Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-First Century

Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-First Century

Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-First Century

Public Sociology: Fifteen Eminent Sociologists Debate Politics and the Profession in the Twenty-First Century

Synopsis

In 2004, Michael Burawoy, speaking as president of the American Sociological Association, generated far-reaching controversy when he issued an ambitious and impassioned call for a "public sociology." Burawoy argued that sociology should speak beyond the university, engaging with social movements and deepening an understanding of the historical and social context in which they exist. In this volume, renowned sociologists come together to debate the perils and the potentials of Burawoy's challenge.

Contributors: Andrew Abbott, Michael Burawoy, Patricia Hill Collins, Barbara Ehrenreich, Evelyn Nakano Glenn, Sharon Hays, Douglas Massey, Joya Misra, Orlando Patterson, Frances Fox Piven, Lynn Smith-Lovin, Judith Stacey, Arthur Stinchcombe, Alain Touraine, Immanuel Wallerstein, William Julius Wilson, Robert Zussman

Excerpt

Robert Zussman and Joya Misra

The 2004 meeting of the American Sociological Association was among the most successful in the organization’s hundred-year history. Overflow crowds packed the ballrooms of the San Francisco Hilton to hear a glittering array of speakers, including economist Paul Krugman, Indian novelist Arundhati Roy, and former president of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso (himself a sociologist). the centerpiece of the meetings, however, was Michael Burawoy’s presidential address. in that address, published in the American Sociological Review and reprinted in this volume, Burawoy issued an impassioned call for a revitalization of sociology in a turn to a “public sociology,” distinguished by its use of reflexive knowledge and its appeal beyond the university. Although by no means incompatible with other forms of sociology, only public sociology, Burawoy argues, can restore sociology to its calling as an “angel of history, searching for order in the broken fragments of modernity, seeking to salvage the promise of progress.”

There is a long tradition in presidential addresses to the American Sociological Association (ASA) of reflections on the discipline and its direction. Burawoy’s address is very much a part of this tradition. in his reflections on the character of sociological knowledge, Burawoy situates himself in a perennial controversy that runs all the way from William Ogburn’s 1929 call for scientific sociology through Lewis Coser’s 1975 attack on methods without substance. in his reflections on the public role of sociology, he situates himself within a tradition of . . .

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