Best of 2021: Rethinking Sociology & Philosophy
The conflation of liberation from oppression with liberation from Freudian repression in the work of Marcuse and others have had a long standing effect on the Theory Left, with the effect of wrongly assuming whatever is ‘repressive’, that is whatever requires emotional restraint, to be oppressive. However, this view is not only wrong, it is actually harmful to the cause of social justice.
While conflict theory has dominated Western academic sociology in the past few decades, consensus theory was in fact the more dominant force before the 1960s. I think it’s time we revived the practice of consensus theory. I don’t mean to say that conflict theory has nothing to offer us. But what we have in Western sociology right now is a heavy imbalance, a very heavy tilt towards conflict theory, and this is making society sick. To cure society, we need to restore the balance. Conflict theory criticizes the current state of society, while consensus theory examines why things work when they work well, and what makes them work well. Conflict theory is good at finding fault, while consensus theory is good at appreciation. I certainly think the 21st century West could do well with a bit less finding fault and a bit more appreciation.
Firstly, there is no evidence to support the idea that gender is a performance. In other words, this idea is not evidence-based, it has no observable evidence in the real world to clearly support it, and it is therefore incompatible with the spirit of empiricism. This is the problem with the ‘academic left’ in the late 20th and early 21st century West: a lot of their theories simply lack a solid foundation of observable evidence to back it up.