While traditionally trained sociologists and other academics may have once had the luxury of speaking to small audiences of specialized experts, the digital era, changing economic models and pressing social problems are creating a new set of expectations, challenges and opportunities. Last week, I gave a talk about this in the Sociology Department at Rutgers University. I was there at the invitation of Professor Arlene Stein, who is both a public sociologist as editor of Contexts magazine, a quarterly magazine of the ASA that aims to be the “public face of sociology.” Stein also teaches a graduate seminar on the practice of public sociology. Here are is my slide deck from that talk (check the ‘notes’ view for links, image credits and additional resources):
The key takeaway is that sociology, as a discipline, must begin to reimagine scholarly communitcation for the public good in the digital era.
If public sociology can find a way to be digitally engaged and more fluent in the digital lexicon of the 21st century in which we find ourselves, then I believe there is hope for sociology to be a force for social good, and by that I mean, an engaged citzenry, and a more democratic and egalitarian society.
If, instead, sociology chooses to cling to a dying, legacy system of higher education, invested in status wars and internecine theoretical debates,
it will fade into irrelevancy.
The future of public sociology is up to all of us.