Bruce Kapferer - An interview

Bruce Kapferer - An interview

Interviewed by Olaf H. Smedal
Part One was originally published in Antropolog Nytt 3/2000, Part Two in Antropolog Nytt 1/2001 To download, print, or bookmark, click: To cite, quote this address and the download date. Not for commercial use. © 2000-2001 Olaf H. Smedal and Bruce Kapferer.

Part one: Growing up politically

Professor Bruce Kapferer joined the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen at the beginning of the fall semester 1999. He came to us from The James Cook University, Australia, before which he was Foundation Professor at Adelaide University and later Professor of Social Anthropology at University College, London. He has also held visiting professorships at University of California, Los Angeles, Copenhagen University, University of Manchester and University of Jerusalem, and been at the forefront of anthropological debate for over three decades. Major books: Strategy and transaction in an African factory (1972), A celebration of demons (1983, 1991), Legends of people, myths of state (1988, 1998), The feast of the sorcerer (1997) and the edited volumes Transaction and meaning (1976) and Power, process and transformation (1987).

Kapferer is usually busy. After several unsuccessful attempts at reconciling his schedule with my own we finally managed to squeeze in a half-hour or so midday break in my office. Kapferer comes in, takes a chair, nurses a bottle of mineral water and for once he sits quietly, looking, waiting for me to say something. So the conversation begins.

The editor of AntropologNytt asked me to interview you in order that the Norwegian anthropological community might learn something about your past and especially your current concerns. We can't go on into the night (space is limited, as it always is in journals) and I'm not supposed to chat with you about how wonderful it is in Bergen. But if I can go back to your first fieldwork - how did it affect you; what sort of lasting impressions did it have on you - I mean professionally as well as personally: I find the two aspects hard to separate …
Petrol bomb attacks and so forth

Ah, I went to Zambia to be involved with the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute which was then centred in Lusaka, and that institute was started under Godfrey Wilson. But when he committed suicide, as a conscientious objector in the Second World War, it was taken over by Max Gluckman who then operated the RLI as the field centre for what he was developing at Manchester at the time. From that centre a whole series of monographs were beginning to appear when I was finishing up my undergraduate work in Sydney, Australia, which would have been around 1962. Notably Bill Epstein's Politics in an urban African community (1958) and Victor Turner's Schism and continuity in an African society: a study of Ndembu village life (1957). Manchester was sort of hot news on the British anthropological scene of which Sydney was then part.

Sydney had been - one of the early professors had been Raymond Firth, Radcliffe-Brown had been there and so on - hooked into the British anthropological scene. This is not the case today. But then I had the choice of going to Fiji, which I'd done a dissertation on, and I was going to work on plural societies - the Indian-Fijian conflict, but I really wanted to go to Africa. I was pretty bored with the Pacific - which no one would like to hear these days, but I really didn't want to continue working out from Australia.

So I went to Zambia, which was in the process of becoming independent. The United National Independence Party had just won the elections and it was the end of the Central African Federation. I arrived, actually, at a very seething point. My first night in Lusaka, when I went with my wife, Judy, into a bar, involved petrol bomb attacks and so forth. That was my first night. But I was connected to the RLI and had a Commonwealth Scholarship, which you could get to far-flung parts of the globe and which was worth, I think, 600 pounds a year. The pound was worth more then but it was pretty small - I remember discussing my field plans with Elizabeth Colson who was then at the Institute and she sort of asked me how much money I had and I was very proud - 600 pounds! - and she said, «For goodness' sake, that's not enough to buy your liquor!» We had a good relationship over that one ever since - she's still alive and very feisty.
Seven-year plans à la the Soviet Union

The advice was, in those days, that you couldn't do fieldwork unless you learnt the language, and the best place to learn the language was in a rural area. I intended to do work on the Copperbelt and so I went up north and learnt ciBisa (ciBemba - it's the same thing). I was 21. It was the Bisa area which people wanted to have a look at, because it had been, historically, important as the main territory through which the Portuguese had moved into the Congo, and it was a major slave route area. The Bisa had actually participated in organising the slave trade. But this was also a Bemba cultural area and there was a lot of opposition between them. The Bemba had interesting marriage patterns and inheritance structures which fitted in with the matrilineal complex. It was part of the Rhodes-Livingstone policy to actually spread their field workers over areas that had not been covered in an effort to build a fairly intensive cultural information for that region. That was sort of the seven-year plan - Max Gluckman had ideas of five-year and seven-year plans à la the Soviet Union. The early RLI scholars were fairly left wing. Many were members of the Communist Party (though Gluckman was not, rather his wife, Mary; Gluckman was merely sympathetic) such as Bill Epstein, Bill Watson. Vic Turner, before he turned Catholic, was one of the intellectual spokesmen for the British Communist Party. But many, such as Clyde Mitchell, were more liberal in their politics.

And yourself?

I wasn't a member of the Communist Party. Then I had anarchist affiliations. I was very suspicious of these totalitarian systems!

But despite that you developed a close relationship with Gluckman?

Oh yes! These were the good times! Although recently, people like James Ferguson are saying they were liberal; I'm doing a critique of this Expectations of modernity book (Ferguson 1999) which is on the Copperbelt studies and he says they were just liberals, they were against racism. I just think that this is a profoundly ignorant statement, since the whole structure of the colonial world in Southern and Central Africa was based around the structure of race. In fact, Northern Rhodesia, as it was called when I arrived, had apartheid actually under the British colonial government - much more heavily entrenched than it was in South Africa at the time. So that was all part of the tension. Many of the early RLI workers had great difficulty getting into the field because of the political sympathies. Although it does not sound like it - the RLI scholars were treated with great suspicion by the Colonial authorities. Max Gluckman became a prohibited immigrant and was not to be allowed back to Barotseland until Independence. I remember his pleasure at the Zambian Independence ceremonies ... he had not been there for 17 years. And he could still speak perfect ciLozi!
A bunch of barbarians

But I went up to the Bisa. The United National Independence Party had just won and so I was really in the middle of a people that just got their independence, were conscious of it and, just six weeks before I arrived had speared a colonial officer. So it was quite tense. They thought I was a fisheries inspector when I first arrived because I was living on the shore of the Baka Baka lake and they were all being done over for using fish poison - a major technique - and they were pretty good at it, too.

So I went there to learn the language, actually, and did this pathetic little study (Co-operation, leadership and village structure, 1967), but I believe it's still being used. It was on women's work groups, very boring stuff, and not nearly as good as it should have been. The RLI people, except Victor Turner, and he was the renegade, were very strongly anti-cultural. They were concerned with socio-economic processes, and culture was to be explained, not used in explanation. So, they were really strongly within the Radcliffe-Brownian tradition. Except for Vic, who was beginning to break, and had been very heavily involved with Jungian and Freudian thought which has influenced his work. I was very strongly into the sociological side of Manchester-style research and not then fascinated by culture. If I had been interested in this I might have looked at cisungu rituals - which the Bisa performed - or at the fabulous legends of female warrior queens who rescued the Bisa from Bemba and Ngoni conquest. At the time I was doing fieldwork people were just starting to hear of Lévi-Strauss. Gluckman insisted that nothing more was being said than that which had been suggested by Radcliffe-Brown! Other RLI scholars, like Clyde Mitchell, who was my supervisor, asserted that being interested in cultural abstractions was refusing to attend to modernising realities. He scorned «bongo bongoism» which is how he saw Lévi-Strauss. In a strange way this idea has reasserted itself under the name of postmodernism. Nonetheless, I found the English anthropologists among whom I was working inspiring - in spite of their anti-Gallic attitudes. (I was to find a kind of anti-structuralist - read anti-French - hostility among some at UCL at a much later period in my career.) Nonetheless, the kind of anthropology I was influenced by was far superior to that I had experienced at university in Australia. Some of the best anthropologists like Strehlow and Thompson had been marginalised. But at Sydney there were some great teachers, nevertheless ... such as Mervyn Meggitt and Chandra Jayawardena.

But the English certainly had a good training system and Gluckman insisted on solid ethnographic work; he was more interested in culture than he let on. He had a strong ethnographic sense. He also had a phenomenal eidetic memory whereby he could recall the minutest details of ethnography and then with some brilliance - and apparently from the top of his head - organise these details into a coherent theoretically-informing form. This ability was often awe-inspiring and created some jealousies among his colleagues. The seminars were often highly argumentative and conflict-ridden. And this was their excitement. They were not like Norwegian seminars, polite occasions, they were hard work where people really had to display their knowledge of the systems they were working with and defend themselves from people working in other areas.

A bit like the celebrated Friday Seminar at London School of Economics [founded by Bronislaw Malinowski and chaired by Raymond Firth for several decades after the Second World War]?

Ah no, I think the LSE seminar was much more civilised. In fact Manchester fought with LSE. Manchester was considered to be a bundle of barbarians. It was the only really socialist department in England. I have to say that. LSE was conservative, right wing, despite its protestations, and it was really Manchester which had Peter Worsley, Vic, Bill Watson - all these people who were very strongly left wing. Except perhaps John Barnes and Clyde Mitchell who were sympathetic, but not left wing.
I tend to still have very utopian views

But when you look back, in what way was the initial field experience formative?

No, you didn't get there, did you! It was very formative. Certainly I grew up politically in Zambia. Overnight. Coming from an Australian background, not a place full of really meaningful politics - probably a bit like Norway - I mean people's political attitudes were not really a matter of life and death. But in Central Africa, it was a matter of life and death. And it was there where I first encountered powerful left thought - which you would have in Norway, but didn't have in Australia. Although Australia is a very working class kind of culture, it wasn't one which had its class relations quite as strongly embedded in intellectual thought as in England. So these basically English anthropologists, on the left, were quite influential.

