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Public sociology in the age of Obama

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This article begins by describing the genesis of the idea of public sociology to better assess its meaning and significance. I then move from the particular account to a general formulation of the four types of knowledge that comprise the sociological field and its division of labor. All four types of knowledge are necessary ingredients for a flourishing discipline. From the general I return to the particular, pointing out different national expressions of this division of sociological labor and the conflicts they engender. Antagonisms notwithstanding, sociologists do share a distinctive project rooted in the defense and expansion of civil society, which brings me to the final point. With their roots in civil society, sociologists have a stake in responses to market fundamentalism and the economic crises it has caused. Inspired by these eventful times, public sociologists can now emerge from their academic shells to take their place in shaping the direction of society.

Keywords: division of labor; markets; public sociology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of California, Berkeley, CA, United States

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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