When Do Sociologists Weigh-in?

How can I find out what Sociologists think of this modern age of cell phones, text messages, Facebook, blackberries, etc? And, why do we never hear from them? Surely, they have something to say about the impact of technology on society?

There are very few people within the humanities (that I’ve heard of) who are unhyphenated “sociologists” anymore. There are Marxist-Sociologists, Feminist-Sociologists, and sociologists that have bends toward several different streams of critical theory.

In answer to your question, you have one of two options:

  1. Find historical cultural models (Adorno et. al,) and try and extrapolate applications towards modern things.

  2. See what new sociologists think by reading trade journals, peer review books, etc. Look through JSTOR and Google Scholar. Unless you’re at a university/ in a city with a good library, you’ll have to pay to actually read the articles.

I suppose my follow-up is something along the line of “why do you care?” but I’m admittedly not on speaking terms with cultural theory right now. :smiley:

All the sociologists I know hang out in the social sciences, not the humanities. They don’t mind being called sociologists.

They write tons of this stuff. Like most academics, most of what they write is for other academics. However, if you go to the general bookstores and look at popular books about modern culture, you may find several whose authors are sociologists.

Another option would be to look and see what sociology courses your local (or not) college or university is offering on sociology of science, technology and society, stuff like that. Even if you don’t take the course, you can email and they may be willing to share the syllabus so that you can think about it.

Although his academic background isn’t in sociology, you might try reading something by Clay Shirky, who looks at some of the cultural aspects of technology using concepts and methods typical of sociology.

I second the advice about Google Scholar. That will at least get you the names of prominent authors, and if they’ve written books you can probably get them from interlibrary loan, even if you don’t have an academic library.

I see stuff all the time about how cell phones have changed our society and how we, as a society have evolved to endless information in small doses and quite a bit on the effects of social networking like facebook and myspace. So much so that Sociology of the Internet is a recognized specialization within Sociology. Depending on the Internet Sociologist, they may also include cell phone messaging in their specialty.

There used to be a great magazine called “American Demographics” which was entirely current sociology. I believe Advertising Age swallowed it up. Which is a nice segue to the ultimate point: other than academics, the people who are studying current sociological trends are all using it to sell you something.

Just before the Bout. They’re always trying to get their weight down, right to the last minute.

Actually, Rutgers’ Sociology Department publishes through their own TrasAction press:

http://www.transactionpub.com/cgi-bin/transactionpublishers.storefront
Their magazine used to be TransAction, later retitled Society, and now apparently defunct.

Actually, it’s a lot of fun to watch social scientists square off against one another. Get a copy of Marvin Harris’ Cultural Materialism or any of the critiques of it sand watch the metaphorical fur fly!

You’re right, of course. Mea Culpa. I’m in musicology, and so I’m used to a bunch of people in various liberal arts disciplines (film studies, music, cultural studies, etc.) who call themselves “sociologists,” but seem to be tenuously affiliated with sociology. I presumed these would be the people talking about blackberries and Ipods and the like, but I admit the possibility that I’m talking out of my arse. :smiley:

Edit: I would re-affirm my first idea about reading Adorno. His essays on popular music are certainly applicable to Ipods and cellphone ring tunes. I don’t endorse his viewpoints, but it’s good food for thought if that’s what you’re in to.