Modes of thought and social control : theories of knowledge in the context of social action: a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts at Massey University

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1979
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Massey University
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In studying man Rousseau was concerned with two complementary tasks. 1 On the one hand, he was engaged in a journey to the centre of the species in order to understand the "natural" pre- civilized man as a human possibility. He situated that possibility in pre-history and viewed certain realities in modern civilization as a threat to its own perpetuation. On the other hand, he was engaged in a journey to the centre of his own civilized being. The first task was historical, the second personal. In The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology Gouldner argues that future sociological studies should in part focus on field­-workers-cum-theorists, in order to be more aware of themselves as a part of society instead of pretending to objectivity. The social world is to be known not only by looking outward, but also by opening oneself inwardly.2 Anthropological activity is not just scientific: it is also expressive or symptomatic of a pre­ supposed world view of which it is itself an integral part. The anthropologist in field work is involved in "double translation".3 While his impulse to understand the largely unexperienced, but imagined, possibilities of himself as a civilized person proceeds, he is caught, so to speak, in the web of an alien understanding; and their resulting attitude towards him shapes the object of his experience. In short, the anthropologist embodies an attitude that changes and conditions human beings, and this in turn generates a response modifying his own behaviour. Not only are they objects who become subjects to the field-worker's view but these subjects view him as an object, to which they either give positive assent, or avoid supporting his endeavour. Responses are recorded according to personal circumstances and are incorporated in the construction of models. He can assume a logical and historical complementarity between himself, as a prototypical modern man, and the subjects with whom he is concerned. [FROM INTRODUCTION]
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Social Control, Sociology of knowledge
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