Siobhan McAndrew is a lecturer with the University of Bristol’s School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies, where her research interests focus on the social science of culture, religion and value change. She recently joined the editorial team of Civic Sociology, an open-access journal from University of California Press which is slated to publish its first articles in January 2020.
UC Press: Welcome to Civic Sociology!
Siobhan McAndrew: Thank you–it’s great to be on board!
UC Press: What compelled you to take part in Civic Sociology, a new journal which is somewhat unique, both in its focus and as an open-access journal in the social sciences?
Siobhan McAndrew: This was serendipitous! I had blogged some thoughts after the Brexit and Trump results in 2016, which were picked up by [Civic Sociology’s Editor-in-Chief] Eric Lybeck via Twitter. Eric was then working in Exeter, in good traveling distance from Bristol, and we met to talk. We had common interests in sociology being more concerned with problem-solving, with engagement with practitioner communities and research users, and that there should be a home for rapid response, policy- and empirically-focused work on the drivers of pro-civic and pro-social behavior. I’m a fast and interested reviewer, and was delighted when Eric suggested that there was an important gap to be filled by a new journal. And the team looked excellent.
UC Press: What does the notion of a “civic” sociology mean to you?
Siobhan McAndrew: There are two aspects. First, while sociology’s purview and methods range across the social sciences, my day-to-day experience of teaching and research is that priority is given to the study of marginality, disadvantage, and “culture.” Disciplinary concern with inequality and disadvantage is hardly surprising but we also need to attend to solutions, and research programmes relating to the sources of cohesion, civic life, institutional legitimacy, taxation and public policy. The quantitative tradition in sociology also particularly lends itself to solution-oriented work.
Secondly, we should be concerned with sociologists’ own service to the research user community (quite apart from sociologists’ activism, on which question I’ll abstain for now). Of course academia is pressured in all sorts of ways, but so are many working environments, and university workers are better-positioned than most to contribute to the civic conversation. Stakeholders continually express need for accessible research, open-access research, readable research. We should do more to make expertise accessible, naturally to our own research communities, but also the wider disciplinary and research user community. As a disciplinary community, we have to look outward to be a good citizen, and we have unique perspectives and contributions to make. I also sense that we are under hitting in our contribution to the policy world, partly because critique comes more naturally to most colleagues than constructive engagement; but we need to do both.
UC Press: What types of papers would you like to see submitted to the journal?
Siobhan McAndrew: I’d like to see shorter research reports where the focus is on the findings or establishment of “stylized facts” rather than generation of new theory. Critical commentaries of current events, informed by sociological insight, would also be interesting. I’d personally prefer to see quantitative papers, network analyses, policy analyses; papers which are readable and cross-disciplinary. I’m particularly interested in submissions from independent researchers, and sociologists and social researchers based in government and the third sector, though I recognize that it might be a challenge to get permission. There is more of a tradition of economists working in government publishing in academic journals and it would be good to see similar applied expertise being hosted here: the best analytic talent often lies outside the academy.
Regarding subject matter, because of my current work I would like to see studies of values and morality, social movements and moral communities, sociological work on the third sector, and critical work more broadly on the values and attitudes of our “tribe”–the cultural sector, education sector, public sector workers–and how they are associated with organizational strategy. More broadly, I would like to see contributions from organizational sociology and economic sociology. I also invite work which is hard-to-categorize or otherwise challenges existing journal conventions.
UC Press: If an academic or practitioner reading this post wants to submit an article to the journal, what should they do?
UC Press: Thank you for your work on the journal, and best wishes for a successful start!
Civic Sociology is an open-access journal which encourages a scholarship oriented toward more effective, ethical interventions into systemic social problems, and which emphasizes problem-solving and professional practice; local and regional issues; and normative and ethical reflection.