From ESA – Strategies & Activities
Public Engagement ad hoc group
This is a new initiative that will focus on raising the public scientific profile of sociology and on bringing its advancements to bear on society. The central idea is to help increase the influence of the discipline as a source of expert knowledge that constrains the understanding of social phenomena. We intend to do this on the basis of sociological publications and via an international plan of action that involves other sciences too.
For the time being, we will start organising our discussions around the possibility of promoting the scholarly profile of the discipline via an action plan that involves many levels. Expectedly, engagement with institutions of governance and the media is part of this plan. However, the intention of this group is to avoid doing “more of the same” by focusing on militantism or activism; as everyone knows, we are doing well in that area. Our main purpose is rather to open a parallel line of establishing sociology as scholarly knowledge that amounts to more than mere opinion and cannot, therefore, be dismissed as a matter of opinion. Economics has succeeded in that transition, as has psychology, the study of law and – to an extent – political science.
For sociology to achieve the same level of influence, we will need to choose carefully the findings that we put forward and let different actors argue over the decisions that these findings should entail. In other words, we will need to promote ‘undisputed developments’ revealed via research in order for them to be integrated into the action and thinking of actors with different, possibly opposed, agendas. This will portray sociology as a provider of scientific knowledge that powerful actors cannot easily circumvent as preconceived critique.
We are in the beginning of building this initiative and we will keep you informed as it develops.