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What Kind of Writing is Sociology? Literary Form and Theoretical Integration in the Human Sciences

Tue, August 15, 10:30am to 12:10pm, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Floor: Level 5, 512F


Sociology has yet to see an intense and sustained interrogation of the kind of writing it produces and tacitly endorses. Meanwhile, the academic English found in contemporary sociological writing and the literary forms these writings take are demonstrable relics of positivism. Creating a body of scholarship that thoroughly moves away from a positivist philosophy of science, let alone formulates a synthetic approach that bridges the nomothetic/idiographic divide—the broad project of historical social science—requires interrogating not just the content of sociological knowledge but the form in which that knowledge is expressed, which itself embodies theory. Using examples from the history of philosophy along with historical and rhetorical accounts of social science, this paper makes the case for historical sociology’s integration of a concern for writing and literary form into its integrative theoretical project.