Category Archives: 4 Genealogy of American Sociology

The Trap of the Event

Fernand Braudel was a leading writer in the French Annales school. He argued that historians should recognize that time and history move at different speeds or rhythms; geographical, social, and individual. The first, geographical time, is marked by slow, inexorable, almost imperceptible change. The second level, the longue duree, comprises long-term social,… Read more »

Humanitarian Paratroopers

In the early 1900s, government policy makers in America and France wanted a set of scientifically validated, incontrovertible moral laws. In America these would be used to support moral reform; in France, moral education. Enter the relatively new discipline of sociology, which billed itself as a ‘moral science’. It was asked to ‘discover’ such a set of universal… Read more »

Sociology and Journalism

Sociology professors like to ask incoming students about the difference between sociology and journalism. While the students squirm, the professor leads them to the right answer. This is the notion that sociology is a science as opposed to the untethered musings of the feckless journalists in the next classroom over. But how… Read more »

Science and Pseudoscience, truth and opinion

The English word “science” is primarily used about the natural sciences. We like to warrant our knowledge claims as being true by citing their scientific basis. We use the word “pseudoscience” to describe those studies whose knowledge claims are mistakenly regarded as scientific truths. We mean to say that their claims are… Read more »