[Marxism] Mark Lause on sociology as "unscientific" and "bourgeois"

Mike Friedman mikedf at mail.amnh.org
Sun Aug 15 13:14:00 MDT 2004

I also don't know why Juriaan is over-reacting to what should be 
non-controversial. The social (and natural, for that matter) sciences are 
ideological products of the dominant institutions of our class society. And 
didn't even Karl "The dominant ideas of every age are the ideas of the 
ruling class" Marx consider that his ideas were a product of bourgeois 
society? Sociology in its concepts, methods and applications, is bourgeois, 
just as my own field, biology, is. It would have been a different matter to 
state categorically that "therefore its conclusions are invalid." One need 
merely indicate the valuable contributions to our understanding of 
Bourgeois society made by Domhoff or Mills (or Darwin, Einstein, etc., 
etc.) to show that the latter assertion is wrong. But they are/were clearly 
operating within the framework of bourgeois academia, and even their 
positive contributions have to be assessed in that light. As for Mark's 
assertion that "the "social sciences" are not "scientific" in the sense 
that chemistry, physics, etc. are," that comes close to being a Popperian 
concept. Do you, Mark, share Karl Popper's disdain for the "unfalsifiable" 
historical natural sciences, as well? Is Darwinian evolution 
"unscientific"? Paleontology? My own field of phylogenetic systematics? 
What about "social sciences" like physical anthropology? Where do you draw 
the line? More importantly, HOW do you draw the line? Remember, bourgeois 
does NOT equal unscientific.


At 02:01 PM 8/15/2004, you wrote:
>Message: 4
>Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004 11:25:00 -0400
>From: "Mark Lause" <MLause at cinci.rr.com>
>Subject: RE: [Marxism] Mark Lause on sociology as "unscientific" and
>         "bourgeois"
>To: "'Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition'"
>         <marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu>
>Message-ID: <000001c482dc$07fe0340$78991a41 at yourkf1y8xksrv>
>Content-Type: text/plain;       charset="us-ascii"
>Perhaps, Jurriaan's reactions assume that I am hostile to social
>analysis.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have only
>questioned the sources of what he's presented to us and the assumptions
>of those compiling the sources.  Personally, I think Jurriaan has
>contributed much to the understanding of this list about many aspects of
>the modern world, but he's done himself no honor by this puerile
>non-response to a straightforward proposition.
>To repeat my entirely unoriginal and pedestrian observation: (1) the
>formally structured, self-described "social sciences" as managed and
>directed through governments, universities and the other major
>institutions of power and culture in a bourgeois society are bourgeois;
>and, (2) the "social sciences" are not "scientific" in the sense that
>chemistry, physics, etc. are.
>Jurriaan responds that it's not worth much thought because: (1) it is
>"fucking crap," and; it comes from me, as an educated person, which he
>demonstrates by supplying the particulars of my employment.  (In fact,
>these are outdated particulars, but I'm sure the FBI already has the
>full skinny on what I do.)
>Years ago, when I was an autoworker, I used to wear my union button when
>I went to earth day celebrations and environmental demonstrations.
>Invariably, someone would say something like, "But, dude, you make the
>cars that pollute everything."  Making cars doesn't negate an auto
>workers concerns about the impact of the industry and concern about the
>impact of the industry doesn't mean that we trash mechanized
>transportation and get in touch with our inner pedestrian.
>In the same way, there is no contradiction between being a professor and
>being skeptical of ideological assumptions, approaches, and assertions
>that come out the other end of the academic assembly line.  My doing so
>is certainly at least as intellectually honest as repeating statistics
>and ignoring requests to clarify what they mean.
>Jurriaan's analogies are simply inverted.  He says my position is "no
>better than if the AFL-CIO were to announce that nobody can form a
>union, unless they join the AFL-CIO."  More, my argument is "George W.
>Bush purging the theory of evolution from the science curriculum,
>because it conflicts with the Bible."   In reality, I am not the arbiter
>of what it and is not "sociology" or "social science," am I?  I am, in
>fact, questioning those assumptions and Jurriaan is taking offense that
>I question them.
>It is a very revealing failing.
>When it comes to class, ignoring POWER--and who really has power--is a
>basic flaw.  Frankly, I think that this is a common ground for those who
>tend to quote uncritically either social science and governnment
>statistics and or what Marx wrote.
>Mark L.
>Message: 5
>Date: 15 Aug 2004 15:22:00 GMT
>From: l.willms at jpberlin.de (Lueko Willms)
>Subject: [Marxism] Re: Mark Lause on sociology as "unscientific" and
>         "bourgeois"
>To: marxism at lists.econ.utah.edu
>Message-ID: <9EuJBH8eflB at jpberlin-l.willms.jpberlin.de>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
>.     Am  15.08.04
>  schrieb  andromeda246 at hetnet.nl (Jurriaan Bendien)
>      bei  /ALIST/MARXMAIL
>       in  000f01c482d0$351da440$0100000a at jurriaan
>    ueber  Re: [Marxism] Mark Lause on sociology as "unscientific" and 
> "bourgeois
>JB> A case could be made that some sociological research is specifically
>JB> "bourgeois" in its perspective, method, goals or staffing, but this
>JB> does not make all sociology as discipline "bourgeois" in principle,
>JB> nor does it prove that the research is thereby invalid.
>    Replace "some" by "most", and I agree.
>    The problem is, the closer a science is to acual social relations,
>the more it is subject of ideological deformation.
>    Since Marx published his master work, economic "science" at
>universities is nothing more than production of ideology --
>obfuscating the reality of class relations (I have studied national
>economy myself...), with a few exceptions of professors who have been
>swept into their posts by the pressure of the student radicalization
>of the 60ies and 70ies.
>Comradely yours,
>Lüko Willms
>/------------ L.WILLMS at jpberlin.de --
>/------------ Lueko.Willms at T-Online.de      -- "Get PGP Key" im Betreff

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