The political situation in Zambia was hugely important. You know, it was a very utopian moment, everyone thought, «now there is light», «colonialism is gone» - there was a huge attack on colonialism. And we were all part of that. All of us, well a whole lot of us, were facing the utopian future. We were very, very excited. I think it was intellectually formative for many. You know, the best guy working on globalisation nowadays, in my view, was also there, a Marxist guy, Giovanni Arrighi. He wasn't part of the RLI but part of the general intellectual community. A lot of intellectual work was going on in that part of Africa, also up into Uganda and Tanzania - all sort of stuff that was really important in the development of intellectual thought, actually, in North America and Northern Europe. It was really quite an important region. Many of us were banned from going south of the Zambezi after the UDI (Unilateral Declaration of Independence) of Ian Smith; it was a politically formative period.

I suppose I tend to still have very utopian views. I haven't become a depressed liberal, you know!
It was very positivistic

When about 25 years ago you agreed to edit the volume that became Transaction and Meaning (1976) I suppose you did it because you had a strong, if perhaps waning interest in exchange theory - not in the Maussian but in the Barthian and especially the Blauian sense. Do you still see any merit in these analytical traditions, or have they become dead horses, as far as you are concerned?

Well, let me put it this way. It's a dead horse for me, but it's getting active again. There is all that early stuff I did on that kind of choice stuff, decision making, very Barthian, networks - I was a pioneer in network analysis - in the current globalisation stuff all that is now the current flavour again.

So would you use it now?

No. I mean, you'd really have to ask the question in another way. You asked me what effect that early period had. Well, the effect that early period had, which you see in all my work still, is my concern with massive amounts of detail. That is, working very closely with a lot of detail, with lots of practices, and working out of that. And that comes out of the old Manchester situational analysis and extended case method. As I've just been telling the students this morning, that process bifurcated. You got the extended case method which was very much concerned with how cultures and structures were continually being created and generated, and it used a kind of naive Barthian model. That is, one of interest, manipulation, choice, optative stuff - such as van Velsen's arguments on the politics of kinship - the extended case method, worked on optation. All that is very clear in Strategy and transaction in an African factory (1972), where I tried to articulate, using Blau, a theory that would support that extended case, network type of analysis. In fact it was very positivistic, very objectivist and so forth.

There was another, alternative line which was coming out of the same tradition but went in another direction, and that was from Victor Turner, actually. He refused the optative model, argued that we should still continue looking at conflict and disputes, which is certainly what we were all interested in - from a Freudian angle: conflict revealed the inner structures of things. But he stressed with respect to the Ndembu - though people of course make choices and so forth - that people were ultimately bound by duty and obligation, which overrode free choice. In fact, although he doesn't admit it, he was much more expressing Gluckman's original position than the sort of developments out of Gluckman by Mitchell, Epstein, to some extent, and certainly Jaap van Velsen.

But I was on the Jaap van Velsen, Mitchell side of analysis in the beginning. That's what Strategy and transaction is. As one of my friends said, it pushed the transactionalist model to its absolute limits. And that tends to be a line of mine: I get a position and then work it until it can go no further.

Some people have taken that book and worked out a lot of mathematical stuff from it?

Oh God, yeah! I still get letters on it. People have mathematized it, have done this, that and the other - I think for some people in America it's a classic, actually, and I just don't want to have anything to do with it! But out of my disillusion - it's all to do with friendships, as everything is, you know, I was quite close with Vic Turner who influenced me away from that perspective. Although I was very interested in Fredrik Barth's stuff, I still am, still think the world of him as an anthropologist, but I began to think about other things.

So the introduction to Transaction and meaning, that is the beginning of my looking in another direction. And all the people in that book, incidentally, have been fairly significant since. Many of them in the same direction - the Comaroffs, Mike Gilsenan and so forth. But that basically is the end of my interest in that transactional kind of stuff, although I still maintain a very close connection to the details of the material.

[ End of Part One. In Part Two, published in AntropologNytt 1/2001, Kapferer discusses his understanding of ritual, his ongoing concern with global processes and certain trends in current anthropology. ]
Part Two: Thinking about anthropology

Professor Bruce Kapferer joined the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen at the beginning of the fall semester 1999. He came to Bergen from The James Cook University, Australia, before which he was Foundation Professor at Adelaide University and later Professor of Social Anthropology at University College, London. He has also held visiting professorships at University of California, Los Angeles, Copenhagen University, University of Manchester and University of Jerusalem, and been at the forefront of anthropological debate for over three decades. Major books: Strategy and transaction in an African factory (1972), A celebration of demons (1983, 1991), Legends of people, myths of state (1988, 1998), The feast of the sorcerer (1997) and the edited volumes Transaction and meaning (1976) and Power, process and transformation (1987).

[In Part One, published in AntropologNytt 3/2000, Kapferer looked back on his first fieldwork (in Zambia in the 1960s) and how it shaped his political views, and discussed his innovative work in transaction theory and network analysis.]
Ritual for me is not just ritual

Do you have a strong sense of continuity in your research interests? I ask because your preoccupation with ritual, performativity, altered states of consciousness and associated displays of power has resulted in two books - A celebration of demons (1983, 1991) and The feast of the sorcerer (1997) - and I don't know how many papers, while your Legends of people, myths of state: violence, intolerance, and political culture in Sri Lanka and Australia (1988, 1998) would appear to be a work driven by a different set of motivations. Or do you see that differently?

It all depends what your interest in ritual is. I'd say that A celebration ..., which is my first ritual book, comes out of my decision to switch interest from Africa to Asia and it coincides with my dissatisfaction with what we would now call a culturally insensitive position. And I had the view that I'd have to bow down to cultural arguments in the Asian context much more strongly than I'd have to bow down to them in Africa. This is not because people in Africa don't have as complex a culture as people in South Asia, but it's because in Africa it's embedded much more in a whole variety of often disarticulated practices which spread out over large distances, especially in Central Africa. So you haven't got this density. Indeed, when you look at so much of the African materials, it does boil down to this dull repetition of choice, manipulation and so forth - interpretive logics often slip from view.

But that could well be an observer effect, as it were.

That's right. So I went to Sri Lanka, to get more culturally sensitive. I was actually blocked from going there, initially, because Leach said - those were the days when field areas were territorialised into university departments - no, this was Cambridge's. It was not a place for Mancunian Africanists. Eventually I was given a grant, after I suggested I might do a restudy of Pul Eliya! Nur Yalman, however, was very supportive of my work in Sri Lanka.

Was he from Cambridge?

He was from Cambridge. He'd just gone to Harvard, I think. Harvard or Chicago - something like that.

So my interest was to do that. Now, I'd been in Sri Lanka for about six months for my new study and I'd gotten into migratory communities, because the places I was working with had sent people to every part of the world. It was a globalised community well before globalisation was a word. The people were significant in the gem and jewellery trade. They'd probably got outreaches in Oslo - I'd expect they had, and they'd be thoroughly Norwegian by now. I bet there are some jewellery merchants here who came from that little place where I was working right at the southern end of Sri Lanka - I think I've probably got genealogies for them.

But after about six months I still thought I was doing a sociological study. And here I was in the middle of a Buddhist world which was clearly different from all the superficial stuff I was recording ... it was coming out the same!

So I managed to get into ritual, which I wanted to have a look at. I was very quiet about it, I was Marxist in orientation, still with Manchester, and to study ritual was regarded as out. Victor Turner was considered a traitor to Manchester's cause! When Victor became a Catholic - he got into ritual, left the Communist Party and became a Catholic - at which point Max actually accused him of being a traitor. It was really very intense stuff! So, there I was in Sri Lanka, doing the same old sociological analysis that I would have done in Africa. So I decided to look at ritual because this is about healing and it really - I came across it by accident - it showed a whole mass of things on politics, on the economy, the lot. The rituals were really something.

That's why I got into ritual: To really move into a culturally sensitive position which I've developed since, actually, because my whole argument, which goes through the two later books - much more developed in the last one - is a point I actually discovered in Victor Turner: It is human beings who create their worlds, and rather than take non-human models for understanding human worlds, like ecological models (which may be human, but nevertheless seem outside human thought) or biological models, or physical models, we should work with the actual structures of understanding that human beings in certain situations are working with. And by paying close attention to those, we may be able to develop better general understandings of human processes. That is the fundamental point of so much anthropology anyhow, and what distinguishes it from sociology. That's the direction I've been going.

Right. So ...

So ritual for me is not just ritual. It opens up a whole series of conceptual, philosophical, theoretical issues: you then move into worlds that may not be actually ritual in themselves. That's the direction of Vic, who was very influential upon me and used to argue with me on that, and I was also very influenced by Marshall Sahlins.

Which Marshall Sahlins?

The Marshall Sahlins of Historical metaphors and mythical realities (1981). We became friends in the process of these writings. And we used to have big arguments because he was just leaving his highly economistic phase and was beginning to get more culturally attuned.
I'm having existential problems

Right. You are concerned, I know, with the effects of globalisation, and at the moment you are to-and-froing at least two research locations.


Three? OK, let me mention two, then you add the third. It's Kerala in South India and Soweto in South Africa.

It's more than that. It's Kerala, which is assuming enormous proportions, South Africa, and I'm actually looking at three major centres. I'm gonna work in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, if I can work it out - I'll be working with a few other people and that's still got to be developed. And working back into Sri Lanka. But each has got a different point to it. My research is really not about globalisation, actually. It's about the state, different formations of the state and the transformations - and the relations - between different types of state structure, the production of inequality, poverty, the way these are affected by the interrelation of the state into larger global processes at one level but also the way local processes are also factors. It's quite a complex thing, as I'm working it up.

«Globalisation» is just a word that you talk to people with.

Well, these are global processes, some of them.

Some of them, yes.

So how do your experiences in these locations shape your understanding or vision of the nature of these processes? I know it's work in progress, but ...

Work in the beginning! There's a whole series of problems. If you really want to know, I'm having existential problems. How to do anthropology when engaged in such a vast regional spread and with a diversity of issues.

