FOOTNOTES NOVEMBER 1999
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Contemporary Sociology Offers Utopian Visions
 
by Barbara Risman and Donald Tomaskovic - Devey,
Editors

 
How should the official journal of reviews of the American Sociological Association mark the turn of the millennium? We have decided the appropriate means is to celebrate our disciplinary potential. We will mark this new century with a review not of the past, but of the possible future. In the January issue of Contemporary Sociology, you will find a series of essays on the possibilities, constraints, and institutional designs that may lead to a better world. All the essays use sociological wisdom, research, theories, and imagination to envision a more utopian world. Collectively, they demonstrate the breadth of contribution we can expect from the engaged sociology of the next century.

The writers describe mid - range utopias in their vision of a better world, given our knowledge of the sociologically possible. Authors vary in the degree to which they restrict themselves to the historically probable. Some envision only the politically possible; others ignore pragmatic politics and use their imaginations to describe sociologi Contemporary Sociology, from page 1 cally feasible solutions to important social problems.

The issue is organized into three sections: In the first section, Basic Survival Strategies, we present essays on topics from preventing genocide, to fighting hunger, to reducing violence. In the middle section, the essays focus on Reducing Inequalities. Finally, the last section, perhaps the most utopian, pushes us to think beyond survival and justice to how we must Expand Democratic Choices to create more freedom, pleasure, and power in individual lives. Following the essays are reviews of recent books, arranged under these three broad conceptual headings.

Sociology is probably known best for its ability to identify and critique social inequities. With this volume we ask you to take a leap of faith, to use your sociological imagination to envision a more perfect world rather than to criticize the one we live in. We have learned much from the essayists, and indeed feel we have much to celebrate in the potential of sociological wisdom to help shape a more utopian world. We can create only those worlds that we can imagine.

Just to increase your anticipation, the names of authors and the titles of their essays are provided below.

Section 1
Basic Survival Strategies

Preventing Genocide - Anthony Oberschall

Ending Hunger in Developing Countries - Frederick H. Buttel

Resisting Homelessness: Global, National, and Local Solutions - Talmadge Wright

Reducing Criminal and Corporate Violence - John Hagan and Holly Foster

Teaching Poor Children to Read - George Farkas

Fostering a Justice - based Health Care System - Donald Light

Enhancing Mental Health Delivery for Diverse Populations - David Takeuchi and Katherine Flower - Kim

Creating a Caring Society - Evelyn Nakano Glenn

Section 2
Reducing Inequalities

Doing Antiracism and Making a Nonracist Society - Jacqueline Johnson, Joe Feagin, and Sharon Rush

Limiting Gender Inequality through Interaction - Cecilia Ridgeway and Shelley Correll

Minimizing Workplace Gender and Racial Bias - William T. Bielby

Envisioning the Integration of Family and Work: Toward a Kinder, Gentler Workplace - Jennifer Glass

Reducing Income and Wealth Inequality: Three Real Utopian Proposals - Erik Olin Wright

Envisioning a Third Way: The Welfare State in the 21st Century - John Myles and Jill Quadagno

Section 3
Expanding Democratic Choices

Schooling for Democracy: Toward a Critical Utopianism - Gustavo E. Fischman and Peter McLaren

Resolving Family Dilemmas and Conflicts - Kathleen Gerson

Creating Good Communities - Amitai Etzioni

Encouraging Sexual Justice and Sexual Pleasure - Pepper Schwartz

Mobilizing for Change in a Social Movement Society - Verta Taylor

Fighting Marginalization and Globalization with Transnational Social Movements - Peter Evans