Friday, October 20, 2023

Dry Goods

There has  of course, always been popularized sociology. In the 50s you had tomes like The Status Seekers. Later came Future Shock and Thy Neighbor's Wife. Tom Wolfe and Norman Mailer both practiced a kind of new journalistic pop sociology. Even though Bonfire of the Vanities is supposedly a novel, it actually functions as a documentary about the food chain of New York class. But there was a time when serious academic sociology exuded a kind of poetry that stands in stark contrast to the sociometrics so prevalent today. Consider these titles: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Class and Class Conflict in Industrial Society. The End of Ideology, Street Corner Society, The Lonely Crowd, The Metropolis and Mental Life, Suicide and a classic whose observations cross the aisle to philosophy and psychology both Erving Goffman's The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. What happened? Perhaps the answer lies in the notion of "disenchantment" described by Max Weber wherein scientism replaced the belief in invisible notions like that of the soul. Bruno Bettelheim's Freud and Man’s Soul dealt with a similar division between science and spirit in the psychoanalytic world. Perhaps sociology needs psychoanalysis.

read the review of Francis Levy's The Kafka Studies Department on Booklist

and listen "Bernadette" by The Four Tops

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