Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880-1940

Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880-1940

Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880-1940

Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880-1940

Synopsis

On the emergence in the 20s of the attempt to apply the concepts & methods of the natural sciences to the social sciences. A rigorous work; for virtually all collections in the social sciences & history of science. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Excerpt

It is a terrible scandal in the scientific household to have too much vision at once.

Albion Small to Hugo Munsterberg, 1909

As matter of fact, Small now speaks more frequently about objective standards and objective point of view, and other objectives than he used to speak about Sabbath Day's journeys.

Edwin Sutherland to Bernard, 1912

During the first decade of the new century, Small was at the height of his power and prestige. His close relationship with William Rainey Harper made him a force to contend with at the university. In 1904, he became dean of the Graduate Division, a position he kept until 1924. His status in the profession also grew steadily. In 1904 he was a key organizer of the Sociological Section of the St. Louis Exposition, the occasion of Max Weber's first visit to the United States. In 1905, he published his theory of "interests" and the "group process" in General Sociology, a book that for a time promised to provide the discipline a new paradigm.

But things gradually soured. After Harper's death in 1906, Small's power within the university was never quite what it had been. A concerted effort to reestablish unity in the social sciences on the basis of his distinction between "Science" and "science" ran afoul of growing attacks from within and without the discipline. A rebellion among graduate students on the eve of the war, the war itself, and radical changes in the personnel of the department contributed to a growing doubt as to whether "science," after all, was more than whatever techniques scientists employed.

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