The Social Sciences - Why not merge?

Barbara Ruth Campbell (campbell@I-2000.COM)
Thu, 22 Feb 1996 19:14:08 EST

You know you are in deep trouble when while watching tapes of "Ancient
Mysteries" you think, why are all the anthropologists and sociologists and
historians bitching about funding and scholarship and mission statements
when all they have to do is merge like the giant corporations do? True,
AT&T wants to now break up but they actually have distinct market niches.

Then I log on (before taking my mom for an MRI and blood tests to confirm
an initial diagnosis of Alzheimer's) to see if I have any worthwhile
messages and what do I see but a post - a lucid, well made, point by
Dan and now I see, others, that sociology is in disarray and really why
do some people study history and others study anthropology?

For you see, if you watch a lot of T.V. - educational, of course, except
for Gargoyles, well that's educational but most adults wouldn't acknowledge
it 'cause it's a cartoon but one of the best fantasy scripts I've seen -
but I digress. If you watch a lot of the documentaries, you see the
researcher interviewing historians, then archaeologists, then psychologists,
nutritionists, etc. etc.. You don't get to see very many team efforts. You
don't see studies, say of an entire village in 16th c. Spain or a 12th Dynasty
Egyptian fishing village. What you do get, is a rogue Renaissance,
NON-ACADEMICALLY ALIGNED, wiz kid type who pulls it all together.

For example, right now there's the program on "Pharaohs and Biblical Kings"
on "The Learning Channel". One man who synthesizes.

We (well, not me, I'm destined to become a full time caregiver) but you know
"we" don't synthesize much in any of the social sciences. Each individual
is so pressed to get tenure or a promotion or funding, no one is presenting
the BIG PICTURE. You find people working in living museums - amateur fanatics
who actually wear reproductions of the underwear of the time - who know more
about life in Plymouth or Salem or Tang Dynasty China than the very historians,
anthropologists, and sociolgists who purport to know these things.

Why not just rebel? Lay down your pens if you still use them, shut off your
computers, ban together and storm the provosts' offices around the world
and demand to synthesize the social sciences into just that. Become social
scientists. Fuse your knowledge and make an impact on the growth of knowledge.

Make armchair travel enthusiasts shut off the "Travel Channel" and go visit
the site of this or that and bring life back then, or God forbid, right now -
to life. Tours of urban areas, modern day fishing villages, farmer's barnyards
- what are the economic situations? Why do journalists like Charles Kuralt get
to have all the fun - AND MONEY folks, those guys make money, do we?

Margaret Mead and Franz Boas and all the rest made anthropology a household
word. What have the rest of us done with it? Will Durant made history
come alive (well sort of, I liked it but it does get dull). But do 99.9 percent
of academic historians make history sing? What if we merge the two?

Why are classical archaeologists not trained to think like paleoarchaeolgists?

Or are they now? They didn't used to be.

Personally I'm really sick of all the griping and whining and belly aching going
on at Anthro-L. If life stinks, pull up your pants folks and go out there
and fight to make a difference! Destroy the paradigm you're all living with!
Just destroy it before you all breakdown and end up wandering around your
offices wondering whether you have a doctor's appointment or whether it's
time to go home!!!!!!


Barbara Ruth Campbell, Ph.D.
Westfield, New Jersey 07090

"Sensitivity to the role of paradigms in our perception can be
an important tool in problem solving. Once we know that all our
problems cannot be solved within the frame of a curren paradigm,
then it is sometimes possible to solve a problem by reframing its
terms" - Schwartz and Ogilvy, 1979.