Social Science and the Self: Personal Essays on an Art Form
The social science disciplines tend to view the self as a contaminant. The unique, inner life of the observer, the researcher, is to be separated, neutralized, standardized, and controlled. At the same time, the observer is expected to use the self in understanding the world. Susan Krieger, a sociologist trained in traditional social science, argues in this controversial book that this view of the self needs to be altered. Social scientists should develop their individual perspectives in their work and ought to acknowledge, more honestly than they do, the extent to which their studies reflect their inner lives.
The argument in this book is based in the author's own experience, reflecting her own need to speak more directly through her social science. This book is also about that struggle with standard forms and traditional styles of expression. It is about a social science that is more subjective, idiosyncratic, ambivalent, conflicted--about the inner life and experiences that cannot be measured, tested, or fully shared.
Beginning with a discussion of her own training, Susan Krieger proceeds to consider both personal and general issues that arise in writing social science. She compares the work of a mystery writer and an anthropologist, investigates the writings of Georgia O'Keeffe, and examines ideas of self and community among Pueblo Indian potters. In concluding chapters, she returns to her own teaching and research experiences--and the experiences of her colleagues, other women wrestling with similar issues. The voices of eight other feminist scholars complete the book with their various and yet harmonious reflections on the relationship between self and form in their work.