Enriching the Sociological Imagination: How Radical Sociology Changed the Discipline

Enriching the Sociological Imagination: How Radical Sociology Changed the Discipline

Enriching the Sociological Imagination: How Radical Sociology Changed the Discipline

Enriching the Sociological Imagination: How Radical Sociology Changed the Discipline

Synopsis

This book presents classical articles influencing the field that appeared in The Insurgent Sociologist, along with current reflections by the original authors. These selections reflect radical sociology's continuing interest in capitalist development, class, race, gender, and power. The introduction contextualizes the role of The Insurgent Sociologist in the development of a radical sociology and its impact on the discipline. The conclusion provides an agenda for how the next version of critical sociology should relate to and strengthen the heterogeneous world of civil society. Never have so many prominent sociologists provided such a rare intellectual treat by being so frank about their own past work, and then suggest how we can do better in the future to provide frameworks for a critical and relevant sociology.

Excerpt

The 21st Century began with a very different political and social environment when compared with most of the last century: Capitalism as a system evolved from national and rapacious, to international and imperial, to global and invasive. The revolutionary workers' movements at the start of the last century, with its hopes for international solidarity in the struggle against capitalism begun at the end the 19th Century, culminating in the Russian Revolution of Workers and Peasants in 1917 and the Chinese Revolution in 1949, faded by the end of the 20th Century with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and with China experimenting with a “people's capitalism”. The social welfare gains won in industrial Europe and to some extent the United States have been eroded in the name of liberal deregulation, international competition, and global rationalization. The Third World is much worse off both relatively and in most cases even absolutely as developed countries, that had promised spreading of the wealth, have turn their backs – or perhaps have never made a full effort to improve these countries economically.

For the last 35 years scholars associated with the Insurgent Sociologist, and more recently Critical Sociology, have sought to both understand and change the social, political and economic climate of this society (and by extension how our society impacts on the rest of the world). As Rhonda Levine's Introduction to this volume chronicles, the journal charts a journey that brings radical and critical thinking into the mainstream of sociology. In 1999 a decision was made to celebrate 25 years of articles in the journal that helped shape the academic landscape and created a whole generation of scholars by publishing a retrospective issue with updated commentary by the original authors. The response was very positive and many people asked how this issue could be made more widely available. After discussions with Joed Elich at Brill Academic Press, and with the recognition that the time is right to provide an outlet for new critical writings, this series was created. It is dedicated to publishing expanded versions of recent special issues of Critical Sociology as well as new books and collections of essays.

We launch the series with this volume, a update of Critical Sociology 25:2/3 to reflect on 30 years of critical scholarship, because we believe we can look forward by looking back. In addition, this first volume ends with a challenge that critical sociologists – who have managed to bring radical thinking into the mainstream – should now bring their analysis of contemporary society . . .

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