Comparative Perspectives and Competing Explanations: Taking on the Newly Configured Reductionist Challenge to Sociology

  • Troy Duster New York University
  • Ivan Evtimov New Bulgarian University
Keywords: Comparative Perspectives, Competing Explanations

Abstract

Sociology faces three important interrelated challenges in the coming decades. The first will be the increasing authority of reductionist science for which partial evidence is found in the strikingly imbalanced allocation of research funding for "causes" of wide-ranging problems-from disparities in health and educational achievement to explanations of alcoholism and violence. The second is the attendant expansion of databases on markers and processes "inside the body." Directly but inversely related is the third challenge: new evidence that the release of already collected data sets is blocked and data collection on social and economic forces is reduced. These challenges can be confronted and addressed directly if sociologists emulate an earlier generation of sociological researchers and turn greater attention to an analysis of data collection at the site of reductionist knowledge production. This includes, for example, close scrutiny of new computer technologies assisting several DNA identification claims. It is insufficient to simply assert the arbitrariness of the "social construction" of these claims. Instead, the architecture of that construction must be demonstrated. Unless that is done, competing explanations (from various disciplines) will have far greater significance on public policy and on the particular discipline's status with public and private funding sources.

The article is translated and published with special permission of  Troy Duster, Troy Duster Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge, 285 Mercer Street, 10th floor, New York University, New York, NY 10003-6653 (troy.duster@nyu.edu).

Published
2015-03-28
How to Cite
Duster, T., & Evtimov, I. (2015). Comparative Perspectives and Competing Explanations: Taking on the Newly Configured Reductionist Challenge to Sociology. Postmodernism Problems, 5(1), 66-82. Retrieved from http://pmpjournal.org/index.php/pmp/article/view/90