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Return of sociology

Sociology is entering a new golden age-but without much help from academic sociologists. Over the past two decades the trendy sociologist stopped being a cliché and became an oxymoron. Now the discipline is making a comeback in think-tanks and consultancies

By Ian Christie   January 1999

To the astonishment of many of us who can remember the 1970s, there has recently been a “seventies revival.” Some of the worst artefacts of the “decade that style forgot” are being celebrated for their kitsch splendour. But one favourite cliché of British culture in the 1970s has been conspicuously absent from the revival: the “trendy sociologist.” Indeed, this is a cliché which has become an oxymoron. It is difficult for any Prospect reader under 40 to imagine the glee with which the conservative press greeted Malcolm Bradbury’s satire on the relentlessly trendy sociologist Howard Kirk, in his 1975 novel…

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