Critical Nexus or Pluralist Discipline? Institutional Ambivalence and the Future of Canadian Sociology Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • While some scholars believe in a transdisciplinary future for the social sciences and humanities, we argue that sociology would do well to maintain its disciplinary borders, while celebrating the plurality of its intellectual, social, and political content. Although a pluralist position can threaten disciplinary coherence and increase fragmentation, we argue the counterbalance ought to be convergence around shared institutional norms of knowledge production. Establishing these norms is not easy, since there is a great deal of institutional ambivalence at play in the field of sociology. As such, sociology is pushed and pulled between two poles of at least four major continuums of knowledge production, which include the following: (1) interdisciplinary versus discipline-based research; (2) political versus analytical scholarship; (3) professional versus public/policy sociology; and (4) local/national versus global audiences. Since both sides of these ideal-typical continuums contain their own pathologies, we propose adopting a balanced position to correct for the shortcomings of each. Rather than imposing one philosophical or theoretical paradigm for the field, we suggest that embracing the "chaos" of our diverse forms of knowledge and centralizing and integrating findings will serve to strengthen our collective efforts in the long term.

publication date

  • August 2015