The Study of the History of Sociology and Neighboring Fields
What do the following three have in common: East Europeans (according to Friedrich Engels), Ronald Reagan (according to his doctor), and sociology (according to this author)? Two things at least. They can be studied by sociologists, and all three have (or had) only an incomplete, fractured awareness of their own history. Engels and other Western European Marxists claimed that particular people living to the east did not have a history of their own because they lacked agents of nation-building. An increasing number of elderly people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, as former U.S. president Reagan did; and due to their growing dementia they cannot remember their own lives. In the case of sociology, the causes of the alleged Alzheimerian status have yet to be discovered. But the diagnosis is clear: the discipline’s memory is rather limited.