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ERIC Number: ED147204
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1977-Sep-8
Reference Count: 0
Art in Sociology: Contribution and Competition to Sociological Understanding.
Leighninger, Robert D., Jr.
The paper examines past and potential contributions of literature to sociology and evaluates the relationship between the two disciplines. Emphasis is on explaining how the novelist's observation as embodied in a work of fiction may be used to further the work of the social scientist. Section I identifies major uses of literature in sociological writings and provides a review of literature related to these uses. First, literature can be used as a source of raw data in certain kinds of analysis studies. The aim here is to find social values represented in popular fiction. Second, literature can be a useful teaching device for the social scientist. For example, concepts from an introductory sociology textbook may be illustrated by selections from novels or short stories. Third, literary passages may inspire, suggest, or encourage research into a particular subject matter. Fourth, literary passages may serve as models. Section II suggests works of literature in which social observation is particularly acute and presents examples from sociological analyses of literary works. Section III stresses difficulties in considering literature a legitimate source of sociological hypotheses, but suggests two approaches for viewing novels as models of reality. One approach, entitled structural isomorphism, considers similarities in the way the literary model and the real situation are constructed. The other approach, entitled thick description, borrows from social anthropology the concept that in a social situation an interpretation of attitudes, purposes, and gestures is as fictitious as a literary interpretation. The conclusion is that novelists and sociologists can benefit from each others' expertise without undermining traditional division of labor between science and art. (Author/DB)
Descriptors: Characterization, Communication Problems, Communication (Thought Transfer), Evaluation, Intellectual Disciplines, Interdisciplinary Approach, Literature, Literature Reviews, Novels, Relationship, Research Methodology, Scientific Attitudes, Social Science Research, Social Values, Sociology, Writing (Composition)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (72nd, Chicago, Illinois, September 5-9, 1977)