On Depoliticizing Sociology...

Mathieu Deflem
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Published in Amici, ASA Sociology of Law section Newsletter, Spring 2001, p. 4.
Also available online in PDF format.

Please cite as: Deflem, Mathieu. 2001. “On Depoliticizing Sociology.” Amici, ASA Sociology of Law Section Newsletter, 8(1):4.

As a sociologist committed to the scientific study of social life, I have severe problems with politics that poses as sociology as well as with the acceptance, even encouragement, of such posturing which recently seems to have gotten hold of our profession and discipline.

I therefore object, for instance, to the use of the ASA Sociology of Law email listserve to voice personal opinions on a political, non-sociological issue. I consider such abuse to be profoundly unethical at worst, misguided at best. The normativity of social facts should not lead us as sociologists to give up on a sober and committed description and explanation of variation in social reality.

Whatever sociological dimensions the recent presidential elections have for those of us interested in the study of law (and surely there are many), they cannot be rationally reduced to any post facto pseudo-intellectualizations based on a certain ethical position. From taking into account a person's sex and color in our professional hiring process to the wholesale political sell-out of sociological scholarship, it will be our efforts to curb such nonscience that will be an important indication of the measure of our sociological work.

See related writings on public sociology.