The Poverty of Theory
[F]or Marx, the materialist dialectician, the distinction between ‘essence’ and ‘appearance’ in no sense implies that ‘appearance’ is less ‘real’ then ’ essence’. Movements of value determine in the last analysis movements of prices; but Marx the materialist would have laughed at any ‘Marxist’ who suggested that prices were ‘unreal’, because in tile last analysis determined by value movements. The distinction between ‘essence’ and ‘appearance’ refers to different levels of determination, that is in the last analysis to the process of cognition, not to different degrees of reality. To explain the capitalist mode of production in its totality it is wholly insufficient to understand simply the ‘basic essence’, the ‘law of value’. It is necessary to integrate ‘essence’ and ‘appearance’ through all their intermediate mediating links, to explain how and why a given ‘essence’ appears in given concrete forms and not in others. For these ‘appearances’ themselves are neither accidental nor self-evident. They pose problems, they have to be explained in their turn, and this very explanation helps to pierce through new layers of mystery and brings us again nearer to a full understanding of the specific form of economic organization which we want to understand. To deny this need to reintegrate ‘essence’ and ‘appearance’ is as un-dialectical and as mystifying as to accept ‘appearances’ as they are, without looking for the basic forces and contradictions which they tend to hide from the superficial and empiricist observer.
Ernest Mandel, introduction to Capital, Volume I, by Karl Marx, 20 (via trashingdays)
Max Weber was asked by a friend to whom he had been explaining the very pessimistic conclusions of his sociological analysis, ‘But, if you think this way, why do you continue doing sociology?’ Weber’s reply is one of the most chilling statements I know in the history of western thought: ‘Because I want to know how much I can take.’

Peter L. Berger - Facing up to Modernity

This is one of the many reasons why I love Weber

(via sarahtancredi)
The division of labour implies from the outset the division of the conditions of labour, of tools and materials, and thus the splitting-up of accumulated capital among different owners, and thus, also, the division between capital and labour, and the different forms of property itself.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, 65 (via trashingdays)
If now in considering the course of history we detach the ideas of the ruling class from the ruling class itself and attribute to them an independent existence, if we confine ourselves to saying that these or those ideas were dominant, without bothering ourselves about the conditions of production and the producers of these ideas, if we then ignore the individuals and world conditions which are the source of the ideas, we can say, for instance, that during the time that the aristocracy was dominant, the concepts honour, loyalty, etc., were dominant, during the dominance of the bourgeoisie the concepts freedom, equality, etc. The ruling class itself on the whole imagines this to be so. This conception of history, which is common to all historians, particularly since the eighteenth century, will necessarily come up against the phenomenon that increasingly abstract ideas hold sway, i.e. ideas which increasingly take on the form of universality. For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry though its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society put in an ideal form; it will give its ideas the form of universality, and represent them as the only rational, universally valid ones.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology, 40-41 (via trashingdays)
[The] aim of the ethnographer’s work is that it be as objective as possible. This is not easy or simple, since it requires researchers to try to set aside their own values and assumptions about what is and is not morally acceptable — in other words, to jettison the prism through which they typically view a given situation. By definition one’s own assumptions are so basic to one’s perceptions that seeing their influence may be difficult, if not impossible. Ethnographic researchers, however, have been trained to look for and to recognize underlying assumptions, their own and those of their subjects, and to try to override the former and uncover the latter.
Elijah Anderson, Code of the Street: Decency, Violence, and the Code of the Inner City, 1999, pg 11. (via socio-logic)
Any group of persons – prisoners, primitives, pilots, or patients – develop a life of their own that becomes meaningful, reasonable and normal once you get close to it.
Erving Goffman, Asylums (1962)