Gouldner Alvin

Gouldner Alvin

(1920-80) US sociologist whose contributions to sociological theory were wide ranging. Although strongly influenced by MARXISM, he was not a Marxist in any strict sense. His best-known work, The Coming Crisis in Western Sociology (1971), might be seen as a postmortem on modern STRUCTURAL-FUNCTIONALISM. He had earlier made his name with Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy (1954), which has become a modern classic. In this, he provided an empirical examination of the way in which inefficient administration and industrial conflict may result from the attempt to introduce disciplinary rules which leave little scope for human autonomy In a number of further works, including The Two Marxisms (1980) and The Future of the Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class (1979) (see NEW CLASS, INTELLIGENTSIA), he sought to establish a new route for critical thinking in the social sciences between a seriously flawed FUNCTIONALISM and an unreformed Marxism. Throughout his life, he was always concerned to explore relations of involvement and detachment arising in the social sciences, being critical of those, like WEBER, who argued strongly for detachment (see For Sociology, 1973), or who denied the possibility of the goal of an objective grounding for values. In The Dialectic of Ideology and Technology (1976), he developed these themes, exploring the implications for public participation of both new thinking in epistemology and changes in communications technology See also BUREAUCRACY, CRITICAL CULTURAL DISCOURSE, NEW CLASS, VALUE FREEDOM.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000