The Sociology of Childhood, 3rd edition by William A. Corsaro
(Sociology for a New Century Series: Pine Forge Press)
The Sociology of Childhood has been acclaimed as the best book
available on the sociology of children. Author William A. Corsaro is
the Robert H. Shaffer Class of 1967 Endowed Professor of Sociology
at Indiana University, Bloomington where he won the Presidents Award
for Distinguished Teaching in 1988.
The Sociology of Childhood presents a focus on children's relationships with peers and adults, including coverage of children's peer cultures from preschool through preadolescence. This third edition, like the first two editions, is about children and childhood from a sociological perspective. An interpretive perspective on the sociology of childhood is contrasted with more traditional socialization or outcome approaches. A special chapter reviews and evaluates different methodologies for studying children and childhood and discusses the special ethical consideration. The volume brings together Corsaros ideas and experiences gained from research and teaching in this area during the past 30 years.
Sociology has now established a tradition for studying children and childhood; although still understudied, these are no longer relegated to the margins of the field. There are now, in addition to this text, other basic texts in sociology on children or childhood, and a growing number of courses on the sociology of childhood are now offered at colleges and universities.
New to this third edition of The Sociology of Childhood:
In this new edition of The Sociology of Childhood Corsaro includes statistical indicators on the quality of children's lives in both developed and developing societies. In addition, he expands the coverage of children's symbolic and material culture especially related to media and new technologies in Chapters 6 and 9. Even though much is new in this edition, it is not possible to cover what is now such a vast quantity of theory and research highly relevant to a new sociology of childhood. Corsaro focuses much more on children's relationships with peers than with adults, and his coverage of children's peer cultures generally ends in preadolescence, at the age of 12. He offers an interpretive perspective to the sociology of childhood, which he contrasts with more traditional socialization or outcome approaches to children and child development.
Part One of The Sociology of Childhood reviews traditional approaches to socialization and child development and contrasts them with his perspective of interpretive reproduction and his focus on children's peer cultures. Corsaro presents an orb web model of children's developing memberships in their cultures, and he integrates this model, along with the concept of interpretive reproduction, with structural approaches to childhood. He includes an updated chapter on studying children and childhood.
Part Two places the new sociology of childhood in historical and cultural perspective. Corsaro presents a much-needed detailed review and evaluation of classic work on the history of childhood, and he introduces the new history of childhood and presents representative examples of it. He then considers children and childhood cross-culturally by examining children, families, and social change in industrialized and developing societies, updating the discussion to capture recent trends.
Part Three of The Sociology of Childhood discusses the importance of children's peer cultures for a new sociology of childhood. In the first chapter in this section (Chapter 6), Corsaro presents an extended discussion of children's introduction to symbolic and material aspects of peer culture in their families and from the media and focus on how new technology has had major effects on the peer cultures of children and youth. In the next two chapters, he considers the basic themes of control and communal sharing in children's initial peer cultures. In Chapter 9, Corsaro explores these same themes and considers the importance of autonomy, self, and identity in preadolescent peer cultures. He also describes and discusses important changes in what has been called the new media of, for example, video games, cell phones and texting, and social networking on Internet sites by preadolescents and adolescents.
Part Four comes back to more macro issues. He considers children as social problems and also the social problems of children. He examines growing levels of anxiety about children's potential victimization in rapidly changing industrialized societies in which adults feel they have less control over their children's lives. He explores the reverse of this phenomenon, the tendency in modern societies to blame some children, most especially poor children and youth, for their own vulnerability. Chapters 10 and 11 provide a detailed discussion of the nature and extent of social problems of children. In these chapters Corsaro presents updated social indicators related to the quality of the lives of children and youth and notes where some progress has been made, and he indicates where much more needs to be done in regard to both research and social policy. In the last chapter he presents some proposals to begin to address the social problems of children. In this last part of The Sociology of Childhood Corsaros appreciation and celebration of children's lives and childhoods develop into clear political advocacy.
The Sociology of Childhood is up to date and thorough. Throughout the volume, Corsaros original research and the compelling photographs and vivid illustrations bring the topics to life.
Sociology and Society
is a series of four textbooks designed as an introduction to the sociological
study of modern society. The books form the core study materials for The Open
University course Sociology and Society (DD201), which aims to provide an
attractive and up‑to‑date introduction to the key concerns and
debates of contemporary sociology. They also take account of the ways in which
sociology has been shaped by dialogue with adjacent disciplines and intellectual
movements, such as cultural studies and women's studies.
The first book in the series is Understanding
Everyday Life, whose aim is to `defamiliarize' our relations to everyday
life by showing how the perspectives of sociology, cultural studies and feminism
can throw new light on, and prompt a reflexive attention to, varied aspects of
day‑to‑day social life that are usually taken for granted. The book
is designed as a means of illustrating and debating different aspects of
everyday life in a number of key sites ‑ the home, the street, the pub,
the neighborhood and community ‑ and in various social activities, such as
work and consumption, and teenage romance.
The second book, Social
Differences and Divisions, in addition to looking at class, which
sociologists have treated as one of the central forms of social stratification,
also explores social differences and divisions based on gender, `race' and
ethnicity. The book then examines the concepts of citizenship and social justice
‑ concepts that both reflect and influence the perception of social
divisions. Finally, the book contains case studies of two key sectors ‑
education and housing‑which highlight significant divisions and
inequalities; it also looks at the social policies that have been designed to
Change, the third book, shows how, from sociology's early concerns with the
transition to industrial and democratic social forms to recent debates over the
rise of information, networked or global societies, sociology has been centrally
concerned with the nature and meaning of social change. However, the book seeks
to frame these debates through an explicit examination of the spaces and times
of social change. Social transformations are exemplified and questioned by
looking at the ways in which societies organize space‑time relations. The
topics and examples include: urbanism and the rhythms of city life, colonialism
and post‑colonialism, the alleged transition from industrial to
information society, new media and time‑space reconfiguration, intimacy
and the public sphere, and the regulation of the self. Finally, it examines new
perspectives on how sociology itself is implicated in social change.
The last book in the series, The
Uses of Sociology, discusses the various ways in which sociology is
practised and the consequences of sociological activity for public affairs. It
explores the main debates in sociology concerning its social purposes. Comparing
and contrasting different sociological traditions in sociological thought, it
examines a variety of their engagements with 'the social'. The relevance of
sociological knowledge is considered in relation to government, the public
sphere (including the media), economic life, social movements, 'race' and
ethnicity. The book also considers related questions, such as whether sociology
is a science or a cultural endeavor, and whether sociological research and
analysis can be detached and unbiased. Finally, it considers different views of
what Max Weber called the 'vocation' of sociology, and asks whether sociologists
have taken the role of prophets -- criticizing present social arrangements and
envisaging possible future developments.
Although edited volumes, each of the chapters has been
specially commissioned for the series in order to provide a coherent and
up‑to‑the minute introduction to sociology. Each chapter is
accompanied by a set of extracts from key, previously published, readings that
are relevant to the chapter topic. At the end of each book there is also a set
of 'generic' readings selected for their broader relevance to the overall themes
of the book. Together these supply a wider view of the subject, with samples of
historically important writing as well as of current approaches. Throughout the
chapters, key terms and names are highlighted. These can be further studied by
consulting a sociological dictionary, such as The
Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology or The
Penguin Dictionary of Sociology. The overall approach taken is interactive,
and we hope general readers will use the activities and the questions based on
the readings in order to engage actively with the texts
Change edited by Tim Jordan, Steve Pile (Sociology and Society: Blackwell)
explores the ways in which different societies, different lifestyles, different
politics, economics and cultures, come into existence and then, in their turn,
change again. In examining social change we attempt to find out both 'what
happens' when society becomes different and 'why change happened', looking for
causes and effects. This book explores sociological accounts of social change
both by reflecting on the nature of social change and by detailing a number of
particular social changes. To introduce these analyses of social change we can
look, briefly, at two well known images that marked seemingly epochal shifts in
societies: the fall of the Berlin Wall and the release of Nelson Mandela.
