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journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 10:00 authored by Jennifer Platt
Sociologists have not studied their own associations much. There has been a tendency to write their history only when an anniversary calls for celebration – but their significance justifies more serious attention to them, and an analytical as well as a celebratory approach. Learned societies play a key role as a vital part of the social structure of academic life, and one which cuts across the boundaries of conventional historical units such as departments or schools of thought. They organize conferences, promote the professional development of their members, create networks and publish journals and books which are important to the intellectual life of the discipline; they also represent the discipline to the outside world, whether in the large political arena of major governmental decisions on education and research, or in the many smaller arenas of governing bodies in higher education, funding bodies and public examining boards. If we are interested in the history of our discipline we ought to be interested in these matters. But that is not all that we can learn from looking at these associations. They are also instances of one special type of organization (to varying degrees, in different cases, a voluntary association) which are relevant to our general theories of organizations, as well as playing an important role in the processes of professionalization and the development of disciplines.
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- Sociology and Criminology Publications
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