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The Decomposition of Sociology - Irving Louis Horowitz

The Decomposition of Sociology

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Published: 1st September 1994
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Sociology, writes Irving Louis Horowitz, has changed from a central discipline of the social sciences to an ideological outpost of political extremism. As a result, the field is in crisis. Some departments have been shut down, others cut back, research programs have dried up, and the growth of professional organizations and student enrollments have been either curbed or atrophied. In The Decomposition of Sociology, Professor Horowitz, for four decades a leading social scientist, offers a frank and full account of the maelstrom engulfing this field.
Horowitz pulls no punches in this provocative volume. He charges that much contemporary sociological theory has degenerated into pure critique, strongly influenced by Marxist dogmatism. Such thinking has a strong element of anti-American and anti-Western bias, in which all questions have one answer--the evil of capitalism--and all problems one solution--the good of socialism. In criminology, for instance, he shows that high crime rates are seen as an expression of capitalist disintegration, and criminal behavior a covert expression of radical action. Indeed, in one area after another, Horowitz shows how this same formulaic thinking dominates the field, resulting in a crude reductionist view of contemporary social life. At a time when the world is moving closer to the free market and democratic norms, he concludes, such reductionist tendencies and ideological posturings are outmoded.
Horowitz offers an alternative. He urges a larger vision of the social sciences, one in which universities, granting agencies and research institutes provide an environment in which research may be untainted by partisan agencies--where policy choices will not be hindered by the prevailing cultural climate. He counsels sociologists to move away from blind advocacy, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century by incorporating the knowledge of other times and places, and to take into account the shrinking globe--in short, to develop and maintain a new set of universal standards in this era of a world culture.
Here then is an eloquent plea for a revolution in sociology, written by one of the field's foremost figures. It offers as well a cautionary tale about the potentially devastating effect of ideology on scholarly pursuits.

"Horowitz is passionately and persuasively critical of the way sociology has become enmeshed in the politics of advocacy. His solution to The Decomposition of Sociology is in the tradition of John Dewey and Sidney Hook, to reengage the discipline whereby the individual researcher's passions are contained by continually testing propositions against the best available evidence."--The American Spectator "Those of us who entered sociology when it seemed we were at the dawn of a unified behavioral science as we then grandly named it, that would simultaneously do good and give us a scientific understanding of society, are living through its decline. Irving Louis Horowitz does not have the whole story--who has?--but in his swashbuckling charge through sociology today he gives a good number of pieces of the explanation."--The Atlantic Monthly "Testifies to the breadth of its author's interests and reading....The last section of Horowitz's book, which is the most tightly argued, presents a compelling overview of major dilemmas facing the social sciences and their varied practitioners in the United States....It may be argued that Horowitz in his newest book reminds his fellow social scientists what they should be about."--Chronicles of American Culture "Absorbing from start to finish. Literally so. A splendid achievement from its engrossing introduction to its Coda, a testament to social science as a third culture which reinstates 'Science as a Vocation' for our time."--Robert K. Merton, Columbia University "This is the first and much needed study which demonstrates how American sociology has become 'a repository of discontent,' irrationality, and preserve of special interest groups. In his penetrating critique, Irving Louis Horowitz also illuminates the larger problems of American culture and intellectual life over the last quarter century. While chronicling the decline of American sociology, this unique and lively volume addresses the major social, cutlural, and political controversies of our time. Horowitz seeks to return the discipline to the respect for reason and striving for objectivity that used to characterize its major figures and best traditions."--Paul Hollander, author of Anti-Americanism "Horowitz is passionately and persuasively critical of the way sociology has become enmeshed in the politics of advocacy. His solution to The Decomposition of Sociology is in the tradition of John Dewey and Sidney Hook, to reengage the discipline whereby the individual researcher's passions are contained by continually testing propositions against the best available evidence."--The American Spectator "Those of us who entered sociology when it seemed we were at the dawn of a unified behavioral science as we then grandly named it, that would simultaneously do good and give us a scientific understanding of society, are living through its decline. Irving Louis Horowitz does not have the whole story--who has?--but in his swashbuckling charge through sociology today he gives a good number of pieces of the explanation."--The Atlantic Monthly "Testifies to the breadth of its author's interests and reading....The last section of Horowitz's book, which is the most tightly argued, presents a compelling overview of major dilemmas facing the social sciences and their varied practitioners in the United States....It may be argued that Horowitz in his newest book reminds his fellow social scientists what they should be about."--Chronicles of American Culture "Absorbing from start to finish. Literally so. A splendid achievement from its engrossing introduction to its Coda, a testament to social science as a third culture which reinstates 'Science as a Vocation' for our time."--Robert K. Merton, Columbia University "This is the first and much needed study which demonstrates how American sociology has become 'a repository of discontent,' irrationality, and preserve of special interest groups. In his penetrating critique, Irving Louis Horowitz also illuminates the larger problems of American culture and intellectual life over the last quarter century. While chronicling the decline of American sociology, this unique and lively volume addresses the major social, cutlural, and political controversies of our time. Horowitz seeks to return the discipline to the respect for reason and striving for objectivity that used to characterize its major figures and best traditions."--Paul Hollander, author of Anti-Americanism "Irving Louis Horowitz has written a devastating critique of a sociology that foresakes analysis for messianic ideologies. Moreover he describes the fall of sociology and prescribes a reform required for its resurgence not from the perspective of neo-conservatism but rather from the perspective of the Great Tradition of sociology itself. If sociology is to save what is left of its soul it must listen to Professor Horowitz's clear and challenging voice."--Andrew M. Greeley, author of Religious Change in America "This is a courageous book. Always objective, but never coldly detached, Horowitz's analysis of sociology and its tributaries--from social movements to social policy--is the most erudite contribution to the discipline that has appeared in decades. It is his mosvt seminal work."--William A. Donohue, author of The New Freedom: Individualism and Collectivism in the Social Lives of Americans "Irving Louis Horowitz has set forth clearly, and I believe irrefutably, the nature of the decomposition of sociology. Horowitz's work is absolutely in the tradition so luminously described by Max Weber in his two great addresses on 'Politics as a Vocation' and 'Science as a Vocation.'"--Robert A. Nisbet, in The Sociological Tradition "An antidote to scientism. A critical attempt to redeem sociology to its rightful calling. Students will learn the difference between social understanding and idealogy."--Wayne Allen, Delta State University "A soundly reasoned, carefully crafted analysis of sociology and the social sciences generally....This book is suitable for use in advanced undergraduate as well as graduate courses in contemporary theory, the sociology of science, and the sociology of knowledge."--Social Forces "The book is provocative, entertaining, and informative; it should not be ignored."--American Journal of Sociology

Introductionp. 3
The Decomposition of Sociologyp. 9
Disenthralling Sociologyp. 22
Sociology and Subjectivityp. 40
Fascism, Communism, and Social Theoryp. 52
From Socialism to Sociologyp. 74
Scientific Access and Political Constraintsp. 93
Public Choice and the Sociological Imaginationp. 103
Social Contexts and Cultural Canonsp. 118
Reconstructing the Social Sciencesp. 133
Human Life, Political Domination, and Social Sciencep. 147
Policy Research in a Post-Sociological Environmentp. 169
Prediction and Paradox in Societyp. 183
Freedom, Planning, and the Moral Orderp. 198
Social Disputations and Moral Implicationsp. 212
Social Science and the Great Traditionp. 229
Social Science as the Third Culturep. 240
Notesp. 253
Name Indexp. 274
Subject Indexp. 278
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195092561
ISBN-10: 0195092562
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st September 1994
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.32 x 15.57  x 2.18
Weight (kg): 0.45