Chaos of Disciplines

Chaos of Disciplines

Andrew Abbott

Language: English

Pages: 276

ISBN: 0226001016

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

In this vital new study, Andrew Abbott presents a fresh and daring analysis of the evolution and development of the social sciences. Chaos of Disciplines reconsiders how knowledge actually changes and advances. Challenging the accepted belief that social sciences are in a perpetual state of progress, Abbott contends that disciplines instead cycle around an inevitable pattern of core principles. New schools of thought, then, are less a reaction to an established order than they are a reinvention of fundamental concepts.
Chaos of Disciplines uses fractals to explain the patterns of disciplines, and then applies them to key debates that surround the social sciences. Abbott argues that knowledge in different disciplines is organized by common oppositions that function at any level of theoretical or methodological scale. Opposing perspectives of thought and method, then, in fields ranging from history, sociology, and literature, are to the contrary, radically similar; much like fractals, they are each mutual reflections of their own distinctions.

Tristes Tropiques

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History

The Concept of Structuralism: A Critical Analysis

The Accompaniment: Assembling the Contemporary

















1971. On insidious life events see Dohrenwend and Dohrenwend 1978. On the confounding of social support and life events, see Dean and Lin 1977 and Thoits 1982. 24. Complaints about methods per se-statistical techniques-occupied a smaller part of the critical literature on stress. Writers complained about the use of retrospective data, simple statistics, and cross-sectional designs, as well as about incautious sampling, particularly once "help seeking" became defined as a means of coping, thus

examined past social groups. Each of these alternatives embodied a somewhat different move away from the analytic, causalist approach to understanding social life and each, like "official" historical soci010gy, entailed a body of work and a group of people doing it. Work involving data over time became common in sociology as methodological change finally slowed to the point where old datasets could support current techniques. But the move toward old or panel data was not accompanied by a change

them a specific disciplinary market. Universities can perhaps cancel a department here and there or perhaps merge two departments (like sociology and anthropology). But even these minor gestures reflect fluctuations in resources more than willingness to challenge fundamental employment structures. The most celebrated recent merger of the social sciences-Harvard's Department of Social Relations (merging social anthropology, social psychology, and sociology)-broke up as soon as its founder, Talcott

earlier ones, these two final chapters are speculative. I take the earlier analyses to establish the utility of self-similarity as an approach to thinking about cultural and social structures. Here I wish to push into the unknown. As a result, these chapters have much less scholarly machinery and indeed are written in a different tone. They mix examples from a wide variety of venues with illustrative formal analyses and straightforward theoretical argument. They are meant to raise questions and

sociology. That is, we cannot assume that the dichotomy of narrativism versus causalism simply produces a linear scale from pure narrativism to pure causalism, because the second-level distinctions produce in this case groups that have moved past each other on the scale (see fig. 1.4). It is, however, wrong to emplot this particular example as a simple fractal distinction. For the two levels of the split reflect different kinds of structures. The first split-the disciplinary distinction of

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