The Missing Memory of Canadian Sociology: Reflexive Government and "the Social Science"
The modest literature on the history of Canadian Sociology takes the appearance of a named academic discipline as its object. Canadian Sociology is held to have had some precursors in the 1880s, but really to appear only in the 1920s. It is described as a foreign import and as an activity first of intellectual speculation and moral reform. Observational and analytic practice are absent before 1880. The activities of state agents and government departments in the social field are not discussed. This article offers a richer account through an examination of the larger field from which Sociology was extracted, "the social science," which was practiced actively in colonial Canada from the early nineteenth century. The social science shaped and was itself shaped by colonial conditions. The article outlines three interrelated moments in social science to carry its claims: inventory-making, the emergence of "population-thinking," and "reflexive government." Attending to the social science underlines the complex and convoluted relations of sociology with state power.