Re: Anthropology and Sociology

Adrian Tanner (atanner@MORGAN.UCS.MUN.CA)
Mon, 19 Feb 1996 14:32:54 -0330

I favour both the maintanance of anthropology and sociology as two separate
disciplines, but would also like to see more examination of the overlap
between them. Their difference comes from their historically different
research methods, (anthro - long term participant observation, language
learning, identification with subject, generalized study of small, face to
face groups; soc - use of insider's knowledge, specialized focus, ability to
encompass mass society, use of statistical tools), all of which is, in turn,
linked to the size of the groups which is the object of that research. While
at one time there were other important differences (basically, depending on
which side of Polanyi's "Great Transformation" the society which was the
object of study was located), recent world history means that this division
is somewhat clouded over and the difference is no longer as fruitful as it
was, while the research method one, referred to above, is and will continue
to be. This is because it has lead, and continues to lead, to two logically
quite different theoretical traditions.

We need to pursue these two theoetical traditions separately, but we also
need to be constantly checking on the one we are not ourselves immersed in,
because our ultimate aim should be a theoretical account of humanity. Which
also implies that we should also read a bit of philosophy as well, now and
again. And while we are engineering disciplinery reallignments, lets make
all other social science disciplines our - I was going to say 'handmaidens',
but, after my 'watchdog' goof, in a desire to become flame-proof, I will
substitute - servants.

> Item proposed for discussion:Should the disciplines of Anthropology and
>Sociology remain separate disciplines, why? or Why not? Friendly debate
>only, leave the flame wars for other threads. I am trying to set up a
>corner of Anthro-l that is a demilitarized zone. ;-)
>Jay Kotliar
>The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well
>as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets
>and to steal bread.
>-Anatole France, Crainquebille.

Adrian Tanner, Dept of Anthropology, Memorial University, St John's,
Newfoundland, Canada. A1C 5S7. email Tel 709 737
8868 fax 737 8686