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Reflexivity, Sociology and the Rura -Urban Distinction in Marx, Tonnies and Weber

KIERAN BONNER Augustana University College

Dans cet article, on evalue la pertinence de diverses representations du ruralisme et de lurbanisme chez Marx, Tonnies e t Weber, dans la mesure ou elles se rapportent B la documentation actuelle sur la question de la reflexivite en sciences sociales. Etant donne linfluence linguistique dans la recherche en sciences humaines, le nouvel examen de ce discours nest pas fait dans le but de definir la ruralite de faGon *essentialistes. Lanalyse porte plut8t s u r la signification des tentatives que font Marx, Tonnies e t Weber pour elaborer un concept de ruralite qui permet de d6m6ler la faGon dont fonctionnent les negations et les oppositions dans leurs textes. On pretend que le discours ruraYurbain est structure autour dune modernite qui cherche a etablir un dialogue avec lalterite e t a questionner les limites. On montre aussi la difficulte queprouve lesprit de la modernite devant la necessit6 de preserver un sens a lalterite tout en lengageant dans un processus relationnel sans pour autant se lapproprier. Plusieurs etudes canadiennes, qui font appel B la distinction rurauurbain, sont citees pour illustrer la dificulte conceptuelle du domaine. Lauteur affirme quun aspect de cette difficulte face B lalterite, dans ce cas-ci lalterite du rural, tient de lobjectivite scientifique, laquelle exclut la reflexivite du processus de recherche. La reflexivite, inherente e t necessaire au processus de recherche en sciences humaines, est donc ici a la fois sujet e t ressource. This paper assesses the relevance of various representations of ruralisdurbanism in Marx, Tonnies, and Weber as these pertain t o the current literature on the issue of reflexivity in social science. Acknowledging the linguistic turn in human science inquiry, the reexamination of this discourse does not attempt to develop an
Kieran Bonner is Associate Professor of Sociology a t Augustana University College in Alberta, Canada. He was recently Visiting Fellow in the Humanities a t University College Galway, Ireland. He has completed a book for Macmillan Press Limited called Power and Parenting: A Herrneneutic of the Human Condition and a book for McGill-Queens University Press (forthcoming) called A Great Place to Raise Kids: Interpretation, Science and the Urban-Rural Debate.This article is based on a section of the more extended discussion on the rural-urban discourse in the latter book. He is also editor of Dianoia: A Liberal Arts Interdisciplinary Journal. The manuscript of this article was submitted in February 1996 and accepted in February 1997. The author gratefully acknowledges the help of Scott Grills and senior sociology students a t Augustana and the helpful suggestions given on an earlier draft by Rosalind Sydie and the Reviews anonymous reviewers.


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essentialist definition of rurality. Rather the analysis is concerned with the meaning of the attempts by Marx, Tonnies, and Weber to develop a concept of rurality which involves teasing out the way negations and oppositions operate in their texts. The paper argues that the rurallurban discourse is structured by a modernist interest in engaging otherness and questioning limits. It also shows the difficulty a modernist consciousness has with preserving a sense of the very otherness it needs to engage. Several Canadian studies, which draw on the rurallurban distinction are cited to illustrate the fields conceptual predicament. The paper argues that part of the problem which modernity has with otherness (in this case the otherness of the rural) lies in the scientific requirement that, by virtue of a commitment to objectivity, reflexivity be excluded from the process of inquiry. Reflexivity, as intrinsic and necessary to the process of human science inquiry, is therefore both a topic and a resource for the paper. a . . . disquieting quality of modernism: its taste for appropriating or redeeming otherness, for constituting non-Western arts in its own image, for discovering universal, ahistorical human capacities. (Clifford, 1988: 193)

AS WE READILY RECOGNIZE from media coverage, the urban-rural distinction is alive in popular imagination. Television programs such as North of 60, Picket Fences, NYPD Blue and E.R. display a contrast in ways of living which rural and urban settings are said t o represent. The debate in the Canadian parliament on the gun registration bill (1995) was said to have been organized on rural-urban lines. Surveys (e.g.,Yerxa, 1992)and popular radio programs (such the CBCs Morningside) claim that a rural setting is often preferred for the superior quality of life it offers and for being a good place t o raise children. The urban-rural debate has long been addressed in sociology. Yet, despite its place in popular culture, as a concept, the distinction is said to be sociologically irrelevant, at least according t o Pahl (1968) and Gans (1968).The globalization (Giddens, 1991)and the mediatization (Meyrowitz, 1985) of modern society seem to have made the distinctions developed by the sociologists in the late nineteenth century irrelevant for the late twentieth century. Is the urban-rural distinction a modernist conceptualization whichnow has no relevance in these so-called postmodern times? In this paper I will show that by making use of contemporary developments in sociology (phenomenology,hermeneutics, poststructuralism and
1. Peter Gzowskis popular radio program, Morningside (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation),broadcast an interview (July, 1990) with three urbanrefugees,three people who quit their prestigious and high-paying careers in order to leave the city and live in the country. The tone of the interview was of people who had the courage to live the dream, who gave time to themselves and their personal fulfillment as against time given for the necessity of professional activity. In a similar article in Mademoiselle (April, 1992), a reporter says that the urban tide has turned, and it now seems like no one can escape their concrete jungle fast enough (88).

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dialectical analysis),the classic contributions of Marx, Tonnies and Weber can be analysed to show the way they participate in and foreshadow the modern and post-modern debate. The paper also argues that the most important contribution of contemporary theoretical developmentst o sociology is the recognition of the importance of the need to include reflexivity in the process of inquiry. This article, therefore, demonstrates how contemporary theoretical developments can be used to help understand the meaning that the urban-rural distinction had for Marx, Tonnies and Weber. Though written from a standpoint of familiarity with interpretive sociology(a familiarity shared by many Canadian sociologists),the subject matter (the classical tradition and the urban-rural debate) and the point (the need for reflexive sociology) are of concern for the whole tradition.2 While distinctions between city and country are almost as old as Western culture itself (Williams, 19731, it is the rise of modernity in general and of the Industrial Revolution in particular which generated the sociologicaldebate about the positive and/or negative consequences of this new development. As Sennett remarks, up to the time of the Industrial Revolution, the city was taken by most social thinkers to be the image of society itself, and not some special, unique form of society(1969: 3). The country, whether in its pastoral (Theocritus) or agricultural (Hesiod) representation, was synonymous with nature, i.e., the fertility of spring and summer in contrast t o the barrenness and accident ofwinter (Williams, 1973: 13-34). The rapid changes in society brought on by the Industrial Revolution focussed and organized the theorizing and research concerning urban-rural differences. In particular, the drastic shift in population from rural t o urban centres meant that within a period of 100 years, many societies, that had been demographically rural for centuries, became demographically urban.3In turn, this change challenged social theorists t o reflect on the meaning and influence of urban and rural social organization. For social theorists who sought to understand the transformation in urban and rural life initiated by the industrial revolution, the urbanrural distinction no longer referenced the difference between corruptness of society and the purity of nature (Rousseau)but rather presented social theorists with two different kinds of social organization.
2. This paper is part of a larger work which addresses more thoroughly the historical literature in the

