What is The Journal?
The Journal of a Mad Sociologist is a personal endeavor in which I demonstrate how the discipline of sociology can benefit and influence the lived experience. Despite a piece of paper saying otherwise, I am not a sociologist. I am a human being who studies and teaches sociology. As a human being my identity is informed by many influences and desires, including the desire to leave the world a better place than the one I've entered. Sociology is one aspect of that desire. In essence, this branch of Andoscia Sociology is a reflection of the things that I find important and a fusion of those things into a conceptualization of the social world. Whereas Andoscia Sociology is an academic site designed for students of sociology, and endeavors to objectivity, The Journal is a real life experience with sociology. For the student, The Journal should demonstrate that sociology and sociologists are not, or at least should not be, dusty academe relegated to university offices and libraries. Sociology is, or should be, a lived experience (as is true for all sciences and disciplines).
But sociology is more than that (or perhaps less than that, depending on how you perceive the importance of hard science and structural discipline in one's field). Society, the focus of sociology, encompasses every aspect of the lived experience. Everything from crime to art to fashion to politics to voodoo and pet societies is a part of the lived experience. Sociology, by its very nature, is a schizophrenic discipline. It is my desire to bring some of that schizophrenia to bare on the field and see what happens. Let's go crazy and call it sociology. We might be surprised at the insights.
The Journal presents my own lived reality with sociology. There are many lived realities in the world, but my own is exclusive and up to me to share. Likewise, there are many ways to apply sociology to one's everyday life. For this reason, many forums and opportunities for feedback are offered through which students, lay people, or professionals can express their own insights or clarity. The Mad Sociologist Blog was created to maximize this interaction. One can also participate via the Journal of a Mad Sociologist Facebook Page.
As a personal project which does not shy away from my subjective self, it is contingent on me to expound the biases that will be present. As one of my greatest influences, historian Howard Zinn, so aptly explains in A Peoples History of the United States, true objectivity cannot be realized. However, especially with regard to studies in the social sciences, we should offer our biases from the beginning so that those who read our work understand the perspective. The biases that will be demonstrated on this site are as follows.
- A secular humanist tradition: Knowledge through reason is privileged over knowledge through revelation. That's not to say that religious perspectives are not welcome, however, this site will subject any perspective, secular or religious, to critical analysis.
- A liberal perspective: As a sociologist I'm aware of the complexity of social phenomena. I'm also interested in social change. Indeed, I'm personally directed toward radicalism, by which I mean that I believe there are root causes for our social ills (as opposed to a root "cause" in the singular, which tends to be the focus of extremism), and that these root causes need to be directly and immediately addressed.
- Freedom: I believe in maximizing the domain of choices available to human beings. Those policies which inhibit human freedom, or allow individuals or institutions to stand in the way of human freedom, must be eliminated. I recognize that there is a fine line in that most human action can be seen as constraining human freedom.
- A respect for human dignity: In all matters, human dignity will come before economic cost/benefit analysis or political contingency. The needs of the many do not always outweigh the needs of the few or the one.
- Eclectic World-view: It is my belief that sociologists, of all academics, cannot confine their studies to sociology. There's a whole world of art and science and interaction out there that needs to be experienced and understood.
- Construction over destruction: Those things that maximize human potential, or creative forces, are the goal. Those things that minimize human potential, or destructive forces, are anathema.
- The pursuit of Truth: Regardless of what my postmodernist contemporaries may argue, Truth does exist. Anyone who has ever stubbed their toe in the dark knows this. Now I will accept that there are multiple truths, and that there may even be levels of truth, but there exist truths that are contrary to falsehoods. It is the purpose of this site, as well as all of my work, to highlight these truths.
The above biases are not meant to exclude participation from anyone. As one could infer from what is written above, this site is meant to demonstrate a respect for all human perspectives. Censorship is something that I abhor. It is my belief that truths can only be illuminated through the light of discourse. This website is meant to be a discussion, not a presentation.
About the Author
This project is the work of Michael Andoscia, MA, an independent scholar and activist (as much as he can be, anyway) living in Southwest Florida. Michael received a Master of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of South Florida for his thesis, Polymorphous Techniques of Power: Governing Sexuality in a Therapeutic Wilderness Program. He currently teaches Advanced Placement and Cambridge history at Lehigh Senior High School and Introduction to Sociology and Contemporary Social Problems at Edison State College.
Michael has published two novels, Stone is not Forever and The Revelation of Herman Smiley. He is a former officer for the Sierra Club Calusa Chapter and former president of the Responsible Growth Management Coalition.
Michael also knows that writing about himself in the third person is pretty lame, but whatayagonnado.
A Call for Contributors
If you would like to contribute to the Journal of a Mad Sociologist, or to the Mad Sociologist Blog, please contact me here