How to curate a public sociology that is truly public

public sociology

Continuing on through Live Methods, Nirmal Puwar and Sanjay Sharma’s ‘Curating Sociology’ chapter has deepened some of my thoughts on how to engage wider publics in Sociology’s project that were discussed here and here.

I have highlighted previously the need to reconsider how reality TV can be used to engage publics and I think that Puwar and Sharma highlight an important link that is needed to ensure effective collaboration between academia and the media, that of a curator. They define a curator as a ‘catalyst who prompts dialogue by bringing artists, places and publics together’ (2012 p.40) and follows this by stating that there needs to be a commitment to collaboration as a research process instead of considering the research and dissemination process as separate entities. Later in the paper, Puwar and Sharma highlight the need to pay attention to ‘the value of other ways of telling’ (p.44) but in many cases for this to truly be realised, we need to reconsider how Sociology is presented to the next generation of students and scholars. If we are to excite the Sociological Imaginations of a new generation, we need to get them to understand and explore these other ways of telling. Encouragement to engage with interdisciplinary study, not within a more traditional sense of subjects allied within a neighbouring disciplines, but more extended combinations, bringing together students across the creative and social disciplines and encouraging them to collaborate on projects that enable them to better understand each other.

This is particularly important when we consider that Sociologists need to better understand what will interest publics and how best to engage them in it. By fostering more links with those who understand the tools of the media, we may be able to better access those publics. As Puwar and Sharma make clear within their chapter, it is not about Sociologists trying to become versed in the technical tools of the media, but for them to be more open to inter-disciplinary and, trans-disciplinary working. The idea of trans-disciplinary working, I will take up and elaborate more in another post as this is something that for me is essential in being ale to engage publics better.

Puwar, N. and Sharma, S. (2012) ‘Curating Sociology’. In Back L. and Puwar, N. (eds.) Live Methods, Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell/ The Sociological Review