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Sociological Reasoning is a classic study in sociology and philosophy by a leading French intellectual (and the co-author of several influential works with Pierre Bourdieu from 1964 to 1970). Jean-Claude Passeron’s book was first published in 1991 and in a second revised and extended edition in 2006 (from which this book is translated).
Passeron argues that to recognise sociology to be “scientific” involves situating it as an “in-between” science, neither reduced to the perceptions contained in the narratives of individuals nor generating a-historical truths of human behaviour in society.
Sociological Reasoning considers in systematic fashion the tensions which still persist between humanistic and scientistic versions of sociological explanation, between “soft” and “hard” science, or “qualitative” and “quantitative” methodologies. The book resists these facile dualities. It offers chapters which demonstrate the way in which theoretical speculation was integral to Passeron’s research practice, and a final chapter which adopts philosophical discourse to present a powerful articulation of the distinctive character of social science. Written in part as a response to the influential ideas of Karl Popper, Passeron’s book explores the truth claims of sociological explanation, and stimulates consideration of the validity of research enquiries and findings.
This edition contains a substantial introductory essay by Derek Robbins in which he situates the work of both Passeron and Bourdieu within the French tradition of the epistemology of the social sciences, and offers guidelines for differentiating between the positions adopted by these two thinkers.
About the Author:
Jean-Claude Passeron was born in 1930. In the 1960s he co-authored with Bourdieu the influential texts published in English as The Inheritors (1979) and Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (1977). He has directed various research groups, culminating in the direction of the Sociologie, Histoire, Anthropologie des Dynamiques Culturelles group from 1992 until 1996. His other publications include: Le Savant et le populaire: misérabilisme et populisme en sociologie et en littérature (1989, with Claude Grignon); Richard Hoggart en France (ed. 1999) and Un Itinéraire de sociologue, forthcoming.
Part I - Sociological Reasoning: An In-Between Reasoning
Chapter 2 - The Words of Sociology: An Impracticable Vocabulary
Part II - Sociological Writing: Control of Natural Languages
Chapter 6 - Illusory Controls: Polemic, Policing, Asceticism, Formalism, Zoology
Part III - Enquiry and Interpretation
Chapter 10 - Historical Statement: Information, Knowledge, Intelligibility
Part IV - Heuristics and Sociological Applications
Chapter 13 - Figures and Contestations of Culture: Legitimacy and Cultural Relativism
Conclusion - Propositions, Scholia, and Definitions
Chapter 16 - Sociological Reasoning: Recapitulative Propositions