The Sociologist as Teacher
Teaching is the major career of many sociologists. In addition to the concerns and problems of teaching in any field, the problem of value neutrality versus value commitment is 1977]. This question is receiving much attention in sociological literature (Douglas, 1970; Lee, 1978 Harris, 1980). Whether sociology should be value-free is an unsettled question but sociologists are agreed lion the following propositions: (1) Sociologists should show the relationships between values. In short, sociologists may say, "If this is what you want, here is what you must do to get it." If stable, enduring marriages are more important than happiness in marriage, then divorce should be made more difficult; if Lippy marriages repress ..t the more important value, then fairly easy divorce should permit the unhappily married to separate and try again. If we wish to arrest urban blight and suburban sprawl, some private property rights will have to be sacrificed. If-we wish to clean up polluted rivers, we must be prepared to spend a lot of tax money in doing so. Sociologists may clarify what value sacrifices must be made if we wish to attain certain other values. (2) A sociologist as an individual may properly make value judgments, support causes and join reform movements, like any other citizen. As a scientist, the sociologist may note know whether television violence is harmful to children, 'and therefore might not make public recommendations, but as a parent will make a decision according to his or her personal beliefs and values. As a scientist, the sociologist ma: not be able to say whether gambling or marijuana should be forbidden but as a citizen he or she is free to express opinions and support personal value judgments.
Beyond this there is no complete anent among sociologists concerning what role they should assume. Most sociologists have some firm opinions on what policies society should . follow and are in considerable agreement with one another upon many of these policies. Possibly the time will come when the social policies which seem best to most sociologists will also seem best to the rest of the society. As persons who cannot and would not divorce themselves from the society in which they live, most sociologists hope so.