field (Bonner, 1997). 3. The process of industrialization generated increasing urbanization-the movement of the population into towns and cities, away from the life on the land. In 1800,well under 20 percent of the British population lived in towns or cities having more than 10.000 inhabitants. By 1900,this proportion had become 74 percent. The capital city, London, held about 1.1 million people in 1800; it increased in size to a population of over seven million by the beginning of the twentieth century. London was at that date by far the largest city ever seen in the world; it was a vast manufacturing, commercial, and financial centre at the heart of a still-expanding British Empire. The urbanization of most other European countries, and the United States, took place somewhat later, but in some cases, once under way, accelerated even faster. In 1800,the United States was more of a rural society than were the leading European countries at the same date. Less than 10 percent of the population lived in communities with populations of more than 2,500 people. Today, well over three-quarters of Americans are city dwellers. Between 1800 and 1900, a s industrialization grew in the United States, the population of New York leapt from 60,000 people to 4.8 million (Giddens, 1990:676).


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This development in the understanding of the rural from what is Other to human society (nature, beauty, the brutish, the mysterious) to another kind of society, itself demonstrates what Clifford, in the essay cited above (1988: 193),ironically calls the healthy capacity of modernist consciousness t o question its limits and engage otherness. At the end of this century, we are very much aware of the practical consequences of this modernist impulse. Otherness is more often appropriated or redeemed rather than truly engaged. And whether one looks to Arendt (1958) or Foucault (1977), or Grant (1969),it seems that the disappearance of any strong conception of otherness mirrors the disappearance of any relevant sociological conception of rurality. The history of the sociologicalliterature on the urban-rural difference is a story which begins with a conception of its decisiveness for understanding ways of living (Wirth, 1938) to its irrelevance as a sociological conception (Gans, 1968; Pahl, 1968). This history begins with the opportunity the distinction raises for comparing two different ways of living (the urban, the rural), and concludesthat any attempt t o tie particular patterns of social relationships to specific geographical milieux is a singularly fruitful exercise (Pahl, 1969: 293).4 While the reason given to account for the discrepancy between the earlier (ChicagoSchool)and later sociologists is the anti-urban ideological bias of the former (e.g., Hutter, 1988: 41; Pahl, 1969: 85), I will argue that this story reflects both the capacityof the modernist consciousnessto question its limits and engage otherness and the difficulty a modernist consciousness has with preserving a sense of the very otherness it needs t o engage. Because I am also dealing with the inception of modern sociology, I will argue that the sociological project, particularly in its more positivistic expression, is bound up with this modernist problem; part of the problem which modernity has with otherness (in this case the otherness of the rural) lies in the scientific requirement that, by virtue of its commitment to objectivity (Taylor, 1977: 103-311, reflexivity be excluded from the process of inquiry. For the purposes of space,I will concentrate on the work of three seminal nineteenth-century sociologists, Marx, Tonnies, and Weber in order t o tease out the tensions built into their influentially formative conceptions of the urban-rural distinction (see Appendix for a more detailed description of the theoretic orientation of this article). Initially the urban-rural discourse in sociology was organized on the basis of seeking t o understand two types of society, the urban society and the rural society. Otherness is now understood to represent not what is other t o human understanding/society but rather an alternative way of living. The implications of this discursive strategy means that the engagement of otherness now raises the issues of freedom, evaluation, and change. Modern social science discourse, by casting Other as another social organization, rests on and asserts the claim that society represents a particular way of living and that this way of living has to be understood,
4. For a summary of this literature as it pertains to Canada see Hale, (1990: 106-36) and as it pertains to the United States and Britain see Hutter (1988:28-104). For global trends see Giddens (1990:673704).

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evaluated and compared with another way of living. The sociological distinction now has an implicit normative element-which is better? As we will see, Marx and Tonnies are explicit in their answer to this question while Weber recognizes the difficulty a scientific sociology has in addressing this question of value in the first place.

Marx and Engels: The City/Country Progressive/Regressive Distinction

One of the earliest sociologists to address the differences between the city and the country is Marx. He and Engels interpreted the rise of capitalism as a simultaneous subjection

. . .of the country to the rule ofthe town. It has created enormouscities, has greatly increased the urban populations as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerablepart of the population from the idiocy of rural life (1965: 38).
Here and in The German Ideology (1970: 39-95), they argue that rural life nurtured a subservience t o nature (68). They see this subservience as a primitive form of society because it is a primitive mode of production. That is, rural life is not an other to the mode of production of capitalism but rather an early stage in its development. The country is organized by the relation between humans and nature, the labour of the farmer for the product ofthe latter. At this stage of the mode of production, humans have not yet grasped the productive possibilities inherent within their own labour. They have not, according to Marx and Engels, because physical activity is as yet not separated from mental activity. Thus [alverage human common sense is adequate in relation to what life demands. Moreover, [tlhe antagonism between town and country begins with the transition from barbarism to civilization, from tribe to state, from locality t o nation, and runs through the whole.history of civilization to the present day (1970: 69). That is, the very tension between and country is itself an instance of the rise of civilization as exemplified in the form of the development of nation or state. The existence of the town requires the ability to think independently of the natural task at hand, because exchange and labour as modes of production are liberated from, as against being dominated by, subservience to the land. The town makes human independence recognizable as a possibility and actuality where the country makes domination (ofhumans by nature, ofhumans by each other, e.g., landlordherf) seem natural and necessary.
t n T r m

Marx and Engels argue that the feudal system of ownership prominent in the Middle Ages started out from the country (1970: 45). In this feudal system, people were tied to each other in a hierarchical and patriarchal manner in a way which fettered the productive possibilities inherent in human action (1965: 32-48). Rural life leads to idiocy because the nascent productive vitality inherent to all social organization is overwhelmed by the ideology of a deference to tradition which is antitheti-


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cal to the material and productive possibilities in social organization. Therefore, according t o this formulation, rural life is idiotic because it endlessly and unimaginatively repeats the social patterns of previous generations under the guise of a feudal ideology which legitimates patriarchy, hierarchy, and the domination of people in general.

From this perspective, the ideology of family, community, and tradition associated with rurality is a mere sentimental veil that bound the majority of people, particularly women and children, to a subordinate, impoverished life, and encouraged a slothful indolence. By virtue of its ideological antipathy to the novel possibilities in human action, rural life therefore is antipathetic to the resources that the new, who in any society are the young, could bring to the community. Arendt (1958) says that an openness to the novel (inherent in the condition of natality) is the requirement for developing the possibility ofhuman action. The possibility of beginning something new is fundamental t o the human condition. Humans are active agents who have the possibility of reacting in ways that are unpredictable, making the unanticipated consequences of action a fundamental topic for sociology (Merton, 1976).However, not every social organization is receptive to and encouraging of this capacity, though there is no social organization which can eliminate it. Rural life, and the feudal society it nurtured, according t o Marx and Engels, came to stand for a social organization which was explicitly organized around excluding an openness t o the possibilities of human action.