Nevertheless, not all social changes are so evident, so they also check out the
contents of people's fridges as well.
There are two key themes that run through this book. The
first theme is that of the coexistence of many social changes. This book builds
up, through its case studies, a sense of the multiplicity and coexistence of
changes operating in any social setting ‑ and it is for this reason that
Chapter 1, `Social change and city life' by Steve Pile, begins by examining the
city. Cities are seen as containing ‑ many different kinds of these are
explored through an examination of the physical infrastructure, of the social
organization and personal experiences of city life. Chapters 2 to 6 build a
picture of the different kinds of transformations and transitions that can occur
between one form of social organization and another. Some transitions seem to be
clearly marked. So, Chapter 2, `Contesting times' by Tony Bennett, examines the
dramatic shift represented by the transition from colonialism to Postcolonialism.
In this chapter, we will learn about the spaces and times of colonial and
post‑colonial situations, with particular reference to the case of
Australia. In some ways, our story about Nelson Mandela can be approached from
this perspective. Thus, we can ask questions about how the new South Africa was
tackling its colonial legacies, especially in terms of apartheid as a
post‑colonial system of racial oppression.
Another widely commented‑on social transition has
been that between industrial society and a society dominated by information.
Chapter 3, `From industrial to information society' by Peter Hamilton, makes the
point that there have been changes in the nature and organization of work. More
than this, the role of labor itself as part of the production process has
undergone change. Information has come to be seen by many as the most important
factor in production. Critically assessing this transition leads to a
consideration of the media through which information is (or is not) transmitted.
Chapter 4, `New media and time‑space reconfiguration' by Hugh Mackay, also
explores this transition by looking at our understandings of times and spaces of
communication via the mass media. In particular, it is argued that there has
been a marked shift between broadcasting, aimed at a mass audience, and narrow
casting, aimed at specific audiences. The mass media can be seen to be one way
in which social and personal relationships between people are displayed and
played out. For this reason, Chapter 5, `Up close and personal the changing face
of intimacy' by Kath Woodward, begins its exploration of changes in people's
experiences of intimacy by looking at how people talk about their personal lives
on television chat‑shows. This chapter explores historical shifts in the
ways in which people have disclosed personal information about themselves and
how this is implicated in changing conceptions of the self and relations to
others. From this perspective, the self and personal identity are sociological
questions. This approach is developed further in the next chapter', Chapter 6,
`The regulation of the self by Mitchell Dean, which looks at how understandings
of the self have changed and examines how people have come to regulate their
conduct and behaviour. In particular, this involves regulation through the law
and notions of (self) policing. Linking back to earlier concerns with changing
economic relations, this chapter also examines how poverty and the poor have
been defined and regulated.
Through the book, then, the authors take different events
and interpret them for their significance to an understanding of social change.
Chapter 7, `Totalities and multiplicities' by Tim Jordan, draws the threads of
this book together by exploring key ways in which sociologists create knowledge
about social change. Different interpretations -- or sociologies -- of social
change allow us to interpret events in different ways, a notion we have already
introduced through our comparison of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the release of
Nelson Mandela and the fridge-freezer.
Handbook of Sociological Theory edited by Jonathan H. Turner (Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research: Kluwer Academic Plenum Publishers) This wide-ranging handbook presents in-depth discussions on the array of subspecialties that comprise the field of sociological theory. Prominent theorists working in a variety of traditions discuss methodologies and strategies; the cultural turn in sociological theorizing; interaction processes; theorizing from the systemic and macro level; new directions in evolutionary theorizing; power, conflict, and change; and theorizing from assumptions of rationality.
One of the most obvious trends in sociology over the last 30 years is differentiation of substantive specialties. What is true in the discipline as a whole is particularly evident in sociological theory. Where once there were just a few theoretical perspectives, e.g., functionalism, symbolic interactionism, conflict theory, exchange theory, now there are many. In one sense this differentiation is exciting and signals the emergence of new ideas, while in another light the splintering of theory indicates that there is no consensus over how sociology should proceed to explain the social world.
I assembled the authors in this "handbook" (more like an "armchairbook") with an eye to capturing the diversity of theoretical activity in sociology. Even my original list of authors did not cover all of theory and as the months went by I lost four or five authors who, for various reasons, could not complete their chapters. The result is that the volume is not quite as broad as I had hoped, but it still covers most theoretical approaches in sociology today.
This is a handbook, implying that it is to be used as a basic reference, but it is a special kind of handbook: it is about the forefront of theory. I asked authors to tell the reader about what they are doing, right now, rather than what others have done in the past. Those looking for textbook summaries or "annual review" type chapters will be disappointed; those seeking to gain insight into theory as it is unfolding today will be pleased. Thus, the goal of this volume is to allow prominent theorists working in a variety of traditions to review their work. This is a handbook, but it is one devoted to theorists telling us about their latest work. I did not seek textbook-like reviews of fields, but rather forefront work in a field. Of course, in presenting their ideas, the authors of the chapters in this volume place their arguments in an intellectual context, but only to explain what they are doing at the forefront.
As will be evident, the authors took my charge in different
directions. All asked me how much summary of the field and how much of their own
work they should present. My answer was to do what they wanted but with an
emphasis on their own work. What are they doing? In what tradition is this work?
What are the problems and issues? How are they to be resolved? The result is a
volume that provides overviews of traditions but more importantly that shows
where theoretical sociology is going.
Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory 7th Edition by Irving M. Zeitlin (Prentice Hall) excerpt from Preface: More than thirty years ago I was inspired to demonstrate that the "classical tradition of sociological thinking" had developed in the course of a long and intense debatefirst with the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and later with its true heir in the nineteenth century, Karl Marx. It is not far from the historical truth to propose that the classical tradition began with the Enlightenment thinkers. For it was they who pioneered in studying the human condition in a methodical way, by employing scientific principles in the analysis of society. The Enlightenment thinkers upheld reason as the criterion by which to assess social institutions and their suitability for human nature and needs. Human beings, they maintained, are essentially rational. Hence, by criticizing and changing repressive social institutions, humans could widen the boundaries of freedom and thus actualize their creative powers and perfect themselves. The philosophers of the Enlightenment were therefore critical as well as scientific. Their central premisesthe rationality and pefectibility of humanityeventually inspired the French revolutionaries; and soon after the Revolution, influential European thinkers, attributing the causes of that violent upheaval to Enlightenment ideas, sought to repudiate them. The response to the Enlightenment and to both the French and the Industrial Revolutions is treated by historians under the headings of Romanticism and the Conservative Reaction. This reaction constitutes an important stage in the development of social theory. For it was the Romantic-Conservatives who rejected the mechanistic metaphors of the Enlightenment and who replaced them with an organic conception of society and history. The response to the Industrial Revolution also gave rise to Positive Philosophy, the theories of Saint-Simon and Comte, the official founders of sociology. Later in the nineteenth century it was Karl Marx who coined the term "capitalism" to describe the new type of society that had emerged as a product of the Industrial Revolution. Marx, as the severest critic of the capitalist system, called attention to its alienating character. In presenting his critique of the system, Marx developed a highly fruitful historical-sociological approach to the study of society. Marx's contribution to sociological thinking stands out in the context of the late nineteenth century as possessing extraordinary intellectual significance. That is true, I believe, not only because of his own original ideas, but also because of the widespread response his ideas provoked, a response that accounts, in a large measure, for the character of Western sociology. My discussion of Marx is therefore followed by the intense debate with his "ghost," the Marxian legacy. In a series of chapters I present the ideas of several key participants in the debateWeber, Pareto, Mosca, Michels, Durkheim, and Mannheim. Pareto, Mosca, and Michelsthe so-called Neo-Machiavellians or Elite-Theoristssought to repudiate the Marxian legacy; Mannheim actively employed Marxian concepts; and Durkheim developed his own approach as a kind of mediation between Comte and Marx by elaborating the ideas of their common intellectual ancestor, Saint-Simon. As for Max Weber, who must be regarded as the greatest social scientist of the twentieth century, I show that his engagement with Marx, whom he describes as a "great thinker," is more complex than is widely assumed. It is not Marx whom Weber criticizes, but the Marxists after Marx, some of whom fostered a mechanistic and misleading view of Marx's ideas. Indeed, I document the proposition that Weber converges with Marx both substantively and methodologically, and that much of Weber's work may be understood as complementary to Marx'san exploration of what Marx called the cultural or ideological "superstructure." In each of the earlier editions of this book, I introduced new thinkers or materials with the aim of enriching the book's contents. In the present, seventh edition I have tried to fill a conspicuous "gap." All the thinkers in previous editions were Europeans who concerned themselves primarily with what we call the social or institutional structure of whole societies. They therefore had correspondingly little to say about interpersonal relations, and about such concepts as consciousness, mind, self, meaning, and motives. Here, too, Weber stands out as an exception for the systematic attention he gave to "meaning" in his Verstehensoziologie. I have therefore created an additional chapter on Weber devoted to his Methodology of the Social Sciences and to his Typology of Action. But the truly new and larger addition with which I try to fill the gap is found in Part Five of this book, called The Classical Principles of Social Psychology. There I present the ideas of the American Pragmatist philosophers, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead. I propose that this movement has provided the soundest, most illuminating and, through Mead, the most "dialectical" conception of mind, self, and society. In the course of my exposition I show (1) that the young Marx had anticipated the chief ideas of the Pragmatists; (2) that despite or because of Weber's neo-Kantian epistemology, he converges with the Pragmatists in his grasp of the heuristic function of ideal-type concepts; and (3) that Marx, too, implicitly employed certain of his concepts as ideal-type constructs. I trust, therefore, that the seventh edition of Ideology and the Development of Sociological Theory now effectively illuminates the basic dimensions of both social structure and social psychology.
Psychology in Organizations: The Social Identity Approach by S. Alexander Haslam (Sage) presents a new approach to organizational psychology that draws upon the large body of research that has been informed by social identity and self-categorization theories. Key features of this major new book are that it provides a new understanding of organizational behavior that is both thought-provoking and highly readable - that all aspects of organizational life are affected by people's social ties and group affiliations.An excellent teaching resource for students; it includes suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter; comprehensive glossaries of social identity, social psychological and organizational terms. A textbook that will have interdisciplinary and international appeal. Perfect for undergraduate and postgraduate students in social and organizational psychology as well as other fields of organizational enquiry.
Discourse and Knowledge: The Making of Enlightenment Sociology by Piet Strydom (Studies in Social and Political Thought, 1: Liverpool University Press) Discourse and Knowledge: The Making of Enlightenment Sociology offers an original interpretation of the rise of sociology from a contemporary point of view that is both theoretically and historically informed. Rather than assuming the `dual revolution' as watershed, it goes back behind the French Revolution and the industrial revolution in order to start from the more pervasive communication revolution.
The central theme of the book is the currently topical one of the role played by discourse in the construction of knowledge. It is substantively developed through an investigation of a neglected period in the history of sociology. By closely analysing the contributions of such theorists as More, Hobbes, Vico, Montesquieu, Ferguson and Millar to the emergence of sociology in its original form, the author masterfully follows the discursive construction of sociology in the context of the society‑wide early modern practical discourse about violence and rights. Parallels with the nineteenth‑ and twentieth‑century discourse about poverty and justice and the contemporary discourse about risk and responsibility allow the author to reflect not only on the generation of knowledge through discourse but also on the role that sociology itself plays in this process.
For these purposes, Strydom makes use of the latest epistemological, theoretical and methodological advances. He explores constructivism, creatively synthesises Habermas and Foucault to arrive at a new theory of discourse, and applies a finely elaborated frame and discourse analysis ‑ thus making a substantial contribution to the currently emerging cognitive or, rather, socio‑cognitive sociology.
The contemporary relevance of the authoritative and thought‑provoking analysis lies in its linking of early sociology's critique of modern society to the need under current conditions of an open history, contingency and uncertainty for cultivating a cultural of contradictions and a participatory politics of conflict, contestation and compromise.
Piet Strydom is Statutory Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Sociology, National University of Ireland, Cork. He is a former founder‑director of the Centre for European Social Research where he was responsible scientist or coordinator of a variety of collaborative projects within European Union research programmes.
In accordance with the outline offered in the present chapter, the book falls into two major parts. Part I is devoted to a statement of the theoretical and methodological approach adopted, and Part II, while also offering a constructivist account of the empirical basis of the making of sociology, consists of an analysis of the construction of sociology as such within the context of the discourse of modernity.
Part I is opened with introductory reflections on contemporary problems in the historiography of sociology. They are designed to lead from the so-called `problem of presentism' via the historicist solution to a more adequate discourse theoretical approach to the history of sociology. The theoretical and methodological dimensions of this approach are the subject of the four chapters of which this part of the book consists. They range from an elaboration of the theory of discourse to an extrapolation of a corresponding methodology of discourse analysis. Chapter 2, which is devoted to the clarification of general theoretical and meta-theoretical considerations, substantively centres on a synthesis of the complementary contributions of Habermas and Foucault to the theory of discourse. Of overriding concern is Habermas' theory according to which discourse allows the coordination of action through reflexive communicative action. To be able to take into account the operation of power in discourse, however, Foucault's theory, according to which discourse controls feelings, thought, judgement and action, is also introduced. On the basis of the confrontation of Habermas' and Foucault's respective concerns with the logic of symbols and of power, Chapter 3 ‑the theoretical heart of the book ‑ is taken up by the development of a sociological theory according to which discourse, in the sense of a collective mechanism for the identification of problems, the definition of issues and the coordination of action, is a central element in the dynamic process of the construction of society. In order to clarify the structure that this dynamic process nevertheless possesses, it is also given over to a presentation of a theory of cognitive structures or so-called `frames'. Central here is the threefold distinction among micro-level frame elements or intellectual, moral and conative framing devices, meso‑level identity and ideological frames constructed by each of the discourse participants, and the macro‑level master frame that is generated by and emerges from the competition and conflict of the actor frames. This theoretical exposition provides a point of departure for a theory of the discourse of modernity put forward in Chapter 4, It prepares the ground for distinguishing the early modern rights discourse, which is the focus of the analysis in this book, from the later justice discourse and the contemporary responsibility discourse. Chapter 5, finally, is devoted to a presentation of the discourse analytical methodology that makes possible the analysis of the cultural and social construction of reality from the micro‑ to the macro‑level. Essentially, it outlines a methodology of frame analysis focusing on framing devices and actor frames that will be brought to bear on the violence communication of the participants in the rights discourse and later on the texts of a selection of early sociologists. This is followed by a projection of the methodology of discourse analysis that will be employed to analyse the emergence of the rights frame and later the construction of Enlightenment sociology.
Drawing on the theoretical and methodological preparation provided in the preceding part, Part II consists of four chapters covering the substantive concern of the book with the history of sociology. It presents a detailed analysis of the construction of sociology within the field of the discourse of modernity, concentrating in particular on the early modern rights discourse and the rise of Enlightenment sociology. Readers who are less inclined to begin with more abstract theoretical and methodological considerations could of course start with the substantive investigation of Part II and return to Part I as a reference guide on theory and methodology whenever the need arises.
