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This chapter critically considers two conceptions of sociological labor as they have recently been articulated in two competing visions for public sociology. I use the…
This chapter critically considers two conceptions of sociological labor as they have recently been articulated in two competing visions for public sociology. I use the contrast between Ben Agger's and Michael Burawoy's recent professions of public sociology as a lens through which to critically understand the way in which the narratives produced by sociological labor govern the emergence of knowledge, which would be the basis of transformation.
The prospect of public sociology is beginning to be widely discussed and debated. Critics put forth several reasons for skepticism, one of which is that the program of public sociology, under the leadership of Michael Burawoy, will infect sociology with a Marxist drift. This paper examines whether this drift in fact comports with Marx's ideas on the relationship between scientific knowledge, the role of intellectuals in the class struggle, and the type of political action he advocated. It finds that critics are fundamentally mistaken about the extent to which Marx's ideas are expressed in public sociology's program.
Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to explore the differing ways in which emancipation is conceived by (Burawoy, 2004) four types of sociology: professional, public…
Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to explore the differing ways in which emancipation is conceived by (Burawoy, 2004) four types of sociology: professional, public, critical and policy. The chapter argues that taken in isolation these sociologies generate issues in research that can only be resolved by reference to the activities of other branches of the sociological enterprise.
Approach – The chapter starts with a conflict of values in public sociological research, where the researcher is confronted with respondents whose ‘voice’ is characterised as racist.
Findings – The chapter argues that whilst public sociology attempts to provide voice to marginalised social groups it often makes arbitrary judgments over the palatability of certain voices, preferring voices sympathetic to the sociological enterprise over populist voices. The nuance here is illustrated as a tension between public and critical sociology that is often overlooked in the literature.
Research implications – The chapter argues that to successfully make sociological judgments to marshal between divergent voices, public sociology needs to re-discover its relationship with professional sociology, in terms of its engagement with political normativity and uses of evidence. Ultimately, for the sociological enterprise to be emancipatory it has to have a functioning interdependence between its four main activities.
We argue that by conducting systematic research with communities rather than on communities, community-based research (CBR) methods can both advance the study of human…
We argue that by conducting systematic research with communities rather than on communities, community-based research (CBR) methods can both advance the study of human interaction and strengthen public understanding and appreciation of social sciences. CBR, among other methods, can also address social scientists’ ethical and social commitments. We recap the history of calls by leading sociologists for rigorous, empirical, community-engaged research. We introduce CBR methods as empirically grounded methods for conducting social research with social actors. We define terms and describe the range of methods that we include in the umbrella term, “community-based research.” After providing exemplars of community-based research, we review CBR’s advantages and challenges. We, next, summarize an intervention that we undertook as members of the Publication Committee of the URBAN Research Network’s Sociology section in which the committee developed and disseminated guidelines for peer review of community-based research. We also share initial responses from journal editors. In the conclusion, we revisit the potential of community-based research and note the consequences of neglecting community-based research traditions.
A reinvigorated social theory based on the social philosophy of John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, William James, and others has begun to make significant contributions to…
A reinvigorated social theory based on the social philosophy of John Dewey, George Herbert Mead, William James, and others has begun to make significant contributions to the study of human societies. The so-called “Pragmatic Turn” in philosophy and social theory, associated especially with Richard Rorty and Hans Joas, has drawn our attention to the role of habit and creativity in social action. This chapter reviews some of these trends, but argues that the modern revival of neopragmatism sidesteps many of the core insights of the classical pragmatists. Relating the issue to Michael Burawoy's call for “public sociology,” and drawing on the pragmatism of C. Wright Mills, a critical public pragmatism would seek to provide the preconditions for democracy via the cultivation of a public that valued what Dewey called “creative intelligence,” and what Mills called “the sociological imagination.”
This paper endeavours to translate Peirce's ideas into paradigmatic sociological theory in general, and praxis linked to that paradigmatic theory. Greater comprehension of…
This paper endeavours to translate Peirce's ideas into paradigmatic sociological theory in general, and praxis linked to that paradigmatic theory. Greater comprehension of the general usefulness of a Peircian Pragmaticist semiotic perspective (and ‘fallibilism’) will enhance social action and collective responsibilities. As a philosopher, C. S. Peirce interpreted the world, but he himself did not attempt to change it. How can we incorporate a unifying ‘perspective’ such as Peirce's theory into ‘method’ (both methodology and techniques)? How does that an emphasis on methodology improves sociology as an empirically based, rigorous discipline (a human ‘science’) and various forms of praxis, especially applied sociology and public sociology? If politics is going to have any long-term impact, there has to be a degree of sophistication about the theories involved (e.g. conservation of fundamental human rights and liberties, reform within liberal parliamentary democracies, transformation within neo-conservative regimes, applied sociology in professions and occupations like social work and criminology, Feminist critique and action, GLTB action, neo-Gramscian critiques and Michael Burawoy's ‘public sociology’ in the narrow, technical sense.) Praxis can include many forms of political activity that are not specifically informed by any well-developed and coherent theory. In terms of Peirce's Pragmaticist semiotics, we can translate theoretical awareness into praxis, to interpret and to change the world. Good theory and methodology is the most practical way to promote useful social action, applied sociology and public sociology. Anything less than Peircian Pragmaticism and semiotics tends to lead to fragmentation of ‘paradigms’ or postmodernist nihilism.
