SOCIOLOGY FOR WHOM? by Alfred McClung Lee


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Sociology, a relatively young discipline, has generated a great deal of soul-searching by its practitioners. Lee, Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College, provides a sociological approach to sociology. Whereas others--C. Wright Mills in The Sociological Imagination, for example--question the subject-matter and methods of the field, Lee accepts the motion of a social science, and directs his questions toward the institutional context of sociology. On that basis, his call for a ""humanist"" sociology is not a methodological call-to-arms, but a plea for sociologists to place their skills at the service of people rather than power-wielding institutions. His instrumentalist approach, not surprisingly, leads him to a skeptical view of sociological theory, favoring, instead, practical ""clinical and field"" experience which will bring sociologists closer to their subjects. Lee's sociology could be called ""populist""; he uncovers the false images of success which overlay establishment affiliations while defending those who take up popular causes from spurious charges of non-scientific behavior. He rules out of court, however, the larger question of the relationship between the discipline and its current role--can sociology, as it is now, serve any master, or is it particularly suited to being a handmaiden to institutionalized power? Based upon previously published articles, this volume will serve as a good introduction to Lee's brand of humanist sociology, but by setting his sights so narrowly, he has deprived himself of a larger audience.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1978
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press