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About This Blog

24 March 2012

From the About page:

It is now the social scientist’s foremost political and intellectual task – for here the two coincide – to make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference. It is the central demand made upon her by other cultural workers – by physical scientists and artists, by the intellectual community in general. It is because of this task and these demands, I believe, that the social sciences are becoming the common denominator of our cultural period, and the sociological imagination our most needed quality of mind. —C. Wright Mills, The Sociological Imagination

In the mid-20th century, C. Wright Mills argued that the promise of social sciences is to help us understand out experience of life, including our emotional responses to those experience. For Mills, this was a broad project that included humanistic and scientific modes of thinking; and he insisted that, to fully understand and explain human society, there must be a deep understanding of contexts, histories, values, and experiences within any phenomenon. Mills eschewed the monicker ‘sociologist’ in favor of ‘social scientist’ in his efforts to disavow disciplinary limits to theoretical and methodological thinking.

It would indeed be arrogant of me to claim to be such a social scientist, but Mills’ definition of social sciences has greatly influenced my own view of what it is I do professionally and intellectually. This blog is a repository of my thinking, reading, research, and ideas along these lines. My topical interests range from religion to sexuality, from cognition to emotions, from mass culture to “serious” art. My theoretical and methodological perspectives range from historical to sociological, political-economic to queer theoretical, symbolic interaction to cultural history, American pragmatism to Weberian objectivity. My postings will range from reviews of peer-reviewed research, to updates and trial ballons of my own research, to thoughts on popular culture and literature. I seek in my thinking to understand the relationship between human experience and the systems of meanings (intelligibility) that humans create in ongoing activity-undergoing with their environments (as described by John Dewey, Nature and Experience). Finally, I tend to resist political or moral imperatives and enjoy poking at sacred cows, academic, religious, and political.

I welcome civil and engaged discourse and disagreement from across intellectual, political, and cultural perspectives, but reserve the right to block comments that devolve into inappropriate ad hominem or evangelizing.


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