Contemporary Sociological Thought: Themes and Theories by Sean P Hier

By Sean P Hier

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Because one does not subscribe to the unthinking doctrine that sociology must in all respects hew to the line laid down by chemistry, physics, or biology, one need not subscribe to the contrary doctrine that it must emulate history, discursive philosophy, or literature. Each to his last, and the last of the sociologist is that of lucidly presenting claims to logically interconnected and empirically confirmed propositions about the behavior of man in his relations with other men, and the social consequences of that behavior.

But similar considerations also apply to the other departments of culture, to non-empirical existential ideas, to expressive symbol systems and, above all, to paĴerns of valueorientation about which much will have to be said in what follows. It was pointed out above that tendencies to deviant behavior on the part of the component actors pose functional “problems” for the social system in the sense that they must be counteracted by “mechanisms of control” unless dysfunctional consequences are to ensue.

A mechanism as the term will here be used is an empirical generalization about motivational processes stated in terms of its relevance to the functional problems of an action system. […] Cf. C. Tolman, Purposive Behavior in Animals and Men. On the general problem of functional prerequisites of the social system see Aberle, Cohen, Davis, Levy, SuĴon, “The Functional Prerequisites of a Society,” Ethics, IX (January, 1950), 100–111. The present treatment is indebted to their paper, but departs from it rather radically.

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