now, there's an idea!
(from a list; me talking)...
makes sense to me; i think that the approach shouldn't be, "look at what sociology can do for you and your students," though. really, what we need is to have the ENTIRE discipline adopt an "applied" perspective. if you stop and think about it, all serious scientific disciplines have an inherent "applied" aspect to them. this is the product of the enlightenment — we want to understand things so we can change/manipulate them.
we seem to be content to just "study" how things change; we really need to take the next step and then utilize that knoweldge to DO something. i and others have argued that sociology is a humanistic endeavor; as such, the manner and direction of change is in the improvement of the human condition.
A colleague argued at a recent SAS meeting that we need to re-embrace evolution as part of our perspective. I agree entirely; i also agree that we need to understand how our science fits in with the other sciences. if we don't understand the links, what we can offer, how we can fit into the dominant paradigm, then we will be left behind. i think we have been left behind already to some extent. whenever i read popular literature and/or news, and they are discussing human endeavors, they inevitably mention psychologists, anthropologists, biologists, geneticists, etc. rarely, if ever do i hear about sociologists in that mix.
imo, we are not considered because we have become so "disembodied" from the study of humans — what the hell are they? we're interested in systems, processes, institutions, etc. most of the people i come in contact with really don't care about that stuff — they care about themselves, their family, their workers, their colleagues, etc. in other words, they care about "humans" — maybe it is time for us to do the same thing. we can still be concerned with the social at that level (as well as all the other stuff); what we need to do is frame our findings in ways that people can immediately use/apply.
we lost much credibility with our embracing of post-modernism, hermenuetics, narratives, etc. personally, i love that stuff and think it is quite compelling — all of it has certainly influenced my thinking and still does. we lost the masses when we went with it to the exclusion of other things that they could readily understand.
sometimes it appears to me that we are a discipline in search of a purpose; i think we should understand that our purpose is to be a humanistic social science that investigates social reality, discerns sociological principles, and then tells people how to use them to improve their lives.