Public sociology, public scholarship, and community development

Jeffrey C. Bridger, Theodore R. Alter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


In his 2004 presidential address to the American Sociological Association, Michael Burawoy called for the creation of a public sociology that would be more relevant and useful to the people whom we study and with whom we work. This vision represents one of many responses to the growing chorus of critics who claim that higher education and the various disciplines that comprise it are out of date, out of touch, and are failing to address pressing societal issues. Seen in this light, public sociology is a laudable attempt to reinvigorate the discipline. But there are problems with Burawoy's formulation that prevent it from fulfilling this promise. In this article, we critically examine public sociology, and argue that a broader, alternative model of public scholarship-one that combines academic and civic benefits-will enable sociologists and other scholars to collaborate with the public in ways that more effectively address the intractable problems facing citizens and communities. This model has particular relevance to the theory and practice of community development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-416
Number of pages12
JournalCommunity Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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