Contemporary articles citing Polanyi M (1958) Personal Knowledge P
science, level, knowledge, should, no, finally, treating, consistent, understanding, exemplified
- Abend, G. 2006. "Styles of Sociological Thought: Sociologies, Epistemologies, and the Mexican and Us Quests for Truth." Sociological Theory. 24:1 1-41.
- Both U.S. and Mexican sociologies allege that they are in the business of making true scientific knowledge claims about the social world. Conventional conceptions of science notwithstanding, I demonstrate that their claims to truth and scientificity are based on alternative epistemological grounds. Drawing a random sample of nonquantitative articles from four leading journals, I show that, first, they assign a different role to theories, and indeed they have dissimilar understandings of what a theory should consist of. Second, whereas U.S. sociology actively struggles against subjectivity, Mexican sociology maximizes the potentials of subjective viewpoints. Third, U.S. sociologists tend to regard highly and Mexican sociologists to eagerly disregard the principle of ethical neutrality. These consistent and systematic differences raise two theoretical issues. First, I argue that Mexican and U.S. sociologies are epistemologically, semantically, and perceptually incommensurable. I contend that this problem is crucial for sociology's interest in the social conditioning of scientific knowledge's content. Second, I suggest four lines of thought that can help us explain the epistemological differences I find. Finally, I argue that sociologists would greatly profit from studying epistemologies in the same fashion they have studied other kinds of scientific and nonscientific beliefs.
- Fuchs, S. 2001. "Beyond Agency." Sociological Theory. 19:1 24-40.
- The reason why agency/structure and micro/macro debates remain unresolved is the bad essentialist habit of treating such pairs as opposite natural kinds. Once variation is allowed, agency and structure. or micro and macro, are temporal? poles bracketing a continuum. with serial entities moving along this continuum over time. Explaining these transformations from agency into structure, or micro into macro. and vice versa is the challenge for explanatory theory. This challenge is met by switching to a constructivist level of second-order observing. Then, agency and structure become variable devices or frames different observers might use to perform different sorts of cultural work.
- Breslau, D. 2000. "Sociology After Humanism: a Lesson From Contemporary Science Studies." Sociological Theory. 18:2 289-307.
- The field of science studies is the site of an explicit reflection on the ontological premises of sociology, with rival approaches defined by distinctive ways of specifying the basic constituents of reality. This article takes advantage of this debate to compare three types of ontological schemes in terms of their internal coherence and their consequences for sociology. Sociological in terms of their internal coherence and their consequences for sociology. Sociological humanism-represented by proponents of the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK)-distinguishes between an immanent domain of social relations, a transcendent and meaningless material reality, and an intermediate, socially constructed level of knowledge, meaning and culture. Symmetrical humanism-as found in the recent writings of Andrew Pickering-insists that society too should be placed among the constructions, thereby disqualifying it as a source of explanations of human agency and leaving a detached and self-moving human agent. The relational ontology-exemplified by the ``actor-network'' approach of Bruno Latour adn others-make no a priori distinctions between humans and others, or between trandscendent reality and construction, treating these properties as outcomes. The two humanist approaches are found to be incoherent as ontological schemes and also, contrary to the antisociological stance of the actor-network approach, it is found that the relational ontology provides a consistent basis for sociological explanations of human practices.
- Burawoy, M. 1998. "The Extended Case Method." Sociological Theory. 16:1 4-33.
- In this article I elaborate and codify the extended case method. which deploys participant observation to locate everyday life in its extralocal and historical context. The extended case method emulates a reflexive model of science that takes as its premise the intersubjectivity of scientist and subject of study: Reflexive science valorizes intervention, process, structuration, and theory reconstruction. It is the Siamese twin of positive science that proscribes reactivity but upholds reliability replicability, and representativeness. Positive science, exemplified by survey research, works on the principle of the separation between scientists and the subjects they examine. Positive science is limited by ``context effects'' (interview: respondent, field, and situational effects) while reflex ive science is limited by ``power effects'' (domination, silencing, objectification, and normalization). The article concludes by considering the implications of having two models of science rather than one, both of which are necessarily flawed. Throughout I use a study of postcolonialism to illustrate both the virtues and the shortcomings of the extended case method. Methodology can only bring us reflective understanding of the means which have demonstrated their value in practice by raising them to the level of explicit consciousness; it is no more the precondition of fruitful intellectual work than the knowledge of anatomy is the precondition of ``correct'' walking.
- FINE, GA. 1995. "Wittgensteins Kitchen - Sharing Meaning in Restaurant Work." Theory and Society. 24:2 245-269.
- Abend, Gabriel. 2008. "Two Main Problems in the Sociology of Morality." Theory and Society. 37:2 87-125.
- Sociologists often ask why particular groups of people have the moral views that they do. I argue that sociology's empirical research on morality relies, implicitly or explicitly, on unsophisticated and even obsolete ethical theories, and thus is based on inadequate conceptions of the ontology, epistemology, and semantics of morality. In this article I address the two main problems in the sociology of morality: (1) the problem of moral truth, and (2) the problem of value freedom. I identify two ideal-typical approaches. While the Weberian paradigm rejects the concept of moral truth, the Durkheimian paradigm accepts it. By contrast, I argue that sociology should be metaphysically agnostic, yet in practice it should proceed as though there were no moral truths. The Weberians claim that the sociology of morality can and should be value free; the Durkheimians claim that it cannot and it should not. My argument is that, while it is true that factual statements presuppose value judgments, it does not follow that sociologists are moral philosophers in disguise. Finally, I contend that in order for sociology to improve its understanding of morality, better conceptual, epistemological, and methodological foundations are needed.
- Pinch, Trevor. 2008. "Technology and Institutions: Living in a Material World." Theory and Society. 37:5 461-483.
- This article addresses the relationship between technology and institutions and asks whether technology itself is an institution. The argument is that social theorists need to attend better to materiality: the world of things and objects of which technical things form an important class. It criticizes the new institutionalism in sociology for its failure to sufficiently open up the black box of technology. Recent work in science and technology studies (S\&TS) and in particular the sociology of technology is reviewed as another route into dealing with technology and materiality. The recent ideas in sociology of technology are exemplified with the author's study of the development of the electronic music synthesizer.