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Journal Article


Tonso WR. Law Policy 1983; 5(3): 325-343.


(Copyright © 1983, Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, State University of New York at Buffalo, Publisher John Wiley and Sons)






This article is not about the gun control issue per se; instead, it considers the way in which this issue has been treated by social scientists. The article points to some of the shortcomings in what is commonly referred to as the conventional social scientific approach to controversial social matters. While the subject examined in the article is gun control, other equally controversial issues, such as school busing or the legalization of marijuana, could have been used as well to make the same points.SUMMARYUsing the gun control issue as a case in point, this article has argued that the conventional social scientific treatment of controversial social phenomena often has much more in common with sagecraft than it does with social science. The social scientific treatment of the gun issue passed on to the general public through magazine articles, the published findings of various social-science-assisted commissions, and social science textbooks, is generally identical to the pro-gun control argument accepted by that segment of American society with which the more prominent social scientists are more likely to identify--namely urban, college educated, philosophically and politically liberal, upper-middle class, or cosmopolitan America. It would appear that cosmopolitan ethnocentrism and the sage orientation that it fosters do little to encourage the intellectual curiosity and skepticism so vital to the social scientific enterprise.

Language: en


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