The Sociology Of Knowledge

5656 Words23 Pages
Sociolog~of Knowledge and its Consciousness

The Sociology of Knowledge and Its
Consciousness

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By Theodor W. Adorno

Robert Merton, C. WrightMills et al. repeatedly complained that the sociology of knowledge failed to solve its centralproblem of specifying the nexus between social and cognitive structures.
Nonetheless, this field has remained limited to techniques of content analysis and correlation studies whilefailing to explain these categories and correlations other than by recourse tofunctionalist truisms. Forthis reason, it is important to point to some of the fundamental reasons for this failure: not imperfect research techniques but the approach itself fails to examine its o wn categories as problematic (e.g. divisions into
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Right and wrong are glossed over in like manner;

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Sociology of Knowledge and its Conscio~tsncss

A Critique ?fMethodology

the "average man" is abstracted from them and assigned an ontological "narrow-mindedness" which "has always been there." Of his
"experimental self-observationw-the term is borrowed from more exact sciences-Mannheim frankly confesses: "All these forms of self-observation have the tendency to gloss over and neglect individual differences because they are interested in what is general in man and its variability." Not, however, in his particular situation and in the real transformations he undergoes. In its neutrality, the generalizing order of Mannheim 's conceptual world is kindly disposed to the real world; it employs the terminology of social criticism while removing its sting.
The concept of society as such is rendered impotent from the outset by a language which invokes the exceedingly compromised term, "integration." Its occurrence is no accident. Mannheim 's use of the concept of the social totality serves not so much to emphasize the intricate dependence of men within the totality as to glorify the social process itself as an evening-out of the contradictions in the whole. In this balance, theoretically, the contradictions disappear, although it is precisely they which comprise the life-processof
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