• The Challenge of Public Sociology – in the Pandemic of 2020

    This issue is the product of a collaborative effort of doctoral students in the public sociology PhD program at George Mason University. We are interested in exploring the many questions and debates surrounding public sociology since Michael Burawoy gave his presidential address, “For Public Sociology,” to the American Sociological Association (ASA) in 2004. Our orienting questions for the issue included the following: What is public sociology? What does public sociology look like? Why is public sociology important? How is public sociology different from other public-facing disciplines/(sub)fields, such as public history? More specifically, what are some sites of public sociology in…

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  • The Sociology of W.E.B. Du Bois: The Centrality of Historically Black Colleges and Universities

    On January 24, 2020, the District of Columbia Sociological Society hosted a presentation by Dr. Aldon Morris at the American Sociological Association (ASA) headquarters. Below is an excerpted version of that presentation. Dr. Morris is Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Northwestern University and was elected 112th President of the ASA. Today I discuss the originality and importance of the sociology of W. E. B. Du Bois and other black sociologists who further developed the Du Boisian intellectual agenda. I will then address the relationship between this “black” scholarship and the institutional settings from which it blossomed. That…

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  • Truth and Service: The Hundred-Year Legacy of Sociology at Howard University

    The motto of Howard University, “In Truth and Service,” is embodied by its scholars, students, and faculty. A century ago, Dr. Kelly Miller established the Department of Sociology to uncover the truth about the “race problem” in the United States. Since 1919, the mission of the department has been “to prepare students to analyze, transform, and overcome conditions of oppression, exploitation and injustice” (Howard University 2020). Howard University, notably called the Mecca, was “for scholars leading the intellectual discourse on the most pressing problems of Blacks in the U.S. and Africa, problems associated with race ideology, economic power, and social…

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  • Participatory Action Research as Public Sociology: Bringing Lived Experience Back In

    In 2004, Burawoy gave his presidential address, “For Public Sociology,” to the American Sociological Association causing a stir within the discipline, its effects still felt today in graduate seminars and in debates about the current state and future of sociology. In one speech, Burawoy reinvigorated the historical promise of imagining sociology as a discipline that can both explain society and work towards a more just world. In the wake of his address, debates arose around the meaning and purpose of public sociology (Clawson Sussman, Misra, et. al. 2007). What public sociology is, what it looks like, are questions that have…

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  • W.E.B. Du Bois, the First Public Sociologist

    Michael Burawoy’s (2004; 2005) challenging and provocative articles on public sociology sought to remind sociology of its historic origins as a “moral science.” In these articles, Burawoy juxtaposes what he believes sociology has become, and how and why it has morphed into an entity unrecognizable from its origins and legacy. Throughout the 2005 article, Burawoy cites W.E.B. Du Bois, along with Jane Addams, Karl Marx, Émile Durkheim, and Max Weber as early pioneers and representatives of this sociological approach, oriented toward one of many publics, and committed to addressing one or more public issues and problems. As a first step…

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About The Sociologist

The Sociologist is the mouthpiece of the District of Columbia Sociological Society (DCSS). The Sociologist began as a newsletter for members of DCSS. Beginning in 2014, we transformed the newsletter into a periodic magazine of public sociology for a general audience. The Sociologist is an open-access publication and is supported by DCSS and George Mason University’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Our aim is to continue to foster our project as a meeting place for all sociologists in the Washington, D.C. area. The Sociologist is issued periodically to coincide with our public events. Send us the sociology of your neighborhood, where you learn and work, or your playground.