|About the Sociology of Music|
by Jennifer Lena
|Both McCloskey and Weber|
cite Benjamin Franklin as
our capitalist Paradigm
First, I point to the semantic distinction that sociology has a "business" rather than a goal, mandate, purpose, calling, mission, imperative or objective. Moreover, if any segment of civilized society has this "sociological imagination" is merchants, traders, buyers and sellers, shopkeepers, and capitalists. We know from the historical record that a community of Sumerians lived among the Hittites. Deeper still, if anything ameliorated contact between bands of hunter-gatherers most likely to come to blows over territory, it was the exchange of gifts. In Africa, 12,000 years ago, sea shells daubed with red ochre and strung together traveled far. The "dumb barter" method perhaps invented by Phoenicians depends on trust -- and insight into the wants of others. Herodotus says that the Lydians were the first retailers. He may have been factually incorrect while still hinting to the remnants of the Hittite-Sumerian engagement; but the fact is that he cared enough about retailing to wonder how it started - and he knew that the Greeks did not invent it.
“It is sociology’s task to study the resulting balance between social reproduction and social transformation.” (page 6) Giddens cites the founders of the study: Comte, Durkheim, Marx, Weber, Foucault, and Habermas.
“Habermas is perhaps the leading sociological thinker in the world today. … According to Habermas, capitalist societies, in which change is ever present, tend to destroy the moral order on which they in fact depend. We live in a social order where economic growth tends to take precedence over all else – but this situation creates a lack of meaning in everyday life. Here Habermas comes back to Durkheim’s concept of anomie, although he applies it in a new and original way.” (Page 12.)
|Spencer may have created |
"The Modern Life"
Where is the "sociological imagination" to accept the morality of capitalism on its own terms, rather than ethnocentrically condemning it for not being one's own? Empirical evidence is also lacking. How many "capitalist societies" did he examine? In 3000 years, China never had one. Greece and Rome were not. Did this happen to the Islamic Golden Age that the drive for profits destroyed the moral foundation of Islam? Was this the case in Renaissance Italy, or in Holland later, or then in England and America? Are these different capitalist societies or continued expressions of the same one? How have Singapore and Hong Kong fared? Is Singapore in moral decline? How would you measure that? Any moral standard would by definition be objective, which is denied by the insistence on the "sociological imagination."
Nothing in Giddens's introductory chapter
approaches a marketable use for the study. No citation exists for a sociologist who actually made the world a better place. We have many critics, of course, but nothing like a lightbulb or a suspension bridge or a computer or a medicine is offered. I submit that any such examples that could be found are submerged under an anti-capitalist mentality that decries earning money by invention, making fortunes by removing inefficiencies, earning a living by creating markets. Sociologists might mention Thomas Edison, but they are not happy that he was a millionaire. (In fact, Giddens does not cite "invention" at all, though he does discuss "innovation centers" as a kind of city where bright people come together as at Cambridge. )
I agree 100% that stepping outside your given cultural context is important. This is required for understanding that others near to you or far away are different. Indeed, in our global capitalist society you may have more in common with people geographically distant from you, but culturally close. That said, the fundamental error is that sociology attempts to study societies, organizations, firms, polities, and groups without acknowledging the individual as the primary element of any conglomerate, agglomerate, or confluence.
|Simmel studied Money|
on its own terms
Sociology has the same value as a liberal education. Indeed, sociology could be the gateway to the liberal arts. I suggest that the most profitable path to that goal is for sociology to begin with the individual and demonstrate the reward in pursuing it as an academic study with market utility.