Challenging Orthodoxy: The Public Function of Sociology?

Venue: University of Liverpool

Location: Liverpool, United Kingdom

Event Date/Time: Sep 08, 2005 End Date/Time: Sep 09, 2005
Registration Date: Jul 31, 2005
Abstract Submission Date: Jun 03, 2005
Paper Submission Date: Aug 15, 2005
Report as Spam


Challenging Orthodoxy: The Public Function of Sociology?

What should be the role of sociology today? Do contemporary sociologists need to re-establish the public function of the discipline?
Sociology emerged partly as a response to the huge changes associated with far-reaching social, economic and political changes of the nineteenth century, and the foundation of the Department of Social Sciences at Liverpool University in 1905 reflected the challenges posed by these transformations in the specific context of the city of Liverpool . A century on, the persistence of inequalities associated with poverty and other forms of social division, as well as the equally profound implications of contemporary economic change, would seem to suggest that sociology still has a vital role. Yet sociologists are often conspicuous by their absence in public debates dealing with issues of a ‘sociological' nature. This is something of an irony given the broader context in which media content and policy debate are increasingly informed by relatively crude models of social inquiry, commentary and analysis. Given these observations, it might be asked whether sociology has failed to fulfil something of its early potential to explain the contemporary social order, and beyond this, to challenge deep-seated forms of social inequality.

This conference will celebrate the Department's centenary by raising the timely question of how sociologists should ensure that the influence of critical social research far beyond the bounds of the discipline. In addition to considering the place of the Department in the development of British sociology, the conference will thus seek to bring the Department's traditional concerns to offer critical analysis and influence policy to bear on key contemporary debates in sociology. In doing so, the conference invites today's social scientists to return to some of the key issues that the founders of this and other fledgling social science departments grappled with a century ago. Does sociology have a transformatory role? What is the public function of sociology? Should sociologists seek to influence, rather than merely analyse, social change?

We would particularly welcome proposals for papers in relation to the primary theme of the conference. Ideally, this key theme will be echoed through the sub themes that are outlined below. The conference will consist of a mixed programme of 4 keynote speakers, plenary sessions and papers presented in themed parallel sessions.

There are 4 principal sub-themes reflect areas of controversy in contemporary social science and raise questions about the role of social scientists in the these debates. As inter related sub-themes, state intervention, urban transformation, crime and disorder and the politics of identity are intended to be relatively broad categories within which to relate scholarship to the wider question about the public function of sociology. In addition, we would be keen to receive proposals for papers relating to any of these sub-themes that draw on the Liverpool context , either as a case study or in a comparative context.

Sub theme 1
A new politics of state intervention? Workfare, crime reduction and the changing character of state social policy and social work

Sub theme 2
Cities, transition and urban entrepreneurialism

Sub theme 3
Governing through law and order : challenging the consensus

Sub theme 4
Difference, identity and inequality


Eleanor Rathbone Building, Bedford St South
United Kingdom

Additional Information

The conference fee will be approximately £50 or £25 for unwaged/postgraduates. Accomodation can also be reserved at a cost £32-£54 per night. There may also be an additional charge for optional extra activities such as evening meals. A booking form will be available on the conference website during April 2005