The Field of Sociology: Its Power and Its Promise

Michael Burawoy

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 Field of Sociology: Its Power and Its Promise

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Sociology in the United States has spanned three waves over the past 150 years. Now, in its third wave, it harnesses that science to its earlier moral concerns in order to give vitality to public sociology. This chapter holds this point of view, situating the critics in the field of sociology, navigating its successive waves. The three waves of sociology reflect and refract broad societal responses to three waves of market expansion. The first wave of marketisation led to a spontaneous reaction from an emergent civil society that sought to transcend capitalism with socialist, communitarian, and cooperative experiments. The second wave of marketization took off after World War I, leading to equally profound reactions, but this time from nation-states—in such varied forms as fascism, communism, and social democracy. Today, in its third wave, sociology's external focus turns from the policy world to the world of publics.

Keywords: third-wave sociology; social sciences; United States; market expansion; World War I; social democracy; public sociology

Chapter.  7353 words. 

Subjects: Comparative and Historical Sociology

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