Essay Archives


February 13th, 2011

Toward a Public Social Science

Submitted by Herbert J. Gans, Columbia University

The social sciences deal with humanity’s most pressing problems, but there are barriers between practitioners and the public. We must restructure these disciplines from the ground up. In times of economic and political distress, the social sciences must become more relevant and useful by devoting their attention to society’s major problems. Such calls to reform […]

December 10th, 2009

America's Lobby Democracy and the Need for Citizen Lobbies

Submitted by Herbert J. Gans, Columbia University

In a representative democracy, elected officials are supposed to represent all the citizens in their constituency, but most electoral districts are large and the citizens needing representation are many as well as diverse in their interests. Moreover, some are considerably more eager and more able to be represented, notably organized interest groups, their lobbies and […]

September 3rd, 2009

A Sociology for Public Sociology: Some Needed Disciplinary Changes for Creating Public Sociology

Submitted by Herbert J. Gans, Columbia University

Michael Burawoy’s dramatic reinvention of and powerful advocacy for public sociology at the ASA’s 2004 annual meetings has set off a process to incorporate public sociology into the current discipline. Although it is too early to determine what paths that process will take, so far there seems to be more discourse about public sociology than […]

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