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The University of Southampton
Economic, Social and Political Sciences

27th Annual Marshall lecture: Sociology and the ‘public’: Marshall, Dewey and the problem of citizenship and social class Seminar

Sociology, Social Policy and Criminology
3 March 2011
Building 58, room 1067

For more information regarding this seminar, please telephone Sociology & Social Policy Office on +44 (0)23 8059 7218 or email .

Event details

Sociology and Social Policy Seminar Series

T.H. Marshall's essay on citizenship and social class was written at a time when the growth of social rights and the amelioration of social inequalities seemed to be an unproblematic extension of political rights and the growth of the welfare state. This was also aligned with the professional ethos of sociology and social policy as disciplines. In Mike Savage's terminology, 'social modernisation' through the agency of the welfare state became part of sociology's 'jurisdication' (that is, its specific objects and mode of orientation to them). However, with the increased emphasis on replacing state-provided services by the market, including, now, the introduction of the market into the delivery of higher education, Marshall's prognosis that social rights would transform the market appears to be reversed.

Michael Burawoy's recent call for 'public sociology' explicitly recognises a 'scissors movement' in which public sensibilities have moved in the opposite direction to those of sociologists. This poses serious questions for the constitution of sociology as a discipline (and for its future in a context where public 'impact' is imperative to secure funding). In this lecture I suggest that sociology needs to renew itself through a re-examination of its relation to the public. In doing so, I will draw upon John Dewey's idea of the public (as expressed in The Public and Its Problems) to outline its significance for a sociological critique of liberal public reason and a renewed engagement with social inequalities. I will suggest that this may provide the key to unlock Marshall's concept of citizenship from its rather problematic association with a dated moment in the development of social democratic welfare provision. At the same time, it can provide sociology with a new 'jurisdiction'.

Light refreshments will be served.

Speaker information

John Holmwood , University of Nottingham. Professor of Sociology

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