But do you intend these fieldwork stints, that I suppose will continue over the next few years, to fuse into a single statement, or do you see them as separate?

I'm going to make a single statement which is going to be highly problem-connected. That's also a Manchester thing: to argue that the fieldwork always has to be connected to a well-defined problem. You just don't go out and just collect data and then think about it. So I'll do something on transitions of the state; at the moment I'm interested in various forms of religious movement, actually, which are connected up with international charities. I can do this and work comparatively because the other thing I'm interested in is comparative anthropology of a Dumontian kind. I'm wanting to show that there are very different histories producing these state forms; these state forms are not mutually reducible. There are also other kinds of structures, some indigenous ones and some produced in the interface between the foreign and the local. So this is quite complex. I'm trying to get something out on that but what I'm interested in - I don't know whether it's possible - is to eventually get some students interested, in Norway, in Bergen, and to link these students up with local students in the various research areas. Because there's a whole range of things that can be done. I think I can do my little thing but it won't be the in-depth type of stuff. It will be like what a lot of other people do. I am analysing other people's work rather than working with the kind of first-hand, in-depth anthropological material ... well, I will be working with first-hand material but more superficially so.

But when you escalate the whole thing into three fieldwork locations you're not making it any easier for yourself!

I'm not making it any easier at all. But I think that anthropology has got to continually be able to make statements that reach an audience beyond its own people. And it's got to be able to show that anthropology actually has something original to say.
Foucault lives in outer Nepal

Precisely. And that's why I want to ask you a final question. You know, this is a day and age when many prominent anthropologists have pronounced the discipline to be in crisis (or perhaps it is more correct to say that they became prominent because they did so), but you might remember Stanley Diamond's definition of anthropology almost 30 years ago as «the study of men in crisis by men in crisis» in the light of which it would only be logical that the discipline itself is in dire straits. Anyway: do you see the discipline as being in crisis?

I think anthropology is definitely in crisis!

But hasn't it always been? Isn't that its natural state?

Yeah, well, it used to like to think of itself as being in crisis which it could sort of use to pat itself on the back and go: «We are in crisis». It wasn't!

But now it is?

Peter Worsley wrote a famous paper when I was at Manchester (c. 1970) which was called «The end of anthropology». It flew around the department. He used it to show that anthropology was a thoroughly colonial discipline and that the end of colonialism was the end of anthropology, now was the time of sociology. And it looked as if he was right. But actually anthropology, if you look at England and elsewhere, like in Norway, strong anthropology departments have developed - anthropology has been more successful in surviving than has indeed sociology. I mean, you could say that in America, for example, sociology has to a large extent collapsed into things like Cultural Studies. Which is also the risk for anthropology. I think that what is the crisis for anthropology now - and it's both inside the discipline and outside the discipline: a retreat from ethnography and from the kinds of philosophical issues that interested anthropology - and still should!

Much postmodernism manifests what I would call a liberal critique, a soft critique - not a hard critique. This is so in two senses. It shrinks from a concern with issues and from rigorous analysis. It's depressing. It's really providing a kind of language which permits people to no longer do fieldwork but to work on all sorts of things which they do rather feebly, and it has lost all sight of deep intellectual problems. When the earlier anthropologists got going they had big intellectual problems. They were worried about philosophy. They were worried about the hegemony of certain forms of Western thought. I mean, whatever you think about Margaret Mead and so forth she was important because she threatened. She was thoroughly American, but at least she put up a front of threatening dominant American thought. I think anthropology has watered itself down. It has lost its sense or its ability to criticise on the basis of in-depth knowledge of other forms of existence. And the postmodern argument that other people can have authority for their own worlds is to some extent contradicted in their work: The only authority that the others have is the authority that they have already had decided for them by a whole variety of metropolitan, postmodernist thinkers. It is now Bakhtinian dialogics or finding that Foucault lives in outer Nepal, or something like that. So, yes, I think the subject is in real crisis from within itself, which has caused a disillusionment with certain types of conventional practices which aren't necessarily bad because they're conventional, like fieldwork.

At the same time I think there's a huge transformation in the nature of academic work and the structure of the universities. Universities are no longer relatively open institutions. After the Second World War the university was established, at least in England, as a liberal institution to check the excesses of the state. Nazi Germany was the example of the state that went crazy. And many of the people coming out of the army were suspicious of oppressive state-run bureaucratic institutions. I think many of the intellectuals that went to the universities were very suspicious of state structures and forms. Universities protected their intellectuals and provided, to some degree, a base for resisting the state. But now I think that the move is to push universities into a more subordinate role to state and business interests. Pragmatics, not thought, is the rule.

And this is something you also experienced in Australia, right?

Oh yeah. I think there's a huge attack on the social sciences.
The worst anthropology

So where would you like to see anthropology go, then? Is there any light in the tunnel? Do you see something happening that gives reason for optimism?

There's a lot of reason for optimism! But you don't necessarily find the good anthropology where you'd expect it. I agree with Sahlins on this. Much of the worst anthropology is actually in anthropology departments. Here you find anthropologists more anti-anthropological, at least anti the idea of anthropology than many other people, actually.

Would you care to elaborate on that?

Yeah ... I think that the capacity to imagine another way of conceiving reality ... I mean, this is where I think some of the postmodernists are very weak. They say on the one hand that the social world is constructed, that we construct our ideas. Of course social life is a human construction and anthropology is - in many senses - a construction of a construction. Many talk about ethnographic work as fiction. Everything in some way or another is constructed (hell - mathematics is perhaps the most constructed and imaginative of all human practices), but to say this is not necessarily to deny the reality of the construction. The term construction is being used as in some way opposed to reality. But surely the reality of human realities is precisely in the fact that they are constructed. Instead of shrinking away from rigorous work, anthropologists should insist on penetrating into the heart of human constructional processes. We should be having more ethnography not less of it, which seems to be the case. There is much ethnography going on ... but because of some of the postmodern critiques there seems to be a nervousness in making firm statements about what the processes are about. Careful theoretical thought is being avoided and we are increasingly becoming bogged down in methodological arguments which are all about avoiding clear theoretical argument grounded in careful ethnography - certainly the potential contribution of anthropology.

Are you saying that they're ethnocentric? That it has that effect?

Yeah, I think what's happened is that it has moved back into metropolitan thought. So when I say it becomes anti-anthropological, it means that the possibility of anthropology to really discover new horizons - just down the road, for that matter; I quite agree that you don't have to go to the Pacific Islands - you can find them downtown Bergen, as far as I'm concerned. It's this notion of opening up new horizons of possibility which is what anthropology is about. I mean new horizons that expand beyond the limitations of metropolitan thought. Apart from some postmodern criticisms (and I should stress that I am still sympathetic to and am certainly influenced these days by European poststructuralist and deconstructionist thought), I think that the professionalism of anthropology is also driving the subject to reinsist metropolitan value at the expense of the ideas and knowledges present in other forms or worlds of practice. The subdivisions in anthropology of, for example, ecological anthropology, medical anthropology, legal anthropology, often discover their authority, not in the ethnography of peoples studied, but in the views of ecologists, medicine, biology, law. There is somehow a reinsistence on the objectivism and positivism of western thought of which an anthropology was often sharply critical.

But hasn't anthropology always looked outside itself for theoretical inspiration?

Certainly! But its chief source of inspiration are the peoples and practices it has encountered at depth. These have often traced the limitations of abstract theoretical thought from the metropole. Or, as Sahlins has insisted, have revealed the very cultural constraints under which western thought and theory often operates, but unreflectively. The problem for anthropology is to break through implicit and explicit relativisms and this it can do by ever broadening our horizons of understanding through an engagement with other modes of cultural practice.

Writing: Film :: Left Brain : Right Brain?

Writing: Film :: Left Brain : Right Brain?
Peter Loizos.

How should scholars think about the relations of documentary film to scholarly writing? This has debated for more than fifty years, and the following positions can be identified:

1. Writing is [Self]-Sufficient. This view is held implicitly, and sometimes consciously by those academics who are satisfied to teach and research through written forms alone. Many anthropologists have been willing to include photographs in monographs, and most textbooks use them too. But much teaching is through lectures, discussions and student reading, with no inclusion of photos or films as intrinsic components at any point.

2. Hierarchical Division of Labour: Again, often an implicit view expressed through the idea that writing is the dominant cognitive skill for recording ethnography, analysis and theoretical argument, but that photos, and perhaps films have their [subordinate] place, as supporting or complementing the all-important words. This is roughly the position of Kirtsen Hastrup, which will be evaluted in a moment.

3.Complementary Division of Labour: This is the view argued by many enthusiasts for “the visual” and it is expressed through arguments which elaborate the special characteristics of still or moving photographic images, for recording social actions in real-time. Sometimes these arguments are developed in a direction reminiscent of Carl Sagan’s popular contrast between the two sides of the brain, the left side being that which is specialised on linear cause-and-effect relations, logic, and the mechanistic structured relations needed in, for example, engineering; whereas the right brain is specialised in pattern-recognition, metaphorical linkages, intuitive understandings. So writing would link to left-brain activities, and film to right-brain. Since we need both brain specialisations to function effectively, the balanced interdependence of this “division of labour” calls for more use of film to meet the needs writing cannot meet. We respcet individuals who are clearly highly focused for one kind of brain-activity rather than the other, and very creative in their favoured mode . But “balance” is often arguably to be desired for most of us.

4. The Visual as Radical Challenge. This argument has been put forward in its most sophisticated form by the distinguished ethnographic documentarist David MacDougall, who is also known for his contributions to theory in documentary film. MacDougall suggests that well-wrought films can work to challenge deep-seated assumptions of a conceptually conservative character. This may be through portraying individuals “in depth”, rather than in the confines of the written “ case history”. Sometimes, the argument is developed that Visual Anthropology is poised to cause a major re-think within non-visual mainstream theory , but as it is made in writing, there is a sense of the advocate elegantly sawing off the branch on which s/he is ‘positioned.’

