Producing Radical Scholarship:

The Radical Sociology Movement, 1967-1975

Abigail A. Fuller

Manchester College
Box 178, Manchester College
N. Manchester, IN  46962


The Radical Critique of Mainstream Sociology
Radicalize Academia or Work in the Movement?
The Relationship between Theory and Practice
Doing Radical Sociology
The Hiring and Firing of Radical Faculty


This article investigates how the radical sociologists of the 1960s understood and dealt with the dilemmas of producing knowledge for social transformation. Radical sociologists sought to develop a "sociology for the people," in contrast to mainstream sociology which they saw as maintaining ruling class power in America. I examine their views on the political functions of mainstream sociology; whether to radicalize academia or work with the Movement; the relationship between theory and practice; the merits of different ways of working with radical movements; and the difficulties of surviving within academia.


Many sociologists want their scholarly work to better human life. Peace researchers, students of women's studies and minority studies, and Marxist sociologists, for example, generally intend their work to contribute to the elimination of different forms of domination in society. Yet we have been remarkably unreflexive about how precisely our work can serve this end. Specifically, we have neglected to investigate how the social arenas within which we work--the university, on the one hand, and radical movements on the other--affect the scholarship that we produce. Given the conservative nature of the university, how is it possible for radical academics to survive within it? What kind of working relationship with radical movements is most conducive to producing knowledge for social transformation? One group of scholars who asked these questions was the radical sociology movement that emerged in the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States. Radical sociologists sought to develop a "sociology for the people," exposing what it perceived as the complicity of mainstream sociology in maintaining ruling class power in America, and creating a "radical" alternative supportive of radical social change. In short, they sought a reflexive understanding of their participation as sociologists in social transformation.

The radical sociology movement (RSM) began in 1967, at the height of "the Movement" (this term was used by activists in the civil rights, student, antiwar, and women's movements to denote their common political, cultural, and social worlds) (Teodori 1969). Since college campuses were centers of radical activity, many academics were drawn into the Movement, and in virtually all the academic disciplines they challenged the established academic paradigms as supportive of the repressive status quo. By one count, there were eighteen radical academic groups at that time (Perrucci 1973). Radical sociologists first came together at the 1967 meetings of the American Sociological Association (ASA) in San Francisco when several sociologists proposed a formal resolution condemning the Vietnam War. While most were already Movement activists, for the first time they were proposing the participation of sociologists in the Movement as sociologists.

The resolution failed, but it put into contact Movement-oriented sociologists who organized the RSM (Colfax and Roach 1971). At the ASA meetings the following year, the radical contingent was larger and more vocal; by one estimate, there was a core group of about thirty to forty activists, with a hundred or so followers (Roach 1970). ASA president Philip Hauser, reportedly alarmed by rumors that the radicals planned to disrupt the meetings, allowed an RSM representative to respond to a plenary address by Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Wilbur Smith (Flacks 1991a). The result was Martin Nicolaus's legendary "Fat Cat Sociology" speech, in which he declared that "the eyes of sociologists...have been turned study the activities of the lower classes" while "the professional palm of the sociologists is stretched toward" the dominant classes who provide research funds (Nicolaus 1991: 252-253). The radicals organized sessions and proposed resolutions at the Business Meeting, a practice that was to continue for several years. To protest Chicago's treatment of demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention, the ASA passed a resolution to move to other cities future ASA conventions scheduled for Chicago.

The RSM's visibility peaked at the 1969 ASA meetings, held in San Francisco, with its main meeting attended by 400 people (Brown 1970). Radicals published the first issue of the Insurgent Sociologist, which continues today as Critical Sociology, as a pre-conference newsletter. They held sessions on radical sociology both as part of the ASA meetings and at an alternative convention at nearby Glide Memorial Church. In one of the RSM's most dramatic actions, radicals disrupted the ASA presidential address to hold a memorial for Ho Chi Minh, who had just died. At the following year's meetings, the RSM introduced a Business Meeting resolution calling for an investigation into the termination of radical sociologist Marlene Dixon's contract at the University of Chicago, arguing that she and others had been fired for political reasons.

