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Talk:Sociology

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This Sociology related article has not received a brainstar for quality. Please consider expanding the article appropriately. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

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psychology for Marxists[edit]

While a "fact" tag might have been better User:RaoulDuke makes a good point when he points out that the only time the phrase "psychology for Marxists" occurs on the entire interweb is in this article.

Consequentially I have cut the disputed section to this talk page below.

Cut begins .....

Opposition to Sociology[edit]

Because sociology focuses on groups and cultures rather than individuals, many conservatives dismiss it as "psychology for Marxists." [1]


  1. Or at least we imagine they do. A Google search for the phrase (sociology + "psychology for marxists" + conservative) yields exactly one hit....the present article.

Cut ends .... --BobNot Jim 22:06, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

I wasn't trying to make a big deal or nothin', I just thought it was kinda cool and worth mentioning that it turned out to be a googlewhack...RaoulDuke 22:10, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Hi Raoul. Thanks for pointing out the problem. The thing is that we tend not to put such argumentative points within articles themselves but raise them on the talk page with perhaps a "fact" tag in the article itself. Another possibility, if you wish to avoid starting an edit war with what you fear might be a controversial edit, is to make a note on the talk page and say that you intend to change the article within 12-24 hours unless somebody else has a better idea. :-) We try to avoid articles which snark against themselves.--BobNot Jim 22:20, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
Given the fact that it's a, what, two-sentence-long article that is pretty much off-mission for the wiki to begin with, a little self-referencing, self-deprecating snark isn't necessarily a bad thing, is it? As Frank Zappa said, "whatever happened to all the fun in the world"? RaoulDuke 22:58, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Well, since nobody else seems to mind, I have re-inserted a little self-referencing, self-deprecating snark...RaoulDuke 15:13, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

It seems faintly absurd to add something which is obviously wrong along with a complaint about it.--BobNot Jim 15:17, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
There is only one "reliable" source as to whether social conservatives hate sociology... And it appears they don't. Scarlet A.pngtheist 15:22, 29 September 2009 (UTC)
Actually an interesting and on-mission angle would be "Is sociology science?" But I'm not up to adding it.--BobNot Jim 18:49, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

"It seems faintly absurd to add something which is obviously wrong along with a complaint about it..." It's not a complaint. It's a joke, son...RaoulDuke 22:04, 29 September 2009 (UTC)

Scientific Method is used in Sociology[edit]

The part that says sociology doesn't follow the scientific method is sort of BS. They design experiments, use controls, and use statistical analysis for results. I have read sociological studies and I have never once thought of it as "ideological" in any sense. Experiments are conducted as best as they can be from observing behavior; much like psychology, which I don't see being said is an ideological exercise. Don't want to sound Wikipedia here but is there any source for that statement? -- EWildman (talk) 20:00, 12 January 2011 (UTC)

