by Howard Becker, 1967
To have values or not to have values: the question is always with us.
When sociologists undertake to study problems that have relevance to the
world we live in, they h d themselves caught in a crossfire. Some urge them
not to take sides, to be neutral and do research that is technically correct and
value free. Others tell them their work is shallow and useless if it does not
express a deep commitment to a value position.
This dilemma, which seems so painful to so many, actually does not exist,
for one of its horns is imaginary. For it to exist, one would have to assume,
as some apparently do, that it is indeed possible to do research that is uncontaminated by personal and political sympathies. I propose to argue that it is not possible and, therefore, that the question is not whether we should take sides, since we inevitably will, but rather whose side we are on.
* later he calls sociologists politically liberal.