Origins and Development of Social Science

Adopt the persona of one of the characters and, based on your reading for the module, use your own words to defend your character’s argument(s). In doing so remember that you must also counter the possible responses and arguments of the other characters in the play. Post Modern Pat The others lack the understanding of the world as I do, there is no one grand theory or believe be it religion or science that can fully describe or motivate human life.

The obsession of traditional sociology with common values of class, and culture, is worthless in our increasingly fragmented and global society. The rational, scientific values of the enlightenment, as my good friend C Wright Mills (1959) argues, have not brought about an increase of freedom for mankind. Instead they have perpetuated a way of looking at the world that is completely removed from, and unable to fathom, the core emotional drives of the human race.

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The scientific rational perpetuated by Galileo and others, in their quest for knowledge and enlightenment has scarred the very world we live in today. We may have seen what some call the emancipation of the human mind, however this has taught us, only, to explain the world from a scientific way, thinking this discourse holds all the answers. How can scientific language possibly explain human emotional experiences, the arts or culture?

And what use is it to enforce such narratives on the social world? The increased emotional distress of depression and anxiety in our 21st century existence is a direct result of science giving labels to emotions it can not possibly explain or understand, and thus exacerbating feelings that would once have been thought normal. Human scientific advancement can not hold all the answers to the world, and has itself opened ethical issues, such as human cloning, that appear to have no ‘right’ answer.

Instead of putting our sociological faith in some grand narrative, we must now believe in subjectivity. Science and religion before that, failed, in assuming, a universal true language or story. Surely we are all subject to our own cultural and historical framework, and from that use our own experience and language to describe the world around us. Thus there is no one true language applicable to our society, only local stories and experiences.

There can be no inner truth as those believers in modernism hope to discover. The abundance of theories attempting to explain our social world, are purely the result of the interpretations and labels available to the originators of them. As humans, we judge by our own criterion, which is subject to the culture around us, and we can not escape from this, regardless of the socialisation methods involved. Absolutely neutral grand theories on the world and society are thus impossible and unattainable; we must instead accept everything to be of equal importance.

As my colleague Rosenau argues, through deconstruction, of what we find around us, generalisation can be pushed to the limits. In examining what is not said, and repressed in life and theories, an alternate understanding of the world can be gained. I doubt however, this will satisfy the more traditional around me, as these methods tend to reveal more inconsistencies in our world, rather than the grand narrative, you have been taught to seek.

Whilst some of you might argue that post modernism is based on self indulgent subjectivity, I will retort, using the work of Jean-Francois Lyotard (1924-) that a complete account of culture is unattainable, and yet again you are subjects to the language and interpretations available to you. None of us posses valid criteria for judging, however once we realise subjectivity, we are made free to see the truly provisional nature of truth and experience and then illuminate part of the increasingly fragmented world we live in.

Whilst the religion that you offer, Pope Pius 1V, does contain some of the mysticism and emotion of human life and culture that the science of Galileo and friends can not even begin to express, your bigoted religious beliefs are purely part of a cultural grand narrative. How can you argue of there being a universal truth in your god, when religion and the worship involved, is so diverse across the world? Furthermore that your way is the right way of thinking and additionally why you feel the importance of this? The truths in our world are only provisional to certain cultures or times, and must be viewed in that way.

Previous sociological thought has consistently developed the idea of their being some neutral reason or truth present in our society, and it is precisely the society that these ideologies has created that has led me to Post modernism. Present today is the growing realisation that we can not define our fragmented world in singular ways. The separation of scientific discourse form core humanity and nature has also resulted in the pollution of the globe and destruction of environment for the good of industrial society, displaying the danger of dependence on this search for the ultimate truth. The fact that sociological thought has been constantly developing since the enlightenment, and that you all hold such differing views, only supports my argument that history, culture and language dominate discourse. I hope that you will now join me, in subjectivity, and free yourselves from these absolute truths you endlessly seek.


Marshall G, ed. (1998) 2nd Ed, A Dictionary of Sociology, Oxford, New York, Oxford University Press

Mills, C. W. (1959) The Sociological Imagination, London, Oxford University Press

Swingewood, A (2000) 3rd Ed, A Short History Of Sociological Thought, Palgrave, Hampshire

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