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The Decomposition of Sociology

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Overview

Sociology, writes Irving Louis Horowitz, has changed from a central discipline of the social sciences to an ideological outpost of political extremism. As a result, the field is in crisis. Some departments have been shut down, others cut back, research programs have dried up, and the growth of professional organizations and student enrollments have been either curbed or atrophied. In The Decomposition of Sociology, Professor Horowitz, for four decades a leading social scientist, offers a frank and full account of the maelstrom engulfing this field.
Horowitz pulls no punches in this provocative volume. He charges that much contemporary sociological theory has degenerated into pure critique, strongly influenced by Marxist dogmatism. Such thinking has a strong element of anti-American and anti-Western bias, in which all questions have one answer--the evil of capitalism--and all problems one solution--the good of socialism. In criminology, for instance, he shows that high crime rates are seen as an expression of capitalist disintegration, and criminal behavior a covert expression of radical action. Indeed, in one area after another, Horowitz shows how this same formulaic thinking dominates the field, resulting in a crude reductionist view of contemporary social life. At a time when the world is moving closer to the free market and democratic norms, he concludes, such reductionist tendencies and ideological posturings are outmoded.
Horowitz offers an alternative. He urges a larger vision of the social sciences, one in which universities, granting agencies and research institutes provide an environment in which research may be untainted by partisan agencies--where policy choiceswill not be hindered by the prevailing cultural climate. He counsels sociologists to move away from blind advocacy, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century by incorporating the knowledge of other times and places, and to take into account the shrinking globe--in short, to develop and maintain a new set of universal standards in this era of a world culture.
Here then is an eloquent plea for a revolution in sociology, written by one of the field's foremost figures. It offers as well a cautionary tale about the potentially devastating effect of ideology on scholarly pursuits.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195092561
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 9.25 (w) x 6.13 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author


About the Author:
Irving Louis Horowitz is the Hannah Arendt Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Political Science at Rutgers University. He is president of Transaction/Society, also at Rutgers. Among his previous Oxford Books are Ideology and Utopia in the United States; Three Worlds of Development; and Beyond Empire and Revolution. He is the recipient of the National Jewish Book Award in Biography for his memoir of a Harlem childhood, Daydreams and Nightmares.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
1 The Decomposition of Sociology 9
2 Disenthralling Sociology 22
3 Sociology and Subjectivity 40
4 Fascism, Communism, and Social Theory 52
5 From Socialism to Sociology 74
6 Scientific Access and Political Constraints 93
7 Public Choice and the Sociological Imagination 103
8 Social Contexts and Cultural Canons 118
9 Reconstructing the Social Sciences 133
10 Human Life, Political Domination, and Social Science 147
11 Policy Research in a Post-Sociological Environment 169
12 Prediction and Paradox in Society 183
13 Freedom, Planning, and the Moral Order 198
14 Social Disputations and Moral Implications 212
15 Social Science and the Great Tradition 229
16 Social Science as the Third Culture 240
Notes 253
Name Index 274
Subject Index 278
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