Social science has tried to tackle some of the most formidable problems that confront civilization: poverty, destitution and homelessness; revolution and social transformations; relations among the races, genders, and classes; the sources and dynamics of inequality; crime and violence; and the like. As a science, we believe that these troubles of the human condition can be approached scientifically, that theories and hypotheses about them can be formulated and tested against empirical evidence, that faulty viewpoints can be uncovered and discarded, and that correct theory can be distinguished from mere ideology. The essays collected here, all of which originaly appeared in Society Magazine, were written in that spirit.
The founder and long-time editor of Society, Irving Louis Horowitz, wrote 20 years ago about the “decomposition” of sociology and contended that the discipline had been transformed from a central discipline within the social sciences to “an ideological outpost of political extremism.” If he is right, all hope for the discipline evaporates. The essays printed in this volume constitute a thin sliver of evidence that he is wrong.
The book ranges widely over topics such as public opinion and the war in Vietnam, America’s homeless, the minimum wage, the depiction of sociology in the popular press, guns in America, the social advantages of good looks, the future of the American small town, and the nature and treatment of addictions. What ties these diverse topics into a whole is only that they are the things I have spent my life studying and writing about.
Published by Transaction Publishers in 2016.