public sociology

Why sociology needs to reach out to publics

Sometimes you contemplate an issue and then stumble upon someone who explains it far better than you could ever have done. In this case the issue was why the mission for public engagement of sociology is so vital and this is one of those times.

The task of sociology is to cast doubt on the public understandings that prevail – be they about the ‘war on terror’ or the nature of ‘immigration policy’ – and invite other voices to be heard and reckoned with

– Les Back (2007) The Art of Listening p.152

For my mind, this explains why sociologists cannot afford to ignore the need to realign the way they communicate their work with publics. If the academic insights and interpretations of the social world are not accessible to those publics then how can we hope to cast the doubt in their minds over their current understandings of the world?

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