C. Wright Mills on American Socioloy
Writing in 1959 on American sociology’s early empirical embrace:
Given this, in so far as sociology is defined as a study of some special area of society, it readily becomes a sort of odd job man among the social sciences, consisting of miscellaneous studies of academic leftovers. There are studies of cities and families, racial and ethnic relations, and of course ‘small groups.’ As we shall see, the resulting miscellany was transformed into a style thought, which I shall examine under the term ‘liberal practicality.’
Studies of contemporary fact can easily become a series of rather unrelated and often insignificant facts of milieu. Many course offerings in American sociology illustrate this; perhaps textbooks in the field of social disorganization reveal it best.
The context comes from assessing ‘tendencies’ in the field, then, but the warning of pursuing “insignificant facts of milieu” is still relevant.