The Babel tower of the title is the author's image for the current fragmentation of sociology into forty sections that rarely follow the scientific ideal of attempting to communicate with one another. Refusing to accept that situation as given, Dr. Phillips follow the Millsian precedent, offering here a vision of how sociologists might move toward "the sociological imagination" by building bridges connecting those sections. Such a vision draws heavily on the work of classical and contemporary theorists, on quantitative and qualitative methodologists, on philosophers and historians of science, on postmodernist critiques and responses to postmodernism, and on substantive research in diverse areas. Conflict theorists, functionalists, symbolic interactionists, ethnomethodologists, exchange or rational choice theorists, and critical theorists should feel equally at home in the author's approach. Yet this is no eclectic collection of ideas. It is, rather, a highly systematic approach aimed at procedures that the entire discipline can employ to fulfill its ideals for the scientific method. Going far beyond a programmatic effort to sketch what prevents sociologists from dismantling their tower of Babel and what might be done in the future, Phillips sets forth a second, heuristic image, that of a "web". He presents one illustration after another to document each aspect of a web approach to the scientific method, an approach that opens up to the theories and methods that have been developed within every substantive area of the discipline.
His approach is similar to other developments of a synthetic orientation, that would link "micro" with "macro" phenomena. To the extent that the utility of the web approach holds up to empirical testing and comes to be established, it holds out to sociologists the promise of achieving the cumulative development and credibility that are hallmarks of any science. The book should be useful for courses in method, in the classical tradition of sociology, and in undergraduate seminars where the theoretical underpinnings of the discipline are taken up.
Condition: no dust jacket; head and tail of spine show signs of shelf-wear; corners bumped; interior pages clean and crisp with a tight binding.