Radical Sociology

By J. David Colfax; Jack L. Roach | Go to book overview

Preface

IN all likelihood, this collection of articles on radical sociology will prove unpalatable to both radicals and sociologists. Nonsociologist radicals will be understandably impatient with the attention we give to the professional interests and organization of academic sociologists. Conventional sociologists will be disturbed by our effort to politicize their "science." However, this volume is addressed primarily neither to the professional nor to the nonacademic radical, but to those who occupy an ambiguous position between the practice of a sociology that claims to adhere to the norm of objectivity and the world of radical politics. These are the students, teachers, and researchers who regard themselves as sociologists, however marginal, who have become or are becoming aware of the need for a radical transformation of American society, and are searching for ways in which they, as sociologists and radicals, can contribute to that change.

Many of the questions with which these sociologists must deal have their sources in both the discipline and in the university. Is there a significant radical movement within sociology? Is it worthwhile to engage in efforts to demystify contemporary sociology, or should efforts be directed elsewhere? What are radical research and radical teaching? Is it possible to engage in radical praxis and remain in the university? How can one resist systematic institutional pressure against radicals? How can radical sociologists relate to others in the Movement? To each other? How can one assess the costs and advantages of using the university as a resource base, a staging ground, or a target of radical praxis?

There are few if any ready answers to questions such as these. Many of them may be resolved in practice and through struggle; others may be irresolvable. Growth of a radical movement outside of the university may make them superfluous. At the present time, however, the dilemmas and problems inherent in any effort to construct a genuinely radical sociology are considerable. The chapters in this volume are intended as a first step in broadening discussion, clarifying the nature of the tasks, and perhaps providing some preliminary answers.

-v-

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