Ideology and the Social Sciences

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

2
Ideology, Myths, and Social Science

Raj P. Mohan and Graham C. Kinloch

Human thought has evolved through a number of stages, ranging from myths (a set of unprovable notions regarding what makes life worthwhile), moving through religion (a special brand of myth that attempts to account for the inexplicable) and philosophies (assumed absolutes that make life significant) to ideologies (the particular perspectives of subgroups, reflecting their material and normative interests) and science (belief in the insight provided by particular methodologies) ( Mohan 1987: ix).

While the last two of these tend to be predominant in modern society, their predecessors continue to exist regionally and internationally. However, the role of values in science is subject to continuing debate, epitomized by Gouldner's famous denunciation of Weber's call for scientific objectivity ( Gouldnern 1973). Furthermore, confusion persists regarding the role of ideology in social science, masking the degree to which facts reflect the subjective characteristics of their authors, inevitably limiting their societal effectiveness. The purpose of this chapter is to explore the complex relationship among ideology, myth, and science and their relationship to social science. We will also examine the Eurocentric nature of social science and how it has been shaped by particular cultural traditions. We begin by examining the various functions of myth and ideology.


THE SOCIAL FUNCTIONS OF MYTH AND IDEOLOGY

While there are fundamental differences between ideological and scientific assumptions, the former is not only an intellectual and propaganda

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