The Privacy of Public Sociology

I’ve spent the last couple of hours compiling a reading list for the book project about public sociology I’m planning. I’ve been using Albert Tzeng’s invaluable resource on Sociological Imagination as a starting point, extending it through google scholar and supplemented by the notes I’ve been intermittently taking over the last year. It’s astonishing quite how much of this literature I’m unable to access. Obviously this just reflects the broader landscape of scholarly publishing but there’s still something which seems off about this given the subject matter.

Or so I find myself writing, indignantly and righteously, seemingly oblivious to the fact that if and when the book I’m proposing sees the light of day, it too will be inaccessible to many. Perhaps I should write it and release it on my website? But as much as I’m loathe to admit it, I both need and (more unsettlingly) want the credentialization this planned monograph would confer. Some variation upon this dilemma probably explains much of the placement of these pieces behind paywalls. So who am I to criticise? Instead, I’ll record these anxieties and move on, acquiescing to and arguably entrenching the very structures which my planned book both directly and indirectly critiques. Sociology helps me understand this ‘trap’, as Mills would put it, but it doesn’t help me negotiate it or even to live with it. It does however give me a lead in to an awesomely naval gazing introduction to the book if the proposal gets accepted.


It’s also striking quite how voluminous this literature has become. It’s hard not to see this as symptomatic of pretty much everything that’s wrong with contemporary sociology. I say while nonetheless continuing to plan my own contribution to this literature. Hmm.


One final thought: how long will it be until one of the publishers sues google over scholar automatically offering PDF links where these are available? This hasn’t been very helpful for the public sociology literature up until 2008 on Albert’s bibliography but a substantial quantity of the papers I wanted to read but couldn’t get access to have been offered to me by google scholar. Thanks google.

One thought on “The Privacy of Public Sociology

  1. I’d try Pay the Piper their due (gotta dance wit da one et brought ya), and ultimately convey what certain designs clearly imply, even if implicating official ‘process’ as an object critiqued. A court jesters strategy, limpid characterization before the king while engaging common sensibilities and open conclusions, alternatives, impossibilities, frauds, ridicules, farces, undermining or being undermined by the very Topic under discussion. Slippery Proteus dares the grasp.

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