Florian Znaniecki’s Culturalism
6 ‘Definition of the Situation’ and the Interpretative Paradigm of Sociology / 99
Some Remarks on the Role of Historical-Sociological Analyses If the sense of the obvious that follows from the routine of historical-sociological analyses is suspended, the need for a deeper justiﬁcation of the meaning of these en- deavors emerges. One is faced with the following questions: Do these actions serve the creation of some kind of a ‘museum of thought’ when they, in a way, follow behind the developing science, just like a historian follows history, or do they participate in the creation of science? What is the purpose of confronting various conceptions, e.g., Znaniecki’s ideas with Marxism, functionalism, interactionism or, in this case, with the interpretative paradigm? Is such a confrontation anything more than just rhetoric, a symbolic attribution of recognition or disapproval of individual achievements? The answer depends on the way of looking at the process of shaping the system of knowl- edge. If one assumes – particularly in the social sciences – that the process is not a result of an undisturbed activity of ‘pure reason’, but a social process of interaction in which communication plays a major role, a process subject to various limitations: internal ones that follow from the imperfection of a language, and external ones that result from the entanglement in conﬂicts of ideologies, power and interests, then the history of sociology takes on a special role. It is not a marginal branch. It should become a tool of sociological theorizing since its task is to criticize: to improve deﬁciencies of the communication process...
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