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Abandon canon in American sociology

Anson Au (Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada) (Department of Sociology and Department of Chinese Literature, National Sun Yat-sen University, Kaohsiung City, Taiwan)

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

ISSN: 0144-333X

Article publication date: 28 May 2019

Issue publication date: 28 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to challenge the practice of having, using and constructing any canon in sociological theory. This paper argues that the elitism of American sociology and the forms of inequality it engenders are sustained by the construction of a canon itself.


This paper adopts a conceptual approach to examine the problems of research practice, academic writing, inequality and empirical translation that canonical thinking engenders within the academy and beyond.


Reflecting on the problems outlined, this paper articulates a more democratic agenda for treating canon in research and education by drawing upon standards of practice in ethnography, participatory action research and Southern Theory.


This paper interrogates the relations of domination that remain at work in the discipline and that which concern the elite position of American sociology itself.



The author is grateful to the editor as well as the anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of the paper.


Au, A. (2019), "Abandon canon in American sociology", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 39 No. 5/6, pp. 494-504.



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