Aims & Scope

When detergents were invented over a half-century ago, the manufacturers confronted a problem. This new cleaning product was very unlike the soap flakes that consumers were then utilizing to do their laundry. Instead of being a bulky solid, it was a concentrated liquid. As a result, very few housewives were convinced that the product would work as well as their old stand-bys. Its producers addressed this problem by creating solid detergents and then bulking them up with fillers. This reassured their customers and the rest is history. Indeed, it hasn’t been until recently that concentrated liquid detergents have assumed a premium quality. It has taken this long for the public to change its mind about how to clean its clothes.

Today we are contorted with the question of how to organize an on-line periodical such as The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology. The tendency has been to create a format that apes those of traditional printed journals. These consist largely of compendia of conventional articles, with perhaps a collection of appended book reviews, and maybe several letters to the editor. Although computer based publication allows for unprecedented flexibility (including in publication schedule), the impulse is to stick to the tried and true. It is as if only the established means of publishing are legitimate. What is forgotten is the purpose of publication in the first place—and that is the furtherance of the scientific enterprise.

This said, it is the intention of The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology to live up to its title. To this end, we the editors wish to share our editorial philosophy in the hope that this will encourage participation in our endeavor. First and foremost, our goal is to promote scientific advances. The objective is to increase our sociological knowledge on both the pure and applied level. We intend to serve as a platform for genuine efforts to expand what we know about how the social world works and/or how it can be made to work. This is a large order—one that sometimes significantly departs from careerist objectives—nevertheless, we believe it a worthy one.

To begin with, the journal aspires to be professional. The intention is to promote “a self-motivated expertise” in sociology. We believe that knowledge is a precious commodity that deserves to be fostered in its own right. Instead of merely seeking publication, we hope that potential authors will also be inspired by this goal; that is, that they too will be internally dedicated to being as competently scientific as is feasible. The point is to increase what we know, not merely to follow conventional research strategies. Scientism, which is to say, the appearance of science, is definitely not desired.

Second, our journal aspires to be relevant. If sociology is to have practical, publicly oriented benefits, it must stay in touch with the real world. Jargon may sometimes be necessary, as may esoteric subject matter, but these will not be encouraged for their own sake. Too often sociologists have attempted to validate their credentials by being unreadable and uninterpretable. This we intend to avoid. Instead, we hope to make sense in a very straightforward and hands-on manner.

In order to achieve these objectives, our journal proposes to be innovative. We intend to experiment with many different styles of publication. This will be reflected in when we publish, as well as in what we publish. Traditional, peer-reviewed articles will be accepted. These may concern theory, practice, and/or research projects. In this case, both quality and sociological relevance will help decide what is accepted. We, along with most social scientists, believe that professional evaluations improve the content of what is published.

But we intend to do more. This journal will feature a revolving inventory of departments. Sometimes we will present symposia on significant topics; sometimes we will incorporate provocative pieces intended to elicit responses from readers. Upon occasion, we will publish flat-out debates about important questions. Moreover, from time to time, we will challenge readers to participate in discussing controversial issues. Research notes and teaching notes are likewise welcome. Even proposed reforms will be printed. There will be student papers and letters to the editor as well. At some point, we may even include a blog feature and perhaps videos. Which of these will come to dominate depends upon the quality of the responses they elicit as well as feedback from readers.

Lastly, suggestions for novel subject matter and presentation formats are always appreciated. We, the editors, do not believe that we have a monopoly on good ideas and hope to have our horizons expanded by an active readership. Upon occasion we will invite specific contributions and sometimes devote entire issues to selected topics, but we will also entertain proposals from the public. Too often journals, including on-line journals, are not read. If we are to be successful, The Journal of Public and Professional Sociology must be so exciting that social scientists of every stripe, and laypersons too, will feel that their social knowledge is incomplete without consulting it.