In the first two chapters of Part II, an analysis is conducted of the early modern rights discourse. Chapter 6 opens with a brief review of the communication revolution in order to clear the way for an extensive treatment of the characteristic early modern problem of violence and disorder. This problem is considered in the three important contexts of mercantilism, Absolutism and the Reformation. Chapter 7 follows the Europe‑wide violence communication and debates, particularly their socio‑political semantics, that accompanied the practices of the major actors in these contexts and in the medium of which the problem of violence was transposed into the issue of the survival of society in its political environment. The critical shift that occurred here from monarchical to popular sovereignty, from religion to politics and from hagiography to reason is considered in terms of the efflorescence of rights theories and the establishment of the rights frame. The exposition of the rights frame is of central theoretical significance in this chapter. Its structuring effect accounts for both identity formation and collective mobilisation against the ancien regime in Holland, England, the North American Colonies and France. The resultant legal and political achievements finally provide an occasion for considering the sense in which one can speak of the rights discourse as a crisis discourse. Despite the constitutionalisation of the state, problems remain to which certain persistent pathogenic features of modern societies can be led back. It is in the light of these same problems that the critical dimension of Enlightenment sociology will later become intelligible.
Having established the rights discourse as context, Chapters 8 and 9 are devoted to a frame and discourse analysis of the discursive construction of sociology. Chapter 8 takes the form of a finely grained analysis of the microlevel framing devices employed and the meso‑level frames constructed at different phases in the rights discourse by such sociologically significant authors as Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, Giambattista Vico, Montesquieu, Adam Ferguson and John Millar. This is followed in Chapter 9 by a consideration of the public discourse through which the construction of Enlightenment sociology was achieved. Here attention is paid to the incorporation of the discursive contributions of the above‑mentioned authors and their elevation to the macrolevel.
The thrust of the analysis is a differentiated concept of the Enlightenment that questions various conventional positions in the social sciences. It problematises not only the conventional understanding of the Enlightenment, which has been reinforced by postmodernist criticisms, but also some of the most familiar interpretations of the origin and meaning of the social sciences, sociology in particular. The latter include both liberal and Neo‑Marxist interpretations that link sociology to a progressivist position as well as the new critical perspective of Foucault and Bauman according to which sociology from the start formed part of a new conceptual‑theoretical system oriented towards social control. Given the relation of the present author to critical theory, however, a central place is given to Habermas' position, which is nevertheless subjected to a critical treatment. It is argued that whereas Habermas' understanding of sociology is predicated on a combination of the etatist rationalistic frame and the popular republican frame of the social, his recent concern with deliberative democracy harks back to the pluralist contestatory frame of the social that informed a central strand of Enlightenment sociology.
The loose ends of the analysis are finally tied together in Chapter 10 by a confrontation of Reinhart Koselleck's famous interpretation of the relation between critique and crisis with those of Habermas and Eder. The alternative interpretation offered of the crisis of early modern society and the critical function of Enlightenment sociology serves as a conclusion in that it completes the circle by relating Enlightenment sociology to the search for a solution to the contemporary problem of the authority, legitimacy or collective validity of sociology. This takes the form of linking sociology not to the philosophy of history and the theory of progress but rather to political theory ‑the aim being to make the generative principles of society central to sociology. The sense of this result of the analysis of the discursive construction of sociology is of the utmost importance. It underlines the relation between sociology and public debate or practical discourse, and exhorts us not only to incorporate an awareness of this relation into sociology itself, but to proceed in the practice of sociology in such a manner that its public role is retrieved, revitalised and kept alive.
Virtue Ethics and Sociology: Issues of Modernity and Religion edited by Kieran Flanagan and Peter C. Jupp (Palgrave) This collection of thirteen specially commissioned essays marks the first venture of sociology into the terrain of virtue ethics, one of the most important and expanding aspects of contemporary philosophy. Set in relation to ideas of modernity and postmodernity, the collection works from a variety of religions ‑ Catholicism, Protestantism, Quakerism, Islam and the New Age‑to consider attributes of virtue, around the status of the person, celibacy, hope, mourning and moral ambiguity.
Maclntyre, Bauman, Weber, Durkheim and Giddens form the focal points of debate on the significance of virtue for sociology as it seeks to think past postmodernity. The range of topics and issues covered makes this an indispensable collection for sociologists, one that marks a shift and expansion of concerns from those of the self, identity and ethics to issues of character, morality and traits denoted as those of virtue.
Kieran Flanagan is a Reader in Sociology at the University of Bristol. His publications include Sociology and Liturgy: Re‑presentations of the Holy (1991) and The Enchantment of Sociology: a Study of Theology and Culture (1996) and he i's co‑editor (with Peter C. Jupp) of Postmodemity, Sociology and Religion (1996).
Deter C. Jupp is a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Sociology at the University of Bristol. A United Reformed Minister, he is currently minister of Peterborough Westgate Church. He is co‑editor (with Kieran Flanagan) of Postmodernity, Sociology and Religion (1996), (with Glennys Howarth) Contemporary Issues in the Sociology of Death, Dying and Disposal (1996), (with Tony Rogers) Interpreting Death (1997) and (with Clare Gittings) Death in England: an Illustrated History (1999).
Life is full of surprises, some being more instructive than others. Somewhere in the West of England, an academic, embroiled in co-editing a worthy volume of essays, decided to buy a large television for rare evening viewing with the added comforts of small (and occasional) whiskies. A local department store, offering 50 with each new credit card, seemed the place to go. The academic, however, was greatly surprised to find his application rejected, despite being debt free. After a Kafkaesque investigation, it transpired that failure to have a continual period on the electoral role formed the statistical basis for the 'cut-off' on the application, determined, as the leaflet unctuously stated, 'by extensive analysis of our experience with previous applications'. In terms of the virtues of stewardship, thrift, discipline, and trust, the character of the sociologist was judged uncreditworthy by statistical fiat and software manipulation.
Leaving aside the narrow purpose of evaluating credit risk, and whether character was being slighted, the exercise is instructive in showing that when it comes to practicalities of money, necessary judgments in a culture of commodification are made around elements that pertain to virtue, the traits and dispositions that bear on intrinsic properties of goodness. The issue of trust emerges also in areas of delicacy, where intimacy and sexuality converge, a point which Giddens has pursued in an effort to find a 'pure relationship' of equality without domination and obligation, one fit for life in late modernity. Trust relates to notions of personal integrity, accountability and authority. It deals with what can be taken for granted in social relationships, and so for Giddens, 'trust entails the trustworthiness of the other ‑ according "credit" that does not require continual auditing, but which can be made open to inspection periodically if necessary'.' This issue of trust occurs in the everyday social experiments of life in late modernity where sexuality has a profound importance. Life is made up of experiencing sexual diversity in apprenticeships of consent. Thus, 'loss of virginity' for a boy is a gain, an inevitable talisman for the future.' There is, however, one limit to this libertine notion of diversity: sexual inactivity. Those who preserve their virginity are deemed unreflexive, the implication being that reflexivity, selfawareness, demands they lose that incredible virtue ‑ rapidly. There is no grammar of virtuous self‑denial in Giddens' world of intimacy. His is a world of a sexually empowered self desperately seeking 'pure relationships' of mutual convenience and consent. The only sin in this world of intimacy is dominance and the only vice the denial of mutual pleasure. It is a world bereft of character. There is no virtue of disinterested love in these intimate relationships. Discipline is a matter of sexual taste not a property of virtue. This sociological world is one where no tests are made on character, no virtue is forged in adversity, and no moral demand is presented that goes against the inclinations of pleasure that govern its basis. It is a stagnant world of the morally dead for whom virtue is the spectacle of other worlds, ones sociology no longer visits. If sociology has a value in regard to virtue, it is to emancipate the virtuous from their entrapments. Restraint is repression, and governance of the senses is a denial of the promise of a commodified culture, one where any bodily sensibility is to be satisfied at a price.
