119 Garland Hall
Office Hours Spring 2020:
Tuesdays & Thursdays 8:00-9:00 am
and by appointment
- Sociology of Science
Sociology of Religion
Sociology of Mental Illness
PhD, SUNY-Stony Brook, 1976
Associate Professor of Sociology
To what extent can scholarly knowledge claims be trusted?
My primary research interest involves a critical examination of several taken-for-granted knowledge claims in the fields of sociology and psychiatry. My intent is to refine our understanding of such claims and, where the evidence merits, put these claims into question.
My efforts in this regard have focused on two celebrated theses from Weber and Merton. My findings challenge a central argument of Weber’s thesis, one that links the historically larger number of Protestant to Catholic scientists to differences in the denomination’s core religious values. I argue, by reference to Germany, that denominational differences in the number of scientists are linked to the historical impact of households with Catholic celibate and Protestant noncelibate clergy. In psychiatry, my research interest focuses on the Western belief that there is a close connection between creativity and psychopathology. I challenge the dominant clinical and scholarly position which views this connection as a pervasive phenomenon with decided biological roots, independent of such factors as time, place or cultural difference.
Becker, George. 2014. "A Socio-Historical Overview of the Creativity-Pathology Connection: From Antiquity to Contemporary Times." In Creativity and Mental Illness ( ed. James C. Kaufman). Cambridge University Press: 3-24.
Becker, George. 2011. “Challenging Merton’s Protestantism—Science Hypothesis: The Historical Impact of Sacerdotal Celibacy on German Science and Scholarship.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 50(2): 351-365.
Becker, George. 2009. "The Continuing Path of Distortion: The Protestant Ethic and Max Weber's School Enrollment Statistics." Acta Sociologica 52(3): 195-212.
Becker, George. 1986. "The Fallacy of the Received Word: A reexamination of Merton’s Pietism – Science Thesis." American Journal of Sociology 91(5): 1203-1218.
Becker, George. 1984. "Pietism and Science: A Critique of Robert K. Merton’s Hypothesis." American Journal of Sociology 89: 1065-1090.
Becker, George. 1978. The Mad Genius Controversy: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance. SAGE Publications.