Stehr, N. (1996) 'The Salt of Social Science', Sociological Research Online, vol. 1, no. 1, <>.

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996


The Salt of Social Science[1]

by Nico Stehr
Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, The University of British Columbia, Canada
In the late stages of contemporary society the so-called moral sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) have but a fluctuating market value; they have to try, as best as they possibly can, to follow the more fortunate natural sciences whose practical value is beyond question. (Max Horkheimer, 1937: pp. 247-8)
The growing controversy about the state and the status of social science in general, and sociology in particular, is important. However, as it perhaps unavoidable at this stage of an incipient, even passionate debate about the possible marginalization, irrelevance and ineffectiveness of sociological discourse, some of the terms of the dispute are highly ambivalent, indeed misleading. This applies with special force, it seems to me, to the recent disparaging observation of the economist Thomas Sowell, quoted with ambivalence in mind by Irving Louis Horowitz (1995) that the production of the field of sociology in the last five decades has not made, on balance, much of an impact on the world. However, such observations are driven more by resentiment than by a good understanding of the social role of ideas including those of the sociological imagination. I will therefore try to re- examine competing images of how ideas succeed in practice and indicate why a certain representation of the practical importance of ideas is but an unnecessarily restrictive and misleading image.

The search for knowledge in both the natural and the social sciences has, invariably been justified in terms of practical reasons which have included prominently the improvement of basic existential conditions of human life and the emancipation of society from the irrational forces of particular forms of social conduct as well as natural forces . The practical use of social scientific knowledge, therefore, is often seen to represent an essential 'life-giving' and legitimating quality for the social sciences. Thus, when the distinguished psychologist Gordon W. Allport, to name but one of many scholars of numerous generations of scientists who, despite the call for modesty issued more or less urgently by others[2], quite explicitly and without reservations promises in the preface to his influential The Nature of Prejudice that the social sciences will, through a careful examination of man's irrational nature, solve and control the destructiveness which flows from hatred and hostility among rival groups. Allport only echoed what probably was a deeply held conviction among most social scientists a couple of decades ago, that such a pay-off is possible in principle. Of course, the nature as well as the intensity of the promises made by social scientists for social science vary considerably from one historical period to the next as does the social and intellectual function of undertakings of this kind. There is a continuous incentive both inside and outside of social science to examine the kind of contribution which social scientific knowledge can make toward improvements in societal conditions. In addition, these images profoundly effect the ways in which the social and political role of social science is assessed.

The current and perhaps widespread feeling of a profound malaise affecting social science, and the premature conviction among some that social science has been largely impotent in practice, is not only, but surely also, linked to a specific image of the ways in which social science knowledge becomes a powerful medium in society. The current skepticism is to an important extent, it would appear, indebted to a restrictive if not erroneous conception of how social science becomes 'useful' or succeeds. Paradoxically, the very conception of useful knowledge that can only be described to constitute a positivistic conception of practicality becomes the measure of the impact of social science knowledge among observers who despair about current intellectual developments in social science, its cognitive divisions, its fashions but also its lack of relevance. Observers who conclude that sociology, for example, might just as well not have happened in the last 50 years are committed to a basic fallacy because the disparaging conclusions are only possible if one adheres to a most narrow conception of how sociology makes a difference in practice.

For this reason, it is very useful to revisit two treatises that deal with the impact of social scientific knowledge on practical affairs; one published in, and reflecting, the North American experience, and the other addressing issues of greater concern, at least the time in some European societies, particularly West Germany. Both books are 'critical' in the Kantian sense of the term since, in that they inquire into the conditions for the possibility of useful social science knowledge; however their conclusions could not be more different.

The judgment rendered by Robert A. Scott and Arnold R. Shore (1979) in their Study of Why Sociology Does Not Apply and the dire warnings issued by Helmut Schelsky (1975) in his Die Arbeit tun die Anderen represent two radically contrasting messages and two distinct approaches to the issue of the social and political role of social science knowledge. Scott and Shore reluctantly summarize results they did not expect when they conclude that applied social research as practiced by social scientists generally leads to the 'production of a body of findings which, at best, helped to illuminate theoretical questions of interest to academic sociologists, but which appeared to carry policy implications that are non-existent, trivial, ambiguous, indiscernible or impossibly utopian.' Helmut Schelsky is far from ready to concede such a point and therefore share in the same pessimistic views. For he arrives at exactly to the opposite conclusion, namely that sociology and other social sciences suffer from an abundance of examples of its practical success in transforming contemporary societal conditions and individual identities.

