Sociology and Ideology

Sociology and Ideology

Sociology and Ideology

Sociology and Ideology

Synopsis

When examining how the social sciences have dealt with ideology, ones first impression is often one of considerable confusion. Sociology in particular is the scene of heated debates about ideology. These debates go sometimes so far as to echo doubts of participants with regard to their opponents scientific endeavor, even straightforward denials of their scientific status. This volume brings together a series of articles that throw light on selected aspects of this intricate matter by well-known sociologists Boudon, Wittrock, Arnason, Touraine, Smolicz, Secombe, Wieviorka, Ben-Rafael and Sternberg.

Excerpt

This book discusses the old-new topic of the relations of sociology and ideology. a topic that already preoccupied the founders of the discipline but which is again at the forefront of sociological debates these days with the profusion of new approaches to social reality and social research. a topic, also, that is a subject of discussion throughout the international sociological community but which, as shown by all the following papers, takes on very' different tunes against the background of different national sociological traditions. This volume brings together a series of articles that throw light on selected aspects of this intricate matter and suggests a number of perspectives on this basic question which pertains to the “sociology of sociology.”

Boudon opens this volume by setting sociology as a social science, opposite to cultural and cognitive relativism. the truth is, says Boudon, that the social sciences themselves have contributed a great deal to make credible cognitive and cultural relativism as basic ingredients of postmodernism. Cognitive relativism is grounded on the failure of demarking the line between science and non science and it is from the sources of this failure that it draws hyperbolic conclusions. Cultural relativism has been legitimated by hyperbolic conclusions extracted from core ideas drawn from Montaigne, Hume and Weber. the influence of relativism is due to the fact that it was introduced in a conjuncture where it was perceived by various audiences as “useful.” Once this deconstruction is carried out, relativism appears as less solidly grounded than it looks and as less credible than postmodernists notably believe.

Arnason enlightens this development by relating sociology to the complexity of its object, namely, society of which it is necessarily a critique. Arnason insists here that the view of the varieties of modernity and the different historical paths of societies is not easily compatible with critical intentions: a pluralistic and comparative approach calls for a value-neutral idea of modernity. the critical stance, he contends, did not translate into any comprehensive rethinking of modernity, but he sees the startpoint of “critical thought” in the very antinomies of modernity where societal . . .

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