At Least, Sociologists Don’t Do S@#$ Like This

Contribute to torture (psychologists):

Or help pacify the native for military purposes (anthropologists):

And should I mention economists? (Ian Welsh can probably answer that one better in terms doing social damage… just read his blog)

So, if doing no harm is a reflection of the dominated status of sociology in the field of social sciences, then I’m glad we’re there.

5 thoughts on “At Least, Sociologists Don’t Do S@#$ Like This

  1. Au contraire. If we were as recognized as Psychologists, Antrophologists and Economists we would have the power to do horrible stuff, and then some of us would do it. For sure.

    So the point is: are we glad being irrelevant, just because if we had some relevance some of us (as some of any other science, profession, group) would behave on a cruel way? Then, we are lazy, fearful, and a little bit stupid.

    • @Jorge Galindo,
      you know, I’m of 2 minds on this.

      On the one hand, I think there is an inherent critical dimension to sociology that is not present in the other social sciences like psych, econ or anthro. And that, in itself, I think / hope, would be a barrier to close alignment to power… hence, sociology can never be politically correct in the original sense of “aligned with governmental power”.

      That critical dimension is why we’re often accused of being the perfect examples of the “liberal academia”.

      On the other hand, as you rightly say, should we relish our marginalization because it protects us from ourselves?

      I think we should aim to influence policy with good research for the sake of social justice while being weary of closeness to power.

  2. Unfortunately,in a different manner,Sociology is as culpable as Anthropology.

    As we all well know,social science has been abused and used to legitimate and consolidate “techniques of government” over people. One has only to look at the main architect of the “third way” policies in Britain, Lord Anthony Giddens.

    Not only were his policies retributive towards the working classes (welfare-to-work “re-socialization/therapeutic” policies),but, they have also contributed to unprecedented levels of social inequalities in Britain.

    Giddens is a classic example of how Sociology has been abused,like Anthropology,to legitimize Governmentality in our modern era. As Feminist Sociologist,Beverly Skeggs observed, these “academic agenda setters [Giddens,Urry,Beck]embody a “middle class habitus …that expresses the class interests of powerfully placed professional intelligentsia…whose ideas are institutionalized and help reproduce class inequality more intensely” (Skeggs: 2004: 34).

    Thus Skeggs is highlighting how particular middle class habituses are institutionalized (particularity in Giddens’s case) in “social exclusion” policies thereby side-lining social structural problems such (class and gender)in favour of reflexive/individualism paradigms .

    Sociologists have played a nefarious role in universalizing neo-liberal discourses (aka “market-speak) that are being “deployed traditionally to keep people fixed in their place”(Skeggs:2004: 61).

    Howard Becker summed it up well: it’s not a matter of which sides to take, more a matter of whose side are we on?

    Skeggs, B.(2004)”Mobility,individualism and identity; producing the contemporary bourgeois self” Class, Self, Culture (Transformations)

    • @pat,

      That’s funny that you should mention Giddens because he was the main counter-example I had in mind when I wrote the post. He’s the only one I can think of who got close to power.

      Reading your comment, of course, I can’t help thinking of the Moynihan Report that’s been so damaging to public policy in the US (which is bad to start with).

  3. Just wanted to mention that the American Sociological Association’s website advertises the use of sociologists by the U.S. Military in the war on terror and, more specifically, in “winning the hearts and minds” of the Iraqi people. The point being that professional or occupational sociologists facilitate a greater degree American imperialism than psychologists ever could. Furthermore, the situated position of sociology in service of power is historical. One need only consult the Mayo- experiments to come to an understanding of sociology’s continued perpetuation of elitist imperatives. It was only during the 1960’s that sociologists really began taking a critical and reflexive look at their craft in service of power. Unfortunately, Gouldner was largely incorrect in reference to the “coming crisis” and sociology remains largely an instrument of power.

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