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Critical Social Science

Today, the emergence of critical social science is very important because it affects consistently the development of the social science and the development of society at large. The development of critical science is grounded on the combination of various sociological theories and the development of the modern society and science. The critical analysis and evaluation of existing theories help to understand better different social theories and science at large. As a result, critical social science becomes free of biases and stereotypes that increases the reliability and accuracy of social science, whereas conclusions made by scientists are more objective. However, to make the social science truly critical, scientists should develop a critical view on the world and human society.

In actuality, social science offers different theories, which interpret and explain the modern society and human relations. However, all of them should be evaluated critically to lay the basis for the true social science. The existing sociology theories offer various approaches to the solution of the problem of individual behavior. In actuality, the anti-social behavior leading to individual actions is common for all societies and practically all epochs. Today, the high crime rates are a serious challenge to the contemporary society since, in spite of the dominance of democratic and humanistic values, the crime rates remain still very high. In such a situation, the effectiveness of the contemporary individual justice system is put under a question, since the current approaches to the correction of individuals do not prevent the growth of crime rates and cases of recidivism. This is why the problem of the reform of individual behavior is one of the major goals of the contemporary justice system and sociological theories can be very helpful in the solution of this problem. In this respect, the cognitive restructuring may be particularly helpful since it contributes to a considerable change in the behavior of an individual.

On analyzing the perspective of the implementation of the cognitive restructuring to the reform of individual behavior, it is primarily necessary to clearly define the concept of the cognitive restructuring. Basically, this is a sociological theory that implies the possibility of the change of the behavior of an individual. This theory was developed in terms of the cognitive therapy and, originally, it was developed for clinical applications. However, nowadays, it is obvious that the field of application of the cognitive restructuring is significantly larger. In fact, the cognitive restructuring is the process of learning to refute cognitive distortions, or fundamental “faulty thinking”, with the goal of replacing one’s irrational, counter-factual beliefs with more accurate and beneficial ones (Babbie, 2003). In such a way, the cognitive restructuring is based on the substitution of undesirable thinking with more preferable ones.

On extrapolating this concept on individual reform, it should be said that the individual behavior is traditionally characterized by inclinations to anti-social behavior. The anti-social behavior of individuals may be provoked by various factors and the cognitive distortions may be viewed as one of such factors. To put it more precisely, offenders can develop some faulty thinking which may vary from the belief of an offender in his the righteousness of all actions he does to the belief in the inability of the society to punish or stop him in his offensive actions and crimes. In such a context, an offender’s faulty thinking may lead to the formation of extremely negative habits and models of behavior, which are originally defined by the specific mode of thinking of offenders. For instance, an offender may think that the police will never catch him and, therefore, he will never be punished for his crimes. As he cannot be punished he can do everything he wants. In such a way, this model of thinking provokes and stimulates an anti-social behavior of a individual. While using cognitive restructuring, it is possible to change the model of thinking and develop a more positive or socially acceptable one. For instance, an offender should admit the fact that it is impossible to escape from justice and one day he will be caught and get the punishment for his crimes. Moreover, this punishment will be just because he will be punished for actions that contradict to socially acceptable norms and the violation of these norms by the individual cause harm to other people, who are absolutely innocent and do not deserve to become a victim of the individual.

However, a individual cannot arrive to such a fundamental change in his thinking in a day. In order to arrive to such a radical shift in the model of thinking, a individual primarily needs to gain awareness of the negative though habit. In other words, the offender that beliefs that he will never be caught and punished should understand that this thought dominates in his consciousness and that he cannot actually control these thoughts. In such a way, through the gaining awareness of this trouble in his thinking the individual will understand that he has got a problem and this problem is not pathology but it is just a problem in thinking. Consequently, the model of thinking should be changes. It is important that the individual understand the necessity of such a change.

After that, the second stage of the individual reform should start. At this stage, the individual should learn how to conduct the change itself. To put it more precisely, the individual learn the way in which he can challenge his negative model of thinking. In this respect, the assistance of social and healthcare professionals may be very helpful since they should assist the offender in his efforts to earn effective methods of challenging his negative though habits. This is probably the most difficult stage because the failure or inability of the offender to change his model of thinking and habits may lead to his disenchantment that may result in cases of recidivism because the individual will be convinced that the model of thinking he got used is the only correct one.

Finally, the offender has to totally substitute negative model of thinking and habits by new ones, which are life-enhancing and positive. In this respect, it should be said that the substitution of a negative model of thinking on a positive one is the final stage that should accomplish the reform of a individual in the process of cognitive restructuring. Practically, this means that the offender, who is originally convinced in the righteousness of his individual actions and sincerely believes in the inability of the justice system to punish him, should change this model of thinking into a new one, according to which he should develop a positive model of thinking based on the idea that human life and well-being is the highest value and not a single person in the world can offend or cause harm to other people without being punished, while the help to people will bring gratitude of people and this will be the highest reward for an individual.