Marx and Reflexivity as Single-MindedDevelopment

Marx and Engels interpreted the urban-rural difference within a frame which celebrated the development of a society (in this case capitalist but eventually communist) that would release the productive forces (and not merely its economy as is often erroneously thought) inherent within the relation between humans and the world. This development, in turn, was to enhance the human liberation of all. We can see from Marx that the concern with quality of life (e.g.,which is a better place to live), can not be resolved by an opinion poll; rather, the real issue is which place best helps us recognize our potential for freedom and the kind of social organization that produces the wealth which, according t o Marx,6free human action requires. Thus, what for many city dwellers appears to be the easy-going life of a rural setting, is for Marx a slothful indolence that is socially constructed by the way rural society excludes the novel (the enterprising, the beginning of something new) in its midst. What this formulation does is question the adequacy of empirical and positivistic approaches t o understanding the otherness of rurality. Marx
5 . For Marx, freedom is understood in terms of emancipation from conditions which prevent humans

from realizing their full potential. That is, freedom is essentially understood as a liberation. For a perspective which sees significant differencea between freedom and liberation in order to make room for t he concept of action, see Hannah Arendt (1965, 29-33).

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and Engels provide us with a paradigm which problematizes the selfunderstanding of the rural actor as the true or best understanding of the situation. The self-understanding of the rural actor, in this case, would more than likely reflect a false consciousness-as the very possibilities inherent in human action are automatically excluded from the understanding of the situation. For example, and t o put it crudely, if rural respondents claim their quality of life is better, or that raising a family is easier, is this a knowledge claim which is grounded in a life of slothful indolence or urural idiocy?That is, in formulating rural life in this way, they simultaneously raise the issue of the standard we use to measure the truth value of various claims of the other and suggest the limitations built into positivistic science (see Blum and McHugh, 1984: 13-30). Rather, the claims of the rural actor (the other) require what has come to be called a hermeneutics of suspicion;what is said t o be an easy-going lifestyle rooted in the past may merely be an ideological gloss for the preservation of static social relations (feudal society) which maintain domination of peasants by landlords, of women by men, and children by parents, and has the real consequence of slothful indolence.6 Rural life, according to this formulation, represents another social organization but one which is exemplary only in a negative sense; rurality encourages rather than discourages the indisposition to exertion: it does not encourage true human enjoyment but rather the easy pleasure of avoiding the pain of exertion. It is often said that the phrase rural idiocy is part of the polemic which pervades The Communist Manifesto. As a phrase, it is then excused or downplayed rather than taken as a genuine conception of rurality. Yet, if we give the formulation a strong reading it can be shown that the idea of rural idiocy fits well with the overall Marxian framework. For Marx and Engels, the fully aware experience of rurality would, of necessity, be an experience of deprivation. The countryside is formulated in terms of a lack (of civilization, state, nation). It is known in terms of what humans could have but do not have (freedom, wealth, the power of the general, the abstract, the universal). As not wanting what could be developed is unimaginable (who would not want freedom, not want to develop their human potential, not want to be civilized?), the lack of commitment to development (of society) can only be seen as idiocy. Thus the Marxian conception of the rural connotes an image of regressiveness, going back in time/developmentlcapacities, an image which is still part of the meaning associated with rurality. Rural life, according t o the Marxian formulation, represents an empirical but not an analytic p~ssibility.~ As an empirical possibility it
6. It is interesting that the two words with the same connotation of laziness are used. Marx and Engels do not just say sloth but slothful indolence, not just indolence but a slothful indolence. It is as though they wanted to convey through repetition, the dangerous nature of the ethos of rural life. The root meaning of sloth is slow-O.E. slaeth-and the root meaning of indolence is not to feel pain -L. in-, not; dolere, to feel pain. 7. This is a distinction developed within the Analysis tradition in sociology (a tradition called here dialectical analysis to distinguish this perspective from similarly named perspectives i n science and philosophy). This distinction appears throughout in the works of Blum and McHugh, but is most clearly developed in SelfReflection in the Arts and Sciences (1984).


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is either not fully experienced for what it is (because of, for example, a false consciousness) or it is experienced precisely as a regression (because of the condition of, for example, exile). Rurality means either being stuck in a deprived situation or it means not realizing that one is deprived. In either case it is not a chooseablealternative.8Rurality is not a real other (in the sense of one who challenges self-understanding),rather it is a reminder of what we, as humans committed t o development of human potential, must not be. Rurality, therefore, connotes a blindness or an indifference to individual and collective possibility. The charms of its claims have to be resisted because rurality exists only because of imposition (oppression) or ignorance (idiocy). In terms of the modernist/postmodernist distinction, the perspective of Marx and Engels personify (Cliffords understanding of) a modernist orientation-the healthy capacity of modernist consciousness to question its limits; at each stage of societal development the collective (that is, the relevant class) is required to come to terms with, and transcend, the limits inhibiting the mode of production. All other forms of otherness are subsumed under the dominant concern with the mode of production. The otherness of rurality is a limit which is t o be overcome as the collective develops a true consciousness of its situation. The polyphony of voices and experiences celebrated by postmodernism (Clifford,1988;Baumann, 1994) are absent in this analysis. In particular, rural or urban experiences, as unique and particular experiences, are not recognized as phenomena in their own right, separate from the development of the productive forces of society (Sennett, 1969: 3-19). Baumanns (1994: 356) statement that modern designs of global perfection drew their animus from the horror of difference and impatience with otherness is mirrored in the Marxian understanding of rurality. This understanding represents the confidence modernity has in its own development and the certainty it has in its own understanding. Marxs optimism concerning the future is based on this confidence in his theoretic orientation. As Arendt (Canovan, 1992: 63-98) has argued, the capacity of human agents to react in unpredictable ways does not have a strong place in his theoretic focus. Marx and Engels did not seek t o understand the rural or urban experience in its own right. The significant collective for them was the one which sought to develop the productive forces of society: the various stages through which society was transformed (ancient, feudal, capitalist, communist) all reflect an analysis of a collective committed t o developing its productive forces which, in turn, makes human liberation from the pain of endless labor and poverty possible. The standard by which a society is t o be judged is the social organization which has developed its productive forces t o their highest realization, which, in turn, maximizes the possibilities of human liberation. Reflexivity is an intrinsic part ofpraxis but only in regard to the single-minded interest in developing the productive forces of society.
8. It is ironic to note that, as both the sociological literature and as modern society develop, the rural becomes less possible t o conceptualize as even a mere empirical possibility.

