Richard Bannister--Sociology and Scienticism






Scientific sociology (ScS)

            1)  confined to observable externals of human behavior--inductionism--experience is the sole source of knowledge (epistemology)--distinction between objects accessable to observation and those not (ontological)


            2)  apply rigorous methos in the production of social scientific knowledge--by 30's satistics were method of choice


            3)  strict neutrality in ethics and public policy


Certain features are revealed by this methodology

                        1)  focus on individual behavior rather than on the formation and transformation of social structures--Anti-Marx


                        2)  emphasis on inductive and incremental model


                        3)  bureaucratic vision of team reasearch and institutes


Form of Objectivism


pre-war sociology attempted to itself at service of society--Ward, Small--applied sociology


the interwar objectivist (O)--saw human volition and subjective consciousness as having no place in social sciences--(O) must eliminate all referance to willing, feeling self


Weberians saw human science as requiring a different method from (NS)


MAIN POINT:  (O) was response to fear of social fragmentation and disintegration felt in the years immediately before the WWI--traces the emergence of (O) in prewar America




(O) assumed two forms

            1)  nominalist:  Ogburn, Chapin--(ScS) was nominalist, statistical and advisory--concerned with means, not ends--society was name for collective response of individuals, so (ScS) should limit itself to the measurement of change in behavior in response to change in environment--study trends, not causes--limited to the how not why


            2)  realist:  Bernard--(ScS) was realist and presumptively radical by providing "objective standards of social control", hence ABSOLUTE STANDARDS FOR SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION--true science required "projective logic" or imagination to posit an ideal condition for standard


Chapter 1


Lester Ward (1839-1913)


By 1900, Ward's dynamic sociology gave way to division between pure (totally unconcerned with "what society ought to be"--value-free) and applied (the province of social technicians--satistical studies)


In 30's he emerged as champion of humanism and reformism


Dynamic Sociology  (1883)

            1)  attracted to notions of desire unrestrained, but also aware of its uncontrolled nature


            2)  feeling was a creative force--sociology is concerned with this creativity, so dynamic


            3)  opposed positivism--failed to provide true cause


            4)  his early work is chapter in breakdown of Scottish realism and the Baconian notion of Science which dominated America since 1830.


Hamilton saw positivism as means between idealism and empiricism--experience was the source of all knowledge but one could "sense" something beyond it.


For Ward, Mill upset this mediation


Science, by promising to uncover nature's secrets, rested on certainty of knowledeg rather than, as positivism, certanity of method


Darwin's natural selection challenged Victorian's notion of a mechanistic view of law with a non-law--it also failed to provide a true cause--also made environment all important




Ward believed that subjective and creative forces were controlable and scientifically quanifiable  as were their manifestations--thus a radical subjectivity could produce ideal society




He brought subjectivity into the realm of science by reducing consciousness to its physical components.


Wund rejected this--he made consciousness scientific without reducing it to nonmental phenomena--"new psychology"


Ward believed in reform through education




Pure sociology: dealt with genetic or non-telic phenomenon "unaffected by the purposeful effort of man and society itself."--theoretical--ethically and politically neutral.--this suggested Huxley's universe of unconcerned with human values--bureacratic idea of disinterested service--objectivity derived from nature of subject matter and the attitude of observer, a position (O) accepted.--Bannister points out that Pure Sociology  itself was not value-neutral


Applied Sociology:  treated telic and artificial products--practical--concerned with means to changed society--his method showed the efficacy of education, so became manifesto for education reform


Ward replied to those who saw his non-valuing attitude as non-ethical he said cited Bacon and Comte as saying all science is ethical--he critiqued Durkheim for purposing a sociology as a science without a purpose


Ward's world was one of oppositions--feeling/function, individual/society, applied/pure sociology


Chapter 2




Albion Small


sought a political middle ground


from 1890 to 1914 he was reknown--at Chicago--authored first textbook


He attempted to dissolve all oppositions, to find a middle ground, unlike Ward--not very successful


He represents a transition from Ward's soical evolutionism to the antitheoretical positivism of the interwar period--seen in 4 stages

