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Civitas - Revista de Ciências Sociais

versão impressa ISSN 1519-6089versão On-line ISSN 1984-7289


BERTAUX, Daniel. Courses of action’s revenge against the scientistic illusion. Civitas, Rev. Ciênc. Soc. [online]. 2014, vol.14, n.2, pp.250-271.  Epub 15-Jun-2020. ISSN 1984-7289.

The birth and development of academic sociology has been greatly facilitated by the ‘scientistic’ belief, shared by most of its founding fathers and especially Comte and Durkheim and revitalized by Bourdieu’s structuralism, in the possibility of a science of society that would not be fundamentally different from ‘the other sciences’; i. e. the natural sciences. There is not however in nature any self-determined action to be found, no courses of action focused on some goal or on some hard conviction (‘value’); there is no subject of action in the world of physics. Nevertheless, in order to defend a belief that –however false– had done and is doing so much to consolidate the scientific status of sociology, its establishment was and has remained consistently reluctant to consider –as Weber had done– that individual courses of action through time constitute the core element in producing and changing modern societies. And fifty years after the birth of constructivism, this establishment still looks with great suspicion at the only empirical method that allows reconstructing individual courses of (situated) action, the narrative interview or ‘life story’. Not that this method makes miracles; but if taken seriously, it might change the way sociologists look at societies: not as static ‘systems’ but as dynamic and ever-changing ensembles.

Palavras-chave : Scientism; Structuralism; Course of action; Self-employment; Life story.

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