Some meta-sociological aspects of the consensus conflict debate in sociology



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This investigation of the Consensus-Conflict debate in contemporary sociology explores some unresolved issues in the philosophy of the social sciences which are implicitly involved in many sociological disputes but often obscured in this particular debate by strong emphasis on its ideological aspects. Outlining the implications of the two major philosophical positions in the social sciences, an attempt is made to trace out the influence of divergent scientific presuppositions on sociological theory in general and on the Consensus-Conflict debate in particular. Examples of contemporary publications on social theory are evaluated in order to assess the impact of this extended debate in sociology, and a classification of interpretations of Consensus-Conflict is presented which highlights three interrelated components which should be recognised for an adequate description of the debate. Interpreted within the framework of meta-sociology, the volatile nature of the Consensus-Conflict debate is explained as possible result of shifting criteria of relevance and standards of scientific quality within the field of sociology as well as in the broader scientific community.