By the early 1970s sociologists were writing a fair amount on radical sociology. Several readers appeared (Deutsch and Howard 1970; Colfax and Roach 1971). Radical sociologists shifted their energy from the ASA to east- and west-coast regional RSM organizations, which held well-attended annual conferences through the mid-seventies. In 1974, they participated in a successful write-in campaign to elect Alfred McClung Lee president of ASA. However, the Movement's demise signaled the decline of the RSM. The causes were similar: internal dissension; repression, which raised the costs of participation; and a changing economy. In 1975, with RSM participation waning, radical sociologists decided to establish a permanent presence in the ASA by forming the Marxist Section.

This paper investigates how radical sociologists understood and dealt with the dilemmas of producing knowledge for social transformation. They examined the political functions of mainstream sociology; discussed whether to focus on radicalizing academia or on helping the Movement; struggled over the relationship between producing theory and engaging in political practice, and the merits of aiding radical movements in various ways; and faced the difficulties of surviving within academia. They did so with a rare urgency, born of a deep commitment to changing the world and a belief that they were living in a revolutionary time, and with unusual insight--they were sociologists turning their skills on themselves and their profession. Their questions, analyses, and disagreements did not merely constitute theoretical puzzles to be solved; they were of profound personal and political importance.

The data is from a larger study based on interviews with seventeen people who were active in the RSM between 1967 and 1975. Respondents included those who either wrote pieces on radical sociology during that period that were published in sociological journals or books, or were mentioned in the Insurgent Sociologist as participating in the RSM. Four of the respondents were female and thirteen were male. One was Black and sixteen were white. The sample is probably biased by the under-representation of individuals who have since left academia, as they were more difficult to locate than those who currently hold faculty positions, and more reluctant to be interviewed when I did locate them. Of the three individuals I contacted who left academia, only one agreed to be interviewed. By comparison, sixteen of the seventeen individuals I contacted who are still in academia agreed to be interviewed.

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The Radical Critique of Mainstream Sociology

The first sociologists in the United States, in the early part of this century, tended to believe that sociology could be a force for social reform and were oriented toward the study of social problems. By the 1950s, however, American sociology was dominated by the effort to produce scholarship that was more scientific, using positivist methods and a systems approach to theory. There were several reasons for this change: the development of computers capable of quickly handling large amounts of data; the political climate of the times, characterized by a belief in pluralism and consensus in American life, which was amenable to structural functionalist theory; and the increased availability of federal and private funds for academic research after World War II (Friedrichs 1970; Lehmann and Young 1974). In the quest to make sociology scientific, the idea that it should be value free became dominant in the profession. Sociologists cited Weber's (1949) distinction between the "is" and the "ought" to justify their abstention from social reform efforts.

Radical sociologists argued that mainstream sociology was not, as claimed, free of values. They saw the myth of a value-free sociology as disguising the fact that sociologists typically sold their services to the highest bidder: government and corporations (Wilhelm 1966; Friedrichs 1970). Mainstream sociology thus helped the state and corporations maintain the inequality that the Movement sought to eradicate. C. Wright Mills had argued that "Grand Theory" supported the system with ideological legitimacy, and "Abstracted Empiricism" provided the ruling class with practical knowledge with which to quell dissent (Mills 1959). The most famous case of the latter was Project Camelot, a government-sponsored project to investigate popular dissent in Chile in order to prevent it, in which some well-known sociologists were involved (Horowitz 1967).1 Radicals maintained that even liberal sociological research, which purported to address social problems, typically upheld state and corporate power by increasing the efficacy of government programs that alleviated their worst consequences. Such research focused on isolated social problems without calling into question the system as a whole. At the 1968 ASA meetings, the RSM adopted the slogan "Knowledge for Whom?," a reference to Robert Lynd's 1939 book Knowledge for What?, and distributed a flyer that read in part: More than anything, it was the experience of participating in the Movement that led to the development of a critical perspective on mainstream sociology. Many radical sociologists experienced a sort of cognitive dissonance in which the immediacy, excitement, and political import of the Movement contrasted sharply with what they saw as the sterility, boredom, and irrelevance of mainstream sociology. One respondent remembers participating in a sit-in at the University of Wisconsin, at which students discussed their personal fears and their hopes for a new society; "This too was a type of sociological talk it would never have occurred to us to have in class" (Stark 1991: 69). Given what they saw as the intellectual ferment occurring in the Movement, many radical sociologists were shocked by the negative reactions of faculty and administration to student radicalism. These reactions undermined their perception of academia as a bastion of rationality. Howard Ehrlich recalls his colleagues' reactions to a teach-in on the Vietnam War at the University of Iowa.
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To Radicalize Academia or Work in the Movement?