Frankly, virtue is not a term to be found in the index of an introductory textbook of sociology. It is not a term of sociological currency. Virtue smacks of something antique, something precious and precarious, artificial and Victorian, perhaps. It is a term of disablement rather than enablement. It belongs to Aristotle and Aquinas, to philosophy and theology, but certainly not to sociology. It is a term of entrapment of women, something attached to attributes of femininity, which feminism has long demolished. Its images are negative. There is something selfsatisfied, and falsely superior about the virtuous, which science, psycho‑analysis and cynicism have worked dedicatedly to undermine. Whatever the good faith supposedly attached to it, virtue comes wrapped in bad faith. This reflects a maxim of la Rochefoucauld: 'virtue would not go far without vanity to bear it company' .The striving for virtue is riddled with imperfections, doubts and misrepresentations. It is not a matter of sociological value.
The rise of virtue ethics within philosophy, with its stress on community and character, marks a shift of profound importance whose significance-sociology has, as yet, failed to scrutinise. This collection is an effort, perhaps the first, to reverse this neglect. It does so in a way that links the issue of virtue to modernity and to religion. Little recent philosophical or sociological attention has been given to the connection between virtue and religion. A single exception is the essay on 'Religion, Virtue and Ethical Culture' by Cottingham. His concerns are with rooting the issue of virtue less in religion than within civic culture, where exemplars are to be cultivated in some communal form' In seeking to connect virtue back to culture, of necessity the issues raised move back to sociology itself. This collection represents its initial response. It is a beginning rather than a completion of an argument about virtue, which promises much in philosophy, but even more in sociology.
Virtue belongs to lost worlds of religiosity, civilisation, refinement and to cultural notions of the value of superiority. In a culture of postmodernity, the judgements of moral distinctions upon which virtue was based have long foundered. Satire made the virtuous the first easy victims of the culture wars. Anyhow, virtue generates a suspicion of deep political incorrectness, for its presumptuous escape from what might be termed vice. Indeed, virtue might symbolise everything life and sexual politics are dedicated to overthrow. It is about discipline and about the denial of appetites and inclinations. As a term, virtue has some profoundly unprogressive attachments and overtones. Virtue is now the vice of the unemancipated. Rather than liberation, the notion of virtue suggests entrapment. It betokens properties laden with hypocrisy and artificiality, traits which reason prescribes as non‑rational, emotional, and ripe for enlightened liberation. In short, virtue carries something creepy and artificial compared to the gay abandon which vice invokes. Thus, virtue seems to stand against all current 'isms'. If it operates in its traditional affiliations, it is in the realm of private ambition. Cultural arrogance is the charge laid against the unreticent about the display of their virtues in public. These are not propitious times for the virtuous. In these cultural times, when 'good news' sells little on television or in the newspapers, few want to hear the tales of the virtuous. It is 'bad news' that makes the media flap in delight. Now, if all this is true, why should sociology want to say anything about virtue?
It is a term riddled with opacity, occupying many intellectual territories, from the sacred to the civil. The diversity of settings, meanings and uses begs questions as to who owns the term, its definition and use. Even though few use the term 'virtue', other terms such as heroism, compassion, fortitude and generosity still form part of the image and ambition of culture. In a more democratised form, dignity and worth mark the significance of valued moral traits, the duty and expectation of what is enjoined in the human condition. The marginalisation of the issue of virtue is not to denote that values and moral traits have also been discarded. With cultural wars and identity politics, they might well sail under different ideological colours. But whatever the flag of convenience virtues sail under, there is still the problem of recognition, an issue Herbert has explored in the context of multifaith and multi‑culturalism in three European societies (Chapter 3 of the present volume). Lurking all the time in the issue of virtue is the question of character and trust. It is these concerns that straddle virtue ethics and sociology. Even though virtue has been secularised and has been diffusely relocated, the traits of virtue, of character and goodness still lie around as ambitions in any culture. Indeed, the demand for moral inspection has never been greater, for it is distrust not trust that forms the domain ethical concerns which have emerged from postmodernity. This culture of suspicion seems to suggest that no virtue is possible, nor is any form of moral connection, for all is deemed to be in fracture and transience.
Individualism has accentuated the degree to which the actor is now subject to surveillance and scrutiny. In the rootless, transient world of globalisation there is a greater need to check persons, their moral character and the degree to which they might bear a delegated trust. All manner of technologies are available for checking and minimising risks of misrepresentation. Dating and personnel recruitment agencies endeavour to minimise the risk of certifying fraudulent characters. The costs of failure to do so can be enormous. Thus, a dating agency will fear being sued for inadvertently placing a serial rapist on its books and an employee dedicated to fraud can run up billions on future stocks, if trust has not been adequately certified. The concerns of life politics have increased not decreased the degree to which character is regulated, and one does not require reference to Foucault to observe this point.
Recourse to legislation to govern what is civil in attitude and disposition, to minimise what destabilises the dignity of the marginal, shows endless growth. The governance of character and its social realisation is increasingly a legal matter, enshrined in a bill of rights that enforces a public morality whilst at the same time marking out many of its facets as matters of purely private concern. It is not that the regulation of morality has gone in a postChristian society. It is now enforced with even greater vigour as part of the inversions realised by a cultural revolution in areas of identity, recognition and entitlement. Legal redress is part of the agenda of lifestyle politics and it is used with force against the untenable judgements of the virtuous, particularly in areas of sexuality and gender. It is not the religious who can claim for 'hurt feelings'; in present civil society they are not deemed to have any, at least in England, that can be given legal recognition and redress. Rights of character are protected in many aspects of public space and failure to know of these 'correct attitudes' can be costly. The dismantling of concern with virtue has been replaced by intensive social engineering to secure and to regulate prescribed attitudes in the work‑place and elsewhere. In this prescriptive regime, private attitudes and their public disclosure have become intermingled in a confusing and often duplicitous way.
Despite the machinery of law and technology to check on character and trust, there is a sense of moral drift and unsettlement. There is a feeling that what cultural wars sought to secure as a moral agenda, in areas of identity, sexuality, gender, has not come to pass. Even politicians scent that moral matters have come unstuck. Thus, Blair, at the Labour Party Conference in September 1999, spoke much of a moral crisis in British society. Rights and responsibilities form part of Blair's 'Third Way', as it seeks to impose obligation and commitment on the recalcitrant. People want something better. Crime rates, drug addiction, under‑age sex, all form part of a mood of gloom. If sociology is called to articulate public worries and anxieties, then articulating this sense of moral unsettlement is an inescapable part of this duty. But what is it to say? It cannot really say that such speech about morality is foreign to its calling. The deepest traditions of sociology suggest otherwise. Testing the moral temperature, and finding it freezing over under the inexorable growth of modernity, was always the reluctant duty of the fathers of sociology. The loss of a civic morality haunted Durkheim; the relentless growth of calculation and the melting of enchantment vexed Weber; and in the case of Simmel, he uncovered an unresolvable problem of the de‑spiritualisation of culture where the god of money was the idol that mattered, that worked a mysterious magic of indispensability from which there was no escape.
