Over on OrgTheory, Steve Vaisey takes sociologists to task for what he seems to perceive as unwarranted political commitment. Apparently because sociologists tend to be “liberal” (as useless a term as that is), we are less objective than we ought to be and we think stuff for partisan, as opposed to soundly scientific, reasons. (I am paraphrasing here, of course.)
I beg to differ. The American political landscape is bizarre and extraordinarily narrow by any big-picture measure. The idea that any smart group of people ought to be randomly scattered between Obama and McCain is silly, for (at least) three reasons:
1.) One of the two may be <strong>better</strong> than the other; a random scatter suggests no underlying difference in quality of candidate, party, or philosopy.
2.) The true range of political views is in fact far broader than the range between Obama and McCain. It starts further “left” and goes further “right.” There’s no sound reason to mark the two presidential candidates as the boundaries of reasonable political thought. So if we were to assume, even, that sociologists’ political views are randomly distributed across the true political spectrum, but the Obama-McCain continuum is right of the center of that spectrum, we would observe so-called “bias” because American political discourse is biased, not because sociologists are.
3.) The hack-Weberian idea that sociologists ought to avoid making politico-moral commitments in professional life is, IMHO, literally untenable after Riesman, Marx, Adorno, Arendt, Chodorow, Foucault, Bauman, etc., etc., etc. I think this is just a kind of tilting-at-scientific-windmills that imagines sociology as a pure, sterile science, but one that misunderstands both science and sociology.
Look for another post soon considering so-called bias in academia.