Emmanuel Didier Talk at the Department of Sociology: "Free From Numbers? The Politics of Qualitative Sociology in the US since 1945"

October 6, 2015


Today’s radical sociologists often refrain from using quantitative arguments. They argue, though uncomfortably, that the quantitative is in itself authoritarian.  In this paper we propose to analyze socio-historically the association between the quantitative and political authority. To do this, we follow the constitution during the second half of the 20th century of what has come to be labeled “qualitative sociology” and analyze its political as well as epistemological criticism of quantitative methods. Three periods are distinguished. In the 1950s, the reactions to the rise of Lazardsfeldian sociology; in the 1960s, the attacks of the young radicals on the Welfare State; and finally in the 1970s the constitution of a qualitative methodology for use by a new generation of students