The American Sociologist

, Volume 36, Issue 3–4, pp 133–151 | Cite as

Why sociology does not need to be saved: Analytic reflections on public sociologies

  • Neil McLaughlin
  • Lisa Kowalchuk
  • Kerry Turcotte
Article

Abstract

After reviewing the debate about public sociologies in the American Sociological Association over the past few years, we offer a response to calls for “saving sociology” from the Burawoy approach as well as an analytic critique of the former ASA president's “For Public Sociology” address. While being sympathetic to the basic idea of public sociologies, we argue that the “reflexive” and “critical” categories of sociology, as Burawoy has conceptualized them, are too ambiguous and value-laden to allow for empirical investigation of the different major orientations of sociological research and the ways the discipline can address non-academic audiences. Debates about the future of sociology should be undertaken with empirical evidence, and we need a theoretical approach that can allow us to compare both disciplines and nations as well as taking into account the institutional context of the universities in which we operate. Research into the conditions under which professional, critical, policy, and public sociologies could work together for the larger disciplinary and societal good is called for instead of overheated rhetoric both for and against public sociologies.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abrams, P. 1968. The Origins of British Sociology: 1834–1914. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  2. Acker, J. 2005. “Comments on Burawoy on Public Sociology.” Critical Sociology 31(3): 327–332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. and Sanford, R.N. 1950. The Authoritarian Personality. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  4. Ally, Shireen. 2005. “Oppositional Intellectualism as a Reflection, not Rejection, of Power: Witts Sociology, 1975–1989,” paper presented at the American Sociological Association meetings, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  5. Anderson, E. 2002. “The Ideologically Driven Critique.” American Journal of Sociology 107 (6): 1533–1550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Aronowitz, S. 2005. “Comments on Michael Burawoy's ‘The Critical Turn in Public Sociology.’” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 333–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bailey, G. and Gayle, N. 1993. Sociology: An Introduction From the Classics to Contemporary Feminists. Toronto: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Baiocchi, G. 2005. “Interrogating Connections: From Public Criticisms to Critical Publics in Burawoy's Public Sociology.” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 339–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Beck, U. 2005. “How Not to Become a Museum Piece. The British Journal of Sociology. 56(3): 335–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bourdieu, P. 1984. Homo Academicus. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. —, and Wacquant, L. 1992. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  12. Brady, D. 2004. “Why Public Sociologies May Fail.” Social Forces 82 (4): 1629–1638.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Braithwaite, J. 2005. “For Public Social Science.” The British Journal of Sociology. 56(3):345–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Brewer, Rose M. 2005. “Response to Michael Burawoy's Commentary: ‘The Critical Turn to Public Sociology.’” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 353–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Burawoy, M. 2004a. “Public Sociologies: Contradictions, Dilemmas, and Possibilities.” Social Forces 82 (4): 1603–1618.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. -. 2004b. “South Africanizing U.S. Sociology.” From the Left, Newsletter of the Marxist Section of the ASA.Google Scholar
  17. —. 2004c. “Introduction: Public Sociologies: A Symposium from Boston College.” Social Problems 51(1): 103–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. —. 2004d. “Manifesto for Public Sociologies.” Social Problems 51(1): 124–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. —. 2005a. “2004 Presidential Address: For Public Sociology.” American Sociological Review 70 (1): 4–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. —. 2005b. Provincializing the Social Sciences. G. Steinmetz, editor, The Politics of Method in the Human Sciences: Positivism and its Epistemological Others. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  21. —. 2005c. “The Critical Turn to Public Sociology.” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 313–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. —. 2005d. “Rejoinder: Toward a Critical Public Sociology.” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 379–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. —, Gamson, Ryan, Pfohl, Vaughan, Derber, Schor. 2004. “Public Sociologies: A Symposium from Boston College.” Social Problems: 51:1:103–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Bute, M. 2005. Public Sociology: Aristocratic or Populist? Paper presented at the American Sociological Meetings, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  25. Calhoun, C. 2005. “The Promise of Public Sociology.” British Journal of Sociology. 56(3): 355–363.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Chriss, J.J. 1999. Alvin Gouldner: Sociologist and Outlaw Marxist. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.Google Scholar
