A sociologist weighs in.

Author:Smith, Christian
Position:Correspondence - Letter to the editor
 
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Fr. Neuhaus criticizes sociology for forsaking analysis and explanation in recent decades to engage in advocacy and activism (While We're At It, May). He is not altogether unjustified in this criticism. American Sociological Association political resolutions sent to Washington, D.C. (as if anyone were listening) can indeed be nauseating. But it is ironic that in the very same issue, FIRST THINGS also published an Opinion piece by sociologist Brad Wilcox ("As the Family Goes," May).

Now, I am friends with Brad, respect his work, and defend him when he is criticized in the discipline. But there is no getting around the fact that Wilcox is a sociologist engaged in advocacy-oriented scholarship, as much as are most people on the left. He just happens to advocate a more conservative perspective on the family than most. And some works by other sociologists whom Neuhaus likes also have a normative advocacy edge to them. Has anyone read, for example, James D. Hunter's excellent book The Death of Character?

I...

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