Has Sociology Progressed? Reflections of an Accidental Academic

“This book advances a bold assessment and critique of the state of sociology today. Campbell takes the discipline to task for denigrating the value of scholarship by prioritising ever narrower and more specialised research interests and agendas. What is n

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Colin Campbell

Has Sociology Progressed?

Colin Campbell

Has Sociology Progressed? Reflections of an Accidental Academic

Colin Campbell University of York York, UK

ISBN 978-3-030-19978-4  (eBook) ISBN 978-3-030-19977-7 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-19978-4 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Cover illustration: © John Rawsterne/patternhead.com This Palgrave Pivot imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

To Verna


I never intended to be an academic. That happened by accident. A lucky accident as it turned out as I have enjoyed my career immensely. The story starts in the VI-form of Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield when the then headmaster informed me that he didn’t think that I was “university material” and hence wouldn’t support my application for a university place. This would appear to have been on the basis that the only subject I had managed to fail during my school career was Latin, which, as it happened, was the subject he taught. Given this, coupled with my parents’ ignorance about universities and the manner in which students were funded (no one in my family had been to university), I only applied to the nearest university on the basis that my parents couldn’t afford for me to live away from home. That was of course the University of Birmingham and then admissions officer, a certain A. H. Halsey, turned me down on the basis that I had failed A-level mathematics (I met “Chelly” Halsey many years later at Nuffield College and he was very amused to hear that he had once turned me down for a university place). Not knowing quite what to do next I went to the