Friday, July 18, 2014


An Historical Explanation of Interdisciplinary, Cross-disciplinary, and Trans-disciplinary: Why Dr. Michael Joseph Francisconi, MS, Ph.D is a good fit for Interdisciplinary Studies.

The masters (or “Fathers,” if you will) of both Sociology and Cultural Anthropology were in fact interdisciplinary to begin with. The rigid boundaries between the various disciplines in historical studies came much later at the Universities because of budget conflicts between departments. As I will try to show, in order to further the development of the various focus areas, the Professors needed to communicate with, borrow from, and understand what other scholars were saying. Political Sociology/ Anthropology by definition is interdisciplinary. Anthropologists cannot ignore Ecology. The relationship between Economics and Sociology was at the very beginning assumed. Economic Anthropology has always asked the question, how much can Anthropology learn from Economics? The in-house debates were what economic model best offers a usable pattern with which to work.

German philosophers Immanuel Kant through Heinrich Rickert influenced Weber (the father of Sociology) particularly in the concept of value-free sociology, i.e. the purely formal-logical analysis which states as its goal the establishing of the conditions under which scientific analysis of society is even possible as opposed to the traditional study of defining before hand the priorities, the methodology and distinctions between information being used as data. Weber argued that knowledge is historically determined, and thus it is important to develop a formal empirical approach to the study of history that can be verified independent of historical circumstances. Weber said that only by establishing an objective body of historical data to work with can we begin our interpretive process in the study of history. Sympathetic understanding then combines the objective with the subjective. Weber offered a way to understand culture through the native point of view, but only with a body of data that can be reanalyzed at a later date in a different historical setting. While Weber is a father of Sociology all his academic appointments were in Economics. In fact Weber’s interest in Sociology grew out of his debate with the rising neo-classical school of Economics that studied Economics as a pure science. Weber on the other hand studied economics embedded in a historical and social setting. This was the German historical school. The neo-classical was the Austrian school.

Marx, as is well known, was a Philosopher, Sociologist, Anthropologist, Historian, Economist and Political Scientist. Marx studied under the German Philosopher Feuerbach, who studied under Hegel. Marx got his start by associating with the Young (left) Hegelians. Marx’s methodology was Hegelian. Marx was equally influenced by the teachings of the ancient philosopher Epicurus and the Atomists like Democritus. Marx’s ethics were founded on Epicurean ethics. French political theorists also influenced Marx, including Saint-Simon, Proudhon and Fourier. The British Economists Smith, Ricardo, Owen and many others were also important, as were the English Chartists. Both Engels and Marx were very impressed by Darwin.

Polanyi was a Hungarian scholar who studied Economic History in Vienna as part of the Austrian School which Polanyi would seriously assess as exposing the Historical and Anthropological flaws in both Classical and Neoclassical Economic studies. Polanyi’s critique of capitalism which emphasizes that historically the “noneconomic’” determines the economy
of traditional society shows that economics is embedded in social responsibility that is defined by specific societies set in particular historical settings. Only through careful historical and cross-cultural studies of economics can we separate out the culturally and historically specific from the near universal, if possible, economic traits. Polanyi though a trained in Historical Economics is the father of Economic Anthropology.

Julian Steward coined the term Cultural Ecology that is a continuation of his theory of Multi-linear Evolution. Multi-linear Evolution searches for regularities in cultural change. Cultural laws can be defined that explain these changes. Determinism is not the issue, but patterns of historical change follow patterns of an interaction between parts of a society and the larger environment. Cultural traditions have distinctive elements that can be studied in context. Similarities and differences between cultures are meaningful and change in meaningful ways. The evolution of recurrent forms, processes, and functions in different societies has similar explanations. Each society has its own specific historical movement through time. This prefaces cross-cultural studies.

Diachronic Anthropology starts with change as the only constant. Thus, cultural studies begin and end with the evolution and history of cultures and cross-cultural studies examines closely the effects of cultural change of surrounding cultures on the changes of a particular culture.

Historical Sociology focuses on changing social structures and how the complex of social institutions interact in that process of change, and how long-term national and international trends affect that change.

The major thesis of Political Sociology is that politics cannot be isolated from other subsystems of a society. Political Anthropology has defined its interest in how power is put to use in a social and cultural environment. Power is defined as political influence to accomplish certain aims. Through cultural interpretation, the political culture defines certain goals as acceptable. Political systems operate within an historical setting. The ability to make and enforce decisions is the basis of power, and power is what Political Anthropologists study. Political Anthropology investigates the everyday experiences of people as they are shaped by their economic position in a particular society, and the world economy that molds most political issues.

Thus, given the historical evidence above, I am a Sociologist and Anthropologist as well as Historian, Economist, and Political Scientist.

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