Agreeing on what they were against was easier for radical sociologists than agreeing on what they were for. Early on in the RSM fundamental questions arose about what it meant to be a radical sociologist--or whether being both radical and a sociologist was possible. One issue concerned where radicals would direct their efforts--the university and the academic professions, or the Movement. Another was how to conduct radical scholarship--specifically, the appropriate relationship between theory and practice.

At the 1968 founding meeting of the New University Conference (NUC), a national organization of radical faculty, two speakers laid out the strategic choices available to radical academics (Ericson 1975). Staughton Lynd, an historian who had left a faculty position at Yale, strongly doubted it was possible to work within the academic system without being coopted by it. At the very least, he argued, the demands of academic life left little time for Movement work. Academics should become Movement intellectuals, outside the university. Lynd had organized the Freedom Schools in the south during the early Civil Rights movement, a model for teaching and learning outside the university. In contrast, Richard Flacks, a sociologist who had been an early SDS leader, believed in the potential of the university to become a force for radical change. He argued that, given the level of political activity on campus, radical academics had a unique contribution to make there and within their academic disciplines.

While these options are not mutually exclusive, people do have finite amounts of time and energy and so must make choices about where to put their efforts. Five of seventeen respondents I interviewed chose to participate only marginally in RSM activities because they felt it more important to work directly in the Movement. In fact, these five identified primarily as activists, not sociologists. In this they differed significantly from others who, while deeply committed to the Movement, nevertheless identified primarily as sociologists. The activist-
identified respondents did not doubt that academia could be radicalized; several respondents recalled feeling confident that radicals could take over the ASA should they desire. Instead, they doubted that sociology was powerful enough in the larger society to merit their efforts to change it. Compared to the immediate demands of the Movement, academia was simply not as vital an arena for political activity. As one respondent put it, "Feed the hungry; the sociologists will take care of themselves."

The logical extension of seeing the Movement as the central arena of political activity was to leave academia for full-time Movement work. Few radical sociologists did so: of the respondents in this study, only one left the university completely and several others remained only tenuously connected with it. But the argument for leaving the university seems to have held a lot of credibility and was much discussed.2 What were the political implications of the choice to remain in the university or leave it? One view was that there really were none: a division of labor based on personal proclivity or talent was permissible, and some people were more suited to university teaching and research, others to community organizing. Some felt this was more "democratic" than demanding that everyone become full-time movement activists, which was unrealistic for many people because of personal and financial responsibilities. Instead, radicals, including academics, could work in appropriate ways within their professions and occupations.

