Are some disciplines more sociable than others?

There are a range of social scientific disciplines which have spawned sub disciplinary areas of practice and inquiry explicitly concerned with their public role and purpose. For instance:

  1. Public Sociology
  2. Public Geography
  3. Public Anthropology
  4. Public Archaeology
  5. Public Criminology

But others seemingly have not. Why is this? Could it be a matter of explicit naming conventions, such that the disciplines closest to sociology have taken their lead from public sociology but that similar trends exist elsewhere? What do these trends have in common and how do they differ? At some point this year I want to try and assemble a public sociologist, public geographer, public anthropologist, public archaeologist and public criminologist to produce a podcast discussion of these issues. If you might like to be part of this then please get in touch: mark@markcarrigan.net

Also I’d love to hear any Public X examples I’ve missed. Please tweet or comment if you know of any!


Categories: Outflanking Platitudes

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3 replies »

  1. Public sociology to me appears to be a reflection of its subordinated position with the ‘public’ aspect being in part a strategy geared towards improving the discipline’s visibility. (This subordination certainly appears to be the case structuring sociology’s entrance into the discussion on climate change related behaviours where almost every sociologist I come across feels the need (correctly I might add) to criticise the dominant individualizing perspective that leads the issue on climate change receptivity). There is also the moral impetus or fear in seeing the absence, in public discussion, of social structures and relations as a dangerous development which diminishes the capacity to deal with and understand social problems.

    Such subordination would offer some explanation as to why more dominant disciplines such as psychology don’t feel the need to apply the ‘public’ sub disciplinary strategy. As for the other sub-disciplines perhaps there is also a dimension of strategy or maybe as you state it’s due to their closeness to sociology. These are just musings however, more historical and comparative analysis on the question is needed. I look forward to the podcast. Excellent blog by the way.

    • that’s a really plausible suggestion. my attempt at a pithy title not withstanding, I’d assume there’s some ‘public’ impulse at work pretty much across the social sciences and it’s the divergent form of expression which fascinates me. though it’s hard to analyse this tendency if you can’t identify it…

  2. Apologies for scan reading you. Well the ‘public’ element will possibly be attachable to the central concerns and interests of the disciplines whereas other disciplines undergo alternative naming processes connected to their (possibly) more individualized concerns (which is I think what your title intends to capture). On top of that Sociology surely has a higher stature amongst the disciplines listed above. As for ‘public economics’, the name already exists as something entirely different. Bound to be interesting whatever you discover.

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