Overcoming Sociological Narcissism. The Heterogeneous Landscape of Public Action

Oksana Zaporozhets

Abstract


It seems to me that in the conversation about public sociology today we should discuss the actual experiences of public activity of different social scientists, artists, and activists, and also think about the competences required for such activity. This is more appropriate than abstract theorizing on the public nature of sociology or designing normative scenarios, for example by legislating that our mission is to turn the supposedly confused and incompetent activists of NGOs into professional sociologists (an idea that was expressed in one of the numerous debates on this topic). Reducing the discussion to abstract models or normative courses of action only serves to emphasize sociologists’ desire to preserve the status quo and their expert position, and also to limit the debate to their own professional community. In my view, charting the current spectrum of public actions and mapping existing practices are much more productive ways to reach a better understanding of our situation. Opting for this perspective, I will concentrate on those questions that I consider relevant to the debate about public sociology as it has been developing in the professional community.

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