The counter argument was that there were unavoidable political implications in the choice to either remain a university professor or work in the Movement. In this view, the university was irretrievably conservative. Those who stayed within it would inevitably be coopted by its rewards or, at least, have little time for political organizing in the face of career demands. Several years into the RSM, there arose a faction that argued that radical academics should leave the university. Marlene Dixon, one of the strongest proponents of this view, maintained that the class position of academics conspired against them becoming truly radical: the academy bestows privileges on academics that can be, and are, taken away should the latter engage in radical activities (Dixon 1971). Furthermore, these benefits are made possible by the exploitation of others: "faculty are supported on the fat of the system" which is "rendered from the flesh of Brazilian peasants and women assembly-line workers" (p. 63). At the 1970 ASA meetings, Dixon, David Colfax (another leading proponent of this view), and several other radicals announced their withdrawal from the RSM and the ASA, claiming that sociology was unredeemably reactionary and radical sociology had become "just another career hustle" (Dixon, et al. 1972). Dixon and Colfax were both later fired from faculty jobs and did eventually leave academia.

One critique of this argument was that it displayed an excessive fear of cooptation, something for which the Movement was criticized as well (Oglesby 1989): since radical sociology was gaining acceptance in the profession, then by definition it was not radical. Another was that it grew out of a sort of "politics of guilt," based on the idea that white, economically privileged people should renounce their privileges, not for reasons of sound political strategy, but simply because they were guilty of being privileged. This stemmed from the Movement's emphasis on embodying radical principles in one's personal life and its glorification of the oppressed (Jacobs 1978).3 

Several respondents in this study never considered themselves especially privileged--
hence the argument that they should leave the university did not have much credence for them. Hal Jacobs attributed this to his class origin. Two other respondents said that because they taught at less prestigious schools, they did not feel privileged; they conjectured that the question of whether to drop out of academia might have made more sense for people who were destined to become the elite of the profession. A third position was that academics were in fact privileged, but this did not necessarily preclude them from participating in a revolutionary movement. Finally, some felt that whatever their class position, the political activity occurring on campuses justified staying in the university. Jacobs, then in graduate school at Berkeley, recalls being pressured by Movement activists to leave school. Once the antiwar movement began, however, with massive student participation, "those of us who were on the campus felt it was legitimate to stay...and be part of that." He notes, however, that if the center of political activity had been elsewhere, that position would have been less defensible.

In actuality, most radical sociologists felt that there were "all sorts of things in between the extreme of being an ivory tower academic and doing nothing but working in a housing project or in a soup kitchen," as Marty Oppenheimer put it. Most respondents chose to remain in the university, but maintain a commitment to and involvement in radical social change, even when it meant pursuing actions that might hurt one's academic career. Being a radical academic could mean "that one becomes committed to a search for the truth which is not dependent upon the recognition of the Club because one's work is carried on outside the Club" (Dixon 1971). Cooptation could be avoided by making the decision not to stay at any cost. Some felt that those who took this course of action would inevitably be fired, but that would serve an educational purpose by revealing the limits of the university's tolerance for radicalism (Dixon 1971). One respondent who chose to remain in the university referred to herself as a "guerilla sociologist." One option that respondents frequently mentioned was to teach at non-elite schools, where there were more working-class students. During the Civil Rights movement, Oppenheimer taught at a Black college in the South. Another respondent taught in several community colleges "on principle": "not that I thought there was only one correct line, but the whole idea of elitism, of wanting to be at the best schools, having to teach graduate students, wasn't necessarily what we would logically be doing." For many respondents, how to teach as radicals was important. They strove to develop egalitarian relationships with students, by sitting in a circle in the classroom or having students call them by their first names. Some challenged conventional grading systems by giving all A's (which, they report, was sure to cause trouble) or having students grade themselves. Finally, they made community projects part of their coursework. In a course on the family taught by a respondent, students created a daycare center at the university, then used their experience to study the university's power structure. Henry Etzkowitz required students to participate in organizing efforts in the local community.

