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Sociological Explanation

  • Tom Burns
Chapter

Abstract

Having to give an inaugural lecture is a rather daunting affair though, I am sure, a salutary one. Luckily, there is always tradition to sustain one and to afford some guidance. There are, one finds, models, or types, of inaugural lectures. I cannot claim to be a connoisseur, but, judging from a small and heavily biased sample, they seem to fall into three groups. There are those, to begin with, which announce new departures for a subject, new horizons, recent territorial acquisitions in teaching or research, perhaps a reformed constitution: they are, in short, manifestos — delivered, of course, modestly, even diffidently sometimes, and with proper deference to neighbours and previous tenants, but manifestos nevertheless; muted manifestos. The second kind defines itself more precisely. There is hardly a single field of scholarship or science in which the contribution of Scotland, of this university itself, has not been extensive and weighty — even, at times, momentous; very few branches of learning in which it is not possible to point to a noble and inspiring tradition of intellectual endeavour. There is special propriety on the occasion of an inaugural lecture, then, in recalling — invoking — the achievements of predecessors, of the giants on whose shoulders we presume to stand;

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Jean Floud and A. H. Halsey, ‘The Sociology of Education’, ‘Current Sociology’, vii 3 (1958) 169.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Reinhard Bendix and Seymore M. Lipset, ‘Political Sociology’, ‘Current Sociology’, vii 3 (1958) p. 169.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Paul F. Lazarsfeld, B. Berelson and H. Gaudet, ‘The People’s Choice’, 2nd ed. (Columbia University Press, 1948 ).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    W. G. Runciman, ‘Sociological Evidence and Political Theory’ in Peter Laslett and W. G. Runciman (eds.), ‘Philosophy, Politics and Society’ (Blackwell, 1962 ) pp. 42–3.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    E. H. Carr, ‘What is History? ’ (Penguin Books, 1964 ) p. 52.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1970

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  • Tom Burns

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