Published in Cooperation with the American Sociological Society.
Sociology has had a long and convoluted relationship with the public policy community. While the field has historically considered its mission one of effecting social change, in recent decades this has become only a minor part of the sociological agenda. The editor of this volume, MacArthur Fellow and former ASA President William Julius Wilson, asserts that sociology's ostrich-like stance threatens to leave the discipline in a position of irrelevance to the world at large and compromises the support of policymakers, funders, media, and the public. Wilson's vision is of a sociology attuned to the public agenda, influencing public policy through both short- and long-range analysis from a sociological perspective. Using a variety of policy issues, perspectives, methods, and cases, the distinguished contributors to this volume both demonstrate and emphasize Wilson's ideas. Undergraduates, graduate students, professionals, and academics in sociology, political science, policy studies, and human services will find this argument for sociology's civic duty to be both compelling and refreshing. "The eighteen chapters on issues ranging from cultural and historical definitions of citizenship to American welfare policies and American corporate mergers are strong examples of solid social research, where authors draw out policy implications and, based on their research, make policy proposals. . . . Sociology and the Public Agenda is an insightful book for scholars of social policy, and also those interested in research design issues. The book is very relevant for political scientists engaged in policy research, interested in innovative research designs, and wondering about the 'place' of the social scientist in setting public agendas." -Policy Currents