Confronting Objectivity
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Level: Undergraduate
Division: The New School for Public Engagement
School: Bachelor's Program for Adults and Transfer Students
Department: Social Sciences
Course Number: NSOC 3110
Course Format: Seminar
Location: Online
Permission Required: No
  • Sociology
  • Social Sciences
In the construction of the narrative called social science, what is included? What is omitted or suppressed? Who and what govern such choices? To answer these questions, we examine the connection between the making of social science (particularly sociology) and the practice of "life-writing" (autobiography, autoethnography, biography, diaries, letters, autopathography, and other forms of self-construction). We study the work of sociologists (Pierre Bourdieu, Liz Stanley, Jackie Orr) who have problematized the role of the personal in the making of social science to argue for its reflexivity. We examine how stories about an Other are told, especially if the Other is illiterate or otherwise unable to write his or her own story. We also consider how the values, experiences, interests, and beliefs of the storyteller-scientist shape the process. We look at online sources that offer insight into the relevance and scope of scientists' reflexivity. Several scholars who are working on these issues participate in our cyberclassroom.
Course Open to: Degree Students