The Social Misconstruction of Reality: Validity and Verification in the Scholarly Community

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 1996 - History - 289 pages
0 Reviews
From the time of the ancient Greeks, thinkers have known the earth is round. Yet popular legend has persisted that Columbus proved this fact for the first time, and scholarship abounds with similar perpetuated errors. Why do social misconstructions--widely shared, long-lasting acceptance of facts or interpretations that are mistaken--persist when ample evidence is readily available to counter them? How and why are corrections resisted or dismissed? In this provocative book Richard F. Hamilton examines the social determinants of knowledge, focusing on three well-accepted but erroneous social theories and looking closely at the ways social misconstructions originate and thrive.

Hamilton finds that despite critiques by historians, some scholars continue to believe Max Weber's claim that a strong linkage between Protestantism and worldly success led to the rise of the capitalist West. Similarly, many academics still argue the discredited view that the German lower middle class voted overwhelmingly for the Nazis. Foucault's flawed interpretation of the "birth of prison" and other disciplinary concepts in modern society finds wide acceptance in many academic circles, despite a lack of serious empirical support. In each of these three cases, the author assesses the logic and empirical accuracy of the accepted theory and alternative theories, and he investigates the social processes giving rise to misconstructions. He finds a remarkable disparity between the presumed commitment of scholars to evidence and their easy acceptance of undocumented argument. His book sounds a clear alert to the academic community.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thcson - LibraryThing

A solid book on academic misjudgement. The author examines the evidence behind three famous theses (including Weber and Foucault) and finds that they are based more on guesswork than on research. He ... Read full review

Contents

Mozarts Poverty Wellingtons Epigram
21
Hitlers Electoral Support
107
The LowerMiddleClass Thesis
146
The Disciplinary Society
171
Some Problems of Intellectual Life
197
Social Misconstruction Validity and Verification
217
Copyright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1996)

Richard F. Hamilton is professor of sociology and political science at Ohio State University.

Bibliographic information