The study of the American sociologists is primarily concerned with the extent to which social research may have a direct, unmediated and instrumental influence on action contemplated by government bodies (public policy). In addition, the conception of influence Scott and Shore have in mind is primarily that which is subject to at least some control by social scientists and that does not compete with the legislative functions of representative political institutions. Schelsky's polemical observations constituted the attempt to demonstrate the immense indirect and often unintended effects of social science on the interpretation or re-interpretation of the possible actions and belief systems of individuals and institutions. For Schelsky the influence on the social construction of meaning in contemporary society by social scientists is not only pervasive but also difficult to discern, let alone check and control. Schelsky's analysis is embedded in an explicit theory of society and a historiography of social relations. It is unlike the American study that is tied much more directly to an analysis of concrete social issues and the impact of these issues on social science.

Whatever one may think of Schelsky's notion of a new kind of class struggle, at least he is sensitive to the reciprocal transformation of society and social science while Scott and Shore chose to treat the realm of politics in the context of their analysis as a constant. Scott and Shore (1979) primarily discussed the 'policy-making efforts of (the U.S) government, principally at the national level - mainly pertaining to domestic affairs' (p. xii) while Schelsky (1975) chose to deal with the broader issues of the role of sociologists as intellectuals and their primary publics.

I will summarize the record of the study of the American experience, as recounted by Scott and Shore, of social research which has been directed toward decision-making by reducing the complexity of alternative courses of action in dealing with certain 'social problems'. As Scott and Shore see it, their focus excludes a concern with the more 'latent' use of sociological knowledge by policy-makers, as for example, in sensitizing certain issues as policy matters. The latter is excluded from consideration because their limits of inquiry are those of conventional empirical social research. The authors find it impossible to extend their study to these 'latent' practical effects of sociological knowledge because they are unable to quantify sociology's impact in this respect. It therefore could be said that the focus of Why Sociology Does not Apply deals with facets of applied social research which the discipline typically feels it controls.

Scott and Shore begin their analysis by reminding us that the idea that sociological knowledge can and should contribute to the betterment of society is constitutive of American sociology from its very inception; and that the notion of applied sociology of course has undergone many transformations since. The question naturally arises, have sociologists been able to realize their promises? A review of most of the literature concerned with the uses of sociology for public policy suggest to Scott and Shore that, although sociology in some instances has contributed to policy recommendations, in most cases, sociological research done for the purpose of application has contributed very little to policy recommendation or formation.

Since Scott and Shore accept the idea that sociology should be practically useful, their concern naturally centers on the apparent lack of practical efficacy of sociological knowledge. Their central thesis is, that because virtually all applied sociology is largely academic sociology, sociological knowledge may well lack any usefulness at all; that is, 'if it is found that the qualities which a body of knowledge must possess to be useful for policy purposes are not the ones yielded by disciplinary theories and research procedures...then substantial portions of the knowledge we now possess ... may simply be irrelevant from a practical point of view' (Scott and Shore, 1979; p. 52). The fact that the authors' have formulated the problem in this manner already anticipates their conclusion: The reasons for the poor record of sociology cannot be found in the discipline alone. Yet it is not surprising to find that when sociologists are confronted with the apparent lack of any practical usefulness of their knowledge, they frequently argue that the primary task has to be to improve and strengthen disciplinary knowledge and the institutional infrastructure of sociology as the prerequisite for useful knowledge. However, both the diagnosis and the prescribed therapy are incomplete if not altogether worthless since they assume an almost unqualified receptiveness for sociological knowledge - including the assumption that the organizing principles of policy decisions are somehow the same as those of sociological reasoning. In short, sociology according to Scott and Shore lacks a policy perspective; instead its predominant imagery of applied sociology is that of scientific planning. As a matter of fact, if policy decisions would conform to the image of scientific planning, the utilization of sociological knowledge as constituted in American sociology today, would be, ceteris paribus, greatest according to the authors. Scott and Shore's critique and analysis of the imagery of scientific planning makes up the remainder of their book.

