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The goal of Alan Wolfe's book is to defend and strengthen the traditional humanistic orientation in sociology, winch the author sees as being under a new attack. In the title, and occasionally in the text, "sociology" has been expanded to "social science," perhaps to widen the readership, or because Wolfe is a dean (at the New School for Social Research) of social science. But for die most part the book is specifically about sociology.
I envision the subject matter of sociology - the behavior of people and groups - as occurring on the surface of a table. In order to study this behavior, sociologists have erected upon the table a tower - their discipline - consisting of methods, theories, classic writings, and paradigms.
Perhaps because the view from the tower does not provide an impressive theoretical understanding of activity on the table, sociologists have increasingly shifted their gaze to the tower itself. Some university courses and textbooks of sociology spend more time on the tower than on social behavior - one reason why students are often bored. Wolfe's book is about the tower. Those uninterested in the discipline of sociology, which includes nearly everyone, should pick other reading.
The author's central problem is that several current intellectual trends are diminishing …