Please improve. This article would benefit by being worked on by somebody who has actually studied sociology (at least a little) rather than just people who've heard of it. ΨΣΔξΣΓΩΙÐWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 21:10, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
I have a very close friend who was a sociology student for 4 years, he often said he was pissed off at how it wasn't scientific at all and envied my degree as a scientist. Although the caveat is that this is one person, an opinion and as a student who never did a science degree (and barely got through the sociology one intact, to be honest). And I think he was mostly ranting about the women's studies module that was run by an all-sex-is-rape feminist that, oddly enough, never had a male student pass her course. I don't doubt some of the actual research is scientific but some of the conclusions and assertions are pretty baseless and subjective. Scarlet A.pngtheist 21:25, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
It sounds like your friend had terrible instructors. I can most definitely see how it can at times be abused for ideological reasons, especially considering it's history in labor movements, anti-male tripe, and how one of the big founders is also the one of the people behind communism. I think your friend's criticism about it's unscientific nature is a common problem with a lot of social sciences in general. My brother is an economist and he constantly makes fun of the concept of "experiments" in the field because of the number of assumptions that one has to make to build a model. Psychology suffers some of the same problems as they use statistical analysis to conduct much of their research. I would be curious to which assertions are baseless and subjective? Not being a dick, actually curious. I have heard the discipline be criticized for it's use of statistical models over actual experiments, but I have not really heard anything about it producing mostly crap. From what I have been able to glean from my experience in studying it formally (very minor amount in college) and informally, it's a useful area of study that has helped explain plenty of social phenomena. Sorry for the long response :) -- EWildman (talk) 21:38, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
For those of us who tend to be a bit skeptical about it could you give an example of the social phenomena which it explains? (And which presumably couldn't be explained without it.) Thanks.--BobSpring is sprung! 21:49, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Bystander effect, labeling affect, deviant amplification spiral, plus these here.. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that sociology is the best method of studying society as a whole. This article just reads to me that the entire discipline is ideologically driven and produces nothing of value, which from my experience hasn't been the case. I'm new though so feel free to ignore me if I am being stupid :) -- EWildman (talk) 21:59, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, it's outside the area of my direct expertise. As I said, I've only bothered looking into it when people have said what horseshit they're being taught - so undoubtedly I'm suffering a selection bias of what sociology I know outside the usual suspects (bystander effect, Milgram's obedience study, BF Skinner, yadda yadda). Scarlet A.pngtheist 22:55, 12 January 2011 (UTC)
Oh this is outside my area of expertise as well. I only nominally studied sociology to augment my business studies and know little aside from some research methods and some concepts. I am also very likely suffering from selection bias as well since I had great professors and I mostly look into sociology when interesting studies are being conducted. Is everyone cool with me just adding little bits of information slowly to this, regarding research methods, scope, and all that slowly? -- EWildman (talk) 02:38, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Mmmm. Can we blame cultural relativism and postmodernism on sociology?--BobSpring is sprung! 06:45, 13 January 2011 (UTC)
Postmodernism didn't originate within sociology, but among the social sciences (excluding literary studies), it's easily the field that has embraced it the most, and it's the source of most of the bullshit plagueing it. Which of course doesn't mean that there aren't sociologists who take the scientific method seriously and try as hard as they can to employ it, it's just that even they necessarily have to deal with a lot of subjectivity and immaterial factors that you can't really measure or conduct experiments on. So as a field, sociology isn't more or less scientific than economics or political science, it just may feature a larger share of people who have embraced nonsensical philosophies. Röstigraben (talk) 08:10, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

The current state of this article[edit]

Is total shit for a lack of better terminology. Sociologists (at least all of the ones that I have studied under) accept the scientific method and positivism, and most are well versed in the current developments in Psychology/Neurology and Biology, and the implications that they have on the social sciences as a whole. I think the biggest problem though is the lack of depth on what it is that Sociologists actually do, and the theories and ideas behind it.

I think this winter I'm going to commit myself to rewriting this page from the ground up. Sadly at present I'm stuck writing a long essay on Robert Bork, and I'll be occupied with that and other projects for sometime. Smedley (talk) 22:35, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

Agreed. I'm removing some of the nonsense, but it does need a lot of a rewrite. I'll give you a hand.--ADtalkModerator 23:59, 24 October 2011 (UTC)

A basic covering of the main theories would be nice.[edit]

A summary of conflict theory, functionalism, social interaction theory, and even feminist influences would improve this article a lot. I haven't actually edited an article before as I'm pretty new but I'm knowledgeable in this area and this article needs it. So i guess I'll try?— Unsigned, by: Legal JWH-018 / talk / contribs

Please do. Beware, if you're going to significantly change the tone of the article, you might find some objections. If, however, you're going to add some well needed scholarship, please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top.
If you're new to editing wikis then don't forget the 'show preview' button. This saves the embarrassment of endless entries in Recent Changes while you tweak things to get them right. Innocent Bystander (talk) 16:52, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
EC We're not a general use encyclopedia, so I wouldn't put too much effort into that, except where you can link those concepts to the basic mission. When Roosevelt came to the land of the hummingbird, shouts of welcome were heard!. 16:54, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Expanding[edit]

