Three possible forms of progress are considered: the emergence of new fields of study, the adoption of new theoretical perspectives and the contribution of certain celebrated scholars. The problem with the first is that “new” fields of study often turn to be new in name only, while also not necessarily focused on addressing core issues. The problem with most “turns” is that they are the result of outside influences, while also involving a loss as well as a gain in significant insights. Also, new theoretical frameworks can only really count as “progress” if they are incorporated into the discipline’s mainstream. Finally, the work of four prominent sociologists—collectively identified as canonical—is considered, concluding that the work of two of these might possibly be considered, in time, as constituting progress.
KeywordsNew fields of study New perspectives or “turns” Sociology influenced by wider culture ‘Turns’ not incorporated into mainstream Sociology as zero-sum game Sociologists of distinction
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