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Kung Fu Sociology

imagesI often say sociology is a martial art, a means of self-defense. Basically, you use it to defend yourself, without having the right to use it for unfair attacks.

Pierre Bourdieu

As with all data, facts, information, or intellectual discipline, social science can be used honestly to reveals truths about the human condition or applied selectively to support preconceptions and bolster entrenched ideology.  In this blog post, the writer who cites Professor Bourdieu correctly identifies examples of disingenuous conclusions reached through misapplication of facts and logic.  At the same time, however, the writer indulges his own personal biases by making sweeping assumptions about headline events without regard for established facts.

In the same way we have no right to misapply data to fit our preexisting notions, neither are we justified imposing our world view on specific situations that objectively refuse to fit our own personal narrative.

Civil society depends upon debate that is both civil and intellectually honest.  When we manipulate conclusions, we fail in the art of social kung fu.  I imagine that Professor Bourdieu would agree.


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