Bendix, Richard. "Sociology and The Distrust of Reason," American Sociological Review 35

 

Bendix, Richard. "Sociology and The Distrust of Reason," American Sociological Review 35
(October, 1970), pp. 831- 843.

This is a period piece. At the opening of the decade which was to reveal so much, here is a
spokesperson for sociology explaining to us just what is going on. He finds that the rationality
which forms the basis of scientific sociology is now mistrusted by a large and growing segment
of the population. Rationality no longer occupies the place of honor it is supposed to have in our
rational society. This article suggests how we have come down this Road To Suspicion, by
Remmling, and how the label "fascist" is used by the subjective/emotionalist to refer to the
rational mode of analysis.

The politicizing of sociology during the Viet Nam war, the race crisis, and the hubbub of the late
1960s meant that an entire generation was made aware of the potential for opposition by people
whose political values differed but who were supposed to be sociologists. Reason itself was
questioned as a satisfactory bridge over the chasm of disbelief in either method or theory.

Bendix tries to trace the history of this sort of distrust of sociology. He has a passion for the use
of reason and he has high hopes for sociology. But here is something of a paradox: one adds to
the total of confusion by adding sociological constructivism and sociological relativism.
Sociology is essentially destructive to "certainty."