Radical Sociology

By J. David Colfax; Jack L. Roach | Go to book overview

(26)
On Actionism in the
Craft of Sociology *

PHILIP M. HAUSER

SOCIOLOGY had its origins in the convergence of three developments —the development of social thought, the desire to improve the lot of man, and the application of the method of science to social phenomena. In its brief history as a science, which by rigorous criteria does not begin until perhaps the second quarter of this century, these three strains have remained distinguishable in the literature and in the activities of sociologists. In fact, contemporary sociologists may be classified into three broad categories on the bases of their time-budgets and their works—as predominantly social thinkers or social scientists or social actionists. These categories are, of course, not mutually exclusive and most sociologists to some extent straddle all three. But prototypes exist of sociologists who fall predominantly into one of these categories. Although readers will undoubtedly be able to make their own identifications, to avoid distractive dissension I shall refrain from naming prototypes active or inactive (deceased or retired).

The development of sociology during the course of this century has effected significant changes in the balance of the sociological life-style. Although no rigorous empirical investigation is available on the point, it is probably correct to say that in the first two or three decades of the century sociologists were predominantly social thinkers and secondarily social actionists. In the second three decades of the century sociologists can be characterized as primarily social scientists and secondarily social thinkers. With the acceptance of the natural science model of science the proportion of the sociological life-space devoted to social action di-

____________________
*
Originally published in Sociological Inquiry 39, No. 2 (Spring 1969): 139-147.

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