From The Wall Street Journal, Left-Wing Politics and the Decline of Sociology, by Jackson Toby:
Coleman himself believed that racial segregation was morally wrong, but professionally he conducted the educational-inequality survey as objectively as he could—not to support or oppose specific policies. In 1975, however, Coleman’s research found that busing caused families to move out of central-city neighborhoods into the suburbs or transfer their children to private or parochial schools. He inferred that busing programs, meant to reduce educational segregation, increased it by encouraging white flight. Though he still abhorred racial segregation in schools, he could no longer recommend busing as a solution.
Today sociology is a partisan field. It asks “Whose side are we on?” rather than “Is this the most truthful account we can give.” Many sociologists are less devoted to scholarship than to righting wrongs like racism and sex discrimination. There are still descriptive sociologists working to discover truths about our social world, but their numbers are dwindling.
As a 93-year-old retired professor of sociology, I can remember the era when sociologists unanimously agreed with Glazer that our primary task was to describe as accurately as possible how societies worked. Sure, as good citizens, we wanted to change societies for the better. But we did not think our primary professional task was improving political institutions or helping people who were suffering. Understanding how and why people interacted with one another was difficult enough.