Because social researchers have often been single-minded about expressing themselves through the written word, it has sometimes seemed like an uphill battle to get them to take in what film and photography have to offer. In the early days of sophisticated ethnographic films being shown on British TV - the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was common for an academic to review a well-made documentary film, deplore the lack of information in the commentary, and complain that with the budget for this film, a goodly number of PhDs might have been funded. But as films usually work best if they use fewer rather than more commentary words, and television companies are not in the business of funding PhDs, these reviews tended to miss the value of the films as contributions in their own right. By the mid-seventies such films seemed to be sending a stream of young people to study anthropology [I write as a former admissions tutor] and today most British anthropology departments will have film showings as a routine complement to formal teaching, and will probably have an optional course which is focused on ‘Visual Anthropology’. The film-wallahs seem to be Home but not yet completely Dry.

There has been, inevitably, inevitably, a fight-back from some anthropologists sceptical of the inflated claims made for The Visual. Kirsten Hastrup [1992] has set out her views at some length in a prestigious collection [[Crawford & Turton, eds.] She argues that writing can produce relatively “thick” records of social events, and give a illuminating sense of social contexts; it can show the significance of social spaces, providing an itinerary rather than merely a map; and lastly it epistemologically encompasses or contains the semantic aspects of films. Photography, in contrast gives thinner descriptions, dwelling as it must on visual forms, it shows places, merely, not spaces, and what ever its strengths, it must play second fiddle to textual anthropology.

Hastrup allows that film has some strengths, which she calls blow-up and show-up effects in allowing us to discover small but significant details not noticed by the ethnographer eyes during the fieldwork encounter. She is very far from denying film as being useful to the academy. She accepts the power of films in conveying the plurality of the world, their value as historical resources, and as means of advocacy. But then she draws her hard line:

"As for their anthropological value, however, films are not on equal terms with ethnographic writing. They are not in conflict, nor are they just complementary modes of expression, because they do not operate on the same logical level. Rather, they are hierarchically related. Writings may encompass the images produced by films, but not the other way round, just as anthropological writings about the 'Other' by logical necessity, are hierarchically related to the voices of this stylized 'Other' [Dumont, 1986,p266;Hastrup 1991]"

[Hastrup 1992:21].

Her argument is elegant, and theoretically sophisticated, but it is flawed. It depends for persuasiveness on a powerful fieldwork-based incident, about which more in a moment, and this is reinforced by her initial approach, which is based on an exaggeration [her words] [which] “ consists in separating completely the visual and textual modes of representation, as if films had no subtexts and books never had pictures.” This exaggeration is fatal , a killer assumption, as I shall show in a moment. But first, let us address her high-impact field illustration.

She describes trying as an ethnographer to observe and photograph a “remarkable cultural event” in Iceland in which 40 male farmers came together in a large barn to judge the quality of 120 rams. Comments were made on several aspects of the rams, but the decisive factor seems to have been the size and weight of the ram’s testicles, and Hastrup suggests that their owners were competing as men in a potency contest, a view which seems fanciful. There were sexual jokes and laughter, and side-long glances at the ethnographer, who eventually left out of “sheer embarrassment”. Later, her photograps proved disappointing – “completely uninteresting backs of men and rams”. And then: “This is the point: the nature of the event could not be recorded in photography. The texture of maleness and sex which filled the room had been an intense sensory experience, but it was invisible. The reality of the total social event had been transformed into a two-dimensional image, a souvenir [cf Sontag 1979,p 9] For me it invokes a particular memory, for others the information is very limited.” [Hastrup 1992:9]

There is clearly something interesting in this judgement, but it is not fully persuasive. The interesting thought is that representations necessarily miss elements of what was present. An uncaptioned still photograph evidently misses smells, animal body sounds, and the jokes of the men. But a written account evokes these – it does not reproduce them as they were available to the senses. A written text is a reduction to lines on a page of what was a much more complex phenomenon in which the five senses were simultaneously engaged. Because Hastrup writes well, my imagination as a reader is stimulated to “fill in” the smells, the sounds and the jokes, and even imagine the feel of the ram’s testicles in a man’s hand. But Hastrup has not “recorded” that event. She has evoked it. In this respect, both text and image are highly reductive of much more complex events and sensations. They are more alike than different.

I accept that writing has more possibilities in terms of the layering which Goffman has termed “frame analysis”.

But Hastrup’s “exaggeration” strategy renders her argument misleading. Precisely because we most commonly use photographs with captions, [whether written underneath, or a verbal comment such as “This is my brother in 1985”] I can imagine some highly effective photographs of this event, which would have evoked it much more thickly and persuasively than the disappointing photos Hastrup ended up with. We would need to have pushed into the circle of men judging, and got shots of a man’s hand grasping a ram’s testicles, while other men look on. As Hastrup admits, here a male ethnographer might have had the advantage. Then we could add the jokes which the men were making while this went on, by way of captions. Of course , using still photos, the smells and the animal sounds and Hastrup’s experience of embarrassment would still be missing. In a film the lthese could be conveyed, for in a reflexive reportage film Hastrup could herself tell us “There is a powerful smell of men, animals and sex in this space.”

We almost never expect a photograph to “speak for itself” – to appear without a caption. Nor do we commonly make films without

words, whether those of the speaking subjects, of inter-titles, of commentaries. Once Hastrup allows that in most practical applications, we can use photos to amplify and enrich a written text, and words to elucidate images, the power of her comparison is greatly diminished. The abstract logic of her argument and comparison are reduced in impact when we compare real-world mixed strategies of usage, words-with-pictures, and pictures-with-words.

So what is left? Here are some comments which try to tease out the comparative qualities of the two media as they normally occur:

1] Particularity: Films dwell upon particular places, but the people who use these places can explain them to us so that their significance as social spaces becomes accessible.

2]Privileged Images: because films show particular people in such a way as to make them stand out memorably, films normally act as instruments of empirical particularism which can privilege the person seen and heard whether they are more generally typical and representative, or not. This can be a problem. The issue is discussed by documentary film makers as “casting”. Where a film may concentrate on a handful of vivid people, a written text can deal with a range of people, a few foregrounded, named and known in depth, a greater number briefly adduced, and some appearing as statistical aggregates. Writers face fewer problems about the privileging of foreground persons – balance is easier to achieve.

3] Unusual/Typical : Films can show particular ethnographic subjects at particular moments in rather misleading and untypical ways. Film lacks a visual mechanism for the kinds of qualifications academics make in footnotes. If we show a man who happens to be a polygamist when 95% of the men in this society have only one wife, it needs a special phrase on the sound track to make this clear, and to stop the polygynist getting out of hand.

4]Abstraction: The written word is the form which is most effective for complex abstract arguments, and “high theory”. There are documentary films which present complex arguments, but film specialists are often inclined to see these films as plodding “lectures with moving images”. They favour films which use the inherent concrete empirical particularity of the medium, particularly its real-time recording functions. Film can work well for dramatic historical narrative, and it can be effective in ironic or poetic juxtaposition. Chaplin’s hungry little tramp is always oppressed by a huge overfed policeman - film “arguments” often work best by implication rather than by an explicit statement.

5] Real-Time Records: Film, particularly modern video forms, allow long uninterrupted real-time records of moving images and sounds, integrally related . They can thus produce records which record the phenomenal flux of specific events in a continuous stream. This can allow play-back, and re-analysis. The playback can be shown to the people who participated in the event and their explanations of who was there, what was being done, why it was happening can be recorded and re-integrated with the record, or merely stored to aid the ethnographer in a future written representation. This is particularly valuable for rituals and all social performances – dances, myth recitals, battles, house building, pottery making, heart surgery, pottery production. No ethnographer can write effective notes as efficiently and tirelessly as a video camera records.

6] Point of View: as Hastrup argues, a record may be thin, and unilluminating. A camera does not think or analyse. And it can only operate from the viewpoint of the moment. Whatever it records, other things must go unrecorded. An ethnographer with a rapid eye movement may “take in” a detail which would be missed had the camera been handled in a normally deliberate and “steady” manner.

The ethnographer potentially sees and understands much more than the camera.

7] Criteria: film-makers like films to use the film medium to its best. Other things being equal, a film with fewer words and no commentary may be preferred to a film with a rich wall-to-wall expository/explanatory commentary voice. Text—focused academics tend to prefer films with fuller explanations, and to be feel uneasy if explanation is withheld. They may be led to accept that “more words” will distract a viewer from seeing what is “in” the film.

But at the end of the day, an academic has as much right as a filmmaker to include explanations which help the mind to come to rest, particularly if the academic imagines other academics [rather than purist film enthusiasts] as the end-users.

We are ending this essay by adding on the text written by Howard Mophy for the book Journey to the Crocodile’s Nest. This monograph was written to accompany a film called Madarrpa Funeral at Gurka’wuy, directed by Ian Dunlop. In his essay Morphy succinctly makes clear the different properties and limitations of monograph and film when both are concerned with the same subject.

Human Biology of Afro-Caribbean Populations

Human Biology of Afro-Caribbean Populations

Lorena Madrigal provides a microevolutionary study of Caribbean populations of African descent, reviewing the conditions endured by the slaves during their passage and in the plantations and how these may have affected their own health and that of their descendents. The book provides an evolutionary framework for understanding the epidemiology of common modern-day diseases such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, and in addition looks at infectious diseases and their effect on the genetic make-up of Afro-Caribbean populations. It also reviews population genetics studies that have been used to understand the microevolutionary pathways for various populations and investigates their demographic characteristics, including the relationships between migration, family type, and fertility. Ending with a case study of the Afro-Caribbean population of Limo´n, Costa Rica, this will be a fascinating resource for researchers working in biological anthropology, demography, and epidemiology, and for those interested in the African diaspora in the New World.

