Ideology and the Social Sciences

By Graham C. Kinloch; Raj P. Mohan | Go to book overview

1
Ideology and the Social Sciences: Introduction

Graham C. Kinloch and Raj P. Mohan

The blindness of social scientists to the broader issues underlying contemporary political debate is obvious, perhaps, except to the totally insensitive. Less evident, however, is the extent to which modern social science continues to reflect the subjective traits of authors and the contexts in which they operate, rather than the "objective facts" or "insights" they claim to develop.

This volume responds to this state of affairs by focusing on the ties among the subjective traits of social scientists, the contexts in which they conduct research, and the kinds of "knowledge" they produce. The project's scope was as multidisciplinary and worldwide as possible in the attempt to understand the major effects of professional knowledge on the social sciences. Authors were requested to select a major area within their discipline, delineate a central issue or topic within it, identify relevant authors and researchers, and analyze the work in relation to the researchers' subjective traits and contexts. We requested that they specify the links between subjective factors and the production of knowledge as clearly as possible. Finally, contributors were encouraged to suggest ways in which ideological or subjective boundaries might be overcome.

Professional ideologies may be viewed as attempts by intellectuals to relate to society through the creation of symbolic models of reality and "reductive abstractions" that reflect their "individual and group interests" ( Kinloch 1981: 16). Such abstractions, furthermore, highlight the restraints involved in their perspectives: in most cases ideology involves inevitable blindness to the limiting and potentially distorting effects of particular con-

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