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The Politics of American Sociologists

Seymour Martin Lipset and Everett Carll Ladd, Jr.
American Journal of Sociology
Vol. 78, No. 1, Varieties of Political Expression in Sociology (Jul., 1972), pp. 67-104
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2776571
Page Count: 38
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The Politics of American Sociologists
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Abstract

Various critiques of American sociology, most recently that of Alvin Gouldner, argue that the domain assumptions of the field stemming from the functionalist approach of Talcott Parsons have imposed an essentially conservative system maintenance set of concerns on the field. Gouldner suggests that Parsons's approach reflects a lifelong opposition to socialism. In fact, Parsons's personal history belies these contentions. Further, a variety of survey studies, including a major unpublished one by Gouldner, indicate that sociologists as a group have been the most left-disposed field in academe, an occupation which is to the left of other strata. Within sociology, the "achievers," those at the most prestigeous schools, who have published most, and have the most research funds, are to the left of others in the field. This pattern reflects a general characteristics of intellectual life in which the most successful people hold more unorthodox socially critical views, behavior which may stem from a link between creativity and heterodoxy. The fact that sociology is to the left of other fields may be inherent in the subject material it deals with, its distrust of reason, and its role as a debunker.

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