Books by Irving Louis Horowitz

Released: Oct. 1, 1993

After four decades in the profession, Rutgers sociologist Horowitz (Daydreams and Nightmares, 1990, etc.) looks in horror at the ideological grave into which he says his discipline has fallen, and attempts to resurrect the corpse before it rots away. Horowitz lays the blame for sociology's lamentable state at the feet of Marxist radicals, still shoving their worldview down the throats of college students even after the demise of Communism. Unyielding partisans such as these have polarized social science, Horowitz says, and their brand of left-wing fascism has taken sociology from the intellectual mainstream to a never-never land beyond the pale. This sort of tough talk turns to discussion of other, more reasonable, sectarian tendencies, such as those found in James S. Coleman's Foundations of Social Theory, with its espousal of a ``rational choice'' doctrine and its view of the individual as superior to the state. Envisioning social science as vital to the development of sound public policy, Horowitz makes an effort to reclaim it by advocating a return to first principles- -namely, a focus on the answers to social problems as revealed through research into everyday life, with sociology serving ``as a sensitizing agency for behavior.'' If sociology and other social sciences were given broader latitude and liberated from politics, they could become an educational link between a scientific and more traditional curriculum, creating a well-integrated culture, as well as a beacon to pierce the ideological darkness. No doubt Horowitz cares deeply about his field—but his scattershot indictments and pronouncements offer little by way of a specific plan of action, allowing sociology's crisis to lose ground to musings on the social sciences in general. Read full book review >