Andreski, Stanislav. Social Sciences as Sorcery. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972.

 

Andreski, Stanislav. Social Sciences as Sorcery. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1972.

Years ago I reviewed Andreski's Military Organization and Society, which I found pedantic, dull,
and full of useless neologisms. This book is arrogant, autocratic, angry and very well written. If it
is to be faulted, it is with the author's certainties: he knows that there is something terribly wrong
with social science. In this he apes Sorokin's Fads and Foibles, in castigating everyone for
"quantophrenia" and other madness. He picks on the Big Names: Parsons, Merton, Homans and
Skinner.

It is an unyielding book. Structure-functionalism is an ideological restatement of Spencer's
organicism, lacking, as Spencer insisted, the value-laden acceptance of yeomanship.
Structure-functionalism provides an ideology suited to the rational society. What is good in it
came from Spencer. Andreski shows how the ideology was suited to the Foreign Office's
operation and how Radcliffe-Brown and Malinowski played up to the political uses to which
Structure-functionalism could be put. An interesting history.

Perhaps the best portions of the book concern the evasion of problems by hiding behind methods.
Consider, for example, the evasion of real problems and the substitutions of pseudo-problems in
the name of science, i.e., worry about operationalism rather than meaning.

Faddishismm in social science is exemplified in Levi-Strauss and gets handled in this unkind
way: "...in keeping what remains in him of the old Gallic ‘esprit,' and in contrast to the stodgy
Teutonic emetics of the Parsonians, his writings about myths narrate many captivating stories
which, together with his clever crossword or pun-like comments, supply a most suitable material
for smart table talk." (pp. 84-85)