eth icity & identity, a blast from the past

Martin Cohen (mcohen@UCLA.EDU)
Fri, 16 Feb 1996 09:22:59 -0700

JMartin wrote:

>How about a thread on why functionalism and structuralism were discarded

A bit of oversimplification, but here is my quick take on this: It would
be nice to say it is because they were replaced by models that work better
and tell us more, or at least direct us to better research. But I think
the real reason is that academics is driven, to a large extent, by fads.
We like to rebel against the old profs who had rebelled against their old
profs. You can build a career on a new perspective if enough people
follow. You can build a career by chosing to follow the right new
perspective. Working with old models doesn't get you anywhere before you
make tenure. At its worst, this leads to what Walter Goldschmidt has
called "bumper-sticker theory". That is, theoretical orientations that can
be reduced to thin slogans. I'll wait for the Kuhnians to reply.
Martin Cohen