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became urban, must be seen against this

longer historical background.

As well, what the measure of urbanization –

understood as a proportion of population living

in cities – cannot capture is the size and distribution

of cities constituting this process. In the

twentieth century, urbanization mostly took the

form of megacities, defined as cities with populations

of more than 10 million inhabitants, with a

disproportionate number of people living in them

compared to mid-size and large cities. In 2000,

Tokyo (26 million), Mexico City (18.4 million),

Bombay (18 million), Sa˜o Paulo (17.8 million),

New York (16.6 million), Lagos (13.4 million), Los

Angeles (13.1 million), Calcutta (12.9 million),

Shanghai (12.9 million), and Buenos Aires (12.6

million) dominated their respective states. This

overconcentration of different forms of capital and

of labor in megacities as the predominant form

of urbanization raises questions about the longterm

sustainability and the ecological footprint of

human habitation of the world. ENGIN ISIN

utilitarianism

This refers to a tradition in ethical theory that

links rightness to happiness.

The theory was classically formulated by Jeremy

Bentham (1748–1832), who argued that acts are

right if they promote happiness or pleasure, and

wrong if they lead to misery and pain. Bentham

developed a felicity calculus so that pleasures and

pains could be assessed according to their intensity,

duration, and proximity. Bentham also argued

that desirable policies were those that produced

the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

John Stuart Mill sought to modify Bentham’s

theory by making a distinction between different

kinds of pleasure and arguing that individuals who

had experienced both higher as well as lower pleasures

would always choose the former over the

latter. Mill sought to link utilitarianism to development,

so that individuals could change their preferences

as they changed their experiences.

Two criticisms are invariably made of utilitarianism.

The first is that, by basing goodness

upon happiness, utilitarians reject the idea that

ethics has to be based upon innate or natural

rights. Critics worry that, without a conception

of natural rights, Bentham’s formula of the

greatest happiness of the greatest number would

lead to the oppression of the minority by the

majority. The answer to this problem requires

not the notion of god-given or natural (in the

sense of timeless) rights, but a view of the individual

that stresses the formation of identity (and

thus the pursuit of pleasures) through relationships

with others. This would enable rightness to

urban social movements utilitarianism

646

be judged by the happiness of individuals as they



relate to one another, so that an action can be

deemed to contribute to happiness only if the act

of one person increases rather than diminishes

the happiness of another.

Happiness can be conceived as a right, but a

right that varies according to time and place. To

argue, for example, that a person has a right to

good health when they are suffering from cancer

ignores circumstance. Individuals have a right to

whatever their society (and humanity in general)

can provide to alleviate pain and suffering. Happiness

cannot, in other words, ignore the constraints

of time and place. Happiness, as Mill

suspected, needs to be tied to development, so

that what enables a person to be happy is what

enables them to develop. A person who seeks happiness

through alcohol or tobacco can thus be

deemed misguided since the pleasures of the

moment soon become pain and discomfort.

The second criticism is that happiness is seen as

something purely subjective. Mill had already

begun to tackle this problem, and it could be

argued that a happiness that is developmental is

both subjective and objective. If it were simply

subjective, then happiness could be an activity

that is harmful either to others or to individuals

themselves. If it were purely objective, then the

happiness of individuals could arise from the

paternalistic insistence that insists that an individual

is really experiencing pleasure when they

are in pain. JOHN HOF FMAN

utopia


– see utopianism.

utopianism

Utopia is a coinage by Sir Thomas More (1478–

1535), in his book Utopia (1516), which first

named and mapped out this imaginary territory.

More fused two Greek words, outopos (nowhere)

and eutopia (somewhere good), to make utopia,

the good place that is nowhere. Not that utopia

is synonymous with the fantastic or mere wishful

thinking; there are other forms – Cockaygne,

Schlaraffenland, the Poor Man’s Heaven – that

fulfill this need, just as there are golden ages

and paradises galore in the literature and folktales

of most societies. While these share with

utopia the idea of a social order where all are

free, happy, and satisfied, utopia has always been

a soberer and more restrained form, with at least

one foot in reality. What the story of a utopia

generally tells is a story of travelers – whether in

time or space – who happen upon or are transported

to a totally different world where all the

social, moral, and political problems of their time

have been solved, and the people live a life of

contentment and felicity. While the solutions

adopted are usually not within the realm of the

practical politics of the time, they are not so

remote from the ideas and practices of the time

as to be impossible of realization, though perhaps

only at some distant date. Good examples of this

would be two utopian versions of socialism,

Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward (1888) and

William Morris’s News from Nowhere (1890).

Utopias are, by definition, fictions, and so their

usual form, following More, has been something

like the novel, though they also sometimes borrow

from the dialog form of works of Plato (428–348 BC)

(while the Republic is not a true utopia, it has

certainly had an enormous influence on utopian

thought). The same is true of the dystopia or antiutopia,

the analogous form that arose – as in

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726) or George

Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) – to mock or

attack the utopia on the grounds of its dangerous

presumption and totalitarian propensities. But

there has also been a genre of speculation that

we can call utopian social theory. These are

not utopias proper, that is they are not fictional

accounts of ideal societies, rather they are accounts

that assume that humanity is in some

sense perfectible and they devise schemes for the

perfection of humanity. In such a category we

might include the theories of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

(1712–78), Claude Henri de Rowney, comte de

Saint-Simon, Franc¸ois Fournier (1772–1837),

Robert Owen (1771–1858), and Karl Marx.

Utopianism generally has the function of criticizing

existing society and proposing a radical

alternative to it. In this endeavor utopian social

theory can often offer a highly sophisticated analysis

of the present predicament, but its solutions

tend also to be very abstract and therefore less

persuasive. The utopia proper, forced as it is by

its form to give a more detailed portrait of the

good society, is more likely to produce the necessary

element of desire for change. It has often

been said that Morris’s glowing description of

the new society in News from Nowhere did more to

convert people to socialism than any of the works

of Marx. KRI SHAN KUMAR

utopia utopianism

647

V

validity



– see sampling.

value freedom

A potentially misleading translation of the

German expression Wertfreiheit, which conveys a

statement’s negative property, its not being derived

from or affected by a value judgment, value

freedom is perhaps the most misunderstood concept

in sociological methodology. One reason for

the confusion is that the term originated in an

argument by Max Weber that is as subtle as it is

disorganized. A second reason has to do with the

fact that, besides its literal meaning, indicated

above, in methodological parlance value freedom

has also come to imply the proposition that empirical

facts have a reality that is independent of

any value-laden theory we employ. Thus, value

freedom has not one but two antitheses. The first

antithesis to value freedom is value judgment, a

moral evaluation of a social phenomenon as good

or evil, just or unjust, and so forth. The second

antithesis to value freedom is methodological

relativism, a doctrine which holds that facts are

valid only given certain value-laden theoretical

assumptions. In other words, methodological relativism

maintains that facts have no value-free reality.

These two antitheses complement one another

in the following way: if facts depend upon valueladen

theories, then any value judgments at issue

in those theories cannot be refuted by empirical

evidence. The principle of value freedom maintains

that theories can be refuted by independent

evidence. Social scientific theories are not in the

business of making or defending value judgments.

But values are still relevant to how theories are

formed.

In his essay, “‘Objectivity’ in Social Science and



Social Policy,” in The Methodology of the Social Sciences

(1904 [trans. 1949]), Weber sought to give

value-free facts their due without denying that

social science is always inspired by value-relevant

interests. But one need not master or accept

Weber’s methodology at large to grasp the gist of

his solution to the problem of value freedom. The

following remarks summarize the principle of

value freedom in generic terms, directing readers

to Weber’s essay for his specific approach. Return

momentarily to the two antitheses of value freedom.

What can go wrong if we give facts their

autonomy in the absence of any value-relevant

interests in the findings? To ignore values entirely

can result in what C. Wright Mills terms abstracted

empiricism, that is, trivial facts. For

example, demographers studying mortality rates,

which certainly can be a morally relevant issue,

may get bogged down in disputes over fine details

of statistical technique. Ultimately, arguments

about technique can grow so dense that we lose

sight of the moral relevance of human mortality.

But what can go wrong if we give values their

due without acknowledging that facts have an

independent capacity to refute value-laden theories?