In some Islamic societies ministries of virtue operate. Matters have not reached this stage in English society. Virtue is not a term ofM public reference; there is no moral ecology that seeks to preserve the notion; and there is, as yet, no political argot that would dress the term, and spin it to electoral advantage. One reason for the masked basis of the notion of virtue is that the very moral indifference that has engendered a crisis precludes the term being presented as an antidote, a difference of moral ambition that would matter. It is not that traits of morality that overlap with those of virtue are present or not; it is that they are not given an identifiable focus, a mobilising property that would harness the best that can be retrieved from the present moral drift. Indeed, there is a sense of public unease, that those traits, dispositions and properties of the good, so necessary to preserve the fabric of society, are becoming unstitched and that there is no agreed pattern available to knit them back together again.
This sense of moral unravelment has of late become acute. It could be due to the onset of the millennium, or the decline of religion, or the growth of multi‑channel television, or the internet, but for whatever reason, there are unsettlements abroad, distinctive to the age and affecting particularly the younger generation. They seem the unsung casualties of the cultural wars over sexual identity and morals, having high illegitimacy rates, drug taking and, amongst males especially, frighteningly high suicide rates. It is scarcely surprising that in these times of anxiety and uncertainty the fastest growing group amongst students at British Universities is the Christian Union.
Few more fundamental questions face society and, indeed, sociology itself, than the circumstances in which social bonds endure. If they do not, the public weal withers. Recent political and social thought has been much directed to reversing a fall in public confidence in how the social bond is to be made. Individualism marks a retreat from the language of giving and this erosion of commitment lies at the root of the perceived failure to re‑make communities. There is a feeling that society has lost its capacities to reproduce itself. The indifference that destroyed religion in the context of modernity has now spread to any form of belief system in postmodernity. It is not only a public mood of cynicism with politics, religion and any belief system that accentuates the present crisis. The trouble is that technology is forming a means of living without community, via the internet and via an easeful life of gazing at virtual realities, where the social and communal are seen as old‑fashioned distractions that make untidy demands on the self.
It is against this background that the issues generated by virtue ethics take on an unexpected significance for sociology. They supply it with a means of re‑casting itself away from the nihilism of postmodernity. The legacy of this intellectual form of dry rot still percolates into present culture in some fated and fixed manner. It penetrates so many areas of public life, culture and religion, so that fragmentation and pastiche are deemed the marks of present society. Is sociology doomed to accept this state of affairs? Reversing this trend, by attending to the issues generated by virtue ethics, is to bring what is valuable in the human condition into focus in ways that offer sociology numerous opportunities to reclaim its prophetic mantle. It enables sociology to re‑cast its disciplinary legacy to return to a question of central and enduring importance: the social circumstances of trust.
These issues point to something more than ethics can answer or contain by its appeal to individual reason and calculation of consequence. They direct attention to properties of identity, of character and moral worth, intrinsic traits for which the actor is accountable. These elements of virtue
ethics overspill into matters of sociological concern that make them more than mere movements in philosophical fashions. They relate to issues very much the concerns of Weber and Durkheim, two figures who hover over the collection. They also point to considerations that lie within the writings of two enormously significant figures who have shaped sociological thought in its characterizations of late modernity and postmodernity. Giddens and Bauman have brought to the fore issues of trust, of obligation and commitment to what lies beyond the mere self. In their writings they express issues of anxiety and concern with the moral commitment at the level of the individual where questions of trust lie. Issues of virtue ethics lie tantalizingly adjacent to their concerns.
Any number of virtues could have been considered, but this collection centered on those such as celibacy, hope, mourning and the worth of the person, to name a few. Themes of recognition, secularization, and sociology's own ethical duties marked the concerns of the collection. In the collection some issues came forward as specific questions sociology finds hard to handle, hence the diversity of positions amongst the contributors. Tester and McMylor showed how difficult these issues were in their treatment of Weber, MacIntyre and Bauman. One particular question that becomes apparent is how self‑sufficient sociology can be in dealing with virtue. This relates to an endemic question that goes back to the foundations of the discipline and its roots in the Enlightenment. It is the question of whether sociology can treat issues of virtue from within its own frame of reference without recourse to religion or if it has to defer to properties of revelation that lie outside reason.
In the collection, McMylor, Tester, Flanagan, Archer, Barot, Watts Miller and Jupp treated issues of virtue and religion in terms of an insufficiency in sociology. Set against MacIntyre, whose writings have been oddly neglected in sociology, Tester and McMylor reflected on a disquiet, that asks questions for which there were no easy answers, about ultimate fate and moral worth, and which lie heavily and unacknowledged on the agenda of the discipline. In claiming that MacIntyre had misunderstood Weber, both were marking out a ground for sociology to make its own dispositions in relation to the issue of virtue. It is interesting to note the comparisons made between MacIntyre and Bauman. For Watts Miller, this insufficiency in sociology is endemic in handling questions of hope, which for him, seems a hopeless task without reference to theology, a point whose punch he pulled at the end of his essay.
Flanagan and Archer seemed concerned to push sociology into a theological test doomed to fail in two areas. For the former, the endemic ambiguity of virtue and vice posed a test that sociology could not pass, whereas for the latter the strengths of sociology in relation to individualism and community could not penetrate into the theological issues surrounding the virtues of sainthood. Barot's treatment of celibacy reminds one of the insularity of Western culture which seems to have a limited notion of virtue. In Jupp's contribution, the regulation of the virtues of mourning over which the Church had presided unchallenged up to the recent past, has become unravelled. This unstitching had arisen over a failure to read the sociological omens surrounding cemeteries and crematoria. His concerns are less with the insufficiency of sociology regarding the handling of virtue, and more with the failure of theologians sufficiently to grasp changes in the reproduction of mourning in a culture where anything could be commodified. It is theology rather than sociology that is picked out as being in some way insufficient.
Some contributions seemed to accept the sufficiency of sociology in dealing with issues of virtue without reference to religion in its traditional sense as that which is defined in some form of theological formulation that imposes obligations. Thus, Heelas, Collins and Davies and Neal place their contributions about virtue in ways that do not presuppose a theology. For Collins the disjunction between youthful attitudes to ontological insecurities in late modernity points to a crisis of recognition of the transcendent and a disbelief in the authority of traditional religions, such as Anglicanism or Catholicism. She argues for recognition of an immanent religion, one where young people find their own circumstances of the making of virtue. This question of recognition without reference to their theological properties governs Herbert's approach. His concerns are with the politics of recognition surrounding virtue when treated as a property of an ethnic or a religious group, but this time as part of an agenda of assimilation in post‑Christian civil societies. Like Barot, he seeks to find a site for another tale of virtue in another religious tradition. Likewise, Heelas treats the management of cultural extremities in the context of ethics and New Age religion. His concerns are with the humanity embodied in sociology, evident not least in Durkheim, that would ameliorate cultural excesses, and that would appeal to some general notion of human dignity.
The issue of sufficiency relates also to mechanisms of the reproduction of religion in relation to virtue, and here one finds an interesting if not unexpected division between Lindohf and Dandelion. Both are concerned with the issue of time and the unfolding of obligations that it imposes on religion. For Lindohf, popular culture has caught better the moods and fears surrounding the apocalypse than traditional theologies thats are supposed to give witness to its unfolding basis. These properties of the apocalypse, the fears and hopes it embodies, have been discarded as incredible by traditional theologies who have underestimated the needs of the times. For Lindhof, they also face crises over the credibility of their mechanism of reproduction of belief. These structures and traditions of authority and ritual order seem to her impediments for the Churches as they try to link traditional interpretations to contemporary fears which popular culture articulates much more effectively. By contrast, Dandelion sees the absence of such structures as the source of the problem of Quakerism's emptying of a distinctive belief and witness. It has secularised its teaching that stood close to the unfolding of time just at the point when society needs such a definite religious witness. Thus, whereas Lindohf sees the structures of ecclesial culture as disabling, Dandelion regards these as enabling, as entities that might have saved Quakerism from the forces of secularisation to which it has so unwittingly capitulated. Like Jupp, he sees a failure to conserve a distinctive form of belief as leading to a weakening of a claim to represent virtue in some authentic theological sense. Both see capitulation to forces of secularisation as being a form of own‑grave‑digging that weakens their power to proclaim virtues of fidelity and a concern with the last things.
