Against Essentialism: A Theory of Culture and Society by Stephan Fuchs

By Stephan Fuchs

I have had Stephan Fuchs for 2 periods on the college of Virginia. not just is he a superb professor, but additionally a good author. opposed to Essentialism provides his perspectives on cultural platforms in as transparent a way as is feasible given the complexity of the topic. this can be a ebook that are meant to be required studying for sociology classes, yet is perhaps a bit deep if you have by no means taken a social thought path.

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Sample text

Another science might do just that, however, and so draw its own fact / value distinctions in different ways, with different items falling on either side. One science’s facts might be another’s values, and vice versa. When observers are part of the network they observe, their observations matter to what happens in the network. In fact, their observations are part of what the network is and does. As a result, inside observers have a stake in the network; they are not value-free and disinterested when it comes to the difference their observations are supposed to make.

They are more curious and restless. Over time, some of these new and uncertain things may become natural kinds. Turning natural kinds into dependent variables leads to an important distinction between modes of classifying: some grids are visible as contingent constructs that could have been constructed otherwise; other grids are so deeply entrenched and embedded in an institutional order that they seem to separate that which is truly and essentially separate. That is, some groups are constructivists about classifications; others are realists.

Overcoming essentialism turns the fact / value distinction into an empirical outcome of a science’s operation. The separation between facts and values is not written on the face of the world, as if the world itself fell into two classes of entities, facts and values, at all times and for all observers. At any point, “factual” is that which can be decided by the normal methods of a science, while “normative” is that which cannot (yet) be so decided. Another science might do just that, however, and so draw its own fact / value distinctions in different ways, with different items falling on either side.

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