I'm currently working on expanding this article to include the main sociological theories and concepts. Once I summarize the basic ideas I'll come back and add more specific sources and data. AugustusCaesar (talk) 20:31, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

What 'Theory' is in Science, and Why Sociology is Fundamentally Not Science[edit]

A theory in science is built upon a body of evidence and describes a mechanism for a phenomenon, in contrast to the way a law in science describes the behavior of a phenomenon in mathematical terms. A theory doesn't necessarily need to discuss real phenomena (for instance, you'll find plenty of theories in particle physics that suppose impossible particles, in order to analyze the implications of their existence), but all theories contribute to a greater understanding of the field. Due to the nature of fact and theory in science, however, it's accepted that all theories are inherently incomplete and are subject to revision or rejection based on any conflicting or otherwise unexplained data that may crop up; the most robust and long-lived theories are therefore ones with the strongest predictive power.

In sociology, however, “theory" is a complete inversion of that concept. A sociological theory is effectively defined as a lens through which you interpret evidence. You put yourself into a camp, and you twist your findings to line up with your "theory" of choice. There's no rational basis for any major sociological theory, be it conflict theory, structural functionalism, symbolic interactionism, ethnomethodology, dramaturgy, or whatever other "theory" you can pull out of your derrière. The whole basis for any of this is something sociologists call “sociological imagination”, wherein you imagine how things are meant to work in society, as if you were looking in from the outside. It falls outside the reach of my imagination how anybody could take such conclusions seriously.

The closest thing to science you may find in sociology is called grounded theory. Despite being slipshod and undisciplined, it at least understands the fallacy of a priori statements, and at least attempts to develop a rigorous methodology with which to find reliable knowledge. However, its attempt to apply the scientific method is very often criticized by so-called researchers who claim sociology should remain intuitive.

Sociology, as an entire field, is thus not even a pseudoscience. Pseudoscience would imply it uses a poor facsimile of the scientific method to draw flimsy conclusions from unreliable data, and then present that as some sort of fact. No, sociology is a total non-science. It is ideologically driven drivel that has no proper place in academia.

Oh sure, sociologists set up experiments. So do homeopaths. And sure, sociologists analyze numbers. So do numerologists.

There’s nothing more to note here. The fruits of all the money and effort wasted on sociology are not even worth discussing, because from the very get-go, it’s all done so wrong that it’s not even wrong.

Seriously, just crack open any college-level introductory textbook on the subject. If you understand the scientific method, you'll find far too much bullshit to take sociology seriously.

What ?[edit]

The new version is a bit weird. Sociology is a pseudoscience because it is lefty and doens't acknoledge the advantages of some races ? Is there something I'm understanding wrong ? Diacelium (talk) 07:09, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

It's not pseudoscience but it does have faults and shortcomings. Cranks believe that because it has bias that it's complete bullshit. It does have bias in some areas but not others. I'll admit that the article is ambiguous in areas and has nonmissional places, but it was better than before.—HamburgerPlate Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 07:31, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
I think I understand now. You weren't talking about biological advantages and disadvantages, but that every race has it's social advantages and disavantadges, that's it ? Diacelium (talk) 07:47, 26 December 2016 (UTC)
Indeed.—HamburgerPlate Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 07:50, 26 December 2016 (UTC)

Objectionable statements[edit]

"Whether it's an actually good science is a different story. Sociology attempts to explain people without looking into the psychical brain. Ultimately, to understand people, the brain needs to be understood. For example, Rudolf Otto'sWikipedia's W.svg The Idea of the HolyWikipedia's W.svg attempts to describe religious experiences.Wikipedia's W.svg What you get is an extremely convoluted mess that neuroscience does a better job at explaining. Fortunately, neurosociology,Wikipedia's W.svg a new form of sociology, looks promising."