Clearly the issue of virtue needs to be made more specific. It is a property of the human condition, covering manifold literatures, philosophies, religions and cultures, and none can claim a monopoly on its definition or basis of realisation, although some would claim privileged access. Laxity or tightness of definition depends on sociological and theological expectations, those that enjoin and specify what is virtue and how to realise it.
The most obvious sociological path to proceed on lies in the contextualisation of the issue of virtue. This opens out the issue of habit, formation and communal conditions of realisation. A way forward would be for sociology to explore Cottingham's notion of an ethical culture. This would be to study the communal setting in which exemplars is formed. In some sense, this would be to hope for a coming of an exemplar that would establish a completely new communal setting for the realization of virtue. This would echo Maclntyre's hope for a new, albeit much different, St Benedict, fit for the times of present hopelessness.
Wider contextual demands could be made on sociology in the study of virtue, not least a cataloguing of its own. Sociology's values of affiliation to science, which Weber so ably portrayed in 'Science as a Vocation', affirm the exemplification of duty, but in an educational setting. The issue of virtue points to sociology's own witness within the institution within which many sociologists pursue their calling: the university. The current tyranny in the United Kingdom, of rendering research and teaching accountable to inspection, is itself a problem of virtue ethics which sociologists are well qualified to explore. One group profoundly distrusted, and so required to undergo bureaucratic scrutiny and accountability, are academics themselves.
The moral landscape of the university is increasingly constructed on paper requirements, and in these fictions more fundamental questions of character have become obscured. The only character that counts is that which can be rendered fit for bureaucratic accountability in terms of research and teaching. Bizarrely, academics themselves have colluded in their own bureaucratic entrapment. They have become willing victims of Bourdieu's notion of symbolic violence. Without a vision of virtue, they have no means of ameliorating their own fate. Within reflexivity, the notion of self‑awareness peculiar to the discipline, lurks a higher question, one of calling to a higher duty, and that is what the study of virtue yields for sociological scrutiny. It could be that the study of virtue might offer instruments of redemption from the present plight into which university education is being so remorselessly cast. This would be a context that would matter, not least to sociologists themselves.
To some extent the questions posed by virtue ethics relate to concerns sociology already has in hand. Habitus points to the cultivation of disposition. It resolves a methodological problem of the disjunction between agent and structure, but it also points to traits and characteristics, and that is what virtue ethics seeks to amplify. The issue of character is of central importance in Weber and, indeed, in all aspects of sociology. Virtue is not pointing to something new to sociology in so emphasizing the significance of the issue of character. It simply asks for clarification of the moral traits that character does and ought to embody. Likewise, the formation of virtue relates to issues of education, socialization, and expectation. Virtue takes over an existing agenda. As suggested earlier, the whole debate on identity and sexual politics is about moral traits, imputed to, or supposedly characterizing an actor and his or her community of affiliation. It is not far‑fetched to argue that the present wars over culture and gender are about the imputation of virtue or its denial to particular groups. They are about credit and discredit in the issue of virtue and the moral judgments so made. Within the question of virtue lies an issue of power that is presently masked.
The questions that sociology poses to virtue ethics, within disciplinary terms, are conventional. The first and most important question is that of the power to define virtue and to mark its boundaries. This relates to the way definitions of virtue have contested properties. Social means of realization are required and these are linked to questions of empowerment, to confer and to receive. The issues raised relate to legitimacy and authority, to deem what is virtuous and what is not and who is or is not. This is to return the question of virtue to a very broad terrain. The question of power does have one particularly important implication: it rehabilitates the notion of judgment, of marking differences to what often might pass as matters of indifference. Simply saying that attitudes have changed is not an argument in accounting for changes in virtue. One wants to know how and why they have changed.
The second area ripe for speculation is that of context of belief. This relates not only to the setting of virtue and its recognition (an issue on which some contributors have focused) but also to the belief systems that govern what is to be read as virtuous. This has formed a crucial strand of the collection and accounts for the diversity of readings of virtue so made. Precept and practice, civic or religious, are all elements of value brought to the context of virtue. Within this setting are very orthodox issues of the sociology of knowledge. How are ideas of virtue grounded, recognized and realized? What are the agendas of social construction that surround the realization of the traits which virtue ethics generates as questions?
The third area open to elaboration is the issue of the practice of virtue. This relates to manners of disclosure, but also a return to the issues of socialization that might effect an agenda of virtue ethics. This returns, again, to the question of virtue in the setting of an ethical culture that Cottingham has explored. Virtue ethics points to curricular demands more specific than broad questions of civic values and those embodied in sex education. It is about a change in moral expectation. The issue of virtue ethics, education and religion is wide open for sociological exploration, for it is a debate that can only unfold.
Fourthly and finally, the question emerges of how virtue needs to be related to the cultural circumstances of its reception. This means exploring how virtue is perceived and what are the conditions surrounding its misperception. This would involve going against the whole grain of media culture in the United Kingdom, which is cast solidly against such issues being raised. Virtue has no media image. As said in the introduction, this is because it is not an issue for a media that thrives on accounts of its demolition.
The only essay in the collection that embodied research in the field on the topics of virtue ethics is that of Collins. Here is a wide‑open territory for exploration of how virtue ethics is grounded in practices of self-understanding. The notion of testimony, which is so central to qualitative research methods in sociology, could be well harnessed to exploring this terrain. If nothing else, such research would turn back the tide that regards giving voice to exemplars of virtue as some sort of betrayal of the naturalized beliefs of sociology that only the study of vice matters.The issue of what are the existing and active virtues that best reflect the domestic needs and expectations of sociology requires considerable further exploration. In the collection, the contributors have placed a lot of conceptual meat on the table. Maclntyre, Bauman, Giddens, Weber and Durkheim have been targets of especial interest; the person, fortitude, hope, fear, anxiety, death and moral justice, all worked from a variety of positions on religion, have been others; and in all, there has been a struggle to connect sociology to questions that matter. If the contributors have sought anything, it is to open out opportunities for sociology to take further the questions that virtue ethics pose to the discipline.
THE SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change by Randall Collins ($49.95, hardcover, 1120 pages, Harvard University Press, ISBN: 0674816471)
It is quite possible that this study will contribute to a complete refocusing the future historiography of world philosophy. It works on two levels. The massive analysis to philosophical groups and developments in discourse offers a fine richly conceived introduction to the sociology of philosophy within many major historical and cultural epochs. This makes for a refreshing survey of world philosophy. The more enduring level of meaning is the theory that underlies the theory. It should revolutionize how we understand the development of intellectual work through generations. It is possible that details within this work will change in time as knowledge developments. It is not so much in the details where this work will no doubt become dated in due course. In the grand scheme of its theory of the society of philosophizing as a multigenerational interactive pattern of social discourse that will shine forth to reorient the historiography of philosophical discourse. This work contributes a new way to image what philosophers will pay attention to as they are active in philosophy.