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The Relationship between Theory and Practice

Related to the question of where radical academics would focus their efforts was a dispute, common to the radical caucuses in many academic disciplines, between "radical activists" and "radical intellectuals" (Bloland and Bloland 1974). The former argued that an intellectual--working within the university or not--must be actively engaged in political struggle in order to produce radical theory. They were vehement in their criticism of those who "lay claim to radical identities, but are either inactive or only minimally engaged in political action" (Ehrlich 1971). One radical railed against those who pretended that "'thinking radical thoughts' is even more praiseworthy than concrete action" (Dixon 1971). Another told of a meeting of radical faculty from several disciplines, where attendees responded in a "surprisingly negative" way to his suggestion that they help organize a demonstration. One argued that it was a higher priority to develop Marxist methodology, another rejected the idea that academics might be interested in such mundane tasks. This sociologist concluded, "Apparently, there is great interest in understanding the world, but little enthusiasm for changing it" (Goertzel 1976).

In the eyes of radical activists, the radical intellectuals were merely rationalizing their refusal to risk involvement in political protest. Mainstream sociology, they argued, was characterized by the artificial separation of theory from practice, which radical intellectuals perpetuated (Dixon 1971). The concentration of theory-building skills in the hands of an elite was, from their perspective, an historical development that kept the general public from possessing the "sociological-political imagination" necessary to formulate a radical critique of society (Fasola-Bologna 1970). Some believed theory and practice would be truly united when essentially all people were capable of "doing theory." In this scenario, everyone would become a sociologist by possessing the capacity to understand social reality, making professional sociologists unnecessary (Flacks 1972).

Radical activists argued that when theory is developed in the university, in isolation from practice, its quality and relevance for political struggle suffer. John Howard states: In the words of another respondent: "It's just so obvious to me that people who are divorced from trying to change things are far less scientific." The fact that well-known revolutionary theorists like Marx had participated in the political struggles of their times was invoked as proof of the necessity for radical academics to do Movement work (Dixon 1971). And the best contemporary social theory, some argued, was being written by Movement activists, not by academics. Hence the best way to learn sociology was to participate in the Movement. Not only does participation in political practice improve the theory that one develops, radicals argued, but the ultimate test of a theory is its usefulness in practice (Dixon 1971; Etzkowitz 1974). Theory is developed based on the experience of political struggle, and then is tested in practice. In defending her work to a committee considering the renewal of her teaching contract at McGill University, Marlene Dixon argued that "the true evaluation of my work is revealed in it usefulness to the [M]ovement itself....I submit that this is a harder test of merit than is ever demanded of an article published in the American Sociological Review" (1976:116).

Explicit defense of developing theory without directly participating in political struggle was less prevalent. Jesse Lemisch had promoted this option at the NUC founding meeting as a third alternative to Lynd's Movement intellectual and Flacks's university radical. Lemisch argued for the importance of intellectual work that may have no immediate usefulness for radical movements, because "finding out how things actually work and have worked is an extremely radical idea" (1974:486). One radical sociologist who agreed was Al Szymanski. Szymanski followed the Marxist-Leninist position that the revolution needs a vanguard of highly committed and talented individuals who devote their time to theorizing and strategizing (Szymanski 1974). In contrast, the Movement put a premium on practice, on the willingness to engage in actions that put one at personal risk, and this may have been why few radicals defended theory-building (Ericson 1975; Jacobs 1978).

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Doing Radical Sociology

If radical sociologists were to combine theory and practice, there were a number of ways this could be done. In the classical Marxist scenario, intellectuals put themselves under the leadership of a socialist party, which mediate between them and workers engaged in political struggle, insuring that the theory they develop is relevant to revolutionary efforts. With the decline of the Movement, a few radical sociologists did join Marxist-Leninist political organizations (Pincus 1982). However, the danger in working with a group that demands such accountability is that political expediency may take precedence over the development of knowledge (Wright 1978; Pincus 1982). One respondent recalls delivering a paper at a Marxist-Leninist gathering in which he concluded that the fluoridation of water supplies causes cancer, and was initiated by a corporation seeking to market the fluoride it produced as a by-product of an industrial process. This was met with disbelief by those in attendance, because "if the Cuban government...would impose mandatory fluoridation, obviously that showed that it's a good thing for the masses, and therefore we shouldn't criticize it."

