The Strength of Weak Politics

Douglas S. Massey

in Public Sociology

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780520251373
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520940758 | DOI:
The Strength of Weak Politics

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This chapter is sympathetic to individual political participation but critical of collective participation by the discipline. It expresses worries that an engaged public sociology will erode professional standards, that a disciplinary politics would erode the political effectiveness of individual activists. Drawing on issues of immigration policy, racial segregation, and human rights, this chapter argues, first, that effective action requires an accurate understanding of the groups and structures one seeks to modify through political action. Second, it argues that a reputation for impartiality and objectivity greatly enhances the value of the statements that the association does choose to make on questions of public import. And third, it argues that by advancing scientific rather than political criteria of truth, the American Sociological Association helps build professional respect and scientific legitimacy, which are prerequisites for the effective engagement of individual sociologists.

Keywords: individual political participation; collective participation; public sociology; disciplinary politics; immigration policy; racial segregation; human rights; ASA

Chapter.  5214 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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