Ideology provides the cluster of basic assumptions and parameters that define the scope of reality—that is that define the boundaries within which any sort of investigation, including social scientific investigations may be organized. More importantly, it suggests the boundaries within which analysis of the data produced through the application of social scientism can be understood, explained and applied. Social scientism, much in vogue in most universities and among the social scientific disciplines combines a mania for empiricism with an underlying absolute belief in the neutrality and unassailability of numbers. If some matter can be reduced to an equation—that is to a set of mathematically arranged relationships—and if those relationships can then be illuminated through the substitution of numbers (serving as a proxy for reality) into the symbolic representation of relationships represented by the formula, then the resulting product must necessarily be reality. Combined, ideology and social scientism provides first the palette of assumption from which one can construct numerical relationships and the numerical relationships themselves that seem to prove the underlying ideological assumptions on the basis of which the numerical relationships were produced in the first place. The inevitable tautology that is the product of this inherently powerful but circular reasoning, tends to be hidden because the premises of social scientism in the service of ideology are never transparent. Assumptions in the construction of numerical relationships are crafted as second order propositions. Each is itself the inevitable choice that follows from the ideological framework from which an empirical study arises. As a consequence, it seems, social scientism is built on the proposition that the thing can prove itself, with science providing merely a legitimating technique.
This tautology and its ideology enhancing character might be illustrated with a small but perhaps telling example. The ideology of the state is currently pervasive. It posits that the state (and those multi-state entities created by and which serve the interests of states) is the highest expression of political will, and holds a monopoly of power over individuals and things. Though it may be constrained in the deployment of that power, such constraints merely emphasize the all-encompassing nature of state power. State power is evidenced by law which is itself both an object that can only be created by states and which cannot exit apart from the state. Law is accorded a singularly important place in the ordering and control of human and institutional behavior, and is itself legitimated both from its relationship to the state and from the conformity of its creation to those rules which states have agreed serve as a marker of legitimate production (rule of law ideals). Yet states are not the only entities that create rules that bind people and other groups, and the state is not the only enterprise that produces rules that are obeyed. But the ideology of the state requires that those rules be denominated by another name—both to distinguish them from the products of states and to situate them within a hierarchy of obedience that is meant to be somewhere below that of state produced “law.” Where there is a compete identity between territory and rule making it was possible to maintain a working allegiance to this ideology without creating tension between ideology and reality. But in the face of globalization, there are now many spaces where the only rules that bind are those produced by groups and entities that are not states, nor other organs of collective state power. Yet the ideology of the state produces in the social scientists, and the lawyer, a blindness to the consequences, where that blindness is necessary to preserve the power of the ideology to order reality. And so, in the service of the state, for example, social scientism may be called in to survey the paucity of law with respect to a particular governance area—grounded that survey on the distinctions between the rule-products of states and other rules. The result will necessarily show both the paucity of law and the need to extend law to those governance areas where law is absent. But that conclusion must necessarily follow from the presumptions of state ideology that posit both the necessity of law and the basis for regulation and the rule of the state in the production of law.
Taxonomies are important not merely for producing an organization of “things” that makes the world and the relationship among things easier to order, and to understand. It also, by doing precisely what it was meant to do, also produces the structures through which ideology can be applied, and reified, within the fact-producing universe of social scientism. Yet in doing so it also exposes the contingency of social science’s “facts.” And thus the ultimate power of facts, in the form of relationships derived from data generation and proven by the reduction of behaviors to the accumulation of relational record keeping, is not merely to reinforce ideology by masquerading as something they are not—facts existing beyond the context of the knowledge structures through which they are produced—but in managing those who are the recipients of this information (politicians, lawyers, the public, technocrats, etc.). And that, of course, is the ultimate purpose not of data driven social scientism, but of the ideology in the service of which such scientism is necessarily deployed. Backer, Larry Catá, Global Panopticism: States, Corporations and the Governance Effects of Monitoring Regimes. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 15, 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1081242.
Thus, consider the problem of the “fact” of the corporation. Something that is on its surface easy to discern becomes impossibly problematic once conflicting ideological structures are brought to bear on the question. If one were to adhere strictly to the ideology of the state, the corporation cannot exist except as a reflection of the state. Is this certainly the fundamental understanding in Stalinist and Maoist Marxist Leninism. The Cuban Marxists understand the corporation as the state in form, but detached for the use in particular purposes. In the West, this notion heavily influences the idea that corporations are no more than the receptacle of privileges given it by the state in whose service it is to be used. This “fact” produces significant consequences—from the judgment that corporations may have only such constitutional privileges as derive from constitutional rights bearing beings (the idea commonly held in European human rights jurisprudence) or that such rights are limited to the protection of the property of such being held in corporate form (once an important measure in the United States), or that the corporation cannot be more than property in the hands of its shareholders (a view still widely held in the United States). The ideological structure influences the focus of vision. So focused, social scientism can be deployed, for example in the form of so-called “Chicago School” or “Law and Economics” empiricism, producing facts driven by and in the service of the ideological presumptions from which they derive. The same, of course, applies to the institutional ideologies of globalization that has recently provided a challenge to the state based ideology of corporate organization. Backer, Larry Catá, The Corporation as Semiosis, 'Citizens United,' the Signification of the Corporate Enterprise and the Development of Law (February, 28 2012). CPE Working Paper No. 2012-2. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2012569.
Backer, Larry Catá, Governance Without Government: An Overview and Application of Interactions Between Law-State and Governance-Corporate Systems (March 1, 2010). Penn State Legal Studies Research 10-2010. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1568934 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1568934
Backer, Larry Catá, The Corporation as Semiosis, 'Citizens United,' the Signification of the Corporate Enterprise and the Development of Law (February, 28 2012). CPE Working Paper No. 2012-2. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2012569.
Backer, Larry Catá, Global Panopticism: States, Corporations and the Governance Effects of Monitoring Regimes. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 15, 2007. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1081242