Thursday, September 6, 2007

Sociologists for World Domination

Emile: "Gee Auguste, what do you want to do tonight?"
Auguste: "The same thing we do every night, Emile - try to take over the world!"

Since the beginning of the grand discipline of sociology, those at its core have made efforts to promote a more active public role for sociologists. Witness Auguste Comte and his valiant efforts to create a religion of science. Comte believed that societies evolve, passing through three stages--theological, metaphysical, and scientific. In this final utopian ideal, the human mind is emancipated from its ignorance, peace reigns, and everyone is free to realize their dreams. This wondrous scenario is achievable through the proper and widespread application of sociology's superior understandings of the laws of development and order in human affairs.

Once people realize the overriding authority of science, it is only logical that they submit to that authority. Scientists will become the new leaders of society! The government will be run according to the laws of science! Laws will be determined via the findings of science! People will turn to science for their religion! Even the calendar will be based on the Saints of Positivism! Science will reign supreme!

Of course, there is a hierarchy within the sciences. We are all aware of it. You can see this in the timing of each discipline's arrival into society. First the simple, general sciences. Like physics. This came early (preceded only by astronomy) because its laws are more easily studied, more stable and simple to identify. Following the arrival of physics, science begins to divide and distinguish among other progressively harder fields, such as chemistry, biology, and finally, the social sciences. The emergence follows a clear law of hierarchy marked by increased complexity and decreased generality, the more complex sciences only emerging once the required simple foundations are set. The social sciences are thus at the top of the hierarchy, with sociology being the last to emerge. This is because sociology is the most complex, hard, and specialized science. Sociologists, therefore, are clearly best positioned to take over the world. For its own good, of course. Because it is through the power of social science that we can determine what is good for humanity - through the science of morality, of which Durkheim also spoke.

Unfortunately, sociology is not making progress toward world domination as it should. The discipline in general has lost its path, straying from the heyday of the 1950s, in which sociology held its greatest glory. What must we do to regain this lost influence? One tactic is to increase the presence of public sociology. This particular effort is, in my opinion, doomed from the start. Why? Because in our discipline, greater status is attained through contributing to the literature via theory development and publications in journals that only sociologists read. The more applied sociology you do, the more your work can be understood and used by the public, the less you advance within the discipline. That interview won't help you get tenure! And just how is serving as an expert witness in that case going to further your career? The evidence is clear: our best bet at advancing in the field is to find our niche and mine it for all it's worth.

Therefore I propose an alternate tactic: sociologists as superheros. Or supervillians. Like all great sciences, our knowledge can be used for good or evil. As many of you know, Kieran Healy recently outed Rory McVeigh as the supervillian Doc Socc. It would appear as though Rory showed up at a faculty function as his alter. The entire scene was documented by the wily Dan Myers.

More people should follow Rory's lead. Come out as the superbeings we all are!

We are sociologists! Stand tall! Stand together! United, we will triumph!


jeremy said...

Sociology wouldn't know what to do with the world if the world was handed to it. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, as economists would lead the world into a brutal 10,000 year dark age.

kristina b said...

Ha! This is hilarious. It's especially amusing because my department made the interesting choice of putting up little signs on all the new graduate assistant's office doors that had pictures of X-Men on them. The responsible party in the office claimed that they did not try to pick X-men characters that matched our personalities, but we wondered.