In our last post, Why Sociology is important, we talked about our attendance at the American Sociological Association and European Sociological Association conferences over the Summer. As well as talking to prospective authors about new book projects and showcasing our new publishing, we also spent a lot of time talking about the discipline more generally – and one of our key takeaways was the need to celebrate Sociology more:
The debate around the value of Sociology, and the social sciences generally, is nothing new and has been going on for many years. In recent times, certainly in the UK, new HE reporting structures such as the Research Excellence Framework (REF) have focused these debates even further with the emphasis on ‘impact’; and the trend to interdisciplinarity has pointed, some would argue, to a loss of Sociology’s clear identity as a stand-alone discipline.
Certainly, we work in an area where the number of sub-disciplines (from gender studies, to childhood studies, to political sociology and so on) can sometimes seem overwhelming. There is also the sense that, where some subjects have broken off to form new disciplines (Criminology, STS, and Cultural Studies), this has “weakened” Sociology as a subject in its own right.
However, we would like to be part of the conversation that frames the challenges facing Sociology in a more positive way and focuses again on the benefits and strengths of our field. As newly-elected President of the European Sociological Association Sue Scott asked in her paper at this year’s conference: “What would we lose if we didn’t have Sociology?”. When we took our Emerald Sounding Board (#Emeraldsoundingboard) to ESA and ASA and asked why sociology is important we were left in no doubt as to the strength of delegate’s feelings, and their desire to do this too:
Do look out for further ways we intend to “celebrate” sociology in the future, or contact us with your ideas.
Next steps: You might be interested in these videos which give a further flavour of the ASA/ ESA Sounding Board comments: Sociologists making more of a difference by… and Sociology is important because…. Using the #emeraldsoundingboard on Twitter will also give you a flavour of what delegates were saying to us, or follow our Twitter account @Emeraldsoc.
Philippa Grand, Editorial Director, Social Sciences
Kathy Atkinson, Author Engagement Manager