LORENA MADRIGAL is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida and has worked on historical demography, population genetics, disease and modernization, and the genetics of longevity. She has also published Statistics for Anthropology (Cambridge, 1998)

Human biology.pdf

An Introduction to Gramsci's Life and Thought

An Introduction to Gramsci's Life and Thought
Frank Rosengarten

Antonio Gramsci was born on January 22, 1891 in Ales in the province of Cagliari in Sardinia. He was the fourth of seven children born to Francesco Gramsci and Giuseppina Marcias. His relationship with his father was never very close, but he had a strong affection and love for his mother, whose resilience, gift for story-telling and pungent humor made a lasting impression on him. Of his six siblings, Antonio enjoyed a mutual interest in literature with his younger sister Teresina, and seems to have always felt a spiritual kinship with his two brothers, Gennaro, the oldest of the Gramsci children, and Carlo, the youngest. Gennaro's early embrace of socialism contributed significantly to Antonio's political development. 

In 1897, Antonio's father was suspended and subsequently arrested and imprisoned for five years for alleged administrative abuses. Shortly thereafter, Giuseppina and her children moved to Ghilarza, where Antonio attended elementary school. Sometime during these years of trial and near poverty, he fell from the arms of a servant, to which his family attributed his hunched back and stunted growth: he was an inch or two short of five feet in height. 

At the age of eleven, after completing elementary school, Antonio worked for two years in the tax office in Ghilarza, in order to help his financially strapped family. Because of the five-year absence of Francesco, these were years of bitter struggle. Nevertheless, he continued to study privately and eventually returned to school, where he was judged to be of superior intelligence, as indicated by excellent grades in all subjects. 

Antonio continued his education, first in Santu Lussurgiu, about ten miles from Ghilarza, then, after graduating from secondary school, at the Dettori Lyceum in Cagliari, where he shared a room with his brother Gennaro, and where he came into contact for the first time with organized sectors of the working class and with radical and socialist politics. But these were also years of privation, during which Antonio was partially dependent on his father for financial support, which came only rarely. In his letters to his family, he accused his father repeatedly of unpardonable procrastination and neglect. His health deteriorated, and some of the nervous symptoms that were to plague him at a later time were already in evidence. 

1911 was an important year in young Gramsci's life. After graduating from the Cagliari lyceum, he applied for and won a scholarship to the University of Turin, an award reserved for needy students from the provinces of the former Kingdom of Sardinia. Among the other young people to compete for this scholarship was Palmiro Togliatti, future general secretary of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and, with Gramsci and several others, among the most capable leaders of that embattled Party. Antonio enrolled in the Faculty of Letters. At the University he met Angelo Tasca and several of the other men with whom he was to share struggles first in the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) and then, after the split that took place in January 1921, in the PCI. 

At the University, despite years of terrible suffering due to inadequate diet, unheated flats, and constant nervous exhaustion, Antonio took a variety of courses, mainly in the humanities but also in the social sciences and in linguistics, to which he was sufficiently attracted to contemplate academic specialization in that subject. Several of his professors, notably Matteo Bartoli, a linguist, and Umberto Cosmo, a Dante scholar, became personal friends. 

In 1915, despite great promise as an academic scholar, Gramsci became an active member of the PSI, and began a journalistic career that made him among the most feared critical voices in Italy at that time. His column in the Turin edition of Avanti!, and his theatre reviews were widely read and influential. He regularly spoke at workers' study-circles on various topics, such as the novels of Romain Rolland, for whom he felt a certain affinity, the Paris Commune, the French and Italian revolutions and the writings of Karl Marx. It was at this time, as the war dragged on and as Italian intervention became a bloody reality, Gramsci assumed a somewhat ambivalent stance, although his basic position was that the Italian socialists should use intervention as an occasion to turn Italian national sentiment in a revolutionary rather than a chauvinist direction. It was also at this time, in 1917 and 1918, that he began to see the need for integration of political and economic action with cultural work, which took form as a proletarian cultural association in Turin. 

The outbreak of the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 further stirred his revolutionary ardor, and for the remainder of the war and in the years thereafter Gramsci identified himself closely, although not entirely uncritically, with the methods and aims of the Russian revolutionary leadership and with the cause of socialist transformation throughout the advanced capitalist world. 

In the spring of 1919, Gramsci, together with Angelo Tasca, Umberto Terracini and Togliatti, founded L'Ordine Nuovo: Rassegna Settimanale di Cultura Socialista (The New Order: A Weekly Review of Socialist Culture), which became an influential periodical (on a weekly and later on a bi-monthly publishing schedule) for the following five years among the radical and revolutionary Left in Italy. The review gave much attention to political and literary currents in Europe, the USSR, and the United States. 

For the next few years, Gramsci devoted most of his time to the development of the factory council movement, and to militant journalism, which led in January 1921 to his siding with the Communist minority within the PSI at the Party's Livorno Congress. He became a member of the PCI's central committee, but did not play a leading role until several years later. He was among the most prescient representatives of the Italian Left at the inception of the fascist movement, and on several occasions predicted that unless unified action were taken against the rise of Mussolini's movement, Italian democracy and Italian socialism would both suffer a disastrous defeat. 

The years 1921 to 1926, years "of iron and fire" as he called them, were eventful and productive. They were marked in particular by the year and a half he lived in Moscow as an Italian delegate to the Communist International (May 1922- November 1923), his election to the Chamber of Deputies in April 1924, and his assumption of the position of general secretary of the PCI. His personal life was also filled with significant experiences, the chief one being his meeting with and subsequent marriage to Julka Schucht (1896-1980), a violinist and member of the Russian Communist Party whom he met during his stay in Russia. Antonio and Julka had two sons, Delio (1924-1981), and Giuliano, born in 1926, who lives today in Moscow with his wife. 

On the evening of November 8, 1926, Gramsci was arrested in Rome and, in accordance with a series of "Exceptional Laws" enacted by the fascist-dominated Italian legislature, committed to solitary confinement at the Regina Coeli prison. This began a ten-year odyssey, marked by almost constant physical and psychic pain as a result of a prison experience that culminated, on April 27, 1937, in his death from a cerebral hemorrhage. No doubt the stroke that killed him was but the final outcome of years and years of illnesses that were never properly treated in prison. 

Yet as everyone familiar with the trajectory of Gramsci's life knows, these prison years were also rich with intellectual achievement, as recorded in the Notebooks he kept in his various cells that eventually saw the light after World War II, and as recorded also in the extraordinary letters he wrote from prison to friends and especially to family members, the most important of whom was not his wife Julka but rather a sister-in-law, Tania Schucht. She was the person most intimately and unceasingly involved in his prison life, since she had resided in Rome for many years and was in a position to provide him not only with a regular exchange of thoughts and feelings in letter form but with articles of clothing and with numerous foods and medicines he sorely needed to survive the grinding daily routine of prison life. 

After being sentenced on June 4, 1928, with other Italian Communist leaders, to 20 years, 4 months and 5 days in prison, Gramsci was consigned to a prison in Turi, in the province of Bari, which turned out to be his longest place of detention (June 1928 -- November 1933). Thereafter he was under police guard at a clinic in Formia, from which he was transferred in August 1935, always under guard, to the Quisisana Hospital in Rome. It was there that he spent the last two years of his life. Among the people, in addition to Tania, who helped him either by writing to him or by visiting him when possible, were his mother Giuseppina, who died in 1933, his brother Carlo, his sisters Teresina and Grazietta, and his good friend, the economist Piero Sraffa, who throughout Gramsci's prison ordeal provided a crucial and indispenable service to Gramsci. Sraffa used his personal funds and numerous professional contacts that were necessary in order to obtain the books and periodicals Gramsci needed in prison. Gramsci had a prodigious memory, but it is safe to say that without Sraffa's assistance, and without the intermediary role often played by Tania, the Prison Notebooks as we have them would not have come to fruition. 

Gramsci's intellectual work in prison did not emerge in the light of day until several years after World War II, when the PC began publishing scattered sections of the Notebooks and some of the approximately 500 letters he wrote from prison. By the 1950s, and then with increasing frequency and intensity, his prison writings attracted interest and critical commentary in a host of countries, not only in the West but in the so-called third world as well. Some of his terminology became household words on the left, the most important of which, and the most complex, is the term "hegemony" as he used it in his writings and applied to the twin task of understanding the reasons underlying both the successes and the failures of socialism on a global scale, and of elaborating a feasible program for the realization of a socialist vision within the really existing conditions that prevailed in the world. Among these conditions were the rise and triumph of fascism and the disarray on the left that had ensued as a result of that triumph. Also extremely pertinent, both theoretically and practically, were such terms and phrases as "organic intellectual," "national'popular," and "historical bloc" which, even if not coined by Gramsci, acquired such radically new and original implications in his writing as to constitute effectively new formulations in the realm of political philosophy. 


Theory & Science (2006) : ISSN: 1527-5558


Barbara Hanson 
York University* 

Revised version for Theory and Science . 

* Sociology-Atkinson, York University, 4700 Keele Street, North York, Ontario, M3J 1P3. Phone (416) 736-2100 x20469, Fax (416)350-3876, E-mail “”. Support for this project was received through Atkinson College Research Grants, York University Specific Grants and my visiting appointments at the Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers University, Department of Sociology, Princeton University. Thanks for helpful comments from three anonymous reviewers. 

Critiques of science in social theory are often based on a selective and dated view. In the extreme this has led to creation of the creation of an intellectual “other” that is based on what science is not rather than it is. Greater homogeneity is perceived in this other than actually exists. Basing rejections of science on what social scientists think it is, is an ultimately futile pursuit. This argument appears by looking at philosophy of science focused on the transition from Medieval to Enlightenment times in Europe. In so doing it becomes apparent that science has been a multiplex of epistemological stances, including constructivist and relational philosophies, as far back as classical times. Further, science has increased this diversity and the prominence of constructivist and relational views in the 20 th century. This questions the utility of selective views of science. In so doing it points out that recent critiques of science may be targeting an opposition that is more apparent than real.

