chapter  2
Sociological Theory and Practical Reason: the Restriction of the Scope of Sociological Theory
ByNico Stehr
Pages 8

The history of sociological theory has seen repeated efforts by sociologists to purge sociological discourse of a wide range of considerations deemed extraneous. Politics, ethics, philosophy, epistemology and history, representing concerns which in many ways predate but also gave rise to sociology, are now seen to have their own separate professional identities, as does, of course, sociology itself. The growing specialization and differentation of scientific discourse provides the social basis for the very possibility of increasingly restricted modes of discourse. But sociological discourse is not merely either a passive beneficiary or a victim of these developments. As a matter of fact, much of sociology aspires to and celebrates its intellectual self-sufficiency and self-restriction. Contemporary sociologists see their discipline increasingly in terms of and subject to the process Parsons describes but especially on the basis of the often largely implicit notion that such immanent development of science necessarily produces a more distinct, differentiated scientific version of theory in sociology.