Dear fellow citizen sociologists,
This blog was created in December 2014 as part of my (David Ridley) PhD in Sociology. My research aims to outline and put forward an idea and proposals for the practice of “citizen sociology”. I’m not 100% sure what this will look like yet, and the blog is a public record of the journey towards this end result (which I predict will never be finished even after the PhD!). But also this blog is part of the public engagement which I think is a necessary part of such an idea of “citizen sociology”.
Let me try to explain what I think it is at the moment (at the beginning of the journey). It seems to me that thinking about society and social problems/relations is a part of everyday life – it’s what everyone does all the time. This is my guiding thought, and has been since as long as I remember, although before, as I was studying philosophy and cultural studies, I thought of it more in terms of ‘everybody thinks about stuff’. The point was and still is that non-academic thinking is as valid as academic thinking, perhaps more valid and interesting in some cases. This I think is (potentially) especially true when it comes to sociology – why should sociologists have privileged access to the truth of society?
Part of the problem of “citizen sociology” is the relationship between expert and non-expert knowledge production, as there has to be some middle ground in the idea of a citizen sociology, as sociology is a discipline and a systematised way of thinking and research society. So one aspect of the project must look at the possibilities for universities, as the home of sociology as a discipline, to engage in sociology outside the ivory tower, in society with non-experts. This is where my own role as a “citizen sociologist” is important, and why I think that public engagement is crucial to the research project as a whole. But this public engagement is also a social engagement, and I hope to engage with and perhaps even build a community of scholars sympathetic to this cause. So if you would like to write for this blog or have a chat please contact me.
On the other hand I am always on the lookout for examples of non-expert or extra-institutional examples of activities that might be called citizen sociology. There are after all people thinking, researching and writing about social life and society, and many perhaps on the internet.So if you are a citizen sociologists researching or operating outside the university, please get in touch!