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Robert Owen in the History of the Social Sciences: Three Presentist Views


  • Adomas Pūras


This paper argues that the present-day disagreements over the right course for sociology and its public role are reflected and paralleled in contemporary historiography of Robert Owen, British social reformer and a self-described social scientist. Historical accounts, written from the perspectives of public sociology, “pure science” sociology, and anti-Marxism, interpret Owen's historical role in mutually antithetical and self-serving ways. Contrasting the three presentist accounts, I engage in an analysis of “techniques of presentism”—history-structuring concepts, such as “disciplinary founder” and “disciplinary prehistory,” that allow presentist authors to get their effects. Along the way, I elaborate Peter Baehr's classification of sociology's founders.