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Sociologists' TalesContemporary narratives on sociological thought and practice$
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Katherine Twamley, Mark Doidge, and Andrea Scott

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447318668

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447318668.001.0001

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Sociology: involvement and detachment

Sociology: involvement and detachment

Chapter:
(p.243) Twenty-Nine Sociology: involvement and detachment
Source:
Sociologists' Tales
Author(s):

Robert Mears

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447318668.003.0029

The chapter recalls the decision of the author as a school student to study sociology at university in the late 1960’s and the apparent mismatch he experienced between expectations and initial experiences. The chapter reflects on some of the trends in the discipline and the formative intellectual influences on him as a result of studying at the University of Leicester, a department that was relatively unusual at the time for its ‘international’ staff and strongly comparative curriculum (Goodwin & Hughes,2011). The influence of Leicester was critical because of the presence of Norbert Elias and his determination to encourage greater sociological ‘detachment’, at a time when younger sociologists were deeply involved in contemporary social and political movements. The chapter argues that sociology is central to a broad based humane education, as well as for delivering insights from sociological research to wider constituencies in a ‘service’ capacity (Albrow, 1986). The chapter charts some events in the authors’ career as a sociology teacher and he reflects on the challenges of combatting the pessimism that, arguably, characterises the discipline. The chapter concludes a discussion of the importance of professional networks and the role played in ‘sociological life’ by the British Sociological Association.

Keywords:   involvement, detachment, comparative sociology, teaching and learning, professional networks

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