The American Sociologist

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 5-14

First online:

Blumer’s dilemma: The critic as a tragic figure

  • Joel BestAffiliated withUniversity of Delaware

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Herbert Blumer criticized sociological research for its failure to confront obdurate, empirical reality. However, Blumer conducted little research of his own. An examination of his works on crowds, fashion, and social problems reveals some of the same problems he found in others’ works. Blumer illustrates how critics risk becoming tragic figures, wedded to theoretical principles that cannot be put into practice.