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Disciplinary rhetorics and fractal orderings : a study of sociologies of knowledge and of presidential addresses to the American Sociological Society/Association

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White, R (1998) Disciplinary rhetorics and fractal orderings : a study of sociologies of knowledge and of presidential addresses to the American Sociological Society/Association. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis is a demonstration of the practical achievement of sociological knowledge in
the absence of epistemological foundations. Its argument is derived from, and applied to,
the disciplinary rhetorics in sociologies of knowledge and presidential addresses to the
American Sociological Society Association. The formal sociologies of knowledge are
shown to be representations of discipline, and the addresses, delivered by formal
representatives of the discipline, to be 'folk' sociologies of knowledge.
'Discipline' epitomises the location of sociology in the processes studied within it,
and of the sociology of knowledge within sociology at large. As subsumed in 'Mannheim's
paradox', the sub-/metadiscipline has always been characterised by such epistemological
difficulties as circularity, infinite regress, or the apparent self-negation of relativised
knowledge. These difficulties, which are also characteristic of the discipline at large, are
clarified in Latour's account of the modern as a separation of epistemological from political
senses of representation. Sociologists of knowledge have resolved 'Mannheim's paradox' by
two recurrent forms of representation; or modes of ordering. Either they relate knowledge to
its context in binary terms (which then either axiomatically or tacitly favours the
epistemological over the political), or they avoid this preemption through trinary
orderings. The deferral of analytical closure in trinitarianism is used in a description of
disciplinary knowledge as a 'fractal ordering' of 'disciplinarity', 'disciplining' and
'discipline', where 'fractal' denotes a jagged self-similarity across different scales of study.
In their little-studied addresses to the ASS/ A, the presidents are rhetorically
required to discuss disciplinary knowledge but are rhetorically constrained from doing so
with formal rigour. The addresses are then a practical enactment of 'Mannheim' s paradox',
and the presidents are folk sociologists of knowledge. Folk and formal disciplinary
rhetorics are linked through equation of the 'discipline' from the sociologies of knowledge
with 'the discipline' of American sociology, through quantitative matching of 'real factors'from the presidents' organisational characteristics with 'ideal factors' from their addresses, and through use in the addresses of 'disciplinarity', 'disciplining' and
'discipline'.
In demonstrating that isomorphism between sociologies of knowledge and the presidents' occasioned response to occasioned constraints, the thesis amounts to a practical
resolution of Mannheim's paradox. The trans-scalar interaction of fractal ordering shows
that sociological knowledge is achieved pragmatically in a space defined by its
epistemological difficulties.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Copyright 1998 the Author. The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s) - and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2013 03:19
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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