“COMMIT SOCIOLOGY!”

During his tenure in office as the Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper repeatedly suggested that sociology does not explain violence or crime. When an alleged plot against a VIA Rail train was discovered in 2013 Harper stated awkwardly that we should not “commit sociology.” He insisted that we should instead focus on personal responsibility. When an inquiry into the disproportionately high number of deaths among indigenous women in Canada was demanded, after the death of Tina Fontaine in 2014, Harper said that such deaths were not “sociological phenomenon.” As Jakeet Singh pointed out shortly thereafter in an article for the Toronto Star, we should link these rather strange statements about sociology to the Conservative government’s abolition of an important social-statistical tool in 2010, the long-form census. Continue reading ““COMMIT SOCIOLOGY!””

FIELD OF PLAY: READING ROBERT BELLAH

Has triumphalism been defeated? That’s a purposefully ambiguous and potentially self-contradictory question. It may be safe to say that it has been seriously challenged, but you don’t have to listen to the news for very long before you hear narratives of political, cultural, or religious triumph aired from New Delhi to New York.

In his magnum opus sociologist Robert Bellah offers a playful yet powerful response to triumphalism. Religion in Human Evolution ends with a consideration of the biological and cultural capacities acquired in human societies up to the Axial Age. These capacities were the result of extended cultural elaboration and accumulation. As stated in the book several times, “Nothing is ever lost.” Continue reading “FIELD OF PLAY: READING ROBERT BELLAH”