An Alternative to Oppressive Epistemology: the “Methodological-Operational” View


  • Francesco Ranci Member, History of Sociology and Social Thought Section, ASA - American Sociological Association, Washington, D.C.


Epistemology, Oppressive Epistemology


The “methodological-operational” view discussed in this paper starts with considering “whatever” as a result - and investigating how it might be obtained. Acknowledging that a set of consistent propositions (“theory”) cannot afford confusing descriptive with “cause/effect” propositions. This view identifies the unthinkable as resulting from the duplication of whatever item into dichotomies, such as “subjective/objective”, “individual/social”, and many more. The matrix of these duplications can be found way before Plato’s “myth of the cave”, and they remain obstacles to the fulfillment of the consistency requirement of theorizing even today. Crucial tenets of this view are: (a) consistency requires an operational view of all meanings - any limitation of the field of inquiry by alleged “entities” entails a loss of consistency; (b) sociology works as far as it relies on shared meanings, including those of basic terms like “society” and “science”, both when devising its paradigms and when supporting them; (c) dichotomies such as “science/common sense”, “abstract concepts/empirical data”, or “nature/nurture”, stem from an unwarranted double reification replacement procedure, which is at the core of epistemological oppression; (d) the “anything goes” relativistic position is the most extreme form of dogmatic faith in having everything twice; i.e., in “the epistemic-procedural illusion”. First articulated within the context of pragmatist and phenomenological views, the methodological-operational apostasy provides a sober assessment of contemporary social issues, and an alternative to the epistemological validation of all oppressive social relationships.



How to Cite

Ranci, F. . (2021). An Alternative to Oppressive Epistemology: the “Methodological-Operational” View. GNOSI: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Human Theory and Praxis, 4(3), 42-57. Retrieved from