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Title Sociology’s ‘Moments’: Democracy, Expertise and the Market
Media Type Microsoft Document
Category Conference Programme
Description Transcript of the plenary by Professor John Holmwood at the BSA Annual Conference 2013. In this address, I reflect on the possible consequences of a neo-liberal knowledge regime for the organisation and future(s) of sociology as a discipline. I do so by considering different ‘moments’ in the development of sociology, with the present moment constituting a particular threat to the discipline. I shall suggest that sociology takes its character from moments of democratisation and their consolidation. In this context, I argue that there are three moments with particular significance for the development of sociology and its ‘self-understanding’. These are the emergence of the idea of the social self and its association with the development of ‘publics’ from the late 19th century through to the 1920s; the institutionalisation of reform through the development of the welfare state and the rise of professional sociology especially in the post-1945 period; and the disavowal of professionalism and the articulation of critical sociologies aligned with new social movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, I shall suggest that the dominance of neo-liberal public policy since the late 1970s has sought to replace ‘publics’ with ‘markets’. This has created significant problems for sociology as a discipline, problems that are likely to become yet more acute now that public policy is applied systematically to the core site of the production of sociological knowledge, namely, the university itself.
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Keywords john holmwood, 2013, plenary, democracy, expertise, market
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