On Resolving the Dilemma of the Native Versus Non-Native Account of Social Reality

Dissertation, Michigan State University (1980)
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Abstract

The dilemma is resolved by a proposal of a critical social science. The critical model combines the virtues of the positivist and of the interpretivist, but has none of their weaknesses. The critical model explains social phenomena by the use of general quasi-causal laws ; these laws are quasi because they are rooted in the intentions, aims, etc., of some specific human actors. ;The dilemma posed by the two accounts, the non-native and the native, is that if we are to have social knowledge then we must choose between a positivist-functionalist's account and an interpretivist's account. But positivism entails, among other weaknesses, the weakness of being too abstract and less particular, while the interpretive model, among other weaknesses, is too particular and not general enough. Therefore, if we must have social knowledge we must accept either the weaknesses of the positivist functionalist or the weaknesses of the interpretivist. ;Kashi Wusa's account presupposes the doctrine of conceptual analysis by a sociologist. This doctrine is associated with Peter Winch. Winch says that human activity which forms the subject matter of the sociologist is governed by the intentions, aims, etc., of the social actors. Therefore, for a sociologist's interpretation of human actions to be correct , he must inquire from the actors of the intentions, desires, etc., that lead them to act. The sociologist must engage in conceptual analyses. ;The positivist functionalist's attempt to give an explanation of social phenomena by appeal to lawlike causal generalizations as in the natural science with no reference to the social actors' intentions, aims, etc., would, among other things, do violence to individual difference. The interpretivist's attempt to take as a criterion of the adequacy of an explanation of social phenomena only the intentions, aims, etc., which the social actors say lead them to act, makes the account, among other things, to be too particularistic and not general enough to accommodate, for example, unintended actions and intended actions that have unintended consequences. ;Each of the two accounts has some methodological and ideological presuppositions. The methodologies and ideologies entail some weaknesses. And the weaknesses are reflected in the accounts. ;Nadel's account presupposes the doctrine of positivistic functionalism, in part, as understood and propounded by Malinowski. Malinowski holds the view that a sociologist could use the methodology of a natural scientist to give an account of social phenomena independent of the conceptual analyses of the aims, intentions, etc. that lead social actors to act. ;I present two conflicting accounts of some social data of Nupe society. One account is a non-native's . The other account is a native's . ;Nadel says the muslim Fulani rulers of Nupe manipulate Islamic religion to control and rule the Nupe. Hence, to Nadel, the religion is subordinate to politics for the muslim Fulani rulers. Kashi Wusa, on the other hand, says the Islamic religion is the overriding purpose of the Fulani rule of the Nupe. This view of hers is consonant with the Fulani's view of their purpose in Nupe. They say their purpose was to spread Islamic religion. To Kashi Wusa, everything the Fulani do, for example, setting up some social institutions like muslim courts of law, is subordinate to Islamic religion and it is to help the Fulani entrench Islamic religion

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