Academic Scholarship

The Self-Revelations of 20th and 21st Century Interactionists: Breaking the Academic Mold

Studies in Symbolic Interactionism, 38, 1-8, September 2012

Photo Needed Lonnie Athens, D.Crim
Criminal Justice Department

Sociologists are notorious for writing antiseptic and self-serving autobiographies that hide more than they reveal about their authors. As the editor of a volume providing the autobiographies of 10 well-known and still living interactionists, I discuss the reasons for their writing of bland,formulaic autobiographies that allow them to hide behind their professional masks and the difficulties that were encountered in trying to find contributors who would break the academic mold by offering revelations about themselves. Personal revelations are filched by me from my contributors' autobiographies for purposes of illustration. The chief reason given for sociologists writing autobiographies free of personal revelations is their abiding by the convention that "decorum trumps truth" in academic discourse and the fear that its violation would be injurious to their careers.I conclude that the convention "decorum trumps truth" should be changed to "truth trumps decorum" because the former represents a serious impediment to any discipline that has as its goal the advancement of truth.


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