A social science which has become so remote from the society which pays for its upkeep is ultimately doomed, threatened less by repression than by intellectual contempt and financial neglect. This is the message of the authors of this book in this reassessment of the evolution and present state of British sociology.
Their investigation analyses the discipline as a social institution, whose product is inexorably shaped by the everyday circumstances of its producers; it is the concrete outcome of people’s work, rather than a body of abstract ideas. Drawing upon their varied experience as teachers and researchers, they identify three major trends in contemporary sociology. First, that the discipline’s rapid expansion has led to a retreat from rigorous research into Utopian and introspective theorising. Second, that the concept of sociological research is being taught in a totally false way because of this, and encourages ‘research’ within a wholly academic environment. Third, that the current unpopularity of sociology with academics, prospective students and politicians is no coincidence, but a reflection of the conditions under which sociology is now produced and practised.
In Sociology and Social Research the authors suggest substantial changes in sociological research, the way in which it is carried out and the conditions under which it is undertaken. Their book is a timely warning to fellow sociologists when the profession is under attack as a result of public expenditure cuts.