Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Sociologist of the Month

Ok, ok, as some of you noted, my last selection for Sociologist of the Month (to your left) Jack D. Douglas, actually turned out to be "Sociologist of the Fall" since I didn't have time to update the section each month. This wasn't a bad thing, since it gave many of you time to get acquainted with Dr. Douglas' work (and for me, to get back in touch with him and establish an enlightening correspondence).

But I have updated it, and over to your left you'll notice Dr. Edwin Schur in the spotlight. Schur, like Douglas, had a profound impact on me in graduate school, particularly his work in Labeling theory, victimless crimes, and nonintervention regarding delinquency. The essay I linked to Radical Nonintervention, by Randall Shelden, explores both Shur's thesis and updates it for the 21st century.

I also read bits of the "Americanization of Sex", regarding the depersonalization of sex in America in the late 1980's. And we were encouraged to read "The Awareness Trap" which was decades ahead of its time in questioning the idea that the "human potential movement" (the 70's version of the "self-help" genre today) could have a positive impact on society.

Basically, Schur's thesis in the latter is that self-help gurus who encourage intense navel-gazing as a "path to a more satisfying life" are more than just vacuous and misleading and encouraging self-absorption. Writes Schur (emphasis mine): "The latent political implication seems equally apparent: complacency for those who have succeeded; resignation or self blame for those who have not. As we shall see, from the standpoint of seriously disadvantaged segments of our population-the poor, racial and ethnic minorities, women, people labeled "deviant" -- the awareness movement offers a particularly inadequate type of "liberation."

A fascinating book way ahead of its time. Much like Dr. Schur.

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