  27. Deflem, M. 2004a. Save Sociology, http://www.savesociology.org. Accessed August 10, 2005.Google Scholar
  28. -. 2004b. Sociology and Politics, www.cas.sc.edu/socy/faculty/deflem/ savesociology/00socpolitics.html. Accessed August 10, 2005.Google Scholar
  29. -. 2004c. Public Sociology, www.cas.sc.edu/socy/faculty/deflem/savesociology/02publicsociology.html. Accessed August 10, 2005.Google Scholar
  30. —. 2004d. “There's the ASA, but Where's the Sociology?” Footnotes 32 (6): 9.Google Scholar
  31. Derber, C. 2004. “Public Sociology as a Vocation.” Social Problems 51(1): 119–121.Google Scholar
  32. Duneier, M. 2002. “What Kind of Combat Sport is Sociology?” American Journal of Sociology 107 (6): 1551–1576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Ericson, R. 2005. “Publicizing Sociology.” The British Journal of Sociology 56(3): 365–372.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Etzioni, A. 2005. “Bookmarks for Public Sociologists.” The British Journal of Sociology 56(3):373–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Farganis, J. 1996. Readings in Sociological Theory: The Classic Tradition to Post-Modernism. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  36. Fuchs, S. 2002. “A Review Essay on Making Social Sciences Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again.” Sociological Theory 20 (1): 131–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. —. 2000. The Professional Quest for Truth: A Social Theory of Science and Knowledge. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  38. Fuller, S. 2000. “A Very Qualified Success, Indeed: The Case of Anthony Giddens and British Sociology.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 25 (4): 507–516.Google Scholar
  39. -. 2004. Kuhn vs Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Social Science. Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Gamson, W. 2004. “Life on the Interface.” Social Problems 51(1): 106–110.Google Scholar
  41. Ghamari-Tabrizi, B. 2005. “Can Burawoy Make Everybody Happy? Comments on Public Sociology.” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 361–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Giddens, A. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Gouldner, A. 1970. The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology. New York: Avon.Google Scholar
  44. Gramsci, A. 1971. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. New York: International Publications.Google Scholar
  45. Hall, J.A. 2005. “A Guarded Welcome.” The British Journal of Sociology 56(3): 379–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Halliday, T. 1992. “Introduction: Sociology's Fragile Professionalism.” T. Halliday and M. Janowitz, (eds.), Sociology and Its Publics: The Forms and Fates of Disciplinary Organization. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  47. Halsey, A.H. 2004. A History of Sociology in Britain: Science, Literature, and Society. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Katz-Fishman, W. and Scott, J. 2005. “Comments on Burawoy: A View From the Bottom-Up.” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 371–374.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Light, D. 2005. “Contributing to Scholarship and Theory through Public Sociology.” Social Forces 83(4): 1647–1654.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Lynch, M. 2000. “Against Reflexivity as an Academic Virtue and Source of Privileged Knowledge.” Theory, Culture, and Society. 17(3): 26–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. McLaughlin, N.G. 1998. “Why Do Schools of Thought Fail? Neo-Freudianism as a Case Study in the Sociology of Knowledge.” Journal of the History of the Behavioural Sciences 34 (2): 113–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. —. 1999. “Origin Myths in the Social Sciences: Fromm, the Frankfurt School and the Emergence of Critical Theory.” The Canadian Journal of Sociology 24 (1): 109–139.Google Scholar
  53. —. 2004. “A Canadian Rejoinder: Sociology North and South of the Border.” American Sociologist 35(1): 80–101.Google Scholar
