Special Book Manuscript Workshop ~ Moral Minefields: How Sociologists Debate Good Science

The CCS Workshop on October 8th will be a two-part event to discuss the manuscript Moral Minefields: How Sociologists Debate Good Science, by two of Yale Sociology’s best recent alumni, Shai M. Dromi (Harvard University) and Samuel D. Stabler (Hunter College). The book is under contract with the University of Chicago Press and will be published in 2023. 

The first part of the event will be a discussion of the manuscript, presented on Zoom from 10 AM to Noon, between Shai and Sam and four invited scholars:

During this discussion our regular workshop participants will convene at 210 Prospect Street to watch this discussion on the large screen. 

We will then break for lunch and reconvene from 1 to 3 PM to discuss the manuscript and address points brought up by the discussants.

Only those who have read the entire manuscript should plan on attending. The manuscript will be shared weeks in advance to make it possible for all of us to read it.

Few disciplines are more contentious than sociology. On the one hand, public sociologists have claimed for decades that the discipline ought to take an explicit moral stance on its research topics; on the other, scholars have argued for strict distinction between fact and values, no less rigid than in the physical sciences. This divide elucidates that moral controversy is a constant in the field, and yet, somehow, successful scholars manage to engage these debates without being censured. How? 

Moral Minefields claims that sociologists develop repertoires that help them maneuver morally controversial research, allowing them to weather or circumvent touchy subjects and the disputes they cause. This book develops an analytical typology of these moral “maneuvers”, drawing on the new French pragmatic sociology of critique and justification. By analyzing recent controversies ranging from disputes over inclusion in the sociological canon to mobilization against gendered research assumptions, the book shows how discussions concerning what counts as morally acceptable research shape the empirical studies that drive the discipline. Emphasizing how sociologists maintain scholarly rigor and cordiality in the face of deep moral divisions, Moral Minefields shows how sociologists successfully defend themselves from the charge that their work is too politicized or too leftist or, conversely, that it does not incorporate justice and politics seriously enough.