This was what Lemisch (1974) had warned of: that demanding that academics conduct research that is useful to a particular movement ignores the fact that movements can be, and have been, "wrong"--about, for example, the social role of women. In fact, most radical sociologists developed their research agendas independently of movement groups, producing scholarship that they, rather than a particular organization, felt was useful. While this afforded more autonomy, they risked producing knowledge that was less useful for social transformation. Without participating with activists in the collective formulation of a research agenda, the academic's research priorities would reflect more her own proclivities than the needs of movements.

In addition to the question of the researcher's autonomy, radical sociologists were concerned with what kind of research to conduct. While some focused on solving practical problems facing Movement groups, others did research meant to have a more general or longer-term effect. Though many radical sociologists advocated engaging in the former, few seem to have done so. Henry Etzkowitz (1970) developed what he called institution formation sociology, which entailed creating new institutions to address social problems and then studying one's efforts. It was to be a way of doing sociology that would both change society and produce sociological knowledge. The Community Cooperative Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, organized by Etzkowitz and Gerald Schaflander with college students and ghetto residents, sold goods and funneled the profits back into community services. The researchers wrote a book and a dissertation about the effort.

A number of respondents worked with Movement groups in other ways. One was involved in a project on prisons, police, and crime issues in which he served as "part of a brains trust component" that conducted research on the issues. Another worked with the labor union on which he wrote his dissertation. Howard Ehrlich left academia and formed a collective of several sociologists, Research Group One, to do research for Movement organizations. They conducted an evaluation of a conference on radical teaching, a study of the recruitment and retention of members of a radical left organization, and a community survey of the practices of local grocery stores and banks. The collective sought to conduct research in a way that was non-exploitive of others and provided for the maximum production of relevant knowledge (Ehrlich 1991). They did this by collaborating with research "subjects"; producing findings that could be acted upon; and making the findings accessible to a wide audience. However, they report that they failed in their goal of teaching activists how to conduct their own research: to both the activists and the sociologists, political tasks seemed more urgent.

The major criticism of these projects was that they did not address larger issues. One respondent referred to Ehrlich's work as "muckraking," arguing that it might have some practical political importance but did not contribute to theory building. Another wrote that radical sociologists should not simply conduct "market research for a socialist party": "more fundamental and more arduous is the task of making a theory" that would enable a full and adequate comprehension of society and its workings (Flacks 1972). Such theory could radicalize people, guide movements, and provide activists with an historical context for their struggles, to incite courage.

Other radical sociologists conducted research that they felt would also help the Movement, but in less immediate ways. Several did studies designed to correct negative stereotypes about radical groups or spread Movement ideas. This was the point of Richard Flacks's (1967) widely read study of student radicals, which countered both the conservative notion that the students were social deviants rebelling against their parents, and the left-wing view that they were acting out of material deprivation. John Howard conducted research on Black Muslims, who he felt had been unfairly characterized as a threat to the country, and presented his findings on radio programs. One respondent wrote several books, one on women and popular feminism in Peru and another on sex roles, that were intended to spread Movement ideas among the public. Howard Ehrlich, Fred Pincus, and Chris Bose began a radio program in Baltimore, the Great Atlantic Radio Conspiracy, that addressed social and political issues. Finally, radical sociologists saw much of the mainstream research on oppressed groups as a form of spying for the ruling class, and so they called for the reverse--for research on powerful groups that would provide useful information to the Movement. Examples were Domhoff's power structure research and Howard's research on the John Birch Society.