            1)  organic analogy:  An Introduction to the Study of Society  (1894)--social unity lay beyond powers of observation--analogy between organism and society--Spencer--used to inspire activism--analogy allowed him to reconcil concepts of science and objectivity--it was a conceptual tool to understand social facts while providing a glimpse at the underlying social unity--unity was given in experience as (CSP) claimed--REJECTED:  because of neo-Darwinian debates of 1890's--Huxley's concept of "evolutionary ethics" was being used to deny absolute in morality or anything beyond individual wills--he wanted an absolute morality, being trained as in (CSP)--he rejected biological sociology as having unfortunate ethical and social consequences.--attacked Spencer--shifted from analogy to the study of real social processes which may express real unity below surface


            2)  process theory:  Gerneral Sociology  (1905)--a)  interest--building blocks of society--not immediately observable--beyond individual unit--these interest seem to be expressing an absolute essence across people and culture  b)  to satisfy interest, people formed collisions then associations then institutions--c)  increase complex of criss-cross interest--the social process--groups rather than individuals are the fundamental units of sociology--combines subjective and objective change from why things occurred to how--description over causation and meaning--process theory was step toward transactional analysis and political behavorism--Sheer description--idea of process replaced analogy--sociologist could be objective without denying desires or interest, since he studied these interests which constituted the moral order--so (ScS)ist  was also (moral) reformer--helped to show social unity--sociology as study of process of human association


            3)  unified (SS)--each takes all of reality as its subject, but employes different approaches--but each part of greater univeral which he called Science--each perspective was particularistic and thus represented science--the Science could be force to unify--like Bourne


            4)  dissillusionment--politics made him think unity might not be possible--saw his denial of essences as opening door for relativism--and said that Science could not be absolute but one needed Faith.--Old certainty was Gone


influenced early on by Common Sense Philosophy (CSP) and Baconian ideal of science (objective method, anti-hypothesis--science collects and categorizes facts of experience--trace phenomena to a true cause--reality accessible to the careful observer)


Believed Sociology as master (SS)--could get at the social unity beyond perception


he wanted a perspective above all class--result of Bemis affair


he was overthrown by those who thought scientific methodology, not social reform, had priority--Science was not sought after any longer--only science as a set of procedures for studying a limited area of reality.--telos to technique


His whole theories based on notion that things aren't what they appear to be....


Chapter 4




Rivalry between Small and Giddings based on induction v. deduction, collectivism v. individualism


Giddings (1855-1929)--Columbia


unlike Ward who saw objectivity deriving from non-telic nature of subject matter and Small in terms of the observer, Giddings saw essence of science in method not material.


social Darwinist, individualist, statistics


believed human will is free--but nature decides which volition will contribute to survival


Marginalism--rooted value in subjective judgemnt of utility, not labor expended in production--political economy has sociological side--feeling was irrelevant


disliked the notion of organization and state control--individualism or voluntarism was best for society


Principles of Sociology  (1896)

            1)  embraced evolution


            2)  deductive


he also bought Spencerian-Lamarckian notion of acquired traits


influenced by Mach

            1)  Scientific laws describe and anticipate phenomena


            2)  refused to posit a reality behind appearance of phenomena


Giddings saw thought human action was determined by a process of selection beyond conscious control.--so dissections of desire (Ward) or interest (Small) were pointless


He was anti-Bacon--plurality of causes--led to subjectivism (was criticism) also denied feelings


Chapter 5


converted to pluralistic behaviorism by new method of satistics--a way to obtain measurement and description without theory--"Correlation offered a looser form of cause"

it was a way to measure the amount of social control needed to hold society together


heart of social problems not poverty but social fragmentation--homogentity to heterogenity

events seemed to confirm this unravelling--no more standards of common decency--the cause was the nations social diversity.--Bolshevism was final sign of total disarray


after the war, he gave up ever knowing the mind directly--only study action


modern society needed engineers--(SS)ist became engineers


Chapter 6


William Graham Sumner (1840-1910)


he maintained a value-free notion of sociology


he turned to science, not as a praise of progressl, but as a substitute for authority of traditions


opposed metaphysics--redefined abstraction into concrete irrefutable material facts


out of conviction that monopolies are natural and notions that group solidarity were the keys to survival, he created a form of solidaritism called “antagonistic cooperation”--he always appealled to facts


he stressed objective study over philosophical doctrine--he demanded specifics and particulars


Chapter 7


result of current problems  made Sumner into relativist--embracing notion of folkways or the unconscious, formal patterns of behavior manifested in society.


Began to make distinction between “purposes” and “consequences” which led to behaviorist stand.


Consequences can be observed without being judged because they are beyond individual’s control--they possess an objective quality and constitute mores or customs


he expressed 3 main tenets of emerging  (O)

            1)  defined customs as facts apart from individual intention or desire

            2)  the emergence of objective frame of mind within the mores

            3)  collecting and classifying mores in Baconian tradition



            1)  Humanity is driven by the four basic instincts of love, vanity and fear and hunger

            2)  in all societies individuals tried to satisfy these needs the best they could.


            3)  certain methods prove more effective than others--


            4)  these method become customs or Folkways


            5)  folkways gain a moral sanction through a process of caparison and reflection


            6)  mores are folkways which have become moral and fixed--they are facts which have the authority of facts


            7)  inductive method--science was both relative and absolute


            8)  society must acknowledge the expert--embraced social engineering


            9)  reforms of society must fit mores--relativistic


since he rejected progress, modernization could not function as a promise of freedom from relativism 


Chapter 8


Luther Bernard  (1881-1951)--behavioral sociology


He wanted a more quantitative, research-oriented sociology


looking for new standard he turned away from the middle class humanitarianism and embraced social control and effiecencty notions.


converted to behavorism--saw it as an assult  on traditional ways fo doing and feeling--”what we need is objectively tested fact to replace our venerable traditions--feeling was an undependable resource--a fear of moral and social choas inspired his search for social effieceny and for “an objective standard of social control 


His relationship with democratic politics is problematic--he had a deep distrust of democracy--he wanted rule by elite experts


freedom and dignity were possible only by confirming group needs, determined by scientiific means


became a constructive relativist--if you control environment you can improve society since individuals simply  respond to world around them


Chapter 10


Stuart Chapin (1888-1974)


became a behaviorist and supporter of scientific neutrality


converted to rigid scientism


embraced Spengler notion of growth and decay and that it was sociology’s business to meausre rates of change rather than explain them


believed that social instituions could be reduced to a form of behavior--institutuions consisted of 4 type-parts:  attitudes, symbols, utilitairan traits and specifications


“living room scale--quantyfing household items--behavior rather than attitude are most important


Chapter 11


William Ogburn


high priest of (ScS)


sociology not concerned with improving the world--it wanted only new knowledge


represents transition figure--move from biology to culural analysis, from theory to quantative research, from social evolutionism to nonteleological positivism


his version of (O) is that he embraced a radical division of intellect and emotion and public and private persons--he wanted to place feeling and emotion in private sphere


cultural lag--gap between belief and relality--moved beyond psychological by embracing notin of culture which included material and nonmaterial--wanted it as a response to biologism


Chapter 14


Read Bain (1892-1980)


said that scientist were not just value-free but were prophets--wanted them to become socially active


Howard Becker (1899-1960)


Science was value-laden because he starts with belief in the value of prediction and control as preconditions--control was absolute in scientific value--but this should be the only value


Both said they could work in Hitler’s Germany as a scientist


Bernard thought science was ignoring social dimension--thought it was soft on fascism


Chapter 15


fascism dispelled objectivism, like WWI dispelled reformism




thinkers tried to draw connection between existing social values and the social order

            1)  for pre-war functionalism, social institutions arouse to satisfy needs in ways compatable  with the well-being of the individual and the survival of the group.--progressive evolutionism--it was historical and humanist--believed the tradition of natural law and natural rights were bankrupt


            2)  emergence of (O) showed growing sense of social fragmentation and the absence of common values and standards in the late Progressive era--Sumner, Giddings,

Ogburn, Bernard, Chapin--whereas language of Progressivism incorporated nostalgic long for a pst social order, the language of effieciency, rationalization and social engineering judged past as irrelevant.--It was also rejection and secularization of Protestantism--by rejecting soul, behaviorist denied self, general distrust of self and individual judgement--tried to regulate the increasing experience of disorder--what made them different was not only their concern for order and the authority of science but their belief that order must be imposed from outside, with the help of experts--may have lead to corporatism:  decisions on social policy be left to a coalition of government and corporate leaders, or that the corporation be the model for orgianization and policy making--


(O) arose at a time when there was growing interest in effiecnency, adjustment and soical control--order over freedom and how society shapes individual


it proposed to eliminate the arbitrary and the subjective from public life and policy--science represented the only possible standard in an increasingly pluralistic and fragmented society.