The American Sociologist

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 150-163

First online:

Sociology and the study of non-western societies

  • Harold E. SmithAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology, Northern Illinois University

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This paper attacks parochialism, ethnocentrism, and universalism in Western sociology. Conceptual limitations of the discipline are discussed in light of the emergent transnational scene. The author argues that new or revised analytical and theoretical concepts in the discipline are essential for sociological studies in non-Western societies. The professional role of the sociologist undertaking research in a non-Western society is discussed from the standpoint of international competency, language facility, and constraints and challenges. The fledgling movement toward cross-national and world sociology in the United States is indicated in developments such as dependency studies, world system theory, and the activities of the American Sociological Association.