The rather useful analysis pursued by Scott and Shore is socio- historical in nature and traces the intellectual, political and social forces which brought about the conception of planning implicit in contemporary sociology in the US. Briefly, with the change from a mechanistic, deterministic and formalistic social perspective to more evolutionary, holistic and activist views (represented for example in the writings of G.S. Morris, C. Pierce, O.W. Holmes, J. Dewey, F.J. Turner, T. Veblen) during the late 19th century and the early 20th century, there emerged an entirely new social philosophy committed to planned social action on the basis of social scientific knowledge. The new philosophy found its support in social forces associated with industrialization and urbanization, especially the city centered progressivist movement with its faith in science and experts. However, the original, grandiose impetus to plan within sociology subsequently gave way to the present self-conception of sociologists as professionals. Therefore, a much more rigid division of labour between sociologists and governments became typical with a consequent growing intolerance for activism and advocacy among sociologists. Scott and Shore cite Furner (1975) who has argued that the emergence of the professional social scientist as a disinterested adviser and expert is to a large extent the outcome of fear engendered by the academic freedom cases in the 1880's and 1890's, although academically based social scientists have seldom had as much influence in government as they did in the first years of Franklin Roosevelt's administration. Nonetheless, the modern rationalistic self-conception of social scientists (and of policy- making) evolved as the dominant view on the relation between social science and its reservoir of allegedly pure technical expertise. But constitutive of such relations in fact may well be the symbolic usefulness, rather than any political feasibility, of social science knowledge endorsing and dignifying pre-existing and pre-determined political purposes.

Scott and Shore also provide the reader with a careful and detailed descriptive analysis of historical materials with a view to extract those factors which affect the reception of sociological knowledge in various government and legislative bodies. Not surprisingly, perhaps, they reach the conclusion that such receptivity varies directly with contingent political features of these institutions including, of course, volatile ideological commitments of different policy-making organizations.

We are told that social science at best can be expected to be relevant to political discourse as a repository of methodological skills but not as a source of intellectual advice; in other words, the relevance of disciplinary social science knowledge, given the nature of conduct of politics in the contemporary US, is extremely limited and often amounts to nothing more but a feeble affirmation of the politically expedient.

What can be done? The authors assume in their answer that sociologists indeed desire to be of some relevance to political discourse and that political feasibility will continue to be the primary standard by which all advice from social scientists will be judged in political institutions. The latter, of course, is decisive and, for all practical purposes, beyond the control of social scientists. Thus, whatever improvements can be expected from a more realistic policy conception, sociology's role in public affairs will continue to be modest at best.

It follows from what the authors have said about the failure of social science as applied social science to date, that any improvements must come from a shift in perspective among social scientists, especially those conceptions which govern crucial research decisions. The shift Scott and Shore advocate is one which points away from purely disciplinary traditions as the guiding domain assumptions of research efforts toward policy, or customer needs, as the guiding intellectual principles[3]. The authors argue that the prospects for social research guided by policy concerns are promising, although disciplinary knowledge of the policy process (practice) continues to be rather limited. However, Scott and Shore maintain that the dynamics of policy-making are ultimately quite simple, in particular they can be quite predictable because they appear to follow a fairly consistent structure. But 'basic to the process for doing (successful) policy-oriented research is the commitment to begin and to end with policy concerns' (p. 216). It is also characteristic of their advice to social scientists that they never take up the significant question: whose policy concerns?

Perhaps the most telling omission of their disciplinary analysis of policy-making is the lack of concern with genuine political and ethical questions which are constitutive of any political discourse. These omissions become even more problematic in light of their unrealistic (because of their extra-disciplinary nature) demands on the discipline. A more realistic recommendation for the discipline would have been to institute a division of labour between academic social science and policy research as a distinct profession perhaps akin to the differentiation of medical research and medical practice. However, such a division of labour, it seems to me, would immediately raise the issue of the ethics of social research. As a matter of fact, what Scott and Shore discuss and identify as the 'goals' of policy involves, of course, ethical issues. Here and elsewhere in their treatment of applied sociological knowledge, their model remains conventional despite the otherwise unconventional approach to applied social research from a non-disciplinary perspective. They continue to be bound by the predominant conventions of American social science in that they refuse to entertain the need for serious reflections on ethics as part of, or as a sine qua non of, (applied) social research.

In light of Scott and Shore's unconventional analysis and recommendations, those advanced by Schelsky would appear to be radically unconventional. Schelsky's work belongs to the genre of Zeitkritik, that is, of a critical analysis and, typically, a condemnation of certain political and social trends. Paradoxically, but also characteristically, such treatises are not intended solely for the specialist (although the substance of Zeitkritik often amounts to intellectual fencing among specialists). On the contrary, an appeal is made to public discourse at large, and many arguments resonate with traditions of general political and intellectual interest.

