Restraining Myths: Critical Studies of U.S. Social Structure and Politics

Restraining Myths: Critical Studies of U.S. Social Structure and Politics

Restraining Myths: Critical Studies of U.S. Social Structure and Politics

Restraining Myths: Critical Studies of U.S. Social Structure and Politics

Excerpt

This work was substantially completed when someone pointed out to me that it contained what has been called "grounded" theory. And then, shortly thereafter, I learned that it was also, quite unbeknownst to me, in the symbolic-interactionist and phenomenological traditions. There are even some ethnomethodological elements in it, at least so I have been told. It clearly involves an assumption of a systematic perspective. It may, or it may not, involve a structural-functional perspective. About that I am not entirely certain. The work is unquestionably dialectical in its character although it does not derive in any significant way from the dialectical materialist tradition. It is also historical, at least in some respects.

Lest there be any serious doubt about it, the observations contained in the previous paragraph are intended to be pejorative. Some social scientists find it impossible to proceed to the consideration of a given task without first spending twenty or thirty pages (at least) on something they call "theory." And many of them are in a state of nervous anxiety unless they can "locate" work in one of the "great" or "classic" traditions. In the process they might even spend some time considering the "metatheoretic" implications of their own observations.

Two decades ago C. Wright Mills undertook a very useful exercise. He took some of the more obscure formulations of a leading "theorist" and translated them into everyday language. In the process it was discovered that the original formulations did not . . .

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