  54. —. 2005. “Canada's Impossible Science: Historical and Institutional Origins of the Coming Crisis in Anglo-Canadian Sociology.” Canadian Journal of Sociology 30 (1): 1–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. McGee, M. 2005. Self-Help, Inc: Makeover Culture in American Life. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  56. Mills, C.W. 1959. The Sociological Imagination. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  57. Neilsen, F. 2004. “The Vacant ‘We’: Remarks on Public Sociology.” Social Forces 82 (4): 1619–1627.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Newman, K. 2002. “No Shame: The View from the Left Bank.” American Journal of Sociology 107 (6): 1577–1599.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nisbet, R. 1966. The Sociological Tradition. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  60. —. 1976. Sociology as an Art Form. London: Heinneman.Google Scholar
  61. Oakes, G. and Vidich, A.J. 1999. Collaboration, Reputation, and Ethics in American Academic Life: Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills. Chicago, IL: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  62. Park, D.W. 2004. “The Couch and the Clinic: The Cultural Authority of Popular Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis.” Cultural Studies 18 (1): 109–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pfohl, S. 2004. “Blessings and Curses in the Sociology Classroom.” Social Problems 51(1): 113–115.Google Scholar
  64. Platt, J. 2003. The British Sociological Association: A Sociological History. Durham, UK: Sociologypress.Google Scholar
  65. Riesman, D. [1954] 1993. Abundance for What? And Other Essays. New Jersey: Transaction Press.Google Scholar
  66. Ritzer, G. 2000a. Modern Sociological Theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  67. —. 2000b. Sociological Theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  68. Ryan, C. 2004. Can We Be Companeros? Social Problems 51(1): 110–113.Google Scholar
  69. Schor, J. 2004. “From Obscurity to ‘People Magazine.’” Social Problems 51(1): 121–124.Google Scholar
  70. Scott, J. 2005. “Who Will Speak, and Who Will Listen? Comments on Burawoy and Public Sociology.” The British Journal of Sociology. 56(3): 405–409.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Smith, D.E. 1991. The Everyday World as Problematic: A Feminist Sociology. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  72. —. 1995. The Conceptual Practices of Power: A Feminist Sociology of Knowledge. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.Google Scholar
  73. Stacey, J. 2004. “Marital Suitors Court Social Science Spin-sters: The Unwittingly Conservative Effects of Public Sociology.” Social Problems. 51(1): 131–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Steinberg, S. 1995. Turning Back: The Retreat From Racial Justice in American Thought and Policy. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  75. Swartz, D. 2003. “From Critical Sociology to Public Intellectual: Pierre Bourdieu and Politics.” Theory and Society 32: 791–823.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Tittle, C. 2004. “The Arrogance of Public Sociology.” Social Forces 82 (4): 1639–1643.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Turner, J. 2005. “Foundations of Sociology: In Search of the Disciplinary Core.” Paper presented at the American Sociological Association meetings, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  78. Turner, S. and Turner, J. 1990. The Impossible Science: An Institutional Analysis of American Sociology. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  79. Urry, John. 2005. “The Good News and the Bad News.” Critical Sociology 31 (3): 375–378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Vaughn, D. 2004. “Public Sociologist by Accident.” Social Problems 51(1): 115–118.Google Scholar
  81. —. 2005. “On the Relevance of Ethnography for the Production of Public Sociology and Policy.” The British Journal of Sociology 56(3): 411–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Wacquant, L. 2002. “Scrutinizing the Streets: Poverty, Morality, and the Pitfalls of Urban Ethnography.” American Journal of Sociology 107 (6): 1468–1532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Walzer, M. 1988. The Company of Critics. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  84. Whitely, R. 1984. The Intellectual and Social Organization of the Sciences. Oxford Clarendon.Google Scholar
  85. Wiggerhaus, Rolf. 1994. The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  86. Wolfe, A. 1989. Whose Keeper? Social Science and Moral Obligation. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  87. —. 1998. Marginalized in the Middle. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  88. —. 2003. An Intellectual in Public. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Transaction Publishers 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil McLaughlin
  • Lisa Kowalchuk
  • Kerry Turcotte

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations