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Date: 11/30/2020
Subject: Dr Alan Scott's Monthly Email
From: TASA Applied Sociology

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Applied Sociology Thematic Group
Contact Letter

November 2020

A few words of encouragement for our members November 2020 from Dr Alan Scott
Click here to view as PDF

Following our recent on line meeting it was suggested that the monthly emails produced by Dr.  Alan Scott should be continued.  However, because the earlier ones have been collected into an on line book (available from the TASA web site.), it seemed appropriate that this new approach should be a little different.  Quite what that will mean I don’t yet know so we will have to see what develops.

I have just found a quote from the historian Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)  in the “Latter-Day Pamphlets” (1850), which perhaps expresses  the  feelings of at least some people today: 

The Social Science, is not a gay science… no, a dreary
desolate one, and indeed quite abject and distressing
one; what we might call ...the dismal science. 

Writers of the 18th and 19th centuries were often very critical of the new inventions and the rise of the working class.  Carlyle was writing before the invention of the term ‘Sociology’ was suggested by Auguste Comte, who wrote, “Love our principle, order our foundation, progress our goal.” In the 20th century Lewis Coser suggests that sociologists feel most at ease studying the status of inferiors. I have asked students about their course and especially Sociology and their response has often been “Boring”.   But as you know, our work is anything but boring, we actually change society.  We do not just write about what it is.    The Applied Sociologist has to move beyond this academic approach and look, not at the grades of people, but the structures of life in the communities of the world and how they can be improved.

The Applied Sociologist should must also understand that their work is not in the application of a particular social theory, but the application of all their background knowledge where ever and whenever it fits the situation.  Many of the jobs that confront you are unique and don’t need a formal theory to arrive at a solution.  What they do need is the amalgamation of all your knowledge, wherever you learnt it, be it social theory or social experience, to solving the social issue you are dealing with. The Applied Sociologist usually is employed either to assess things that are already in place, or occasionally to develop a new way of doing something.  In most cases this work and its parameters are someone else’s idea, not yours, and you must learn how to accept them or get round them.

I have been asked to help all levels of Government in Australia to find a way to make something better, not to write a thesis on it, with all the quotes nicely listed. The result is that I have been able to change government polices to meet real situations, to their advantage and the advantage of all or many Australians.

Given all this, Sociology Applied, gives us the insights we can develop as our professional base, but we need to share our successes and our disasters to help other see new or different solutions.   I was asked to reinstate my Continuing Education monthly Contact email, and will do this alternately with Sophie’s newsletter.

Alan Scott, M.A. Sociology.

Thomas Carlyle
Auguste Compte
Thomas Carlyle
Auguste Compte