Showing posts with label sociology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sociology. Show all posts

Thursday, September 9, 2021

So now you care about academic mobbing

Angry Mob by Robert Couse-Baker, CC BY 2.0
Princeton politics professor Keith E. Whittington (on the blog) has a wisely worded op-ed, on The Volokh Conspiracy at Reason, on the too often abdicated responsibility of university administrators to push back against viewpoint-based campus mobbing of faculty.

"It is now a familiar pattern," he writes: attack, petition, social media campaign, demand for termination.  Of the university's duty, he writes:

University presidents have a responsibility in such a situation. It should go without saying, but unfortunately it does not, that they have a responsibility to actually live up to their constitutional and contractual responsibilities and refrain from sanctioning the faculty member for saying something that someone finds controversial. They should insist that harassment and threats directed against members of the faculty will not be tolerated. Professors should at least be confident that when the mobs arrive, pitchforks in hand, that university leaders will not flinch and give in to the demands of the mob.

I hope the piece hits the desk of every university president in the land with a thunderclap of j'accuse.

Yet it is fascinating to me to see described today as cliché what was once fringe.  Canadian sociologist Kenneth Westhues, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo, published his Workplace Mobbing in Academe (2004) seventeen years ago, and that book was built on his earlier Eliminating Professors (1998).

By the time I met Ken in 2009, he was already the world's leading expert on academic mobbing.  He still is.  Westhues's website is still the online clearinghouse on mobbing as a sociological phenomenon. But he's almost never cited, at least in the legal lit.  I find eight references to Westhues on Westlaw's JLR database, and none in the last dozen years.

At a program at the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 2010, I accepted the invitation of Westhues and Syracuse University law professor Robert Ashford to speak of my experience.  Ashford perceived a worthwhile connection to his inventive work in socio-economics, and Westhues flattered me with my name as a participle

The splash we made at AALS and in legal academics eleven years ago might be described well as mostly indifferent curiosity.  Mostly modifies indifferent, not curiosity.  

I wrote in the Journal of College and University Law in 2009 about the need for broader academic freedom, beyond published research and into the professorial "penumbra."  I presented at AAUP, besides AALS.  The article was cited once in a 2011 bibliography and once in 2013.  (Thanks, Profs. Benson and Jones.)  And that was that.

Not until cancel culture reached the well known coastal scholars of academia's elite institutions did mobbing hit the mainstream.  Now a lot of important people are wringing their hands over academic freedom and waning tenure.

Too bad they don't seem able to find my article.  Or Westhues's work.  Is there really a wheel until it's invented at a "top" school?

It's nice to see serious people having serious thoughts about academic freedom, at last.  But it's too late to give solace to a generation of victim-scholars.  And it's probably too late to resuscitate intellectual liberty on campus, for at least a generation yet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book Review (Preview): Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, by James Dorsey






My book review of James M. Dorsey's Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer (Hurst 2016) has been published at 52(6) International Review for the Sociology of Sport 772 (2017).  Below is a preview; read more at IRSS from Sage.
Dr. Dorsey's blog also is titled, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.  For the opportunity to write and publish this review, I am indebted to Dr. Colin Howley, Richmond University in London, and to the editors at IRSS.
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 James M Dorsey, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, Hurst Publishers: London, 2016: 359 pp.: ISBN: 9781849043311, £15.99 (pbk). 
....
No interest in soccer ('football' in most of the world) is prerequisite to the read. Dorsey himself acknowledges in the book's introduction that soccer was 'a journey into the unknown' for him, and—though he is co-director of the Institute for Fan Culture at the University of Würzburg—he disavows personal fandom. Rather Dorsey analogizes soccer, 'the world's most global cultural practice', to a 'prism'. Just as a prism separates white light into its constituent colours, Dorsey's study of soccer disentwines the modern Middle East into 'sport, society, culture, politics and development'....