Date of Award

1986

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Abstract

Textbooks are important representative statements of certified and legitimated knowledge within an academic discipline, and the manner in which introductory sociology textbooks assess society reflect the power and sophistication of theories in discerning social patterns and structures. That the pivotal historical event of the Vietnam War and its implications for contemporary American social institutions was virtually omitted in our sample of one hundred-twenty textbooks raises critical issues for sociology. Content analysis of Vietnam War era textbooks (1954-1975) revealed 75% of the sample, divided among four major research orienting paradigms extant in sociology, ignored mention of the war and only the conflict-oriented texts afforded analysis of the American structural dynamics connected with Vietnam. Apart from these texts, the rest of the sample assumed an intentional or unintentional functional perspective regarding the Vietnam War and corresponding structurally induced domestic and foreign violence endemic to America's military-industrial complex. This paradigmatic bias toward macrolevel phenomena is traceable to historical, social, cultural and institutional factors in sociology's emergence and development in the Academy. Marketing considerations may further impede the textbook representation of opposing viewpoints of the consensual and shared-goal value embodied in the sampled texts. Too, since academic sociology is institutionally aligned with a welfare-warfare state philosophy, and is institutionally enjoined to train students for jobs in post-industrial society, its classical discovery process is commodified, resulting in an unbalanced presentation of American society to introductory students and to future professional sociologists. Such dominant textbook images, values and ideas about American institutions impede creative insight and comprehension of elemental domains of society that warrant wide professional review.

Pages

279

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