The development of sociological theories was marked by the emergence of different theoretical approaches. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the Conflict theory developed by Karl Marx and his followers, which laid the foundation to the development of the 20th century sociology and was one of the most influential theories. This theory is still considered by many specialists as relevant. The main idea of the Conflict theory is grounded on the view of Marx, according to which the society inevitably confronts conflicts between antagonistic classes, which attempt to take a dominant position over each other that eventually leads to conflicts and revolutions. The Conflict theory heavily relies on the dialectical method, which Marxists viewed as the most reliable and efficient. At the same time, it is worth mentioning the fact that this theory has been criticized since its foundation as well as the dialectical method applied by Marxists. Nevertheless, in spite of the persistent criticism, the Conflict theory still has its supporters and its influence can be traced in other sociological theories, which, by the way, also apply the dialectical method.

In fact, the Conflict theory is one of the major sociological models for understanding the social world. The Conflict theory has three major components: the first component is that conflict is a common and ongoing feature of society; the second component is that society is made-up of various social groups who have conflicting values and interests; the third component is that all society conflicts occur between dominant and subordinate social groups who are in competition over resources. In such a way, the Conflict theory develop the idea that conflicts are inevitable in the society and it is the most common feature of the social life.

In the classical form of the Conflict theory developed by Marx, there is the opposition or conflict between two groups: the capitalist class and the working class. The capitalist class owns and controls means of production and the distribution of goods and services. The capitalist class is the dominant group, which is juxtaposed to the subordinate group – the working class. The working class are the people who provide the labor necessary to produce goods and services, which are appropriated by the capitalist class because capitalists owns and controls the means of production. As a result, the conflict between the capitalist class and the working class emerges because the capitalists appropriate the wealth produced by the working class, while the working class has to struggle for survival and sell its labor force to capitalists on the conditions established by capitalists. In such a way, the social disparity increases since the wealth is accumulated in hands of capitalists, while the working class gets nothing. Hence, Karl Marx concludes that the social conflict between the two classes will inevitably lead to the social revolution and the change of the mode of production. Remarkably, such a view on the conflict between two antagonistic classes could be extrapolated on any type of society where distinct social groups existed. Marx developed the idea of the cyclical development of the human society, which imply that the social conflicts between the dominant and subordinate groups eventually outburst into a social revolution which, in its turn, leads to the formation of a new mode of production, which is more advanced than the previous one. Thus, the mankind keeps progressing.

In such a way, the method applied by Marx in terms of the Conflict theory is cyclic but it admits the possibility of change. In terms of this theory, Marx used the method of dialectical analysis. The dialectical method is based on Hegel’s early idealistic dialectic. The dialectical method focuses its attention on how the existing social arrangement, or thesis, generates its social opposite, or antithesis, and on how a qualitatively different social form, or synthesis, emerges from the resulting struggle. In this respect, it should be said that the Conflict theory and the dialectical method admits the possibility of transformation of quantitative changes into the qualitative ones. To put it more precisely, the accumulation of wealth in hands of the dominant group leads to the pauperization of the subordinate group, which is apparently a quantitative change, while the growing socioeconomic disparity leads to the social revolution and the change of the mode of production that is apparently a qualitative change. For instance, feudalism in which land owners exploited peasantry, gave rise to a class of town-dwelling merchants, whose dedication to making profits eventually led to the bourgeois revolution and the modern capitalist era.

The development of the Conflict theory by Karl Marx produced a profound impact on the development of sociology. The principal idea of the Conflict theory was extrapolated on other fields of science as well as other sociological theories. At the same time, the dialectical method applied by Marx is still applied in modern sociology. However, both the Conflict theory and dialectical method have their critics. The application of cognitive restructuring in the reforming of individuals may be very effective since it can change the way of thinking and, therefore, the model of behavior of people for positive ones. Basically, such a change is very important and such an approach to reforming a individual may be more effective than existing methods because, instead of the punishment of a individual, cognitive restructuring implies the internal change in the model of thinking of a individual. This means that the individual is conscious of the necessity of change and is willing to change.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the development of critical social science is closely intertwined with the development of diverse sociological theories, which lay the foundation to the social science. However, all of them should be critically evaluated to lay a solid ground for the scientific framework of the social science. In such a way, critical social science becomes essential for the further development of social science because it contributes to the formation of objective views and theoretical framework for social science.

 

Works Cited:

Adams, Bert N. and R. A. Sydie. (2001). Sociological Theory. Pine Forge Press
Babbie, Earl R. (2003). The Practice of Social Research, 10th edition. Wadsworth, Thomson Learning Inc.
Hughes, Michael et al. (2007). Sociology: The Core, McGraw-Hill.
Ritzer, George and Douglas Goodman. (2004). Sociological Theory, Sixth Edition. McGraw Hill.