Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-jb2ch Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-29T16:41:54.326Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Presidential Welcome

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2021

Glenn W. Muschert
Affiliation:
Khalifa University of Science and Technology
Kristen M. Budd
Affiliation:
Miami University
Michelle Christian
Affiliation:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
David C. Lane
Affiliation:
Illinois State University
Get access

Summary

When our political activism isn't rooted in a theory about transforming the world, it becomes narrow; when it is focused only on individual actors instead of larger systemic problems, it becomes short-sighted. We do have to deal with the current crisis in the short term. That's important. We have to have solutions for people's real-life problems, and we have to allow people to decide what those solutions are. We also have to create a vision that's much bigger than the one we have right now.

Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Co-Founder of #BlackLivesMatter, as quoted in Barbara Ransby, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the 21st Century (University of California Press, 2018)

In a wonderful 2013 anthology, Handbook of Sociology and Human Rights by Brunsma, Iyall and Gran (Routledge, 2012), I noted that sociology began as an impassioned effort to apply scientific inquiry to studying and solving social problems, but somewhere along the line it became a rather dour academic discipline, well equipped to show students what is wrong with the world but stodgy at best in teaching them how to change it. The bulwark of the discipline, the social problems course, had evolved into a 14-chapter litany of misery, whose stubborn yet enlightening data could effectively dismantle cherished ideologies and oppressive mythologies, but too often failed in guiding young people to make a better world.

Still, as Joe Feagin, Hernan Vera, and Kimberley Ducey argue in their 2014 volume Liberation Sociology (Routledge), the discipline “ignites the imagination of countless students” because it promises to heighten their understanding of the world and help them build a better society. The authors conclude: “For generations now, not just college students but all who learn to read the world through sociological ideas have shared in the excitement and insight of being empowered by their newly acquired mindfulness” (p. vii). Sociology can meet the challenge issued by one of its founders, Karl Marx, to not only interpret the world, but change it.

Such has been the dilemma for us as sociologists and for our organization, the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP). We were founded by people who believed that professional, “fat cat” sociology was “enmeshed deeply in the bureaucratic, technocratic, plutocratic and imperialistic structure of our society.

Type
Chapter
Information
Social Problems in the Age of COVID-19 Vol 1
Volume 1: US Perspectives
, pp. vii - x
Publisher: Bristol University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×