Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Harry F. Dahms

Committee Members

Stephen P. Dandaneau, R. Scott Frey


Today, an increasing number of sociologists incorporate the theme of social justice within their work and strive to contribute to efforts to improve existing social conditions. In their view, sociological work that actively engages in issues related to social justice exemplifies ‘the promise’ of sociology and represents a means of refocusing and reinvigorating the discipline at a time of perceived crisis. Yet, a growing body of evidence questions whether previous efforts to use sociology as a mechanism of improving social conditions have been successful. In this thesis, I rely on the works of Alvin W. Gouldner to examine the relationship between sociology and the pursuit of social justice. Specifically, I contend that Gouldner’s works reflect an awareness of the problematic nature of such projects while attempting to reconstruct the practice of sociology in a manner that addresses its shortcomings. Thus, Gouldner’s body of work deepens our understanding of the problematic nature of using existing social scientific paradigms to pursue particular conceptions of social justice while attempting to formulate a vision for a new kind of social science more suitable for such a task.

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