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This formulation, in turn, has generated the criticism that the focus on historical materialism led to a one-sided (Weber, 1958) and nomological (Habermas, 1988) understanding of history and society. Marxs perspective, by itself, does not make room for the complexity of experience as it privileges a singular theoretical development over an understanding of the particularity of experience. As stated above, there is no real need for the Marxian actor to consider the interpretive possibilities in hisher situation, because, analytically speaking there is no real choice. Rather the actor now has t o do what s h e knows needs t o be done, that is, in Marxs own terminology, not interpret but change the world. Yet, for Weber, it is precisely by virtue of the subjective orientation of humans that action is social; this means theory has t o make a place for meaning and experience. Weber developed the concept of ideal type (Weber, 1947) as his method t o account for social actiodorganization in a way which preserves the particularity of historical experience and in doing this he was influenced by the Gemeinschaft I Gesellschaft concepts of Ferdinand Tonnies.

Ferdinand Tonnies: The UrbadRural GemeinschafZIGesellschafZDistinction

Ferdinand Tonnies is a sociologist who was influenced by Marx and who, in turn, influenced Weber (1947: 88). In 1888, Tonnies published his classic text Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft, terms which have now become standard in the discipline of sociology. While Marx addressed the urbanrural difference in terms of a collective committed to actualizing the potential for human liberation, Tonnies, (influenced by Nietzsches Apolloniaflionysiac polarity) through the terms gemeinschaft (community) and gesellschaft (association), recasts the difference in terms of a more fundamental dichotomy and opposition. With Tonnies, we have neither evolutionary (Darwin)nor revolutionary (Marx) development, but two sharply opposed social systems based on sharply opposing ways of life. The city, by virtue of the primacy given to commerce, encourages gesellschaftlich relations; the country, the village, and the town, by virtue of the primacy given to family and history, give rise to gemeinschaftlich relations. For Tonnies, the town is not an example of the rise of the division of labour (Marx), but an example of a community where the social and the natural are kept in balance. With Tonnies, therefore, the rural begins to take on the character of other, an other whose relationship t o modernity is fundamental and oppositional. This rural other finds its highest expression in the town and thus begins the association of rurality with town life. Many Canadian sociologists (e.g. Sim, 1988) now argue that this conception of rurality is more viable than that sustained by Statistics Canada. Yet, what is the nature of this other named as gemeinschaft? By gemeinschuft Tonnies means a social order bounded together by a unity of wills. Family and social institutions naturally created


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co-operation in a gemeinschaft prior t o its members voluntary choice ) .Gemeinschaft is pre-voluntary but nonetheless co(Liebersohn, 1988: 7 operative, a community which is built on a familial orientation, i.e., one does not choose ones parents (social background, gender, etc.) but one cooperates with that givenness.
The basic unit of the traditional community was the house. . . . Bonds of blood relation, place and friendship tied individuals to one another and drew houses into larger units of clan, ethnic groups and people, of village, country and province. The traditional town, no less than the countryside, was organized on communal lines, its guilds regulating production in harmony with the general needs of collective life (Liebersohn, 1988: 28-29; see Tonnies: 151-69).

Although in the literature gemeinschaft is often associated with a rural setting, Tonnies was not using it to describe the influence of place per se; rather, gemeinschuft references a social order which-being based on a consensus of wills-rests on harmony and is developed and enabled by pathways, mores, and religion (Tonnies, 1960: 223). In this community, parents and children were not seen t o be separate actors with individualistic interests but rather were a unity (family) with a shared interest, as this interest has been articulated by figures of a u t h ~ r i t yThese . ~ relations were invested with a sense of sacredness which made reason subordinate t o the activities of the whole and the common good t o which they were directed. The otherness of gemeinschuft referenced a community where rationality was subordinate rather than superordinate, similar to the recognition of the essential limitedness of reason which, according to Nietzsche (19561, is crucial t o the discovery of tragedy. Tonnies conception of gesellschaft, on the other hand, was strongly influenced by his readings of both Marx and Hobbes (Liebersohn, 1988: 1 39). It refers as much t o modern capitalist society as it does to city life, though (as we already know from Marx) modernity, capitalism, and urbanization are greatly intertwined. However, unlike Marx (and perhaps because of Tonnies own isolated rural town upbringing), gesellschaft was not celebrated as an important step on the way to liberation (communism). Rather, with Tonnies, we have the beginning of the recognition of the dark side of modernity (a recognition which Weber was to later name as the iron cage). Gesellschaft, as a social order, is constituted by commodity exchange and rests on a union of rational wills.Whereas thegerneinschuft has its roots in family life, gesellschaft derives from the conventional order of trade (Tonnies, 1960: 223; Loomis, 1960: 3-11). Here, the relations between people are regulated by contracts and exchange which, in turn, are governed by the rational means-end attitude, i.e., in terms of an evaluation of the advantages that people expect to get from others
9. Though Tonnies perspective is closer to a political economy than a functionalist perspective (Hale, 1990: 136),it is not completely accurate, as this section goes on to show, to see him (as Hale does) as a spokesperson for liberation. As Liebersohn (1988:32) remarks, Tonnies did not restrain his

disgust toward the liberties permitted in a gesellschaft.

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(Hale, 1990: 107). Because of this orientation, people are mobile, both socially and geographically, and competition rather than co-operation is the dominant ethos. On a theme later developed by Weber and Habermas, Tonnies saw that the dominance of the rational will would ultimately lead t o undermining a genuine attachment between people and to community. Tonnies was ambiguous as t o whether gemeinschuft referred t o historical precedent or ideal type (Liebersohn, 1988: 7). Using Nietzsches ApollonianDionysian polarity (Liebersohn, 1988: 23-31), he wanted to present the two kinds of social organization in not merely an evolutionary fashion (where one evolves out of the other) but as social organizations rootedin different orientations toward the world and life. His method was supposed t o be hermeneutic, describing each type from its own perspective (Liebersohn, 1988: 30). What this famous distinction actually initiates is the associatign of rurality with community. On the whole, rural life was seen t o sustain gemeinschuftlich relations between people because of its focus on establishing and nurturing common bonds, while the city tended to nurture gesellschuftlich relations because of its emphasis on competition and individual advantage (Tonnies, 1960: 223-59). Sociologically,historically, and in terms of our narrative, the referent for the sign rural has changed from Marxs image of backwardness, an obstacle to progress which must be overcome, to a competing social organization and way of life. For Tonnies what is significant about rural life is not its landscape, nor its comparative primitiveness, but the kind of social organization it nurtures. Gemeinschuftlich relations received their highest social expression not on the farm but in the town: the town is the highest . . . form of social life (Tonnies, 1960: 227). This means that rural comes t o reference a particular way of relating to people rather than being a way of relating to nature. Thus, under Tonniesinfluence (and despite his explicit critique of capitalism), rural came to reference a community which was an extension of the naturalsource of community, the family (Tonnies, 1960: 176-77). Marriage was organized not around individuals, as in modern society, but around the house whose members received a fixed place within their own house and related to outsiders as members of other houses (Liebersohn, 1988: 32). Tonnies was convinced
that all true morality was rooted in the settled folkways ofgemeinschaft, [and] he did not restrain his disgust toward the liberties permitted in a gesellschaft. Women, delicate creatures of feeling, belonged in the home; a society t h a t let them leave it and diminished the differences between the sexes could only be a decadent society. Intellectuals tended to deny the pious beliefs of their fathers and to replace them with the arbitrary products of their own reason. . . . The merchant, the most complete embodiment ofgesellschaft, was a n enemy ofthe people: homeless, a traveller versed in foreign ways without piety toward his own, adept at using any means to achieve his goals, in all these respects the opposite ofthe farmer and the artisan (Liebersohn, 1988: 32-33; see Tonnies, 1960: 151-69).


