Book Discussion… Continued

Let me reproduce another comment (with footnotes and links, for Pete’s sake!) by Dangger as a follow-up to our previous discussion on Connell’s ideas. It is well worth a post of its own. And my comments in blue again.

And for the record I love the idea of sociology as pariah science!

“About scholarships and grants, a lot of them are just trying to reproduce existing domination relations. But there is a more subtle way of resistance here, at least in my experience. For example, students from Mexico will be granted a scholarship to study under certain methodology and specific topics (counter-terrorism, conflict prevention, sustainable development)* they will go and study it and hand in the expected document, they way the hosting country specified it. Nevertheless, this will only account for 1-5 years of the student’s career, but will provide him/her with special credentials to move more freely, to build social relations, and to understand some ways of conducting one’s research. More specifically, it can give the student the “proper” form to deliver a message that can vary its content in many different ways. Some will choose to continue with the expected and mainstream/dominant topics, others will have a better chance to be heard, such as Connell.”

I think this has been especially the case for economics. After all, transnational institutions such as the IMF or the World Bank are full of economists from the periphery. The problem is that they often come from the elites of their countries and have adopted, hook, line and sinker, the economic orthodoxy that prevails. They have done so either because they truly believe it (elite position usually comes with that self-serving aspect of things) or as price of entry into the global club.

“Maybe a was a bit too excited and not deep enough in Feyerabend’s arguments to prevent a gross caricaturization. I do not even think that there is such a unified West as it is perceived by some and I also agree that science has never been a monopoly. Perhaps the idea was that, and allow me to cite him directly:

“It is true that Western science now reigns supreme all over the globe; however, the reason was not insight in its “inherent rationality”, but power play (the colonizing nations impose their ways of living) […] First world science is one among many; by claiming to be more it ceases to be an instrument of research and turns into a (political) pressure group.”

This has been attacked by many, including Zizek in this specific conference***, because (I think) he sees the need to reinstate certainty (and pride?) in some parts of the social sciences. A lot has been lost, I think he is more or less right, to vague cries on how the West has destroyed so much and that maybe we should turn back to and rescue the past. But I also think that this idea of the “other destroyed” serves two purposes, one of them could be a support for the end of history, in the way many don’t look for an alternative future any more, and in the way it prevents perceiving the other as still alive and creating and thinks of it in terms of lost modes of thought.

But this is only a segment of his preface to the Chinese edition. I do see many weak points but he makes me doubt if this is because I have been extensively indoctrinated. Of course the easiest way to dismiss him, for one’s sanity, would be to call him naïve.”

OMG… you read Chinese?? Anyway, I will confess to my ignorance of Zizek, so, I’ll take your words for it.

When it comes to science and rationality, I think sociology of science (see Callon and Latour, as well as ethnomethodologist Michael Lynch) has done a great job unveiling the practices of “doing science”, that is, all the social (and sometimes not-so rational ) practices involved in the production of science AS science, be it institutional practices or the practices related to upholding disciplinary standards, the norms of behavior in academia, all the way down to the minute interactions in labs. This does not mean that the products of science should be thrown to the trash but that “doing science” is a social activity through and through.

“I also see sociology as extremely deviant. Actually, I think this is why a lot of people don’t like it, specially dominant agents. The pariah science, as seen from the state’s perspective, that Bourdieu described. The one that is always under suspicion and only produces ancillary knowledge. ****”

When the dominant agents start liking us, then it’s time to pack it in and do something else!





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