Sociology’s Sacred Victims and the Politics of Knowledge: Moral Foundations Theory and Disciplinary Controversies
- 1.4k Downloads
The field of sociology has long been subject to critique for alleged ideological bias and left-wing groupthink linked to its social justice mission. Critics contend that the construction of “sacred victims” by progressive intellectuals hinders their ability to objectively appraise the circumstances of such vulnerable groups. To address this criticism, we survey 479 sociologists in national universities and colleges in the U.S. regarding three sensitive controversies: urban poverty in the black community; gendered differences in occupational choices; and immigration. We find significant patterns in the data. Commitment to the field’s “moral mission,” preferred research paradigm, gender, and especially political orientation are all significant predictors of sociologists’ views. The results, we suggest, can be understood by conceptualizing the field of sociology as an “emotive community.” In doing so, we draw upon current social psychological research on moral foundations theory developed by Jonathan Haidt and colleagues.
KeywordsSurvey of sociologists Sacred victims Intuitionism Moral foundations theory Emotive communities Jonathan Haidt
- American Psychological Association (2006). Think again: men and women share cognitive skills. http://www.apa.org/action/resources/research-in-action/share.aspx. Accessed 14 January 2018.
- Banting, K., & Kymlicka, W. (Eds.). (2006). Multiculturalism and the welfare state: Recognition and redistribution in contemporary democracies. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
- Boutwell, B. (2017). Sociology’s stagnation. Quillette. http://quillette.com/2017/03/05/sociologys-stagnation/. Accessed 14 January 2018.
- Buchanan, P. J. (2011). Suicide of a superpower: Will America survive to 2025? Basingstoke: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Gross, N., & Simmons, S. (2007). The social and political views of American professors. Working Paper presented at a Harvard University Symposium on Professors and Their Politics.Google Scholar
- Haidt, J. (2012). The righteous mind: Why good people are divided by politics and religion. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Haidt, J. (2016). When and why nationalism beats globalism. The American Interest 10. https://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/07/10/when-and-why-nationalism-beats-globalism/. Accessed 14 January 2018.
- Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2006). Planet of the Durkheimians, where community, authority, and sacredness are foundations of morality. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Papers.cfm?abstract_id=980844. Accessed 14 January 2017.
- Haidt, J., & Joseph, C. (2007). The moral mind: How five sets of innate intuitions guide the development of many culture-specific virtues, and perhaps even modules. In P. Carruthers et al. (Eds.), The innate mind (pp. 367–391). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Halpern, D. F. (2011). Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities. New York: Psychology Press, Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
- Hatemi, P. K., Medland, S. E., Klemmensen, R., Oskarsson, S., Littvay, L., Dawes, C. T., Verhulst, B., McDermott, R., Nørgaard, A. S., Klofstad, C. A., Christensen, K., Johannesson, M., Magnusson, P. K. E., Eaves, L. J., & Martin, N. G. (2014). Genetic influences on political ideologies: Twin analyses of 19 measures of political ideologies from five democracies and genome-wide findings from three populations. Behavior Genetics, 44(3), 282–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hirsi Ali, A., & Nomani A. (2017). They brushed off Kamala Harris. Then she Brushed Us Off. New York Times, 22 June.Google Scholar
- Horowitz, I. L. (1993). The decomposition of sociology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Horowitz, M., Yaworsky, W., & Kickham, K. (forthcoming). Anthropology’s science wars: Insights from a new survey. Current Anthropology.Google Scholar
- Lindsay, J. A. (2016). A theory for understanding the regressive left. Aero. https://areomagazine.com/2016/12/20/a-theory-for-understanding-the-regressive-left/. Accessed 14 January 2018.
- Lipset, S. M. (1994). The state of American sociology. Sociological Forum 9(2), 199–220. Springer Netherlands.Google Scholar
- Lopreato, J., & Crippen, T. A. (2001). The crisis in sociology: The need for Darwin. Piscataway: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
- Merton, R. K. (1973) . The normative structure of science. In Storer N (ed.). The sociology of science: Theoretical and empirical investigations (pp. 267–278). University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Mooney, C. (2012). The republican brain: The science of why they deny science--and reality. Hoboken: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Mooney, C. (2014). Liberals deny science too. Washington Post Wonkblog. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/10/28/liberals-deny-science-too/?utm_term=.51c4528dde94. Accessed 14 January 2017.
- Murray, D. (2017). The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration. Identity, Islam. London: Bloomsbury Continuum.Google Scholar
- Patterson, O. (2015). The real problem with America’s inner cities. New York Times, 12 May.Google Scholar
- Pinker, S. (2003). The blank slate: The modern denial of human nature. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Pinker, S. (2005). Sex ed. The New Republic, 232(5), 15–17.Google Scholar
- Ryan, W. (1976). Blaming the Victim. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
- Sommers, C. H. (2005). Who stole Harvard? National Review Online. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/213961/who-stole-harvard-christina-hoff-sommers. Accessed 14 January 2018.
- Steinberg, S. (2009). Déjà Vu on Race. http://www.beyondchron.org/dj-vu-on-race/. Accessed 14 January 2018.
- Stern, C. (2018). Does political ideology hinder insights on gender and labor markets? In J. T. Crawford & L. Jussim (Eds.), The Politics of Social Psychology (pp. 44–61). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Su, R., & Rounds, J. (2015). All STEM fields are not created equal: People and things interests explain gender disparities across STEM fields. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 189. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00189
- Summers, L. H. (2005). Remarks at NBER Conference on Diversifying the Science & Engineering Workforce. Harvard: The Office of the President.Google Scholar
- United States Department of Labor (2016). Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/sociologists.htm. Accessed 4 June 2018.
- Wilson, W. J. (2009). More than just race: Being black and poor in the inner city. New York: WW Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Winegard, B & Winegard, B (2018). Paranoid Egalitarian Meliorism: An Account of Bias in the Social Sciences. In J. T. Crawford & L. Jussim (Eds.), The Politics of Social Psychology (pp. 193–209). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar