To explore sociologists’ knowledge about an alternate theoretical paradigm also concerned with society: anarchism. Sociologists tend to have an extremely variable familiarity with anarchist ideas—some who know a lot and others who know very little beyond crude, popular caricatures. This project engages with those sociologists who have substantial familiarity with, knowledge of, or experience with anarchism. The interviews will hopefully constitute discussion fodder for communities interested in sociology, anarchist studies, and anarchist movements.
Interviews focus on a variety of subjects, including theorists of particular note, contributions, and potentialities of an anarchist-sociology, as well as sociologist’s knowledge, experiences, and opinions regarding anarchism. Compatibility between anarchism and the scholarly discipline of sociology is a key topic.
The included sociologists have a wide variety of relationships to anarchism, which are not always formally specified through biographies. Suffice it to say, some have written extensively on the subject, publishing countless books, peer-reviewed journal articles, and essays for academic, activist, and popular audiences. These have addressed core anarchist ideas and values, as well as well-known anarchist thinkers, philosophers, and authors. Some have included anarchists and anarchist movements in their research, sometimes analyzing them empirically. Others, have taught courses and lectured publicly on anarchism and anarchist theory. Still others have been observers of local anarchist movements, friends of anarchist activists and organizations, or participants themselves. Many have been committed anarchists partisans, sometimes for decades. Some are lifelong academics (employed in universities, holding both tenure-track and temporary positions), while others live and work as non-academics. All the interviewees also hold advanced degrees in Sociology, or other comparable and closely-related social science disciplines.
The project was conducted through e-mail, phone, and face-to-face semi-structured (and not-always-equivalent) interviews. I started with a population of potential interviewees in English-speaking countries that included well over 100 names—I slowly contacted most of them to inquire about their interest in an interview. (A bit over one-third were never contacted.) The primary time period of collection was 2013-2015, with some later interviews collected in 2018-2019. All transcripts from the first wave were reviewed and approved by the interviewees before publication during the second wave.
Thanks to all the generous interviewees—all have graciously contributed their time, labor, and ideas to this project. If it is interesting, it is due to their words. In particular, Jamie Heckert deserves thanks for inspiring the original idea for this project, due to his initiative in interviewing me about these matters many years ago.