The Mad Sociologist Blog is the evolution of what used to be The Journal of a Mad Sociologist. It 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 just 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, the Mad Sociologist is a reflection of the things that I find important and a fusion of those things into a conceptualization of the social world. The Mad Sociologist Blog is a real-life experience with sociology. For the student, The blog is intended to 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 bear on the field and see what happens. Let’s go crazy and call it sociology. We might be surprised at the insights.
This blog presents my own lived reality as a student and a teacher of 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 well as through the Mad Sociologist Twitter Feed.
As a personal project that 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 or spiritual perspectives are not welcome, however, this site will subject any perspective, secular or religious, to critical analysis.
- A small “d” democratic perspective: My analysis of social justice privileges democratic principles. Specifically, I see most social problems as emerging from too much power in the hands of institutional elites that can be and often becomes exploitative and not enough power in the hands of those who do the work necessary for the function of our institutions and our society, what I refer to as the Demos. The privileged solutions for these problems is biased toward those that further empower the Demos and check the powers of the elite. In other words, the more democracy, the better. Though I use two categories in my model, this should not be mistaken as a dialectic, as embraced by my Marxist friends. It’s more complicated than that. Regardless, in any contemporary institutional framework, we can identify those with the power to exploit and those who are exploited. To borrow from Camus, in a world of executioners and their victims, it is the position of this blog to be on the side of the victims.
- 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 institutional frameworks can be seen as constraining human freedom.
- 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 Worldview: 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 despite perception. 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 respect for all human perspectives. Censorship is something that I abhor. It is my belief that truths can only be illuminated by 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 Honors Economics, Philosophy, and AICE Sociology at a local high school and has taught Introduction to Sociology, Contemporary Social Problems, and Multi-Cultural Relations at Florida Southwestern State College and Florida Gulf Coast University.
Michael also knows that writing about himself in the third person is pretty lame, but whatayagonnado.