Schelsky argues that in all advanced industrial societies we are witnessing the emergence and consolidation of a new collectivity of educated individuals who deal in information, knowledge and meaning. In contrast to Alfred Weber's or Karl Mannheim's conception of socially unattached intellectuals, Schelsky's modern intellectuals monopolize new means of power and control and begin to form a distinct social class as the result of antagonistic social relations with all those who are merely in the business of producing socially necessary commodities. It is in the interest of the new class to mystify such antagonism and prevent it from being widely interpreted as a form of class struggle; at the same time, there is a corresponding interest in maintaining the fiction of the continuation of the old class struggle.

The ideological confrontations conveniently hide fundamental secular societal transformations; in particular the emergence of the class of meaning- producers and legitimators who attempt to gain power by controlling the consciousness of others. A new caste of priests (the class of 'Sinnund Heilsvermittler') is evolving in industrial societies and, with it, new forms of authority relations, modes of organization and, most importantly, a new message or doctrine of secular salvation. Because of the effect on the deep structure of thought the new class is said to have, the notion of ideology, we are told, is much too superficial to capture the nature of these developments. As a matter of fact, only a vocabulary which makes explicit reference to the other-worldly dimension (the impact on the soul for example) and historical precedent of these social formations, can hope to be adequate at all. In other words, what in effect is occurring according to Schelsky is the spread of a new 'secular' religiosity. Thus, any sociological analysis of these phenomena will have to reckon with the metaphysical dimension of these intellectual and social transformations of modern society. From a social evolutionary perspective, these changes represent a step backwards in history because the accomplishments of the age of the enlightenment are distinctly threatened by the new 'intellectual clergy'.

These arguments by Schelsky are based on an extension and combination of Max Weber's theory of authority and power relations and his sociology of religion (as well as certain assumptions about the nature of human nature adapted from Helmut Plessner and Arnold Gehlen's philosophical anthropology). Schelsky maintains that there is a strict parallel between authority/power ultimately derived from the threat of physical coercion and authority/power, based on intellectual means, namely the creation and control of meaning (telos) for individual or collective self- conceptions. This kind of influence over others is but another manifestation of control and engenders its own peculiar forms of organization and legitimation. But 'Machtausuebung durch Sinngebung' is by no means a phenomenon peculiar to the historical epoch of the dark ages. In its most recent historical manifestation it takes on the form of a secular 'doctrine of salvation' (Heilslehre) authored by the new class of meaning-producers in contemporary society.

The new secular religion has now reached its 2nd or 3rd century post marxum natum and is about to produce, as was the case in conventional religion and theology, its own organizational structure. But what exactly is the substance of the new social religion, why is there such a strict parallel to religious doctrines and what is it that is promised to the disciples?[4] The promises of secular salvation essentially consist of future 'heavenly' (societal) conditions in this world; that is, of the total abolition of fear and suffering, violence and blows of fate, humiliations and insults, poverty and illness, power and exploitation (socialism). At the same time, the message contains an incentive to turn away from present realities (thus, the others do the work). The realization of the set of promises is also identical to the ultimate fulfillment of individual self- realization (emancipation).

Who is part of the new class[5] of secular priests? They are what Schelsky calls the Reflexionselite. However, he maintains that most of the conventional sociological means of differentiating social groups (e.g. social classes or social strata, societal functions performed), including the notion of intellectuals, are largely useless categorizations to identify the elite in question because they all neglect or are unable to take the social religiosity essential to the struggle for spiritual domination among contending groups into account. The group in question are instead best defined as Besinnungsoder Bekenntnisgruppen (groups with distinctive creeds or convictions) whose members typically fulfill important social functions (especially in the areas of secondary socialization and in information which assures considerable influence) in their capacity as teachers, engineers, social scientists, authors, journalists, broadcasters, priests etc. which assures social influence but who subordinate these to their particular world-views in an attempt to gain wider control. The groups must be differentiated with respect to the ideas they hold.

There are four main socio-structural reasons for the very possibility of domination by these groups:

These developments in turn correspond to social changes which increase the receptivity for the new doctrines of salvation. Finally, the main organized opposition and competing world-views can likely be found in science and technology, the existing political leadership, and the established churches.