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Tonnies, Science and the Need for Reflexive Inquiry

As already noted, Tonnies categories were ambiguous with regard t o their status as ideal types or historical experiences. His own aim was to write in a spirit of scientific objectivity, to show the same dispassion toward society as toward any other object of study (Liebersohn, 1988:27). Thus the fact that the town was destined t o be taken over by commercial interests and thus evolve into a gesellschaft was a fated event which Tonnies, the sociologistin pursuit of the objectivetruth, had t o acknowledge, in the way the laws of physics force the physicist to recognize that the earth is not the centre of the universe. Yet, as Liebersohn argues, Tonnies was
unable to resist the opportunity to describegesellschaft from the point ofview ofgemeinschaft, as if the communal world ofthe past, defeated by history, at last had a champion to accuse the modern way oflife that had vanquished it. . . . In the form he presented them, the books categories were not neutral instruments of empirical analysis. Instead, they embodied a denunciation of one way of life, defence of another (30-3 1).

Gemeinschaft is a concept meant to reference not just another kind of society but rather reference what is other to modernity itself. While the otherness is constructed in a defensively binary fashion, it is clear that there is a reflexive accusation built into its construction. Because Tonnies description lacks neutrality it left him vulnerable t o the charge of idealism because gemeinschaft represents as much the romantic dream of a conflict-free community rather than the faithful depiction of an actual community. More importantly, the concept of gemeinschaft is flawed because of psychological reductionism; gesellschaft (according t o Durkheim, 1972: 146-47) is no less natural or no more artificial than is gemeinschaft, just because it is apparently organized on rational grounds. Gemeinschaft and gesellschaft constitute a conceptual opposition, organized by the opposition between organism and machine (Liebersohn, 1988: 1361, rather than an opposition of world views emerging from the basis of different lived experiences. Thus, from the scientific perspective, Tonnies conceptualization does not easily translate into empirical research and does not adequately measure up to standards of neutral objectivity. In Webers terms, the concep-tualization is valueladen rather than value-free. Yet, with the issue of the relation between reflexivity and science in mind, this scientific critique can itself be criticized. A significant aspect of the distinction betweengemeinschaftlich and gesellschaftlich relations is the different wills 6 e . , natural will as opposed to rational will)which each social organization (i.e.,community as opposed t o association) strengthens. In the move from gemeinschaft to gesellschaft (a move which Tonnies saw happening with the increasing dominance of modernity), a complete reversal of intellectual life takes place . . . the

Reflexivity, Sociology and the Rural-Urban Distinction


intellectual attitude of the individual becomes gradually less and less influenced by religion and more and more influenced by science(Tonnies, 1960: 226). This means, according to Tonnies, that usefulness, efficiency, and the learning derived from the impersonal observation of the laws of social life, become the dominant way of relating to others and to the world. In gesellschaft, modern calculating reason is not subordinate to, but is independent of, community spirit. In everyday action, the rational selfinterest of the merchant now comes t o predominate: in intellectual life, science and impersonal learning predominate. As noted above, Tonnies undertook a scientific analysis of the nature of human society. Yet, according to Tonnies, scientific thinking predominates in a society where personal human relations have deteriorated.O This brings us to a paradoxical dilemma in Tonnies analysis. While Tonnies conceptualization of gemeinschaft and gesellschaft failed in its attempt t o be an objective and empirically verifiable analysis of the way human society works, he still aspired t o make his book scientific in the strongest nineteenth-century sense of the w o r d (Liebersohn, 1988: 27). The very categories ofgemeinschaft andgesellschaft are categories generated by an intellectual orientation grounded in the purpose of scientific objectivity, itself a modern orientation. That is, they are the categories of agesellschaft rather thangemeinschaft worldview. Thus, if as Liebersohn says, Tonnies analysis defendedgemeinschaftby condemninggesellschaft, this is understood as a failure to realize the aim of scientific objectivity rather than as a challenge and critique of scientific objectivity as an aim in itself. His defence ofgemeinschaft is a defence which emerges from one who sought to understand the world from the intellectual orientation of gesellschaft. While condemning modernityand defending tradition, he simultaneously shows, t o recall Cliffords quotation, the disquieting quality of modernism: its taste . . . for discovering universal, ahistorical human capacities (e.g., natural wilVrationa1 will). This raises important theoretical and methodological issues, not the least of which is the question of the way ones presuppositions about the nature of adequate inquiry necessarily influence what we are able t o recognize. Scientific objectivity is merely one solution to this problem. Perhaps Tonnies reflexive inconsistency points t o a fundamental flaw in the scientific orientation itself. Is the enterprise of science, despite its celebrated procedures for verification, a solipsistic enterprise? If science is modernitys pre-eminent mode of self-understanding, then perhaps the victory of modern societies over traditional societies (e.g., Arendt, 1958; Foucault, 1977; Grant, 1969)is not only a practical issue but also an epistemological and ontological issue. The very categories ofgemeinschaft lgesellschaft are grounded in the assumption that an adequate inquiry aims for scientific objectivity, itself
10. Gesellschaft moves toward decadence and thus is itself ultimately doomed to collapse. Unlike Marx, Tonnies saw the potential for self-destruction, rather than self-transformation, inherent in the modem moment.


