Reflections on Dialectics in the Social Sciences

Miloslav Petrusek



After the break-up of totalitarian regimes grounded in Marxist ideology, social science tended to avoid the concept of dialectics, or directly excluded it from its scientific agenda. This article tries to elaborate on three questions (concentrating on less familiar or neglected conceptions, e. g. the approaches worked out by Gurvitch, Kojève, Sartre, Stalin, etc.) relating to the development and transformations of dialectic in various sociological conceptions: a) is "dialectical sociology" possible, b) is the concept of "dialectics" redundant (radical and critical sociologies are also "dialectical", c) what are the elementary principles which could or should guide "dialectical studies" of social reality. At the end, the difference between principles of the so-called Lazarsfeldian and radically critical paradigm is demonstrated against the background of empirical research.


dialectics; radical and critical sociology; Frankfurt school; radical empirical research; principles of dialectical analysis in social sciences

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: