Shifting Practices in New Zealand Sociology
There is a widespread sense of unease in New Zealand sociology. This disquiet emerges in the day to day as hushed concerns over student numbers, furrowed brows at budget balances and squeamish stomachs over research outputs. General and pervasive, this sense of unease is linked to profound changes in the organisation, provision and practice of an academic sociology radically re-shaped by neoliberal policies in New Zealand higher education (Olssen, 2002). There is an apprehension that under current conditions, sociology is unable to maintain itself as an academic discipline in New Zealand (Crothers, 1999). Yet still, people continue to be employed as sociologists in academic institutions and new sociology programmes continue to emerge (Spoonely, 2005). Discomfit between a pervading sense of unease about sociology and life on the ground for academic sociologists merits further investigation. This article seeks to embark on such an investigation. Using a variety of information gathering strategies, this paper identifies key trends in the recent disciplinary practices of New Zealand sociology – to assess whether this unease is symptomatic of a discipline in demise or not – and concludes that sociology is maintaining itself as an academic discipline, but in new and as yet, unfamiliar ways.
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