As Karl Popper warned, the result can be

ideological or dogmatic belief that loses touch

with reality. Consider as an example the claims

by a few historians that the Holocaust never occurred.

In their moral judgment the Nazi regime

was innocent of crimes against humanity. How

then do they deal with the multitude of written

records, photographs, and survivor reports that

document the Holocaust? They challenge the validity

of the evidence, accusing enemies of the Nazi

regime of manufacturing some facts and tendentiously

misinterpreting others because they hold

an anti-Nazi point of view. Ultimately, they will

admit no facts except those that support their

value-laden theories. Their value judgments and

the facts they will accept become a closed circle.

So, if pure empiricism uninfluenced by values

can end in trivial pursuits and if unwillingness to

face the facts can lead to closed-minded circular

reasoning, how can we preserve both the moral

relevance of social science and the openness of

social science to independent facts? One of

Weber’s main points is of vital importance in preserving

a role for values without getting carried

away by dogma or ideology. The point to recognize

is that social scientists become interested in a

given problem or question on the basis of their

648

own values. Of course, if they happen to share



these values with others, then their value-relevant

interests in the subject to be studied become all

the more important. Notice, investigators make

no hard and fast value judgment here. After they

have raised a value-relevant issue, then they must

follow the facts wherever they lead. To be scientific,

after all, is to entertain all evidence, including

evidence that Weber terms “inconvenient” to

the values or ideologies we hold dear.

Frequently, the facts will turn up morally ambiguous

results. Imagine that my humanitarian

values judge public policies as good or bad

depending on whether they help or hurt children

in need. Therefore my values motivate my valuerelevant

interest in a study of policies towards

children in western welfare states. I now collect

a wide range of empirical evidence. But the data

are morally ambiguous. On the one hand, I find

empirical evidence that state subsidies secure

food, shelter and health care for needy children.

On the other hand I find little empirical evidence

that states offer social support for caregivers to

help nurture these children. Now I must reframe

the issue in an empirically more complicated way:

why do welfare states extend material aid to poor

children but not social aid to their caregivers? Any

empirical answer inevitably will be too complex to

permit a pure judgment that state policies are

good or bad based upon my original values.

The principle of value freedom stands on two

assumptions, one psychological and the other

philosophical. Psychologically, it assumes that

moral values are central to human interest in

any given issue (whether sociological or not).

Philosophically, it assumes that, with very few

exceptions (for example the perpetrators of the

Holocaust), the empirical reality of the social

world is morally too ambiguous for value judgments

to be found valid on empirical grounds.

Though Weber championed value freedom

methodologically, Isaiah Berlin’s accounts of

value pluralism and Karl Popper’s accounts of

falsificationism offer two means (among others)

to reformulate the philosophical foundations of

value freedom in keeping with more recent discussions

in social thought and social scientific

methodology. I RA COHEN

value neutrality

– see value freedom.

value relevance

– see value freedom.

value spheres

– see values.

values


Values refer to moral principles or other judgments

of worth. The term is used by sociologists

in a number of different ways. First, they are discussed

at an epistemological and methodological

level as in Max Weber’s notion of value-relevance.

Second, there is the further issue of morality and

the good life, which is linked to debates over

value-neutrality. Third, sociology is concerned to

identify and analyze the values held by people in

particular epochs, nations, societies, subcultures,

or spheres of life. Values are regarded as deep or

intense commitments embedded in taken-forgranted

dispositions and can be contrasted with

attitudes, which are thought of as more superficial

and weakly held views and opinions.

Two themes can be distinguished here, one of

socially differentiated value spheres and the other

of degrees of homogeneity or plurality, either in

general or within the spheres of life. Regarding

the first, Weber noted the tendency of modernity

to fragment social relations into different spheres

of value – economics, politics, and science being

the decisive orders within modernity, while the

aesthetic, the ethical, the erotic, and the intellectual

were increasingly restricted to the realms of

the personal and the consolatory. Each of these

spheres was subject to the processes of rationalization

whereby beliefs and actions are slowly

dominated by the need to achieve defined ends

or goals by the most efficient means possible

(zweckrationalita¨t). Ju¨rgen Habermas has extended

Weber’s insights, most intensively in the Theory of

Communicative Action (1981 [trans. 1984]), by arguing

that the instrumental form of rationalization,

most appropriate to the value spheres of science

and technology, has indeed made radical inroads

into virtually all value spheres. This is most distorting

in spheres where moral–practical and aesthetic–

expressive interests and forms of reasoning

should be significant. These stretch from art and

literature through education and morality to law

and politics. Distortion has meant that the liberating

potential of reason within modernity has

been impoverished and unduly narrowed.

