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02 April 2012

Social Science vs. Politics

One lesson that I find important for young, ideological students is that one's politics should not be a starting place; they should be a means to an end. When we look critically at the world around us, we find problems. The empirical evidence that we gather in the world can point toward solutions to those problems. Some of those will align with the ideas of liberals/Democrats, others with conservatives/Republics. More often than not, sociology points to the inadequacies of both liberal and conservative politics. While the majority of sociological insights end up pointing more left than right, they do so because that's where the evidence takes us, not because we start with a leftist agenda. I currently have a student who reminds me that he is "still conservative" in every email even though our readings and classroom discussions are giving him "a lot to think about." My hope is that he'll be able to step outside of his worldview long enough to see that he is actually embedded in a worldview. I think this is one of the advantages of a liberal arts education, liberal arts disciplines in particular, and sociology par excellence.

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