The last part of Schelsky's treatise, entitled 'Anti-sociology', deals with his thesis that the intellectual and social origins of the disposition to preach are linked to the nature of the education of the new Reflexionselite, in particular the extent to which education today is governed by the canons of 'abstract science'. However, the main villain in all of this is sociology. We are told that the emphasis on a sociological perspective (e.g. its 'dissolution of the person') is the fertile ground for the emerging secular religion and the described ambition of the new class of meaning-producers to achieve power. And to the extent that sociology becomes the key science of the modern era (in all types of societies 'inner-directed' individuals give way to 'outer-directed' men), as Schelsky is firmly convinced, the social and intellectual developments he has outlined become more consequential. An analysis of the core of ideas advanced by sociologists and of occupations who have embraced these ideas (e.g. theologians, educators, journalists) provides an insight into the main intellectual sources and substance of the neo-theological doctrines. The question Schelsky wants to pursue most of all is, to what extent does such sociological 'indoctrination' transform the views of incumbents of professions who perform increasingly important functions in contemporary society into what Schelsky calls the 'possibility' to gain control over most other members of society?

The question already signals its answer; but the question also indicates that Schelsky's book is indeed a unique analysis of the practical consequences of sociological knowledge in modern society. According to Schelsky, these effects on the conscience collective are enormous and will only lessen as sociology itself is reduced, which Schelsky hopes it will be, to the status of an esoteric scientific discipline engaged in nothing more serious than the development of pure (formal) theory.

The central importance of sociology derives from the intellectual influence is has had on all other scientific disciplines and activities which aim at an understanding of meaningful social actions, relations and objects. Even the natural sciences, especially when they are applied, do not seem to be able to escape the influence of the sociological perspective. But why is it that theologians, students or art and literature, historians, journalists, writers, educators etc. are in fact engaging in sociology? The answer is simply, that a discipline which reflects the spirit of an age, the prevailing self-conception of an epoch, its dreams and hopes, necessarily comes to represent Herrschaftswissen[6]. Also, such knowledge, generated by an interest in domination, gives rise to new forms of authority exercised by the class of meaning-producers and mediators. The emerging new forms of domination according to Schelsky ultimately will affect all aspects of everyday life in modern society. The new forms of control are instruction, care and control, and planning (Belehrung, Betreuung, Beplanung). These can gradually be expected to replace the traditional forms of power, namely political and economic subjugation and exploitation. In short, those who educated now dominate.

Does the domination of the sociological perspective indeed mean that sociologists exercise authority? Can one really assume that intellectual influence alone can be translated into power? Schelsky seems to think so or, at least, fears that it will happen. How would such domination be legitimized? Perhaps it is thought to be self-legitimating.

It is quickly evident that Schelsky's provocative analysis is weakest at and on this very point. One senses that Schelsky wishes he had the evidence to convict for conspiracy but then he points out that the practical outcomes of sociological reasoning he describes are often unintended, unanticipated and unplanned. And, as Schelsky admits, the new class of meaning-producers still lack class consciousness. Nonetheless, the consequences of sociology, in particular its neo- theological effect, are constitutive of the sociological orientation itself. Schelsky also indicates that the various social developments which bring about the elimination of the independence of the person as a person may well be irreversible. The very predominance of sociology under these circumstances prevents the serious examination of intellectual alternatives although Schelsky's own polemic would indicate that there still is a measure of autonomy. Sociology today is what theology was in the medieval age or what philosophy was in the l8th century, but Schelsky's is far from merely advancing a modern version of Comte's law of the three stages. Of course, he is denouncing sociology and issues a strong warning about the excessive influence of sociological knowledge on modern consciousness. Sociology, Schelsky feels, is often directly responsible for the very discovery and the intensification of social conflict. Sociological knowledge incorporates practical means of orientation, general enlightenment, a vocabulary for the comprehension of life and therefore has had a most eminent impact on the nature of modern society[7]. As a result sociology finds itself in a paradoxical position, it demystifies the authority of traditional authority but fails to question its own.

Schelsky's analysis of the nature of the impact of the sociological orientation on the life-world of contemporary society is both more optimistic and more pessimistic than are the conclusion drawn by Scott and Shore. They are more optimistic in the sense that Schelsky concedes that sociological knowledge does have a considerable practical effect on social and political affairs of contemporary society. The sociological imagination is seen to have an effect on socially constructed meanings. Scott and Shore do not even extend their analysis to such possibilities because the are imprisoned by the conventional notion of how science succeeds in practice. The impact of the sociological perspective on ideological formations is, and here one has to agree with Schelsky, the most prominent and far- reaching practical result of social science. Whether this ought to be the case and/or what the specific effect of social science on ideological formation should be, of course, very much depends on one's philosophical and political commitments.