The first three chapters present the general theory of how philosophy as social ritual and discourse interaction within groups. First Collins lays out the theory of interaction ritual chains, which is the linchpin of the argument for the social predictability of intellectuals' thinking. Then he gives a theory of the network structure which determines the location of creativity, and compares the evidence of networks of Chinese and Greek philosophers over several dozens of generations. The subsequent chapters confront the theory with long-term segments of these intellectual networks and those of India, Japan, the medieval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian worlds, and the European West through the 1930s. Each chapter highlights a particular analytical theme. The chapters are self contained, each demonstrating various aspects of the interactionist theory. Chapter 3, on ancient Greece, does present some central principles that figure in what follows the subsequent chapters. A brief summary of the analytical model is given in "Conclusions to Part 1: The Ingredients of Intellectual Life." This reviews the general utility of seeing the social contexts through generations of evolving discourse. Then Collins offers the conclusions of the entire analysis in a sketch of the pathways along which intellectuals through their debates drive the sequence of ideas during long periods of time. The reader may find this Chapter 15 useful as a road map of the entire book. The Epilogue draws epistemological conclusions from the whole argument.
Do we not have agency? It is a matter of analytical perspective. Agency is in part a term for designating the primitives of sociological explanation, in part a code word for free will. Do not human beings make efforts, strain every nerve or let themselves go lax, make decisions or evade them? Such experiences clearly exist; they are part of microsituational reality, the flow of human life. I deny only that the analysis should stop here. One has the experience of will power; it varies, it comes and goes. Where does it come from? How do you will to will? That chain of regress comes to an end in a very few links. The same can be said about thinking. Are not one's thoughts one's own? Of course they are; yet why do they come into one's head at a certain moment, or flow out upon one's lips or beneath one's fingers in a certain sequence of spoken or written words? These are not unanswerable questions if one has a microsociological theory of thinking. To explain thinking is not to deny that thinking exists, any more than to explain culture is to deny that culture exists. Culture, on a macrolevel, is the medium in which we move, just as thought and feeling are the medium of microlocal experience in our own conscious bodies' Neither of these is an end point, cut off by a barrier to further analysis.
To continue on, to understand how our emotions and thoughts are flow in sociological networks, does not deny our human condition. One can perceive all these levels simultaneously. You and I are thus, as particular individuals, with all our uniqueness, and yet uniquely constituted by the flows of emotion and thought within us and through us. The tension between the particular and local, and the surrounding links which are the social, and which define very particularity: this is the human condition.
To pursue social causation everywhere, without privileged exemptions, does not mean that history is a rigid sequence. The social structure of the intellectual world, the topic of this book, is an ongoing struggle among chains of perception charged up with emotional energy and cultural capital, to fill a small of centers of attention. These focal points, which make up the cores
intellectual world, are periodically rearranged; there is a limited amount of attention that can be distributed through the total intellectual network, but who and what is in those nodes fluctuates as old intellectual movements fade out and new ones begin. These nodes in the attention space are creative, emergent; starting with small advantages among the first movers, they accelerate past thresholds, cumulatively monopolizing attention at the same time that attention is drained away from alternative nodes. The identities that we call intellectual personalities, great thinkers if they are energized by the creative moment of dominant nodes of attention, lesser thinkers or indeed no one of note if they are not so energized, are not fixed. It is precisely because the social structure of intellectual attention is fluidly emergent that we cannot reify individuals, heroizing the agent as if each one were a fixed point of will power and conscious insight who enters the fray but is no more than dusted by it at the edge of one's psychic skin. This reified individuality can be seen only in the retrospective mode, starting from the personalities defined by known ending points and projecting them backwards as if the end point had caused the career. My sociological task is just the opposite: to see through intellectual history to the network of links and energies that shaped its emergence in time...
The social construction of science does not undermine scientific truths. Intellectual networks are part of the time space physical world; to say that social networks produce science is only to say that the natural world gives rise to knowledge about the natural world. The social network of mathematicians investigates the pure properties of human communication; human communication is part of the natural world; again a part of reality investigates and discovers something about itself. Sociology and the other social and humanistic research disciplines, for all the layers of reflexivity that went into constructing their objects, nevertheless study something real precisely because their objects are social.
Social reflexivity outrages our assumptions only when we conceptualize Truth as existing apart from people, or as the relation between a disembodied, featureless observing Mind and a sharply separate Reality. We have made knowledge the equivalent of God in a transcendent religion. Durkheim puts this into perspective: the highest sacred object, symbolized as God, is society. For intellectuals, the society which matters above all, which gives them their creative energy and is the fount and arena of their ideas, is their own social network. The concept of transcendent Truth is an expression of the felt autonomy of the inner activities of the intellectual network."
The intrusion of sociological reflexivity is taken as an affront to a sacred object of truth. This affront is felt most sharply by members of particular intellectual communities whose work is itself not very reflexive. As the disciplines have differentiated, philosophy has taken as its terrain the discovery of deep troubles, which drive them along a sequence of increasing abstraction and reflexivity; the natural sciences have taken as their terrain the investigation of empirical topics with conceptions on moderate levels of abstraction. Since their level of abstraction stays fairly constant, scientists are unconcerned with problems of reflexivity, especially the deep troubles of high degrees of self-consciousness which have been reached in philosophy since 1900. Sociologists of knowledge have been hybrids from the philosophical networks, and thus have shared their reflexivity, since the time of Scheler, Lukacs, and Mannheim in the 1920s, through the Wittgensteinian and ethnomethodological influence on sociology of science in the 1970s and 1980s. This reflexivity clashes with the relatively more concrete conceptions of scientists. Many scientists, especially as they display their findings to lay audiences (including politicians and Industries who fund their research), speak about their theoretical objects as if they were natural objects on the same level as the banal realities of everyday life. Sophisticated and pragmatically adept within their own research communities, scientists often adopt the stance of naive realism, amounting to reifying complexly mediated abstractions, when they communicate with outsiders.
Does the widening combinatorial fan of intellectual productions mean that the humanities and social sciences of the future will diverge infinitely into multiple realities? Social processes imply that intellectual atomization may not go very far. Within any particular intellectual community, the law of small numbers limits how many positions can receive widespread attention. This still could leave us with half a dozen hermetically sealed viewpoints in each specialty. But borders will not be sharp, precisely because so many publications are constructed by combining ingredients from several previous lines of work. The larger the number of intellectuals all under pressure to publish original work, the more incentive there will be to range widely across borders in search of new combinations.
The sense of a common reality is fostered where the patches of intellectual production are stitched together piece by piece into a multipatterned quilt. This does not produce the object-like reality in which all the intellectuals in a given faction share a single world frame, or posit the same kind of world substance whose characteristics they are all investigating. Combinatorial construction of intellectual topics, if unmitigated by other social features of the intellectual world, produces neither a central conception nor a limiting frame around what they believe they are studying. It nevertheless leads not to infinitely fragmenting individual realities, but to a decentered network of overlapping realities.
In philosophy, because its central terrain remains conceptual rather than historical or empirical, the construction of multiple realities seems fated to an especially strong form of divisiveness. Philosophy takes as its terrain the discovery of deep troubles, self propagating difficulties. These deep conceptual troubles are the hidden treasures of first-rate philosophical creativity, the discovery of which brings fame to those who bring them to light. To alleviate deep troubles is to court disagreement. It is to keep the law of small numbers operating, thereby bringing the focus of hard-fought argument which energizes conceptual advance.
Yet even in the heart of philosophy there is a shared reality. The very concept of a deep trouble combines an element of realism with its inevitable core sequence of splitting realities. Deep troubles are discovered by the network sequences and not merely contrived; they are obdurate and unmalleable; they constrain the shape of the path of the philosophical network across the generations. In the same way, the sequence of abstraction and reflexivity, which socially undermines itself at high levels of self reflection, also is an obdurate reality a constraint which shapes the long-term pathway of the network. Abstraction and reflexivity, the terrain explored by this most acutely self-conscious and inwardly turning of all networks, are real because they are activities arising through the historical existence of the social network itself. Even philosophy, the archetypal conflictual discipline under the law of small numbers, the field whose creativity battens on self propagating difficulties, makes discoveries about a reality of its own.
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