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according to Tonnies, an assumption of agesellschaft frame of mind. That is, the distinction itself is subject to the very same critique as Tonnies critique ofgesellschaft; it is mechanical and impersonal. The question that emerges from this is whether the objectivity claimed by the human sciences can adequately understand and analyse the community that privileges emotions, sees attachments to people as being infused with a moral and sacred character, and is organized on the principle of time rather than space (Tonnies, 1960:232-23), if that objectivity takes modern science as its model. If science is a mode of inquiry which itself privileges space rather than time, detachment rather than attachment, and instrumental rationality rather than understanding, is there a mode of inquiry which privileges time in such a way that the social organization based on the principle of time (gemeinschaft) can be more adequately taken into account? (Gadamer developed his hermeneutic approach t o social inquiry in response t o this principle of temporality.) In seeking to describe human society and history as though he were outside of it, Tonnies ended up unquestioningly speaking from gesellschaft principles precisely at the moment he was condemning those self-same principles. In other words, Tonnies uses scientific reason to condemn the social organization which allows scientific reason to dominate community spirit. This issue (of theoretical orientation), as we shall see, is of critical decisiveness not only for the way the urban-rural discourse is conceptualized, but also for the way much of the very enterprise of sociology is grounded in an understanding of the tradition-modern divide. Tonnies understands from within the parameters of a modernist consciousness (Berger et. al., 1974) and simultaneously struggles against the tendencies of that consciousness; he condemns the intellectuals tendency t o rely on reason alone and proceeds to be rational in a universalist way; he displays the modernist tendency to develop ahistorical concepts and condemns the decadence inherent in that very inclination. While Weber is much more consistent in his theoretical orientation, these paradoxes need also to be understood as expressions of the modernist consciousness (to question its limits and engage otherness).The otherness ofgemeinschaft is both oppositional and competitive. It represents the selfcondemnation of modernity without acknowledgement of the modern orientation that makes the articulation of such a condemnation possible. At the weakest level of interpretation, Tonnies work is an early representative of the kind of inconsistent self-condemnation seen in more recent post-modernist studies; a stronger reading of Tonnies also recognizes the inclination, inherent in modernity, to develop a positive relation to resistance. That is, thegemeinschaft lgesellschaft distinction is a solution to theproblem of the need to develop self-resistance. Is the issue of engaging otherness not merely an interest of a modernist consciousness but now, more importantly, a need? Does modern society need to develop a way of resisting its own modernist tendencies?

Reflexivity, Sociology and the Rural-Urban Distinction


My argument here is that the need t o develop the capacity to be open to resistance (otherness) is a problem for a society and a world in which calculation and impersonality are increasingly dominant and a problem for sociological inquiry in which a positivist epistemology is dominant. If this argument is persuasive, then it needs to be engaged (and resisted) by Canadian sociologists in general and not just those interested in theory. The gemeinschaft lgesellschaft distinction can now be understood both as instancing the need to question limits and engage otherness and as a display of the difficulty modern social science has in realizing this need. Is modern social science,despite and perhaps because of its self-understanding as objective, tied to the historical characteristic of modernity, that is, tied t o its taste for appropriating or redeeming otherness(Clifford,1988: 193).When we turn to a more reflexively consistent colleague of Tonnies, Max Weber, we see that consistency deepens rather than resolves the problem.

Max Weber: The UrbadRural Modermlraditional Distinction

Max Weber, like his colleagues and acquaintances Simmel and Tonnies, studied the connection between modernity, capitalism, and urbanization. Like Simmel, but unlike Tonnies, he is more influential in urban rather than rural sociology. He is credited by Wirth as coming closest to developing a systematic theory of urbanism in his penetrating essay The City (Wirth, 1938: 8). Yet, in an early essay Capitalism and Rural Society in Germany (Weber, 1946a: 363-85), Weber is the first of the classical sociologists to acknowledge the difference between a European and an American rural society and, in the process, the first to recognize the disappearance of the sociologicalrelevance of the urban-rural distinction. The growth of the nation-state, the development of capitalism as an international order, and the bureaucratic rationalization of more and more areas of social life all mean that the distinctiveness of urban and rural, as referencing different communities is gradually disappearing (Madindale and Neuwirth, 1958: 56-67). In the essay concerned, Weber noted that a rural society separate from the urban social community does not exist at the present time in a great part of the modern civilized world. (1946a: 363) This situation is particularly true of the United States because the American farmer is really an entrepreneur like any other and not an agriculturist who seeks t o conserve a tradition.12 In an analysis which foreshadows the recent dispute over subsidies between the E.U. and the United States, Weber, in 1904, argued that if anything is
11. He says this is necessary because, of all communities, the social constitution of rural districts are the most individual and the most closely connected with particular historical developments. (363) 12. Dasgupta in his book, Rural Canada: Structure and Change (1988: 12), describes the modern farmer in this way: A farmer in an industrial society is a commercially oriented rural villager who produces food and other articles of consumption by his family but to make a profit. His productive activities respond to supply and demand, and fluctuating prices in the marketplace. To Weber, this very definition itself means t hat the qualifier rural villager is not sociologically relevant a s it does not indicate an alternative society.


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characteristic of the rural conditions of the great wheat-producing states of America, it is . . . the absolute economic individualism of the farmer, the quality of the farmer as a mere businessman (364).This situation is seen t o be in contrast to Europe in general, and Germany in particular, where the power of tradition inevitably predominates in agriculture. This tradition rested on an old economic order which, in Webers terms (1946a: 367) took the view:
How can I give, on this piece of land, work and sustenance to the greatest possible number of men? Capitalism asks: From this given piece of land, how can I produce as many crops as possible for the market with as few men as possible?

Weber knew that the old economic order, even in Europe at that time, was under siege. In this essay he saw rural society as possibly providing an alternative to capitalism because, through the monopolization of the land and hereditary preservation of possession, a nobility (not in form but in fact) would arise. This nobility in turn would provide a political alternative to the professional politician (who must live off politics) by nurturing people who are able t o live for politics and the state. This rural society could bring a more permanent sense of what is valuable (i.e., a sense of value that is not dependent on the shifts of the market) and a sense of authority which respects tradition. Such a rural society could resist, in a practical way, the capitalistic pursuit of %eedless gain. Weber, like Tonnies, saw the otherness of the rural as a need, but unlike Tonnies, he saw that modernity itself was making this need increasingly impossible to fulfill. He thus foreshadows the claims by Gans (1968) and Pahl (1968) that, empirically speaking, the rural-urban difference does not make any difference; it exists only in the thoughts of dreamers (Weber, 1946a: 363).

As would be expected, Weber is more self-consciously sociological when he addresses the urbadrural distinction. What makes the country or the city relevant sociologically speaking, is neither geography nor demography, but rather their capacity t o socialize a unique character and community. Thus, even though the industrial cities were where most people had come to live, for Weber, this was understood as a decline of the special mark of the city because the people who lived there could not be said to have a special character as city people (Sennett, 1969: 18).City dwellers are more likely to get their identity from more general social forces like class, occupation, status, even religious conviction (forces which are societal, national, and international) than forces tied to living in a specific city.13Similarly, the sociological significance of a rural society for Weber lies in its ability t o sustain an alternative culture to a capitalism, which found a home in the city. Thus, the existence of farmers, towns, and villages does not necessarily lead to a distinct way of life which challenges
13. Conversely, an urban sociology which sought to resist this hegemonic development would need to

focus and developthespecificityofthecity. i.e.,notjust class, race, and gender inToronto, but rather, what (if anything) makes the Torontonian (Edmontonian, New Yorker) a Torontonian.