It’s time to take another look at history and notions of science from the standpoint of social theory. Critique of science, anti-science, anti-positivism has expanded substantially since the 1960s and remains as a theme in current social analysis. This can be seen in feminism (Harding, 1986b), post modernism (Jones, 2003) (Lemert, 1997), social policy (Greenhalgh, 2003), philosophy (Latour, 1987; Rorty, 1991), literary theory (Poovey, 1998), critical theory (Karakayali, 2004), and sociology (Gartrell & Gartrell, 2002; Mjoset, 2003). A view of classical models of science and the dynamics of transformation from Medeival to Enlightenment Europe holds the potential to provide a more inclusive view of science than may have been considered to date. Key to this consideration is looking more closely at the social and political context of Classical and Medieval times to explain how and why a particular type of science became popular in Europe. 

To this end I propose to move the debate a few centuries earlier to argue that many common understandings of science are undermined by being too selective and insufficiently specific. This may seem contradictory on the surface since I am arguing that critiques are both too narrow and too broad. However, I chose the words deliberately to capture a paradox in stances that attempt to criticize science by taking up just one possible approach while at the same time lumping scientific ideas together that are worth considering separately. This reminds me of the notion of “other” that has come from studies of racialization. Those unlike oneself are seen in narrow terms that are more homogeneous than would be suggested by looking from inside a particular context. These terms tend to emphasize things thought to differentiate the “other” from the definer. This argument is supported by an author who points out problems with portrayals of scientific homogeneity (Pedynowski, 2003). Or, other work that points out problems with the way debates about use of natural science methods in sociology tend to focus on a “subjectivist critique” (Bourdieu, Chamboredon, & Passeron, 1991) . 

Key to a more inclusive view of science is looking at how elements of what is commonly understood to be science such as logic, nomotheism, and positivism arose in reaction to religious politics. This makes it possible to examine the historicism of ideas such as rationality and enlightenment (Brunkhorst, 2000). In so doing it is possible to see that many current views of science are unnecessarily narrow. Critiques that focus on the European Enlightenment often assume that science is directly equivalent to logical nomothetic positivism. Examining each of these three ideas in turn suggests an argument that they arose as a reaction, or antidote, to the religious domination in a particular social historical context. In so doing it is possible to see that the ideas are less polarizing that is often assumed. Indeed, they may be used by the critics of science themselves. 

Nomotheism, logic, and positivism, are often lumped together into a view of science, empiricism, or positivism. An example of this is seen in a recent article that assesses the state of use of positivism in American and British Sociology. Here the authors use a definition of positivism that comes from theory as “general law-like statements relating abstract concepts; nominal and operational definitions of terms; formal language such as logic or mathematics used to express laws; derivation of hypotheses; relations among variables; and statistical analysis” and relies on “observation” (Gartrell et al., 2002: p.640, p.644). This reflects how the idea may be used in current practice as an amalgam of nomotheism, logic, and positivism. 

However, the three elements of nomotheism, logic, and positivism can be usefully separated. To this end, I elaborate each element below Individual understanding in place, it is possible to consider why this particular set of epistemological stances emerged as a triumvirate in a particular social historical context, the European Enlightenment. Each of these stances fit the prevailing beliefs and practices in a place and time where religion, predominantly Christian/Catholic, dominated politics and many aspects of everyday life. 

Nomotheism is an element of epistemology which looks for laws that can be used to explain specific occurrences of observed phenomena. Examples of such laws that have been developed within this epistemology are: gravity, the rate at which objects fall to earth, the point at which water freezes or boils, and people become more liberal in their political attitudes as their levels of education increase. A notion of nomotheism, laws governing the universe, universal law seems a short step from a notion of one god permeating all aspects of the universe. God lives within everyone. Stick a pin in a balloon and it will burst. A notion of cause and effect cast in terms of laws or properties that tapped universal principles was fitting in times that were dominated by a notion of a single omniscient, all powerful God and this God’s universe. 

It may be that simple cause and effect and relationships have been sought throughout time. Indeed the appeal of such explanations may be at the heart of what consumers desire from medical intervention (Hanson, 2001); a magic bullet or pill to cure or prevent illness. However, in various times and contexts there may have been competing modes of explanation such as polytheistic religions that encompassed a wider range of metaphysical entities. Germane to the current argument would be the tendency for more complex notions of phenomena such as the relational theories of Pythagoras to be given less attention during the European Enlightenment. I argue that the social times in which theories emerge shape which theories become famous. For example the insights of Chinese medicine, naturopathy, and acupuncture have taken on popularity in North America relatively recently while the ideas that ground them have history going back farther than classical European scientific ideas. 

Over time various explorations suggested that universal law had to be qualified and contextualized. Water boils at different temperatures at different altitudes. Medication works differently for different people. Birth control education has different effects in different social groups. Universe has become more of a functional concept to refer to like happenings under like conditions, in context. Search for law or laws is seen more as a way to develop ideas that apply to given conditions, contexts, even if it is the sole instance of such conditions. This makes critiques of science or modernity based on singularity (Lemert, 1997) difficult to accept in the full range of sciences. It also calls into question activities within the practice of sociology such as declaring the death of positivism in sociology as reported in a recent article (Gartrell & Gartrell, 2002). Anti-science stances may be on shaky ground where they take an outsider view of science. They critique the singularity or universalism of science without allowing for the contextual variation in the principle of law. Neither do they see their own reliance on a law like critique as problematic. 

Problems with views of science within sociology are implied in Charles Lemert’s examination of how the concept of science has entered into reflexive considerations of the discipline of sociology (1997) . He points out how various critiques of sociology have struggled with whether sociology is, or should be, a science. What is interesting for my argument is the way science, taking the example of natural science, is portrayed by sociologists–as consensus based and progressing (Lemert, 1977: p. 133). This is in sharp contrast to analysis of the natural and physical sciences, such as Lakatos discussing Popper and Kuhn, that chronicles processes that are largely disorganized and seem to be driven by breakdown and competing positions (Lakatos, 1976). This adds to my suggestions that critiques of science in social theory have created a portrait of science from the outside that may not reflect how science is practised by its insiders. 

Logic and rationality are often criticized as arguments for the possibility of, or a need for, value free science. Those who argue for subjectivity and subjectivities reject this notion as the imposition of a dominant ideology in the guise of science. Notable in this vein are feminist critiques of science. To wit, Harding focuses on the ways “scientific rationality has permeated not only the modes of thinking and acting of our public institutions but even the ways we think about the most intimate details of our private lives” (Harding, 1986b : p.16 ). 
Here it is important to remember that in historical context, logic/rationality was offered as an alternative to the reliance on deity to explain cause and effect. It may seen anachronistic today but the transition from Medieval to Enlightenment times in Europe was dominated by modes of inquisition that sought to root out and purge non-believers. This means that in some ways the use of science at the time was a way to get at the “world hidden from the consciousness of science” Harding discusses (Harding, 1986b: p.245). 

This stems from the idea that with the beginnings of European Enlightenment the social position of religious explanation was more equivalent to the social position of science in modern times. This is chronicled by recent analysis of the role of scientific explanation in the 1800s (Poovey, 1998). 

At the genus of the European Enlightenment, science was a form of radical challenge. It looked to everyday experiences in the form of observations, rather than omniscient principles of deity to explain the world. Thus, religious explanation at that time resembled scientific explanation in modern society. Scientific explanation at that time resembled current critique of science, anti-science. Put another way, the European Enlightenment was, in some ways, the postmodernism of its time. 

This suggestion emerges from an argument that the power dimensions in a social historical context may override the content of the ideologies/philosophies. Indeed, if one examines this content, as I do in this article, it becomes apparent that the seeds of radicalism are as marked as the seeds of justifying status quo in European Enlightenment thinking that has come to be identified as science. 

Although logic was a means of purging ideology or values, it was intended to purge a particular ideology--religious inquisition. Science relied on what could be reasoned rather that what could be inferred as metaphysical good or evil. Many have questioned the reliance on rationality as a means of supporting a particular political ideology. However, in context it was intended as a way to break the stranglehold religion had on scholarship, law, and various aspects of everyday life. This posited connection between religion and rationality is supported by analysis of the rise of the modern prison in Denmark and elsewhere in the 18 th and 19 th centuries (Smith, 2004). It ties into the idea that while religion may be formally rejected and rationality seen as an antidote or corrective, religious modes of thinking are still implicit in rationality. 

Nested in the concept of logic is an element of morality, specifically blame. This derives from the mechanistic notion of linear cause and effect as finite and separable. In a mechanism, parts are separable from wholes and can be considered individually. Then they can be added up or put back together to get the machine. Mechanism or separability is necessary to a notion of blame. It is impossible to point the finger at one thing as causal or to blame without first being able to separate that thing from other things. 

Thus, a mechanistic epistemology science can cast blame in the form of cause on one part or parts in deference to the lack of blame or innocence of another part or other parts. This idea was highly amenable to a religious mode that relied on blame. One author points out a similar connection between religion and rationality in the 18 th and 19 th centuries (Smith, 2004). Even though early scientists did not look for religious or deistic cause they still retained a mode of inquiry that searched for cause as a separable phenomena. Because of this, logic can be seen as a means of reaching for cause that implies blame. This notion is paramount in notions of law. Cause and blame are united. Lack of logic, or inability to reason, erases blame. 

In Enlightenment Europe positivism was a move to looking at what can be seen rather than inferred as being of God, the Devil, or what others say. I am reminded of a fortune cookie saying “The eyes believe themselves. The ears believe others”. In Enlightenment times, reliance on what could be seen was an alternative to taking religious inference or the accusations of others as proof. This related to things such as a person being “of the devil” or evidences of devilment in occurrences like plague, death, murder, hurricanes, drought or tides. 

During the later part of the 20 th century positivism has come to be criticized as an argument against subjectivity. This surfaces in arguments that objectivity is a problematic scholarly concept (Kim, 2004). Seeing positivism as a rejection of subjectivity is, however, valid only in a limited sense. Yes, subjective opinions and religious inferences were discounted during the European Enlightenment. However, as science expanded and grew, new kinds of phenomena required the development of inference and subjectivity. One such expansion was the development of probability theory that augmented simple linear models of causality with models of correlation. This became important in the development of theories of genetics and rapidly expanded when its utility for things like market research and voting prediction was discovered. 

In the social sciences there are views of objectivity as a search for inter-subjectivity (Babbie, 1995), consensus on relevant observations, modes of measurement, or cannons of proof. Objectivity is a way for scholars to communicate with one another based on shared symbols. It is necessary to have a common understanding on what a degree is before scholars can see if global warming is more severe on some parts of the planet than others. 

Given this, it may be inappropriate or at least counterproductive to cast modes of inquiry that search for consensus as rejections of subjectivity. Even though the practical search for common language among scholars may be called objectivity when it is performed by scientists, it does not resemble a rejection of subjectivity. Neither does it necessarily deny values or ideology. Thus, critique of science or positivism may be somewhat inappropriate given direct recognition of the actual impossibility of objectivity within the practice and philosophy of the natural, medical, and physical sciences and in logical positivist oriented social science. 

The birth of science as nomothetic logical positivism arose in the period of transition from Medieval to Enlightenment times in Europe. Why did this particular triumvirate of epistemological stances, rather than a host of alternatives, emerge in this particular place and time? Although logical positivism became prominent, it was not the only theory available for refinement. The Greek classics like Plato and Aristotle were one kind of theory that relied on notions of mechanism and universe. Other classics like Pythagoras (Dell, 1980) that relied on the epistemological alternative of relationships were also available but did not get the same attention. 

I argue that this is because the notions of universe and mechanism from Aristotle were more compatible with the monotheistic religion that dominated the social historical context. Although the scientists of the European Enlightenment may have formally rejected religious explanations for the phenomena they studied, they lived in times dominated by religion and many of them were religious figures themselves. They took on modes of doing science that were amenable to familiar styles of thinking and practice even though they rejected the formal content of such practices. 

In the transition from Medieval times in Europe religion dominated most aspects of social life. Science of the time, even though formally stated as an antidote to religion, was cast in a mode of inquiry and explanation that resembled religious practice in several ways. 

Early scientists were trying to replace metaphysical explanation with observation, positivism. They looked for universal laws rather than deistic explanations–bad sanitation rather than God’s will to explain the death of child. However, even though they rejected deistic explanations they practiced science in a monothetic mode. It was a short step from one God to one universe and universal law. Thus, nomotheism, universalism, became the dominant mode of scientific practice in the Enlightenment and its two derivative elements, logic and positivism, came to represent this particular epistemology of science. 

The shift from Medieval times in Europe was a time of questioning of religious domination both politically and in everyday lives. The torturing and killing of non-believers and witches at the hands of religious inquisitions and political bodies was a common occurrence. Books were few and often hidden from popular view. The Greek classics that ultimately provided the intellectual base for nomothetic logical positivism were suppressed, hidden, banned or even destroyed in Europe. However, these ideas were very much alive in the Arab world. When classics like Aristotle and Plato were re-discovered by Europeans they had to be translated from Arabic into Latin before they could be used in Europe (Dampier, 1932). 

In the times of the European Enlightenment, the people who had access to education and the leisure to pursue scholarship were predominantly wealthy, and male. Books and schools were few and expensive. Women were less likely than men to be given schooling or access to books than men. For women, the content of this learning was more often of domestic, as opposed to intellectual, content. Even if educated, women’s lives were dominated by childbearing that was typified by many pregnancies, miscarriages, births, still births, maternal death in labour, and infant deaths. Women spent a large portion of their lives pregnant, sick, caring for and grieving dying children and often dying themselves in the course of child bearing. This role for women was reified by religious doctrine and practice. 

In total the social context in which a logical positivist science arose was prone to defining and supporting scholars of a particular type. Therefore, even though religion was formally rejected in scholarship, it carried a religious cast. Witness the religious figures Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, and Blaise Pascal. Newton, while positing a physical universe, still had a conception of God governing the universe (Dampier, 1932, : p. 93,155, 188, 213). Galileo, even though questioning religious dogma, recanted in fear of the fate of his soul (Coyne, Heller, & Zycinski, 1985). This continued to the times of Gregor Mendel the monk who founded the study of genetics with his bean plants. Religious explanation even colours the philosophy of twentieth century physics. Recall Einstein's famous question about how the universe is set up--"Did God Have a Choice?" Current ethnographic analysis suggests that God is a concept that is alive in scientific practice (Pinch, 2000). The influence of religion in education is seen worldwide with many schools and colleges having their origins in religious education and many maintaining daily religious practices. 

Mechanistic scientific epistemology was also particularly apt for the beginning, development, and proliferation of industrialization. So the common association of mechanism with nomotheism provided a useful mode of scholarly practice to guide the creation of factories to manufacture goods. More recently the shift in terms of how developed economies are driven by information technology and global trade has suggested the revisiting, promoting, or creation of relational scientific epistemology to ground new practices. Cybernetics, quarks, black holes, holism, ecology, are all derived from relational scientific philosophy and have moved from isolated scholarly jargon into popular language in the last twenty five years. 

All scholarship is selective or reductive in the sense that it is not possible to think about, write on, or look at, everything. All analysis is a subset. A view of science as nomothetic logical positivism is one such subset. There are however, many other views of science. I argue that taking one particular view to represent a multiplex of epistemologies oversimplifies and perhaps misrepresents science. The triumvirate of nomothetic logical positivism prospered because it fit the dominant monotheistic religion of the social historical context of the European Enlightenment. Particular ideas work for particular groups in particular places and times. 

The separable notions of nomotheism, logic, and positivism may have been conflated in scholarship about science which surfaced in the second half of the 20 th century. For example you see Karl Popper writing about elements such as “experience by observation” “the problem of induction” and moving from singular to “universal” statements (Popper, 1976: p 89). Or, Quine looks at the way a conception of truth in implicit in conceptions of empiricism (Quine 1976). More recently you see this conflation in an article that investigated the presence of positivism in sociological writing (Gartrell et al., 2002). 

My separation of nomotheism logic and positivism argues against the idea that their conflation is necessary. Natural, medical, and physical scientists don’t all adhere to the notion of science in which social scientists often cast them. Some do. But some don’t. The don’ts have been taking on a greater presence in the past 50 years. Philosophy of science in the natural, medical, and physical sciences may be more pluralist than is often allowed. Constructivist science in terms of an epistemology of inquiry, socially conscious self reflexivity, or an education practice has taken on an increasing presence in the physical and natural sciences (Pinch, 2000). 

Nomotheistic logical positivism science has been challenged within the natural, physical, and medical sciences. The limitations of mechanism and universalism began to show when scientists confronted new kinds of problems like ecology. Or, they looked at old problems like the physical nature of the universe in new ways. Einstein’s theory of relativity was a recognition of the issue of context. Phenomena could be profitably studied in terms of their relationship to one another, rather than as discrete parts of a mechanism. Biofeedback, holism, cybernetics, and ecology recognize not just the importance of context or wholes but subjectivity, and non-linear causality as well. 

Further, there has been recognition within studies of science of the context bound nature of science. Notably Thomas Kuhn pointed out how evidence alone does not drive change in science citing an example where scientists had to “beat nature into line” (Kuhn 1976: p 152). Thus, the belief systems of scientists organize and classify observations. A new theory may be taken seriously even if the data do not fit. 

This does not deny that science and social science methods have at various times been dominated by nomothetic logical positivism and derivative quantitative methods or that these practices have abetted discriminatory practices. As such these practices are well deserving of critical attack. Upon looking through my own personal library for books to include in a book on theory of methods, I came upon one of my own undergraduate methods texts written in 1973. The title of the first chapter "Some Men Call it Science" jumped out at me (Forcese & Richer, 1973). This told me two things: how common implicit sexist practices were at that time and how oblivious I was to such practices 25 years ago. It reminded me of how women of my generation may take for granted the great strides made by second wave feminists in making sexist practices explicit and pushing for inclusiveness (Olesen, 1994) . 

I can see how quantitative methods became a central focus of criticism. Feminists have criticized this particular application of nomothetic, logical, positivism. For example Sandra Harding writes about “liberal political theory and its empiricist epistemology” (Harding, 1986a: p.646). However, there is nothing inherently discriminatory in the epistemology. I argue that it is the politics that determine the application. To wit, feminists have used nomothetic, logical, positivist epistemology such as census data and surveys to justify and enact feminist political agendas like affirmative action, day care programs, and pay equity. Recent work in the area of gender equality shows a strong presence of socalled “positivist” research like surveys and statistics (Brown, 2000,: Charles, Buchman, Halebsky, Powers, & Smith, 2001; Newsome & Dodoo, 2002; Zipp, Prohsaka, & Bemiller, 2004). A recent article, quoted above as an example of the current meaning of positivism, reported on research suggesting that use of positivisim is sociology is still prevalent, more so in the US than in Britain despite formal resistence or rejection in the discipline (Gartrell et al., 2002). 

