the social change thing

kelley kcwalker at
Tue Aug 10 18:50:35 PDT 1999

>never talked about morality once.

you wrote:

"no, I'm saying in a roundabout and hesitant way I guess that if you're a part of an institutional research agenda then you should either get the hell out of other people's lives or you should only do research which is _entirely_ useless from the perspective of social control, motivation, and social cohesion."

the use of "should" here is a normative claim--a judgment--about what constitutes 'good' social research and what ought to be done and not done according to some theoretical/political vision. i'd like to say the same thing as you do about all kinds of social research particularly the folks who do "policy" research that i've been exposed to most of my intellectual life. however, i don't say that they *should* get the hell out of that line of work or they *should* do what i think they ought to do simply because i say. rather, i would try to offer some sort of nuanced internal explication and critique of the logic of that theory/research-- not unlike a recent examination of the competing class interests and struggles that led to the rise of the breadwinner wage. such an analysis does indeed make a judgment but it does so in a way that is suggestive of something other than individual culpability or bad or ill-informed decision-making.

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