I'm sure that just like me, you all are browsing the latest issue of Sociological Forum, the quarterly publication of the Eastern Sociological Society.
Hmmm, here's an article called "Anomie Among European Adolescents: Conceptual and Empirical Clarification of a Multilevel Sociological Concept." The "results lend strong support to the theoretical construct of anomie as exteriority and constraint."
O-kay... I'll think I'll skip that one. Actually, I usually skip most of the articles in sociology journals. So does the rest of the world.
But in this issues there's a series of short pieces relating to Sudhir Venkatesh's Gang Leader For a Day, probably the best selling sociology book in decades. But Venkatesh has gotten some flack from the Ivory Tower because the book exposes weaknesses in ethnographic methodology and is, well, a memoir.
I've mentioned Venkatesh a fair amount about on this blog because our research and writing has a fair amount in common (not in sales, alas). I think we need more intellectuals like Venkatesh.
The point of writing is to be read (though Venkatesh points out that 90% of those interviewing him about his book haven't read his book). The point of sociology is to understand (and hopefully improve) the world around us. Venkatesh succeeds because he is interesting, insightful, and writes in a language we can all understand. There's no crime in that.
In the Gang Leader exchange in Sociological Forum, one author asks, "What does America want of sociology?" Venkatesh answers quite frankly: "I don't think America cares about sociology. And, unless we change our conventions, our writing, and our relationship to the public, I'm not sure they should."
I wonder what the fancy sociological term is for, "Oh, snap!"