Monday, January 21, 2013

The Role of Micro Oriented Sociology

One last question about this:  It is certain that micro sociology inevitably needs to be understood through the broader context for usefulness, so does the macro level of analysis need the micro at all???

If the object of study is to meet the requirements of the sociological imagination, then yes.  You can certainly do micro-level analysis, but for it to fulfill the expectations of Mills' sociological imagination, you must situate it in the broader social context.  There is a plethora of research out there that is called sociology that does not live up to the sociological imagination.  Similarly, the macro must be able to speak to issues that affect the individual biographies of people in society.  When macro theory does not relate to the lived experiences of people, it is most likely grand theory.  Theory needs to be applied to specific historical circumstances and the experiences of real human beings.  If not, it is merely philosophy.  So, the issue lies in the definition.  I feel that the sociology that Mills outlined and Marx practiced is what sociology is.  However, other sociologists derive their genealogy from Comte, Blumer, Weber, Merton, etc. and not from Marx through Mills.  Therefore, their sociology does not necessarily fulfill the requirements of the sociological imagination, but is viewed in their eyes as every bit sociological.

Every research project and scientific endeavor begins with assumptions and a set of definitions, either literal or implied.  I tend to root my set of assumptions and definitions in the Marxist perspective.  Others eschew Marxism and its purported polemical perspective.  If you argue what I have outlined here, you may get some very puzzled looks because they do not see sociology in this way.  They may see that a detached micro or macro perspective is perfectly fine.  They may assume that they are connecting the macro to the micro.

Also, one last note.  As Collins discusses, it is not to say that micro level data is not useful.  Because many voices from below have been silenced, sometimes the only place we can get perspectives outside of the dominant view is through journals, poetry, interviews, etc.  It is the researcher's job to weave these contributions into a larger tapestry.

No comments:

Post a Comment