Sociology Goes Public

Sociology Goes Public
Friday 17 December 2021

On November 29, 2021, The ANU School of Sociology hosted TASA November, an initiative of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA) promoting state-based activities (in-person, hybrid and online events) in lieu of the annual face-to-face TASA conference.

The online event was centred on contributions and discussion from the community of postgraduate scholars at ANU. Two HDR-designed sessions focussed on the value of sociology education in the workplace and digital media policy. These were followed by the launch of a book on critical theory and  populism.

The webinar included three sessions:

Session 1 - Sociology goes to work: exploring the value of sociology education in the workplace
Tate McAllister (Chair)
Dr Gemma Killen
Isabel Mudford

The public value and importance of sociological research and thinking has long been recognised, most famously by Michael Burawoy in his address to the American Sociology Association in 2004. Sub-fields such as public sociology and applied sociology both aim to intervene in public discourse and issues of concern using sociological knowledge. Relatively less attention has been paid to sociology trained professionals working in roles that may not involve ‘doing sociology’ in a strict sense but whose approaches to their work are nevertheless informed by sociology.  This panel discussion explored the value of sociological training across three sectors – community services, politics and the public service – with a particular focus on work that addresses issues related to sex, gender and sexuality. At a time where sociology departments across Australia face significant funding cuts and the worth of sociology education is being eroded, this panel explored the value of sociology skills and training beyond the academic sphere.

LINK TO VIDEO RECORDINGTASA November ANU-S1: The value of sociology education in workplaces   


Session 2 - Applying sociology to digital media policy
Simon Copland (Chair)
Dr. Jenny Davis
Jessie Liu
Sean Ward

The wake of policy problems such as platform surveillance, the spread of hate and disinformation online and the use of platforms for harassment and abuse, this panel  examined how digital sociology can and should engage in policy debates around digital platforms. Bringing together a broad array of researchers, it looked at the policy issues that have arisen, the solutions available, the way governments and society can be involved, and the barriers in place. This panel considered how we can apply sociological thinking to these varied problems, bringing digital sociology into the policy realm.

LINK TO VIDEO RECORDINGTASA November ANU-S2: Applying sociology to digital media policy   

Session 3 – Paul K. Jones in conversation with Melinda Cooper about his recent book, Critical Theory and Demagogic Populism (Manchester University Press, 2020; paperback forthcoming April 2022)

Book Description Critical Theory and Demagogic Populism provides a detailed analysis of the relevance of the Frankfurt School’s sociological work to understanding contemporary populism.

LINK TO VIDEO RECORDINGTASA November ANU-S3: Critical Theory and Demagogic Populism – a conversation  


Updated:  23 December 2021/Responsible Officer:  RSSS Director/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications