Ideology and the Social Sciences

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

All this is not to say that the old social theories, the grand narratives of the past, some of which had more egalitarian connotations, ought to be revived and served up again for intellectual consumption. But it may be time for new narratives (whether grand or not) that could take up some of their concerns.

These would be theories that focus on the paradoxical fact that in our increasingly affluent society, in which class boundaries are becoming blurred, in which the importance of class is seemingly decreasing, and some analysts even speak of the death of class ( Pakulski 1995), we witness a growing gap between the exceedingly rich and the exceedingly poor. These would be theories that bring into relief the fact that the apparent dissipation of classes--by making it more difficult for the disadvantaged to organize for the promotion of their interests--may itself be a cause for such growing socioeconomic cleavages. These would also be theories that offer explanatory schemes for the fact that in our hyper- or postmodern society, variegation, pluralism, and identity seeking by no means decrease inequalities, but rather camouflage them. These theories would draw out the manner in which the resulting partial invisibility of inequalities forms yet another cause for their growth.

Such theories would not disregard the insights of the recent theories of postmodernity and hypermodernity, but would rather build on them, in order to bring socioeconomic inequalities back to the center stage of scholarly attention, with all the egalitarian potential thereto appertaining.


NOTES

I am greatly indebted to Dr. Gitta Tulea and to Prof. Ernest Krausz of Bar-Ilan University, and to Dr. Abraham Cordova of Tel-Aviv University, for their most helpful comments.

1.
Following Antonio ( 1995: 3), I distinguish between social theory and sociological theory. The theories dealt with in this chapter are social theories, even though important segments of them have also been incorporated into sociological theories.
2.
Social classes are hereby defined as categories of people distinguished from each other primarily by their members' ownership and control of material/economic resources.
3.
The growth of inequalities in most Western societies in recent years has been documented elsewhere (see Etzioni-Halevy 1997). Therefore, it will not be documented here but will rather be used as a point of departure for the analysis.

REFERENCES

Alexander Jeffrey. 1985. "Introduction" to Neofunctionalism, edited by Jeffrey Alexander . Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.

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