The Sociologist as Technician
Some sociologists are engaged in planning and conducing community action programs advising on public relations, employee relations, problems of morale or of "inter group relation$" within the organization; working on human relations problems of many sorts. Often these sociologists have specialized in social psychology, industrial sociology, urban or rural sociology, or the sociology of complex organizations.
Recently the term clinical sociologist has appeared to Depp the work of the sociologist as technician [Gardner, 1978].To some extent, this is a new name for what sociologists have been doing for a long time, but it also includes a considerable broadening of the range of sociologists' efforts to be useful in society. In such positions the sociologist is working as an applied scientist. He or she has been engaged to use scientific knowledge in pursuing certain values-a harmonious and efficient working force, an attractive public image of the industry, or an effective community action program. This role raises a question of ethics. When a sociologist accepts employment as a technician, pursuing values chosen by an employer, has scientifically been compromised? To take an extreme example, there i'J evidence [Monroe, 19621 that gambling operators engaged ,social scientists to find out why people do or do not gamble so that the operators could learn how to attract more customers. (We do not know whether any sociologists were included.) .Would this be a form of scientific prostitution?
The radical critics of "establishment sociology" charge that sociologists have "sold out" whenever they serve as technicians or research scholars in any kind of effort to maintain or improve the efficiency of the government, military, capitalistic, or welfare estab&hments. Thus, not only are sociologists (if any) working in war-related activities condemned, but even sociologists working in programs to improve the health of poor children in Mississippi, to increase agricultural output in Peru, or to teach birth control in village India are sometimes accused of supporting "oppression.
This is the classic view of the revolutionist-any attempt to make the present system work better, or to help people find better lives within the system is "oppressive" because it helps to perpetuate the system. There is no simple answer to the question of what clinical appointments it is proper for the sociologist to accept. Each sociologist's answer will be found partly in the prevailing views of the academic world at that moment
and partly in his or her own conscience.