This suggests that there may be formal rejection of notions of science at the same time that ideas of nomotheism, logic and positivism are in wide use. I think this derives from several factors. Even critics of science are doing their scholarship in a “science like” manner. To wit, there is Eisenstadt’s argument that constructs of modernity are themselves vested in singular notions and stand in contrast to observed development of culturally or context specific modernity. Therefore, it is more appropriate to talk about modernities as a plural (Eisenstadt, 1999). There has been a lack of attention to the religious character of science. Critiques tend to shore up and maintain the positions they oppose, like the two pillars that apply opposing pressure and is so doing hold up a temple. This may be a reflection of the implicit religious character of some scholarly critique. Thesis/antithesis may be a lingering mode of scholarship that has carried into current practice from the times of European Enlightenment. 
What Objectivity Isn’t 

It often seems lost, or at least not fully considered, that conceptions of objectivity came from a focus on positivism–reliance on observation. In the context of the European Enlightenment this meant looking for evidence or data in what could be seen rather than what was intuited as deistic cause. One example of how this principle went into practice is a shift in thinking about health. By looking at places where Plague prospered and comparing them to places where it was absent or limited, early scientists were able to isolate the factors that led to an epidemic--rats, fleas, and humans living in close proximity. Notions of objectivity arose in the sense of finding commonly agreed upon ways to look at and measure in order to compare pieces of information. Before they could see which area has more sewage there needed to be a consensus on what constituted a useful measure of sewage--pound, square meter, or gallon. 

This notion of consensus remains in positivist oriented social science conceptions and is simultaneously a recognition of social construction. Philosophy and study of science is replete with consideration of observation as mediated by social construction, representation, or instrumentation (Bhaskar, 1978; Latour, 1987; Collins, 1998; Myers, 1990; Woolgar & Pawluch, 1985; Law, 1990; Woolgar, 1988). Questions of constructed observation have been readily recognized in the mathematical, physical, and natural sciences. This is seen in the widespread use of double blind randomized clinical trials where neither the researcher nor the subjects know who is getting a test drug and who a placebo. It recognizes that both researcher and subject may have an interest in wanting the drug to work. Such desires may cause people to note or report positive effects of a drug when there is no physical effect, or minimize negative side effects. This is recognized as a way to make sure that only physical effects of a drug are detected. At the same time it recognizes the importance of human processes of belief, imagination, and interpretation that may create actual physical differences. This is often utilized in intervention where elements like visualization and positive mental outlook are part of treatment. It demonstrates the respect medical science has for the power and importance of social construction. 

However, this has often been construed as a definition of objectivity as a reach for value free science or a view of reality as separable from human experience and action (Baudrillard, 1988). But this is not how the question is uniformly approached within science. There is instead a long history of reflexive and political views of science (Weiner, 1950) and discussions of representation and the operational meaning of objectivity as consensus (Babbie, 2001) or inter- subjectivity (Babbie, 1995). So to say science, or positivist views of social science, are necessarily objective or a rejection of social construction is at least too narrow, even arguably wrong. 

Religious Practice 
The emergence of science in the European Enlightenment was about religion. I argue that debates about science are still about religion on two fronts – political/ideological, and practical. Political/ideological religion captures the sense of systems of beliefs systems that are sustained by faith. Practice of religion gets at the ways in which modes of action bear the cast of formal religion such as how the search for moral right and wrong enters into the search for dichotomies or oppositions. Scholarly practice today often implicitly bears the cast of religion on both fronts, even where religion is explicitly rejected. Because of this, debates about science are a distraction that prevents scholars from getting to the core of disagreements. Indeed, when one takes an expansive view of the nature of the positions it may be difficult to discern useful differences. 

Anti-science critiques may even perpetuate the very notions of science they purport to undermine. The presence of an anti position maintains the position. Shusterman points out how the iconoclast depends on convention (Shusterman, 1999). This can be seen as a form of tribalism (Antonio, 2000). This is religious in its character similar to the theological need for a conception of the Devil to keep the idea of God afloat. This is where the importance of Foucault’s work in establishing the idea of practices of power becomes important (Foucault, 1979). It is worthwhile looking at scholarly practices in terms of their ability to establish the positions of the scholars who use them. Critiques of practices of power or relations of ruling (Smith, 1987) move notions of control, oppression, or dominance into the immediate, everyday, and informal aspects of social life. One author points out how a critical attitude such as that expressed by Foucault reflects Enlightenment style thinking (Schaff, 2002). This suggests the possibility of a critique of critique. It may be worthwhile to look at how the practices of scholars themselves become practices of power. 

Attempting to take away the power of science by de-mystifying or pointing out its oppressive nature may move power into the hands of the scholars doing the critique. In a traditional tribal view of power one person or group takes power away and covets it. In scholarship this would translate into oppositions of assumptions, deductions, or observations of competing schools of thought who vie for popularity, grants, students etc. A scholarly practice of diffuse critique that is not formally bound to such traditions creates power by taking upon itself the power to define what constitutes practice, even as it rejects an overarching scholarly practice of definition. Saying that something should not be done is effectively saying what should be done. 

In this vein anti-science critiques are can be looked at self reflexively in terms of the way they maintain the religious nature of the original debates about science. This becomes an opposition that maintains the traditional position, like the opposing columns of a tripod that lead to its stability. Current debates can be seen as arguing for religious forms of explanation, stated as ideology. This removes the need for proof or evidence. In so doing it opens the door to political ideological arguments that need no proof or evidence to prosper. This may be a partial explanation for why anti-science arguments have prospered in social science in the past 50 years. They are co-emergent with growing interest in political issues dominated by marginalization/oppressions. Indeed some authors argue that politics have been moved from the social science to the humanities in the past 40 years (Agger & Luke, 2002). I see this as a reflection of critique against sciences, social and otherwise, that has found a comfortable home in the humanities. 

Thus, anti-science can be seen as a return to ideological justification whether explicitly stated or not. Contradictions arise when such modes of inquiry try to move back into proof or evidence. This means explanations arise that have ultimate freedom and flexibility. Proof has been formally discounted, a rejected positivist principle. Scholarship is ideological speculation, abstraction, and construction. These practices are ultimately tied to the ideological beliefs of the scholar doing the analysis (Anderson, 2002). 

An anti-science argument works best when arguing against something rather than for something. It takes energy from negativity about other things. This makes it difficult to criticize since it is not building a stance of its own. This is where the ability to control scholarship and academic practices arises. It’s the ultimate politic, one that is pure politic with no need to be effective except as a means of justifying itself. This makes it an ideological practice without any formal definition as such. 

Thus, the practices of anti-science transcend the classic limitations of traditional assumptive based social theories like conflict, consensus, and constructivism by having no assumptions, inherent nature, characteristics, or derived ideas. They float around and outside as critiques of everything but can’t be pinned down when others try to criticize them. 

In this sense it can be seen to parallel the social practice of constructing others as a means of reifying the position of the people who define or critique. Just as with the creation of social difference, this is often based on what things aren’t rather than what they are. When the category of other is looked at from within, the basis for the creation of difference disappears. Once this is done it is possible to look at the process which drives a desire to define other as the topic of interest. I argue that this is the case with anti-science debates. When we look at the origins of debates about science in the transition from Medieval to Enlightenment times, it is difficult to discern any difference between current anti-science debates and the pro-science debates that fueled the emergence of science. Its still about religion while the actual practices of sciences have moved on. 

In the context of current debates about science and anti-science, it is worthwhile to step back and see if the basic premises of these debates hold. I have argued above that the debate was and is about religion–ideological legitimization for scholarship. Specific scientific philosophies all bear elements of ideology. This is recognized within science and positivist oriented social science. It is witnessed in arguments that scientific prestige depends on its fit with political interests ( Moore, 1996). One author suggests that sociology may have had a more confrontational relationship with science than other social science disciplines (Heuveline, 2004). I suspect this may have something to do with the explicitly political character of sociology, a character that has expanded in the last 50 years. 

Perhaps is it time to transcend the science/anti-science argument. Once you look expansively and historically at science the basis for argument disappears. Originally a debate about religion, it is currently an implicit debate about the legitimacy of ideology as justification. This creates a space to examine how scholars go about their work and justify their positions. 

This type of analysis may have begun. To wit, it surfaces in work that offers a critique of science and offers the alternative of an “antirepresentationalist account” “which does not view knowledge as a matter of getting reality right, but rather as a matter of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality” (Rorty, 1991: p.1). Notable in this idea is that there is a focus on everyday practices combined with reliance on a notion of reality. In so doing, the critique falls in on itself when it relies on a notion of reality. It also opens the door to look at the process of science as a process relevant in itself that should not be overly focused on the content of ideology that is put out formally. 

I have argued elsewhere (Hanson, 1999) that the process of fact creation can become the focus of scholarly inquiry. As such the target becomes facticity, how scholars go about trying to establish that an idea is true, real, important, relevant, wise. This is not necessarily tied to notions of one epistemology, theory, philosophy, religion or another. As such it allows an active self reflexive process of scholarship. Germane to the current argument is the possibility for seeing how elements of religiosity enter into scholarship, even in the face of formal rejection of religion. 

In so doing it is possible to see that while the surface of arguments about science have changed since European classical times, the core has not. What may be more important is seeing what purpose the argument serves. Who benefits? I propose we openly debate ideologies rather than an assumed homogenous science. This suggests that there may be common ground between recent critiques of science and a more expansive view of science which looks at a greater historical range. 

Science can be defined broadly as the refinement of theory. This captures several elements of philosophy of science. We can look at the origin of the word science itself derived from the Latin scientia meaning having knowledge. There are also notions of systematic doubting (Dooley, 1995), organization of facts, “systems of thought” (Crombie, 1959, p.1) or an attitude (Egler, 1970, p.1). All of these ideas flesh out a concept of science that is multiplex, fluid, diverse, and growing. Including a notion of theory, without defining any particular kind of theory, allows us to consider that knowledge is a plural rather than singular. This will allow sociology to keep pace with exciting theoretical advances in physical and natural science disciplines such as cybernetic models of causality that could help sociology past chronic limitations with levels (Sawyer, 2001).