Dangerous knowledge? The self-subversion of social deviance theory

Some sociological theories yield self-subverting or 'dangerous' knowledge. The functionalist theory of social deviance provides a case in point. The theory, first formulated by Durkheim, maintains that ostensibly anti-social deviants perform a number of socially indispensable functions. But what would happen if everyone knew this? They would cease to regard deviants as malefactors and would indeed come to esteem them as public benefactors. In that case, however, deviants could no longer perform their proper function. If they are to play the part assigned to them by the theory, most people must remain unaware of their 'true' role in the drama of social life. This gives rise to the paradox of dangerous knowledge: The theory can be true only if its truths are not widely known; widespread ignorance is the precondition of its truth. But then, if its truths must not be publicly known, the theory is a piece of esoterica, not of science. I conclude by considering, and rejecting, several possible solutions to the 'dangerous knowledge' paradox.
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DOI 10.1080/00201748008601917
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Social Theory and Social Structure.Lawrence Haworth - 1961 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 11 (44):345-346.
Two Concepts of Rules.John Rawls - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (1):3-32.
The Open Society and its Enemies.Karl Popper - 1945 - London: Princeton University Press.
On 'Historical' Explanation.Terence Ball - 1972 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 2 (1):181-192.

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