News from academe

Philosophical ruminations.
Feb. 3 1999 3:30 AM

News from academe

(Continued from Page 1)

No! Wait! Sociology Lives!

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Not long ago, Lingua Franca (and others) declared that "sociology is dead." Once considered a model of social scientific method and a source of broad insights into the way people live, the discipline had become directionless, intellectually moribund, and hopelessly overspecialized, with departments across the country scaling back or disappearing altogether. But now Prospect, a British magazine that covers politics and ideas, asserts that "sociology is back." The evidence? A renaissance of sociological research in the United Kingdom, as well as the fact that Prime Minister Tony Blair's intellectual guru is sociologist and London School of Economics Dean Anthony Giddens. Prospect adds that the best sociological research is coming from independent think tanks and corporations, not from universities.

Serbia Turns Down American Express

Despite U.S. State Department intervention, Serbia denied visas to a delegation assigned by Human Rights Watch to investigate the suppression of academic freedom in that country. Those denied visas included philosopher Richard Rorty and several Nobel laureates, who were to participate in a conference with independent Serbian intellectuals. The Serbian government also contended that the delegation--which included Lingua Franca Managing Editor Laura Secor, who recently wrote for the magazine about the Serb government's crackdown on universities--was part of a CIA plot.

Economic Star Power

The Economist's survey of rising young stars in the economics profession found that this decade's hot young economists are the same people it named to the list 10 years ago. "Where are the Paul Krugmans of yesteryear?" the magazine asked, wondering why so few junior members of the field have crossed over into the public sphere. The answer seems to be that the very youngest generation is doing work that is too technical and too mathematical to attract much attention or be applied to questions of policy.

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Class Struggles

A labor stalemate between the University of California and its graduate students continues. Graduate students working as teaching assistants went on strike in December, demanding the right to collective bargaining for the 9,000 TAs who work for the eight school system. They then acceded to a "cooling off" period, which ended Jan. 21 without an agreement being reached. The students, affiliated with the United Auto Workers union, have had some success: The California Public Employment Relations Board ruled late last year in favor of their right to organize. The university appealed the decision, insisting that graduate students, even if they work as instructors, are students first and foremost. Union organizers have not yet said when the strike might resume.

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