As the social scientists of modern society, sociologists find themselves in a peculiar situation. Human civilization appears on the brink of collapse; the ravages of…
As the social scientists of modern society, sociologists find themselves in a peculiar situation. Human civilization appears on the brink of collapse; the ravages of global capitalism are turning natural and social orders upside down. Some theorists are declaring the “end of history,” while others wonder if humans will soon become extinct. People find themselves increasingly shouldering burdens on their own, strangers to themselves and others. Struggles for recognition and identity are forged in harsh landscapes of social dislocation and inequality. The relationship of the individual to the state atrophies as governmental power becomes at once more remote and absolutely terrifying. How are we as sociologists expected to theorize under such circumstances? What implications result for the mission of sociology as a discipline and area of study? What political initiatives, if any, can counter these trends?
This chapter provides an immanent critique of sociology as a profession, vocation, and critical practice. Sociology today (in the US and around the globe) faces fierce social, economic, and political headwinds. The discipline continues to be a perilous choice as a vocation for independent researchers as much as the shrinking professoriate. Yet while the traditional functions of sociology are thrown into doubt, there has been an increase in critical practices on the part of some sociologists. As institutional norms, values, and traditions continue to be challenged, there will be passionate debates about the production of social worlds and the validity claims involved in such creation. Sociologists must play an active role in such discourse. Sociology is needed today as a mode of intervention as much as occupational status system or method of inquiry.
This chapter introduces readers to a complex adaptive systems approach for integrating research on genes, behavior, and social structures/institutions. Until recently…
This chapter introduces readers to a complex adaptive systems approach for integrating research on genes, behavior, and social structures/institutions. Until recently, scientists have resorted to reductionism as a decoding and epistemological strategy for understanding human health. The complex bonds among health’s biological, behavioral, and social dimensions, however, cannot be fully grasped with reductionist schemas. Moreover, because reducing and simplifying can lead to incomplete understanding of phenomena, the resulting deficient knowledge has the potential to be harmful.
To achieve its purpose, this primer will: (1) introduce fundamental notions from complexity science, useful for inquiry and practice integrating research on genes, behavior, and social structures; (2) outline selected methodological strategies employed in studying complex adaptive/dynamic systems; (3) address the question, “Specifically, how can a dynamic systems approach be helpful for integrating research on genes, behavior, and social structures/institutions, to improve the public’s health?”; and (4) provide examples of studies currently deploying a complexity perspective.
The originality/value of this primer rests in its critique of the research status quo and the proposition of an alternative lens for integrating genomic, biomedical, and sociological research to improve the public’s health. The topic of complex adaptive/dynamic systems has begun to flourish within sociology, medicine, and public health, but many researchers lack exposure to the topic’s basic notions and applications.
The purpose of this article is to explore Maggie Kuhn's theoretical and analytical contributions to social gerontology and more broadly to the advancement of critical and…
The purpose of this article is to explore Maggie Kuhn's theoretical and analytical contributions to social gerontology and more broadly to the advancement of critical and public sociology.
This paper is an theoretical exploration of ageing. Maggie Kuhn's and the Gray Panthers theoretical contributions include analyses of, and related to: identity politics, intersectionality, cultural and media studies and the cognitive sciences, the forces and factors in the developing political economy of ageing including critiques of the ageing enterprise and the medical industrial complex, the sociology of knowledge of gerontology and globalization and world imperialism. The concluding section argues that the post‐retirement career of Maggie Kuhn was one of a Public Sociologist.
Maggie Kuhn fulfils the promise of the Project of Public Sociology, which “is to make visible the invisible, to make the private public, to validate these organic connections as part of our sociological life”. Maggie Kuhn's example moved forward the work of multiple generations of scholars. She lived and produced critical social analyses in pursuit of emancipatory knowledges. Her work is one of the earliest forms, if not the first, of critical pedagogy in gerontology; she promoted and advanced discourses of resistance. Maggie Kuhn was an engaged and outraged, practicing organic intellectual – the epitome of what bell hooks means by “teaching to transgress” and “education as the practice of freedom”. In the 24 years after her involuntary retirement, this was Maggie Kuhn's full‐time transformational agenda.
The paper looks at how the biography of Maggie Kuhn helped to engender the rise of radical social gerontology.