The Rhetoric of the Canon: Functional, Historicist, and Humanist Justifications View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2022-02-28

AUTHORS

Daniel Silver, Cinthya Guzman, Sébastien Parker, Lars Döpking

ABSTRACT

This paper seeks to uncover the modes of justification by which sociological theorists legitimize the “canon” of sociological theory in practice, through the stories they tell to students in sociological theory textbooks. Specifically, we ask: how do textbook authors rationalize their decisions to include and exclude some theorists? Further, what are the modes or “rules of the conceptual game” underlying these justifications? To address these questions, we undertake a rhetorical examination of a corpus of 250 English-language editions of sociological theory textbooks. Focusing on their Introductions and Conclusions, we highlight texts that presume the canon is a social fact and investigate the justifications they provide for assenting to this fact. We articulate and illustrate three forms of legitimation: functionalist, historicist, and humanist. Functionalist justifications legitimate the canon by appealing to its capacity to generate disciplinary unity and integrity. Historicist justifications legitimate the canon by appealing to its members’ foundational and influential role in defining the direction of the field. Humanist justifications legitimate the canon through appealing to the intrinsic qualities of its texts and authors. Identifying these pathways is the primary empirical contribution of this paper, which in turn contributes to the collective project of disciplinary self-reflection. More... »

PAGES

287-313

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/s12108-022-09529-0

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s12108-022-09529-0

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1145896487


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