Reflexivity, Sociology and the Rural-Urban Distinction


the capitalistic ethos of modern urban life. On this basis, he says rural societydoes not exist in the western United States: there is no meaningful social difference between the farmer and the businessman, or the farm labourer and the proletariat. The disappearance of a genuine rural society means the disappearance of a resistance to the dominance of capitalism. If farming is driven by the profit motif, if people identify with their class or occupation rather than a traditional way of living, then there is no sociological relevance t o the referent of rural. Webers sociological conception of rurality addresses a common conflation in sociociology. Many texts often confuse sociological and demographic conceptions of rurality. For example, Dasgupt acknowledges that contemporary Canadian rural society
increasingly resembles the urban population in sex and dependency ratios, rate of divorce, level of educational attainment, and ethnic composition. . . . The contemporary rural life in Canada thus has attained many features which are typical of an urban society. Its structure is increasingly gesellschaft with the use in the number of secondary groups (1988: 189-90; 192-93).

Yet he goes on to say that rural society is not in the process of ex-tinction because the population is no longer declining, thus (from Webers perspective) confusing a technical point (demographic trends) with a sociological point (social action). Weber helps us recognize that the urbadrural difference might now need to be understood within the context of modernity. In contemporary society, rural may no longer reference either backwardness (Marx) or community (Tonnies).Rather the underlying phenomenon which needs t o be understood is modernitys need for and, simultaneously, its difficulty with otherness. It is the argument of this essay that the depth of the difficulty is tied t o the modernitys pre-eminent mode of self-understanding, scientific inquiry.

Weber, Modernity, and the Possibility of a Reflexive Sociology

Webers later work set out to show the tight grip that capitalism had on modern life (The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism) and the interconnection between modernity and the calculating rationality of science (Science as a Vocation).While he was certainly not happy with these developments, the acknowledgement of the truth, an acknowledgement required of him by virtue of his scientific perspective and commitment, demanded that the force of modern life be recognized. The potential of an alternative rural life was no longer seen to be realistic. Yet, his initial conception of the term rural was motivated by his lifelong interest in coming to terms with the reality (the iron cage) of the modern socioeconomic order and the possibilities of realistic resistance to this force (Liebersohn, 1988: 78-125). His work, whether early or late, always had

that particular combination of qualities-stating (calling) that we (as scholars and politicians) must bear the fate of the times (1946b: 155) while, at the same time, acknowledging (sometimes sympathetically, sometimes impatiently) the unrealistic impulse to resist such a fate
(194613: 77-156).

I noted above the inconsistencies in the way Tonnies formulated the problem, because of a limited relation to reflexivity: he used t h e scientific approach to condemn the kind of social organization (gesellschuft)which privileges the scientific mode of inquiry. Weber too recognized the disenchantment of the w o r l d which accompanies the rise of modern science but, in distinction from Tonnies, he also reflectively acknowledged (194613) that the scientific orientation to the study of social life is part of the same development. As Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982: 165) state,
Weber saw that rationality, in the form of bureaucratization and calculative thinking, was becoming the dominant way of understanding reality in our time, and he set out to give a rational objective account of how this form of thinking had come to dominate our practices and self-understanding. He was led, through this scientific analysis, to see that the disenchantmentofthe worldthat calculative thinking brings about had enormous costs. He even saw that his own theorizing was part of the same development he deplored, but, as so many commentatorshave pointed out, there was absolutelyno way his scientific method couldjustify his sense that the cost of rationality was greater than any possible benefit it could bring. Given Webers starting point, all he could do was point out the paradoxical results of his analysis and the increasingperils to our culture(Dreyfusand Rabinow, 1982: 165).14

What have been the consequences of the intertwining of these intellectual and socio-economic developments? According to the Canadian sociologist R. Alex Sim (1988: 13-46), the rural community is battered and the concept of rurality has disappeared.
The disappearance or misuse of the word ruraldeprives a large and important element of the country of a name. Ingenious efforts have been made to avoid the world rural-for example, non-metropolitan, non-urban, regional city, and even micropolis. Statistics Canada still uses rural as a category with two sub-groupings,farm and non-farm, and the absurd cut-off point of 1000, or a density of 400 persons per square kilometre. Thus, about one out of three Canadians are nonfarm, non-metropolitan residents (1988: 22). Sim goes on to say (22) that the disappearance of the word ruralis a case of urban imperialism.

14.Dreyfus and Rabinow (1982: 166) go on to argue that Foucaults genealogical analytics avoid such paradoxical dillemmas by taking the best of the positions of Weber, Heidegger, Adorno, and Merleau-Ponty in a way which enables him to overcome some of their difficulties.

Reflexivity, Sociology and the Rural-Urban Distinction


Esoteric intellectual concerns (regarding the meaning of the concept of rurality) and broad socio-cultural developments are, it seems, intrinsically interconnected. The battered rural community of Canada and the difficulty sociologists have in reflexively recognizing the embeddedness of a mode of inquiry in a culture (modernity) are very much intertwined. With the acknowledgement of the hegemony of the moderdscientific life-world,we are now beginning to recognize the difficulty modernity has in preserving a sense of otherness (in this case, rurality) which would truly allow it t o question its limits. Modern scientific methods are not culturally neutral instruments of social inquiry. As Foucault (1977; Dreyfus and Rabinow, 1982) shows in unescapable detail, the rise of the social sciences is tied t o the very modernity they claim to study. The problem is therefore, that the social sciences, by the very constitution of their epistemological orientation, are so tied to the modern life-world that they are in danger of seeing in the other (gerneinschaft/ruraVtown/community) a failed version of itself. Modern consciousness thus may only appear to be engaging otherness and questioning its limits; what it ends up actually doing is affirming its own orientation and is thus blind to its limits: in the process a strong sense of alteritas is rendered invisible. The urbadrural discourse in the sociological tradition can now be understood to be struggling with this very problem of the need for, but difficulty of, achieving a good relation to resistance. The disappearance of a viable conception of rurality, noted by Pahl above, is not just a mere empirical fact but an expression of this modern problem. The problem which animates both Tonnies and Weber is some inarticulate awareness of the potential for self-destructiveness inherent within the modern project. Without questioning otherness and engaging resistance, it may be that the self-destructive potential of modernity will go unchecked. From the perspective of our contemporary awareness of the environmental crisis, not to mention the twentieth-century experience of fascism and Stalinism, it now seems that this inarticulate worry (on the part-of Weber and Tonnies in particular) is prophetic. The point of the paper, however, is that this problem is not just an empirical fact (of the environment, the economy, or even of urbanization), but is first and foremost epistemological and ontological. Questioning limits and engaging otherness requires that reflexivity be truly integrated into the process of inquiry. Webers reflexivity is merely consistent, where what is needed is an openness to the finite nature of human understanding (Gadamer, 1975) and an awareness of the way all inquiry is a process of recommending principles for acceptance(Blum and McHugh, 1984),not as external acknowledgements but as intrinsic to very process of inquiry.