The second theme concerns questions regarding

the extent to which the values held in various

societal groupings and spheres are homogeneous

or plural and perhaps conflictual. In The Structure

of Social Action (1937) Talcott Parsons distinguished

between general cultural values, norms, and internalized

values. The first two are closely linked.

value neutrality values

649

Norms are the general cultural expectations



(values) of how people should act when they

become specified more narrowly in relation to

particular action situations. The socialization process,

according to Parsons, then ensures that these

external expectations are internalized as values so

that they become components of a person’s inner

life, acting as a bridge between the social system

and the personality system. Parsons, like E´mile

Durkheim before him, is often criticized for overestimating

the extent to which values and norms

are internalized in a homogeneous manner, and

for underestimating both conflict and the significance

of individuals’ more pragmatic submission

to systems of power (see Abercrombie et al., The

Dominant Ideology Thesis, 1980). At the other extreme

from Parsons, Zygmunt Bauman has argued

that we now live in a postmodern age of complete

uncertainty about values, although Hans Joas in

The Genesis of Values (2000) contests this, by drawing

on Ronald Inglehart’s evidence of the emergence

of commonly held postmaterialist values and on

Robert Bellah’s critique of cultural individualism

in Habits of the Heart (1985), to argue that there is

not a lack of value-certainty but the loss of a

communal language to reflect upon and justify

the values that many continue to hold in

common. There is an affinity here with the socalled

globalization of values associated with the

diffusion of the values of democracy, the rule of

law, and human rights across the world, but a

tension with the parallel call for greater recognition

of the diversity of cultures and cultural

values. ROB STONES

dependent/independent variables

Variables are typically those things that we measure

in any science; anything that differs between

cases. At the level of the individual, common

sociological variables would be social class or attitudes.

But often sociologists take measures at

other levels of analysis, such as the family, subculture,

or state.

The division of variables into dependent and independent

borrows its terminology from experimental

sciences, such as biology or laboratory-based

psychology. The independent variable is the one

that is manipulated by the experimenter (for instance,

the amount of light falling on a plant, or

the level of a drug administered to a rat). The

dependent variable is the one that is measured

as the outcome of the experiment (such as the

growth of a plant or the time the rat takes to

complete a maze). If different levels of the independent

variable give rise to differences in the

dependent variable, then a causal link between

the two variables has been demonstrated.

Sociologists are rarely in a position to manipulate

the independent variable experimentally.

Sociologists more often rely on naturally occurring

variations in the independent variable and

investigate whether that is associated with variations

in the dependent variable of interest.

Thus the independent variable and the dependent

variable are considered to be the cause and

the effect respectively. The relationship between

them is typically determined by calculation of a

correlation, or multiple regression if the research

is considering several independent variables

simultaneously, as, for example, in multivariate

analysis.

Often in sociological analyses the relationship

between two variables is more complex than a

simple unidirectional one. For instance, what is

the relationship between mental health and

downward social mobility? Do individuals with

mental health problems drift down into poverty

and disadvantage? Or does the stress of poverty

and low social status bring about mental health

problems? Both may be true, and therefore the

distinction into dependent and independent variables

is no longer useful.

Another class of variables is mediating or moderating

variables that intervene between the independent

and dependent variable. For instance,

is the effect of parental divorce on children’s

well-being caused, in part, by the poverty often

associated with single-parent families? By investigating

the contribution of intervening variables,

one can better understand the mechanisms of a

relationship.

Variables are often classified depending upon

their level of measurement; are they simple categorizations,

can they order cases, or are they true

measures of the intervals between cases?

BRENDAN J . BURCHELL

variance

– see statistics.

Veblen, Thorstein (1857–1929)

An American economist and sociologist, Veblen




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