Radicals were aware that it is typically not possible to control how and by whom the results of one's research will be used. The director of a proposed annual national survey of college freshman stated that Flacks's research on student radicals could be used to identify college applicants who might become involved in student protests. As a result, Flacks became involved in a successful effort to insure that the respondents to the national survey remained anonymous. He reported that this experience "forced me to recognize that you really have to think much more carefully than I had been about the destiny of your work." That opponents of radical movements could use such research for their own ends was not necessarily problematic, as long as the movements were themselves equally capable of doing so. But radical sociologists questioned whether this was the case. Ehrlich, wondering about the consequences of his work on prejudice, wrote, "As long as power remains with those who control the political economy, then any new knowledge--even any social reform--can be, and probably will be, coopted" (1971:198). Given this situation, radical research might not only fail to further social transformation, but have conservative consequences.

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The Hiring and Firing of Radical Faculty

For a short time, radical sociology appeared to gain some popularity. More than one-
third of the respondents reported being hired at least once specifically because of their radical perspectives. The sociology departments at Washington University and at Livingston College of Rutgers University hired a number of radicals (Etzkowitz 1991; Oppenheimer 1991). Respondents surmised that, in other cases, departments wanted a token--a "house radical" or "house Marxist"--to show that they were up on current trends in sociology. But it appears that usually radical sociologists were hired not because university officials were amenable to their politics, because of pressure from students. Howard Ehrlich was offered a visiting position by the University of Hawaii "because the radical students had gone on strike and embarrassed the faculty." At McGill University, the department hired Marlene Dixon at the demand of sociology students, who faculty feared would stage a strike otherwise. Several respondents also believe that university administrators felt that radical professors might be able to calm student radicals.

While there were instances in which it helped to be a radical sociologist, however, more often it hurt. The demand for radical sociologists was short-lived, and soon after there began a "purge" of radicals, in the words of some. Many radicals were denied renewal of their teaching contracts, encountered opposition to tenure or promotion, or were sanctioned in more subtle ways. Of the seventeen respondents in this study, all but three believe they were negatively sanctioned during their professional careers because of their radical ideas and actions. From about 1970 to 1973, the literature in radical sociology is replete with similar examples.4 The RSM estimated that over 200 radical faculty had been either fired or blacklisted (Dixon 1972). In addition, several respondents reported that their FBI files revealed that some colleagues and university administrators had collaborated with FBI investigations of them (Flacks 1991a; Stark 1991; Dixon 1975).

There are several possible causes of this reported repression of radical sociologists. One is the decline of the Movement, which decreased student support for the hiring and retention of radical faculty. Several respondents believe that once university administrators could get rid of radical faculty without fear of student upheaval, they did so. At the same time, the academic labor market was tightening. In the late sixties, one could fairly easily find another job if fired, making it easier to risk being involved in radical activities, according to respondents. When jobs became more scarce in the early seventies, young academics were probably deterred from radical pursuits (Bloland and Bloland 1974).

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What lessons can be learned from the experience of radical sociologists? First, it is possible to change sociology. Nearly all the respondents believe that today there is more room in sociology for diverse perspectives. Marxist scholarship has increased since the sixties (Wenger 1986). While the proliferation of scholarship in such areas as sex and gender studies, social movements, and race and ethnic studies cannot be attributed solely to the RSM, radical sociologists were among those who brought these subjects into the academy. Still, this may have come at a cost. Several respondents believe that to be accepted by the mainstream, radical scholarship still must be couched in scientific terms, which distances it from radical movements. Increasing attention has been paid in recent years to the practice of working collaboratively with the subjects of one's research to affect social change---variously called participatory research, action research, clinical sociology, or community action research.5 It is not clear that the RSM has much to teach them. While radical sociologists advocated working with movements, few actually did so. Those few accomplished some practical tasks but had difficulty connecting them with building theory. The root of this problem likely lies in the division of labor between manual and mental work. Academics are rewarded for developing theory, not for addressing real-life problems. At the same time, with the rise of mass culture, the public is increasingly less capable of thinking critically about social reality (though radical activists may be more proficient at this than most). This points to the importance of democratizing the research process (see Stoecker and Beckwith (1992) for an account of one such effort which includes a candid assessment of the difficulties encountered).