If the interest which structures the urban-rural discourse in sociology is the evaluation of different kinds of communities with their attendant ways


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of thinking and ways of living, then, in so far as this is the interest of a modernist consciousness, we need t o be aware of the ways this discourse could end up leading to the silencing of the sense of otherness which could really challenge that interest. For Marx, the otherness of the rural referenced a limit which could be overcome through self-consciousness. Reflexivity,at this stage of the narrative, is needed in order for the actor/ collective to recognize the necessity to develop the means of production. What is not reflected on, what is not made subject to dialogue, is the commitment t o developing the means of production as the principle and the enlightenment rationality built into this principle. The value of the principle and the procedure used to make the principle recognizable (rationality) are taken for granted. Thus, he is optimistic about the possibility of an alternative society (communism) emerging in the future because of the theoretical single-minded nature of his analysis. Though this is still a matter of debate, Arendt (Canovan, 1992: 63-98) has shown the way Marxs theorizing participates in (rather than reflects on) the totalitarian tendency of m~dernity.~

Tonnies and Weber are more sensitive to the totalitarian element in the modern moment and thus more apprehensive about modernity. They both acknowledge that the dominance of instrumental reasoning is dangerous. While Weber saw this dominance operating in science as well as capitalism and thus operating in his own analysis as well as in the society his work addressed, Tonnies only saw the latter. Though both were strongly influenced by Marx, both were also more reflective about the modernity which Marxs analysis expresses. For Tonnies, the other for a society that privileges relations based on calculation (capitalism, gesellschaft) is community, a community that finds its highest expression in the town. Though rural life in modern society no longer resembles agemeinschuft,pockets of traditional communities (e.g., the Hutterites in Western Canada, closely-knit working class or ethnic neighbourhoods in the city) give us life-world images of an alternative to gesellschaft. Yet the problem of the superiority of community over association is not just a problem for social relations, it is also a problem of the way we analyze and study these relations. Instrumental reasoning is not just central to capitalism, it is also central t o scientific inquiry. In Tonniesview, reflexivity requires an other (gemeinschaft)that is qualitively different which, in turn, enables a more radical evaluation of self (gesellschuft). In this case, the principle of instrumental rationality has been revealed and its potential for destructiveness of community is highlighted. In Tonnies work this condemnation is self-contradictory because it relies on the same kind of reasoning it condemns.Weber is more
15. The tyranny of logicality is the compulsion with which we can compel ourselves,allowing our thoughts and decisions to be dictated by what we have already accepted instead of exercising the

human capacity to start afresh, to have new ideas, to look at things again, to learn from experience (Arendt, as summarized by Canovan: 91).

Reflexivity, Sociology and the Rural-Urban Distinction


reflectively consistent in so far as he recognizes the interrelation between science, rationality and modernity and thus the way his own work not only addresses but is part of the problem. Yet all that his consistency enables him to do is acknowledge the problem (disenchantment) and its depth. For Weber (1946b1, otherness is acknowledged but only as an irrational alternative, the engaging of which requires an intellectual sacrifice. This otherness cannot challenge modernity itself. There is no rural alternative: all one can do is retreat from modernity (into the arms of the old churches), a retreat which, if it is t o have dignity, requires the explicit acknowledgement that one is renouncing intellectual and political involvement in the world. Webers work forces us to acknowledge that the theoretical problem and the way we recognize the problem in the world are intertwined. It is my argument throughout that a more reflexive sociology is the solution to this intellectual problem. In this paper, I have argued that the difficulty in engaging otherness lies in the way that modernity privileges a certain kind of rationality. The Hegelianism of Marx confidently expresses this rationality, the Nietzscheism of Tonnies displays a contradictory self-condemnation of it, and the consistency of Weber acknowledges its power. In order for modernity t o develop a strong self-resistance, on the other hand, reflexivity is required in order to limit the claims to understanding made on behalf of a modern rationality. The point of the paper is that this self-resistance needs first of all t o be embodied in the process of inquiry itself. The paper makes the claim that reflexivity is a substantive concern and, simultaneously, the paper seeks to be an exemplification of what a reflexive inquiry looks like. Reflexivity says and shows that truly engaging otherness necessarily involves self-questioning (in this case, questioning of the standards of rationality used to generate knowledge). In the work of the early seminal sociologists, this need for reflexivity is both acknowledged and denied. As sociology develops in the twentieth century, the dominance of scientific rationality a t t a i n s a hegemonic s t a t u s u n t i l t h e phenomenological, hermeneutic and dialectical analytic developments in the 1970s. Simultaneously, as the urban-rural discourse develops, the otherness of rurality disappears and the recognition of a sense of modernitys need for otherness becomes more repressed. With the aid of contemporary developments in sociological theory and research, it is now possible to address and resist the dominance of the instrumental life-world (both in practice and in theory). Such an address and examination requires, first of all, an acknowledgement ofthe problem. This is the task I set myself in this paper. As any strong recognition of the problem also points to ways that the problem can and needs to be responded to, the irrelevance of rurality (as a sociological conception) no longer needs t o be accepted or lamented; rurality as a concept and as a distinct experience can be rehabilitated. This is the task of another work (Bonner, 1997).


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Appendix Acknowledging the poststructuralist critique of modern thinking (Scott, 1990:134-481,this re-examination of the rural-urban discourse in sociology will not attempt to develop an essentialist definition of rurality. Rather my analysis is concerned with the meaning of the attempts t o develop a unitary concept of rurality which involves teasing out the way the negations and oppositions, suppressed in the concept, operate in the texts of Marx, Tonnies, and Weber. Using a configuration of phenomenology (Berger et. al., 1974;Garfinkel, 19671,hermeneutics (Gadamer, 19751, and dialectical analysis (Blum and McHugh, 1974;19841,my approach draws on the theories and methods which acknowledge the linguistic turn (Dallmayer and McCarthy, 1977)in human science inquiry; this is t o say that the materials (language,beliefs, reasons, statements, evidence, etc.) used to understand and represent conceptions of the ruraVurban are linguistic, public and shared by both the inquirer and the subject ofinquiry (Habermas, 1988:89-170). This interpretive orientation is radical in the sense that it explicitly acknowledges the rootednessof all inquiry in interpretation. Because of this rootedness,self-reflectionis understood t o be an essential component of this process of inquiry (Blum and McHugh, 1984).That is, reflexivity is not just an everyday capacity; it also needs t o be intrinsic to the process of inquiry in the human sciences. Procedurally speaking, reflexivity means that as the inquirer takes into account reflections on the issue of the urban-rural difference, he or she must also be able t o take into account the inquirers own reflections on these reflections. For example, as I take into account Webers reflections on the rural-urban difference, I also need t o take into account Webers relation to reflexivity. In Gadamers terms, the inquiry must be able to comprehend the way it comprehends its subject matter (1975: 333-41). This paper therefore seeks to show that these recent developments in human science inquiry (configured by the name of radical interpretive sociology), can show the way a particular historical and cultural interest (engaging otherness and questioning limits) structures the rural-urban discourse, thus demonstrating the way the principle of effectivehistory (Gadamer, 1975:267-74) operates in all understanding.

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