Towards a New Normal: Emergent Elites and Feminist Scholarship


Stephen Turner’s rich and informative history navigates the complex and changing landscape of American Sociology. He discusses how political, social, and academic conditions enabled varying forms of sociology and what epistemological and methodological impacts these conditions had on different schools of sociology. Turner’s book asks readers to reflect on what sociology is and what place elite and nonelite sociology should have in the discipline. Turner emphasizes the role of feminist sociology and “activist scholarship,” arguing that current sociology is one where we have in part returned to our early 20th century reformist roots. This paper expands Turner’s conversation about the contributions of feminist sociology. I offer this critique to function as an entry point through which to contemplate what elite sociology is, and how it relates to feminist sociology. I argue that Turner under-explores the contributions of feminist sociology by reducing its contributions to advocacy-based scholarship. By placing feminist sociology in opposition to elite sociology, he simplifies the important discussion of elite sociology, and loses sight of feminist sociology’s theoretical and methodological strengths. Highlighting aspects of intersectional theory and institutional ethnography, I argue that new elites have emerged in opposition, contrast, and conjunction to the elite that Turner describes, and I hope to further a dialogue on what constitutes “elite” sociology.

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I would like to thank Stephen Turner for inviting me to critically reflect on his book and the history he presents. I also thank Linda Derksen, Neil McLaughlin, Hae Yeon Choo, and Zaheer Baber for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. All errors remain mine.

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Correspondence to Katelin Albert.

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Albert, K. Towards a New Normal: Emergent Elites and Feminist Scholarship. Am Soc 46, 29–39 (2015).

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  • Feminist sociology
  • Intersectionality
  • Institutional ethnography
  • Sociologists for women in society
  • Elite sociology