Conclusion: Urban Sociology, Capitalism and Modernity
The past twenty years have witnessed a growing doubt about the status of scientific knowledge. The problem, the philosophers observe, is one of finding some foundational grounding for affirming knowledge true and certain. Enlightenment philosophers of the eighteenth-century believed in the capacity of Reason to understand the world, whereupon planned interventions might secure human Progress. Western social thought developed largely under the wing of such a modern rationalist view, though there was always philosophical dissent. Today, the dissenters are in the majority. Post-modernists and post-structuralists deny that there can be any grounds for sustaining the narrative of Progress, of a singular, universal and developing core of knowledge to which science once pretended. We live in an age of radical doubt. While this condition might seem to undermine traditional histories of science as steadily approaching perfect understanding, it makes little difference to giving an account of urban sociology, which has always been characterised by discontinuity, uncertainty and rediscovery.
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