Schelsky's pessimistic assessment of sociology's effect on everyday life and on the individual in particular, is closely linked to his description and his evaluation of the historiography of social relations and to what he considers a deplorable reversal in society to a kind of latter day organic solidarity. The debate with Schelsky therefore should primarily be on this level. It should be concerned with the ethic and the politics of developments characteristic of contemporary society and about his conservative stance on the nature of evolving social relations in this society that Schelsky feels eradicate many of the achievements of bourgeois culture. In other words, Schelsky appears to both draw and distance himself from the theorists of the post-industrial society for with Rudolf Bahro, Radovan Richta and Daniel Bell he stresses the growing importance of knowledge. He also assumes with them that power is shifting into the hands of the educated. Yet, against post-industrial theorists and perhaps post-modernist theorizing, Schelsky champions a rather traditional theory of society which has to be defended against the onslaught of the new class of knowledgeables.Public policies may indeed, and more often than not, fail; but the language of the sociological imagination succeeds in practice.


1 'Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?' (Matthew 5:13). According to the Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible (l962: p. 167), 'Matthew's description of the disciples as the "salt of the earth" is probably connected with the ... life-giving qualities of salt.'

2 To cite just one characteristic example for such propriety, Emile Durkheim (1978: p. 44) cautions that a young science should not be overly ambitious, 'and it enjoys greater credibility among scientific minds when it presents itself with greater modesty'. Durkheim's note of caution is, of course, a qualified appeal because he restricts the need for modesty to the early stages of the development of social science. As a result, Durkheim advances a somewhat comforting view which, in the meantime, is widely shared among contemporary social scientists.

3 In a concise and insightful appendix to their study, Scott and Shore discern the major distinguishing features of knowledge for action and of knowledge for under- standing based on the different intellectual and organizational contingencies of the world of action and scholarship. As a matter of fact, this discussion of the different forms of knowledge constitutes, I believe, perhaps the most useful part of the entire book. It is here that Scott and Shore, for example, point out that 'to the policy-maker, increased knowledge may actually confuse the issue' (1979: p. 225) but also that the very genesis, nature and function of knowledge in, and for, the social science community invariably differs from the kind of knowledge functional in, and for, public policy, at least as praticed in contemporary institutions of public life in modern society.

4 For the social scientist, Schelsky promises 'one of the most exciting intellectual and social developments of the coming decades, perhaps the coming century, will be how these doctrines of salvation and their needs for power will attempt to become dominant in advanced industrial society, how they will, in a cancerous manner, attempt to subvert and to destroy the existing rational institutions of modern society.' (p. 76)

5 For the purposes of this review essay, we will not focus on Schelsky's lengthy and polemical attempt to theoretically and empirically justify his idea that we are indeed witnessing the emergence of a new class made up of meaning-producers and legitimators; and that it is engaged in a class struggle with those employed in the production of commodities in industrial society. Suffice to say that Schelsky argues that all of the essential characteristics of the traditional conception of class apply to the social formation of the Reflexionselite.

6 The term Herrschaftswissen, perhaps first introduced to sociology and explicated in some detail by Scheler (1960: pp. 60-9), is, of course, similar in its general meaning to the notion of knowledge generated by what Jurgen Habermas (1971: p. 308) has called a technical cognitive interest.

7 It follows that the frequently deplored cognitive diversity of contemporary sociology is, from the point of view that Schelsky advances, rather immaterial. The disputes and debates within the discipline resemble that as a kind of religious warfare. Yet what unites sociologists, despite these internal intellectual conflicts, is their general de-emphasis of the individual and the stress it instead places on the collectivity and the influece of the collective formations on individuals.


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FURNER, Mary O.(1975) Advocacy and Objectivity: A Crises in the Professionalization of American Social Science, 1865- 1905. Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky Press.

HABERMAS, Jurgen (1971) Knowledge and Human Interest. Boston: Beacon.

HORKHEIMER, Max (1937) 'Traditionelle und kritische Theorie', Zeitschrift fuer Sozialforschung, vol. 6, pp. 247-248. [Author's translation; the translation found in Max Horkheimer, Critical Theory (New York: Seabury Press, l972, p. 191) is inaccurate].

HOROWITZ, Irving L. (1995) 'Searching for enemies', Society, vol. 33, p. 42.

SCHELER, Max (1960) [1924] Die Wissensformen und die Gesellschaft. Bern: Francke.

SCHELSKY, Helmut (1975) Die Arbeit tun die anderen. Klassenkampf und Priesterherrschaft der Intellektuellen, Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.

SCOTT, Robert A. and SHORE, Arnold R. (1979) Why Sociology Does Not Apply: A Study of the Use of Sociology in Public Policy. New York: Elsevier.

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996