“Sociologist at Large” – what exactly is that?
Being “at large” generally refers to roving, or not being fixed in one spot. In my case, “at large” refers to being a public scholar out exploring the world – an embedded public sociologist.
Here’s how I conceptualize it:
Embedded Public Sociologist (at Large!) – a sociologist observes people out in the world, looking for patterns and processes shaping social life. The “public” part means my sociology happens in and for the community, striving to always remain accessible. The “embedded” part means I interact with social life in an ongoing way (vs “studying” a group or “population” for a fixed, finite, or one-time kinda deal). There are no conclusions, only snapshots – informed assessments of current states.
Being an embedded public sociologist basically means that I’m always seeking new information about wider social interactions, as the ways in which a community operates is always changing. Public sociology keeps me accountable by making sure my work is both relevant and relative to the wider world. I work to always be mindful of the ways in which all people and parts of society are integral components of the whole, interacting in ways that are synergistic and significant.
Image of Chauntelle Tibbals by Sam Marx/3SP.