Most respondents considered the classroom an important forum for helping others develop critical thinking capacities, and it is perhaps there that radical sociologists made their greatest contribution. Teachers have adopted many of the practices that were introduced by radical academics to break down the teacher-student hierarchy and bridge the gap between academia and the outside world. The expansion of higher education affords radical academics a significant opportunity to aid social transformation through their teaching. They can also contribute to social transformation by revitalizing public discourse on important issues affecting our collective life (Aronowitz and Giroux 1985; Flacks 1991b). As Jacoby (1987) argues, intellectuals have been absorbed into the academy where they speak mainly to each other in a jargon inaccessible to the public. Yet public intellectuals do still exist: "today the left intellectual is a feminist, an ecologist, a critic of science and technology, a person of color" (Aronowitz 1990; see also Boynton 1994; Boggs 1993). These scholars have succeeded in gaining a public audience both because they address important public issues and their scholarship starts from the lives of activists and ordinary people.

But the demands of the profession conspire against such work. The major obstacle to producing scholarship for social transformation today is not a lack of academic freedom, though the historical record shows that it has been regularly violated (Kaplan and Schrecker 1983), but the definition of what "counts" as knowledge in the academy. The "hegemony of positivism" in academia has resulted in the specialization and fragmentation of knowledge, at the cost of analyzing the social world as a totality and of including in one's work considerations of values and meaning (Giroux 1988). Academics who avoid specialization, include considerations of values in their work, or write for a non-academic audience risk being denied research grants and having their work rejected by mainstream journals, making it difficult for them to meet the qualifications typically required for promotion and salary increases (Boggs 1993; Cancian 1993). In a tight job market, what is at stake for untenured academics is having a job at all.

Nearly all of the respondents in this study had difficulty surviving in the university. But they made the decision to accept these costs rather than abandon either their political commitments or academia. They chose to write for non-mainstream journals, to develop their teaching skills instead of publish articles, or to work at less prestigious schools with working-
class students, knowing that they are compromising their chances to attain the prestige and material rewards of some of their colleagues. In doing so they have displayed a remarkable moral courage. Sociologist Edna Bonanich has written a poignant essay describing her own choice. The most important legacy of the RSM is this reflexivity, this willingness to ask oneself hard questions about the political consequences of one's work. As radical academics, we have a long way to go yet in developing answers to these questions. But the first, and most crucial, step is to ask them.

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1. Another example was Morris Janowitz's work on the U.S. army as a "socializing" and "therapeutic" agency (he served as Pentagon advisor) and his paper, "The Social Control of Escalated Riots," which advised police to make mass arrests during riots to prevent violence and reportedly led the Chicago Chief of Police to phone him for advice during uprisings following Martin Luther King's assassination (Flacks 1991).

2. Several historians report that in NUC, Lynd's model of the academic as off-campus activist was the one most accepted at the time (Ericson 1975; Bloland and Bloland 1974).

3. The politics of guilt may also have been a factor behind the development of new working class theory, which posited academics as part of the working class. In contrast to the classical Marxist notion that the agency of social transformation was industrial workers, new working class theory argued that a new class of professionals and educated white-collar and service workers--the kinds of occupations that university graduates tended to enter--had revolutionary potential. Instead of economic deprivation, what would radicalize them was the emptiness and meaninglessness of their lives.

4. Marlene Dixon documents her case extensively in Things Which are Done in Secret. For accounts of other cases, see Gough 1970; "David Colfax Fired" 1972; "More on Washington University" 1972; "Purge at the University of Detroit" 1973; Stein 1973; Colfax 1973; "Academic Repression" 1976; Platt 1991.

5. See, for example, two special issues of The American Sociologist on participatory research (winter 1992 and spring 1993), as well as the journals Sociological Practice, Journal of Applied Sociology, and Sociological Practice Review. Feminist scholars, in particular, have been concerned with conducting research in non-exploitive ways; see, for example, Stanley (1990) and Harding (1987).

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