The American Sociologist

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 15–29 | Cite as

American sociology in chaos: Differentiation without integration

  • Jonathan H. Turner
Article

Abstract

American sociology is a chaotic discipline. There is disagreement on foundational issues that give disciplines coherence. For example, sociologist disagree on the appropriateness of a scientific orientation, the role of activism and ideology in inquiry, the best methodologies to employ, the primacy of microversus macro-levels of analysis, the most important topics to study, and many other contentious issues. The recent call for a “public sociology” in which four wings of the discipline—policy (applied), professional (scientific), critical (ideological), and public (civic engagement) sociologies—are to be integrated is less of a remedy for what troubles sociology than an admission that we are a discipline divided (Burawoy, 2005). Among the social sciences, economics is the most coherent, with the other social sciences revealing varying degrees of incoherence or chaos. Sociology is probably the least integrated of the social sciences, although cultural anthropology has increasingly become much like sociology. In this paper, my goal is to offer an explanation for how sociology came to it present state and what, if anything, can be done to integrate the discipline. Let me begin by outlining what makes a discipline coherent.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abbot, Andrew. 1999. Department of Discipline: Chicago Sociology at One Hundred. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  2. Bernard, Luther L. 1909. “The Teaching of Sociology in the United States.” American Journal of Sociology 15: 164–213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Blasi, Anthony J. 2004. “The Ph.D. and the Institutionalization of American Sociology.” The American Sociologist 35: 37–45.Google Scholar
  4. Bulmer, Martin. 1984. The Chicago School of Sociology: Institutionalization, Diversity, and the Rise of Sociological Research. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  5. Burawoy, Michael. 2005. “For Public Sociology.” American Sociological Review 70: 4–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Calhoun, Craig and Jonathan VanAntwerpen. 2006. “Orthodoxy, Heterodoxy, and Hierarchy: ‘Mainstream’ Sociology and Its Challengers.” In press.Google Scholar
  7. Camic, Charles. 1999. “Reshaping the History of American Sociology.” Social Epistemology 8: 9–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cole, Stephen. 2001. What’s Wrong with Sociology? (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers).Google Scholar
  9. Eubank, Earle E. 1932. The Concepts of Sociology A Treatise Presenting a Suggested Organization of Sociological Theory in Terms of Its Major Concepts. (Boston, MA: D.C. Heath).Google Scholar
  10. Flacks, Richard and Gerald Turkei. 1978. “Radical Sociology: The Emergence of Neo-Marxian Perspectives in U.S. Sociology.” Annual Review of Sociology 4: 193–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fuchs, Stephan and Jonathan H. Turner. 1986. “What Makes a Science Mature?” Sociological Theory 4: 143–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hertzler, Joyce. 1938. “American Regionalism and the Regional Sociological Society.” American Sociological Review 3: 738–206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Horowitz, Irving Louis. 1993. The Decomposition of Sociology. (New York: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  14. Keith, Bruce. 2004. “Disciplinary Culture and Organizational Dissonance: The Regional Association in American Sociology.” Sociological Focus 37: 83–106.Google Scholar
  15. Kurtz, Lester R. 1984. Evaluating Chicago Sociology. (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).Google Scholar
  16. Leahey, Erin. 2006. “Conceptual Metaphors and Empirical Leaps: The Risks and Benefits of Integrative Research.” Working manuscript.Google Scholar
  17. Levine, Donald. 1995. Vision of the Sociological Tradition. (Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press).Google Scholar
  18. Lynd, Robert. 1939. Knowledge for What? The Place of Social Science in American Culture. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  19. Lynd, Robert and Helen Lynd. 1929. Middletown: A Study of American Culture. (New York: Harcourt Brace).Google Scholar
  20. Madoo-Lengerman, Patricia. 1979. “The Founding of the American Sociological Review: The Anatomy of a Rebellion.” American Sociological Review 44: 185–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  22. Myrdal, Gunnar. 1962 [1949]. An American Dilemma: the Negro Problem and Modern Democracy. (New York: Harper and Row).Google Scholar
  23. Odum, Howard W. 1951. American Sociology: The Story of Sociology in the United States through 1950. (New York: Longmans and Green).Google Scholar
  24. Parsons, Talcott. 1937. The Structure of Social Action. (New York: McGraw-Hill).Google Scholar
  25. —. 1959. “Some Problems Confronting Sociology as a Profession.” American Sociological Review 24: 547–559.Google Scholar
  26. Pease, John and Barbara Hetrick. 1977. “Association for Whom? The Regionals and the American Sociological Association.” The American Sociologist 12: 42–47.Google Scholar
  27. Phelps, Harold A. 1938. “Report of the Committee of Secretaries of Regional Sociologial Societies.” American Sociological Review 3: 95–96.Google Scholar
  28. Rhoades, Lawrence J 1981. A History of the American Sociological Association: 1905-1980. (Washington D.C: American Sociological Association).Google Scholar
  29. Riesman, David et al., 1950. The Lonely Crowd: A Study of the Changing American Character. (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).Google Scholar
  30. Sorokin, Pitirim. 1937. Social and Cultural Dynamics, 4 volumes. (New York: American Book).Google Scholar
  31. Stouffer, Samuel A. et al. 1949. The American Soldier. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press).Google Scholar
  32. Steinmetz, George and Ou-Byung Chae. 2002. “Sociology in an Era of Fragmentation: From the Sociology of Knowledge to the Philosophy of Science, and Back Again.” Sociological Quarterly 43: 111–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stinchcombe, Arthur. 1994. “Disintegrated Disciplines and the Future of Sociology.” Sociological Forum 9:279–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Spencer, Herbert. 1873-1936. Descriptive Sociology, or Groups of Sociological Facts, 16 volumes. Various Publishers.Google Scholar
  35. Turner, Jonathan H. 2006. “Is Public Sociology Such a Good Idea?” The American Sociologist, in press.Google Scholar
  36. —. 1989. “The Disintegration of American Sociology.” Sociological Perspectives 32: 419–33.Google Scholar
  37. -. and Kyung-Man Kim. 2003. “The Disintegration of Tribal Solidarity among American Sociologists: Implications for Knowledge Accumulation.” The American Sociologist. Google Scholar
  38. Turner, Stephen P. and Jonathan H.Turner. 1990. The Impossible Science: An Institutional History of American Sociology. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan H. Turner

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations