Sociology as a Skin Trade: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology

Sociology as a Skin Trade: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology

Sociology as a Skin Trade: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology

Sociology as a Skin Trade: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology

Excerpt

Sociology owes its fortune to the fact that nothing occupies man like himself. We are amazed as much by the misfortunes of others as by our own good fortune. Every need of ours involves someone else. The great tissue of human involvement which is woven out of our inability to live without the love and labour of others arouses a constant wonder in us. It is the framework of everything that is relevant to us.

Sociology is the study of people. It is a human pastime with pretensions to science. Sociology can be done in armchairs or buses, at sidewalk cafés or at university. Sociology belongs to familiar scenes, to neighbourhoods, gangs, and slums. In everyday life sociology belongs to the cunning of the salesman and the hustler, or to the proverbial barman and taxi-driver. This is an embarrassment to sociology once it aspires to science, affluence, and organization. Sociology when practised seriously is a profession, like the priesthood or prostitution. Sociologists generally profess not to like priests, though they are often more friendly to them than to social workers. This is a matter of professional pride. For some reason, sociologists prefer prostitutes to priests or policemen and have become their natural protectors. This is a matter of professional jealousy; it belongs to the battle for souls, or clients, as they are called nowadays. To the extent that sociological alibis give more comfort than confessions of sin, the world belongs to sociology and is rid of priests. No one notices that the sociologist, the policeman and the prostitute then proceed to divide the world between them in a three-penny opera of science and beggary.

Sociology has a natural fascination for young people painfully conscious of themselves and others. Sociology stirs the seriousness of . . .

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