Society: Some Assembly Required (no manual included)

Society: Some Assembly Required (no manual included)

Sociology is frequently expected to shed light upon pressing public issues – political and economic crises, social inequalities, environmental destruction. To do this sociologists often try to create instruction manuals that map social relations and social forces to show how societies work. 

These manuals frequently presume the existence of social forces we can easily detect, social processes we can map, and social relations we can approximate.  How does sociology critically engage with, and adapt to, the complexity of the current conjuncture?  In this time of great political, economic and cultural transformation, with technology generating new social relationships, and with crises challenging existing academic frameworks, we suggest that manuals with fixed pictures of society may limit our understanding.

At UC Santa Cruz we see this as an opportune time to reconsider how our social worlds are assembled and reassembled.  The Sociology faculty and students seek to spark new imaginations, develop new ways of seeing and understanding current conditions.  We try to explore and interrogate the taken-for-granted divisions of common sense - between human and nature, culture and economy, identity and difference, city and countryside, emotion and politics, popular and scholarly, science and the social, citizen and migrant, local and global.  Such unholy juxtapositions contain productive tensions and new openings for research and theory building. 

Sociology faculty and graduate students do research that extends the legacy of social critique and conceptual innovation established by the Department’s founding sociologists.  We remain committed to a mode of social science that serves equality and social justice.  Our scholarship and the stories we tell explore the associations, situations, and practices through which social worlds are assembled and reassembled.