Monday, June 06, 2005

we're going to have a book burning!

the following list was posted on a sociology list; my response follows:

I think the "giveaway" in this list is in the title...the notion of associating "dangerous" with a book. An exploding book, perhaps, one that secretes poison upon contact with human flesh, perhaps, but the information, knowledge and ideas in a book being dangerous???? Wow, better get those parking lot bonfires started, cause there be a lot of book burnin' going on soon.

Surprised that the Sinclair Lewis novel, It Can't Happen Here, isn't on the list; it is a fictional accounting of how the US becomes a fascist country (written 70 years ago).

Required reading, IMO.

That said, I agree with XXX that we are lacking in our ability to empirically demonstrate our overall worth. Note the fairly recent discussion in Teaching Sociology about the "core" of sociology. My takeaway was that, in some respects, we have no clothes. At best, we are a practice VS a science. Not too bad, IMO, but not what we promote to the world at large.

Yes, we use empirical methods to collect and analyze social data, but do we have any well-founded theoretical propositions and/or axioms that we teach as the foundation(s) of sociology? The closest I have seen is exchange theory ala Homans, network exchange theory, and possibly network analysis. These theories have some possibilities of testing and building on axioms as is the case in other sciences.

Is anyone else getting kind of tired of regurgitating the 3 perspectives in Intro classes? Isn't it odd that we still talk about Durkheim, Marx, and Weber as if they are deities? This would be like modern physics touting Newton as the preeminent natural scientist (which he was, but physics has moved well beyond Newton by now). Granted, natural science predates (at least in the West) social science by a century or two, but they have moved on considerably more quickly than we have. It's like we are stuck in the 19th century. Some of the best material about things social I have read of late comes from outside the discipline. That strikes me as odd.

In any event, I will continue to promote membership in the reality-based community.

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