with racial problems as the social sciences. The gross inequalities of status, welfare, and opportunity that define Negro-white relations in America today urgently demand basic structural reforms in our society—reforms of a magnitude and complexity rarely before accomplished through orderly procedures of government in a democracy. Social science research can and must provide much of the detailed knowledge of social, economic, and political processes that will be needed in developing and carrying out rational programs of change. In the final analysis what must be changed is human behavior—with its supporting values, beliefs, and sentiments—and the institutional contexts in which the behavior unfolds.

This volume is the product of a unique interdisciplinary effort to define the seminal research issues in American race relations today. The book is less concerned with making practical recommendations for policies of social change than with formulating the research goals and strategies that are most likely to generate the basic scientific understanding needed for such recommendations. Taken as a whole, the chapters that follow present an over-all prospectus for theoretically grounded investigations of the causes and cures of racial conflict in this country.

Scholarly contributions to the improvement of race relations are still more in the realm of possibility than of actual fact. Looking beyond the recent flurry of writing and investigations, one discovers that over the past quarter-century ( a period of rapid technological growth in the social sciences and also of emergent racial crisis) academicians generally have not been highly productive in attacking causes or prescribing . . .

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