I don't think I like what I'm reading. I thought sociology focuses on groups on a big scale (society, social status, race, language) while psychology is the one that studies the brain and individual behavior, emphasis on "individual". Both are very related and I think both contribute to each other. The next sentence is a kinda weird analogy. Unlike discussing and describing religious experiences, sociology is more rigorous (there are steps that are very similar to the scientific method: form a hypothesis, review the literature, conduct an experiment, compile the results, repeat) and it even originated from Augustus Comte applying the scientific method to society behavior. Sociology is a very broad and complex area of study, and I find it weird to see it being compared to paranormal experiences that can be explained by science. Furthermore, earlier in the article what "common point" is apparently referred as is backed up with references from one blog that says that sociology isn't a science but is still a valid and useful field of study, a site from "youthdebates" which sounds like soliciting opinions from young people and not academic argument, and one blog defending sociology as a science. Overall, it's nothing formal and it's very little substance to me. It's better than nothing, but not convincing to me that there is an actual debate if sociology is a science or not. This article also uses a bad, simplistic definition of a science to try to conclude that sociology is a science because "it studies something and if you study something, it's a science"... that's not exactly the right definition especially not within the scope of RationalWiki.

In other words, I don't think this article is very good. Seeing this talk page, I see that it seems to have problems from the beginning. LEFTYGREENMARIO 05:30, 6 March 2017 (UTC)

I tried, the article is "better" but it's still awful. But really, I don't think I can make this article missional. I say we AFD this.—HamburgerPlate Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 05:39, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
Hm, I see this comment here on the talkpage. I don't think it's half bad actually.—HamburgerPlate Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 05:42, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
I've also read the comment, though I think it's not the best argument against sociology. For instance, it tries to construct the word "theory" (in "conflict theory") and asserts that they "have no rational basis" and the commentor "cannot imagine how concepts like 'sociological imagination' can be taken seriously" without explaining why and showing evidence of why the methods of sociology is wrong. I don't think these theories are a result of "twisting findings until they fit" but are a framework for observations on society, which the observations are evidence. The comment asserts that "there is no rational basis" but it doesn't explain why there is no rational basis to it. The conflict theory has evidence for it, for example, such as how politics (and many aspects of life) is controlled by the elite (true) and the wealthy 1% has all the power and control, more than the bottom 90%, in the U.S.. Finally, the comment says that it is "ideologically-driven drivel", but I ignore that part of the sentence because it comes off to me as a rant and doesn't lend any weight to the argument. Needless to say, I'm skeptical of this user's claims. The article cited on why sociology is not a science does a better job at explaining, though it still simplifies it (i.e. "The only kind of observation in sociology is of the survey type"; note the word "only"; a search on Wikipedia provides a big list that isn't even exhaustive). I won't offer a detailed comment on the blogpost but I think I disagree with it. It also says that early theories contradict and contradict today. I don't think they contradict as much as they provide different perspectives on analyzing society. Both the comment and the blogpost here sound like a simplistic view of sociology and trying to refute that.
I believe we can try to make it missional because we have an entire category on sociology alone and many articles we cover has ties to it. We do have articles on other broad areas of scientific study like biology, psychology, mathematics, iridology, so this article should be rewritten to make it more like how these fields are written. Maybe it can take a page from biology, showing its brief history, what it researches, its applications, important viewpoints on society (like conflict theory), and branches of sociology like criminology. I don't think I'm up for it, though I hope that's a good start. In this case, rewriting is better than deletion. LEFTYGREENMARIO 06:14, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
I just returned the article to the older version. But really, what about sociology is missional? I also don't find that biology or mathematics are missional articles either yet they exist to this day. Why?—HamburgerPlate Spinning-Burger.gif (talkstalk) 06:48, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
My best guess is that to say that something isn't consistent with science, you have to have an article on the science, defining what it is first, and the actual field of it to distinguish it from what pseudoscience believes. But if we're going to delete sociology because it's a broad topic that isn't missional, you have to consider the many broad science topics which do have articles first and initiate another discussion on those pages in general. LEFTYGREENMARIO 01:08, 7 March 2017 (UTC)