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Public Sociology or Partisan Sociology? The Curious Case of Whiteness Studies

Public Sociology or Partisan Sociology? The Curious Case of Whiteness Studies,10.1007/s12108-010-9086-x,The American Sociologist,Jack Niemonen

Public Sociology or Partisan Sociology? The Curious Case of Whiteness Studies  
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This paper identifies the common themes in 245-plus refereed articles on whiteness studies that were published in academic journals after 1992 in an attempt to assess the implications of whiteness studies for the discipline of sociology. Of special interest is the relationship between whiteness studies and Michael Burawoy’s call for public sociology. I argue that the emerging field of whiteness studies identifies itself as a public sociology that is infused by the moral vision of critical sociology. Nevertheless, the field does not accept professional sociology as Burawoy defined it. The ontological, epistemological, and soteriological foundations of whiteness studies encourage the field to pander to one segment of the public—the marginalized—and condemn another segment of the public—“privileged whites,” thus rendering impossible a democratic dialogue on one of the most basic social issues of our time. Conflating Western epistemology with whiteness encourages a misreading of American social scientific work on race relations, thus opening the door to a so-called hermeneutics of suspicion. The result is not an innocuous “pop” sociology, but a partisan sociology, whose implications should caution sociologists against an uncritical embracing of public sociology.
Journal: The American Sociologist , vol. 41, no. 1, pp. 48-81, 2010
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