Michael Mann Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Incoherent Empire: Conversation with Michael Mann, Professor of Sociology, UCLA, February 27, 2004, by Harry Kreisler

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One final question. What would you tell students about how comparative historical sociology can contribute to policy debates like the ones we're having now about what to do after 9/11?

Firstly, all American students should know that a world exists beyond America. British students should know that a world exists beyond Britain. To know how other parts of the world live and think is extraordinarily desirable for whatever branch of work students are likely to go into later, whether it's public administration, business, or whatever, and to develop real knowledge of what Arabs are like, or Indians, or Chinese, or whatever. This is the basic justification for comparative [studies], that is, looking at other countries and not taking our own country as the limits of our vision.

And history? Well, I find history entertaining; not everybody does. But as well as that, it is instructive, it shows you the follies of human beings, and we can think a little bit about how we might not repeat them.

And the sociology?

Sociology is the queen of the social sciences, which brings all these things together.

On that very positive note after this lengthy discussion of our incoherent empire, Michael, I want to thank you very much for taking the time for being on our program today.

Thank you for inviting me.

And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation with History.

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