[Marxism] One more on "bourgeois" sociology--back to the concrete

Mark Lause MLause at cinci.rr.com
Tue Aug 17 21:26:58 MDT 2004

The point is not that the established discipline of sociology represents
a bourgeois approach to understanding.  They all do.

And why wouldn't they?

None of them can be discussed as if they were mere pursuits of
knowledge, abstract from the real world.  Nor do we need to explore a
theory of knowledge or theory of how we go about formulating knowledge
or a theory about how we figure out what should be the main features of
any formulation the formulations of knowledge. 

1. The big institutions of our civilization--government and the academic
branch of government--shape them from the inception.  The important word
in "the hierarchy of knowledge" isn't "knowledge."  They decide who gets
to practice these disciplines.  They decide what's nifty about the new
methodologies.  They shape methodologies that focus on everything but
class relations based on the one's power and relationship to the process
of production and what it takes to keep it going.  

There are simple reasons for this.  The system is set up to reward
innovations.  That's why they have a dozen ways to talk about
"class"--estate value, income, education, residence, etc.--without
really talking about relations to power and production.  You have the
option of not playing the game, but it's very risky.  After all, there
are scores of applicants for every job or grant that opens.

Ideas, jobs, grants--all are sharply competitive--and the basis for that
competition is not some abstract standard.

2. The parsing up of the study of society into these different social
sciences is itself a dead giveaway as to their nature.  You may say that
that's because they study different things or because they study the
same things differently.  In the end, the establishment of each of these
as discrete academic disciplines involved the founding of distinct and
competing turfdoms.  They compete over students, resources, etc.  If you
think they're not competing, wait until looming budget cuts clarifies

And the bases on which these disciplines that competes successfully do
so based on the merits of the field or what they can accomplish in the
long term for 

3. The line between physical or natural sciences and social sciences
is--yes, permeable at points--but the differences are clear enough to
those who've dipped beneath the surface of geology and, say, psychology.

I think the discussion should go back to the original point, a more
concrete question: What is the "petty bourgeoisie"?

Thus far we know that the petty bourgeoisie are working people who
behave in a way that doesn't suit us--unless they're just working people
who behave in a way that doesn't suit us.  

We know that the petty bourgeois consists of something between a small
percentage of the population or almost everybody.  

We know that they are either allies or enemies of the revolution.

Mark L.

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