hierarchy of credibility
hierarchy of credibilitythe notion (proposed by BECKER, ‘Whose side are we on?’, 1953) that societies are so organized that those who occupy top positions and positions of authority tend more readily to have their versions of the truth accepted, while the views of those who are ‘underdogs’ or ‘outsiders’ often go unrepresented, or are not taken seriously, or are represented only by ‘official’ accounts. Becker's opinion is that sociologists must side with the ‘underdogs’ or ‘outsiders’ if a more adequate overall view of society is to be obtained. The self-conscious pursuit of‘objectivity’ and the avoidance of BIAS, or simply undertaking commissioned research for those in authority who can afford to pay, will result in research which is one-sided.
In siding with the ‘underdog’, Becker has been criticized (e.g. GOULDNER, 1973) for making proposals which undermine the attainment of objectivity, and suggesting, like WEBER, that sociology is always ‘relative to values’ (see also VALUE RELEVANCE). But his position is better seen as indicating that ‘objectivity’ is not easily achieved in sociology, and that many current practices designed to obtain it may have the opposite effect. See also OBJECTIVITY, VALUE FREEDOM AND VALUE NEUTRALITY, TRUTH, FUSION OF HORIZONS, DEVIANCE, LABELLING THEORY, AMPLIFICATION OF DEVIANCE.