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Engaging the Hows and Whys: A space for committing sociology

The Prime Minister’s remark offers an interesting problematic for sociologists to think through. Two distinct sets of question arise from it.

The first  concerns the actual practice(s) of sociology. How does one ‘commit sociology’? What does committing sociology involve? In the process of answering these questions, we can begin to reflect on the even more fundamental and difficult question: what is sociology?

There is, of course, a vast sociological literature addressing questions of method and technique. As with any practice, there are always better approaches and ever more advanced research techniques.

A second set of questions tied to the commitment problematic are simultaneously political and ethical. What is sociology committed to? Even more pressingly, perhaps, what should it be committed to? And sociologists have, for a long time now, been chasing this political relevance, a topic still of great interest to those participating in the public sociology movement. Whenever sociologists tend to discuss questions of political orientation and ethical positioning, varied answers are almost invariably given, with some sociologists insisting that sociology should not be political, while others maintain that it is not political (or should not be political); and still there those who find that sociology is not political enough. Finally, and representing a very small minority, there are those who believe that sociology is about as political as it should be…

We hope that, by providing sociological perspectives on Canadian issues and problems, contributors to Commit Sociology will address the challenging practical and politico-ethical questions. For our part, we believe that committing sociology can lead to the betterment of public life in Canadian society. The time to commit sociology is now, and we intend to create a space for sociologists to attempt to better public life.