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Sociologists’ Involvement in Reform.

Sociologists’ Involvement in Reform.


  1. Involvement in Reform Efforts vs. Concentrating on Studying Society:
  2. Arguments in Favor of Sociologists’ Involvement in Reform Efforts:
  3. a. Social Responsibility: Sociologists have a moral and ethical responsibility to address social issues and injustices. They can use their expertise to bring about positive societal change by actively engaging in reform efforts.
  4. b. Applied Knowledge: The knowledge sociologists gain through their research can be used to address societal problems. Engaging in reform efforts allows them to apply their theories and findings to create tangible solutions.
  5. c. Raising Awareness: Sociologists can use their platform to raise awareness about societal issues. By becoming advocates for change, they can draw attention to problems that might go unnoticed.
  6. d. Credibility and Influence: Prominent sociologists like Edwards and Lapchick have the credibility and influence to effect change. Their involvement can inspire others to join the cause, making a more significant impact.
  7. Arguments in Favor of Concentrating on Studying Society:
  8. a. Objectivity: Sociologists must maintain objectivity and impartiality in their research. Involvement in reform efforts may compromise their ability to analyze and report on issues without bias.
  9. b. Diverted Resources: Activism can divert resources, time, and energy from research and scholarship. This may hinder their ability to contribute valuable insights to the field.
  10. c. Effectiveness: Some argue that sociologists might be more effective in creating change by producing rigorous research and influencing policymakers and other stakeholders indirectly rather than through direct activism.
  11. d. Ethical Dilemmas: In some cases, sociologists involved in reform efforts may face ethical dilemmas, such as conflicts of interest or compromising research integrity to support a particular cause.
  12. Why Lap Chick’s Contention on Discrimination in Sports is Hard to Accept:
  13. a. Perceived Progress: Some may argue that significant progress has been made in reducing racial discrimination in sports. They point to the increasing number of African-American athletes in various sports as evidence of improved opportunities.
  14. b. Meritocracy Belief: People often believe that sports are meritocratic, meaning success is primarily based on talent and hard work. They might find it difficult to accept claims of widespread discrimination because it challenges this notion.
  15. c. Lack of Awareness: Discrimination in sports may not be as visible or well-understood by the general public as other forms of discrimination. This lack of awareness can lead to skepticism when such claims are made.
  16. d. Denial: Some individuals may resist acknowledging discrimination for ideological or personal reasons. They might deny its existence to maintain their beliefs or avoid confronting uncomfortable truths.
  17. e. Counterarguments: Critics may argue that disparities in sports participation and leadership roles can be attributed to factors other than discrimination, such as differences in interest, opportunity, or skill level. They may seek alternative explanations for the observed disparities.
  18. f. Fear of Repercussions: Discussing discrimination can be uncomfortable, and some individuals may avoid accepting Lapchick’s contention to avoid potential social or political repercussions or conflicts.
  19. g. Selective Perception: People often have selective perception, meaning they may notice and remember information that aligns with their preexisting beliefs while dismissing contradictory evidence. This can make it difficult for them to accept discrimination claims if they challenge their existing views.

Overall, the acceptance or rejection of Lapchick’s contention on discrimination in sports can be influenced by a combination of social, psychological, and ideological factors, making it a complex and contentious issue.

Sociologists' Involvement in Reform.





As noted in the textbook, each of the three major paradigms may be applied to a wide variety of

topics. The conflict perspective has been especially popular among sports sociologists. In fact,
Harry Edwards, who published the first major text in this area in 1973 while a member of the
faculty at San Jose State University, is a strong adherent of the conflict perspective.
More recently, Richard Lapchick, the director since 1984 of Northeastern University’s
Center for the Study of Sport in Society, has emerged as a second well-known conflict theoryoriented sports sociologist. Unlike Edwards, Lapchick is white and was heavily involved as a
civil rights supporter and anti-apartheid activist in his youth; he has repeatedly received death
threats and has also been physically attacked by opponents of his struggle for racial justice.
The Center began with an operating budget of $125,000, which has now grown to over a
million dollars a year. Lapchick and his twenty-one person staff have collected a massive amount
of data documenting the persistent discrimination against minorities and women in spo rts. Some
examples: Lapchick points out that African–Americans have a substantial share of players in
only five professional sports: boxing, track, basketball, football, and baseball. The share of black
players in major league baseball shows a notable decline, falling from 19 percent in 1995 to 8
percent in 2015. In all professional sports, the vast majority of team owners, managers, and head
coaches are white.
In a tradition established by Marx, conflict-oriented sociologists have commonly felt obliged
to go beyond merely documenting the existence of injustice. They actually work to overcome it.
Harry Edwards attempted to organize a boycott by African–American athletes of the 1968
Mexico City Summer Olympics as a protest over the lack of black coaches on the U.S. team and
related issues. Although the boycott failed, Edwards was instrumental in encouraging sprinters
Tommie Smith and John Carlos to publicize their political beliefs by bowing their heads and
giving black power salutes during the awards ceremony for the 200-meter dash.
Like Edwards, Lapchick is also an activist. His center has spent over twelve million dollars
in tuition assistance for students who have used up their athletic eligibility. The organization also
sponsors outreach programs such as TEAMWORK, which encourages professional athletes to
speak to schoolchildren about the realities of high-level sports. A favored theme: stay in school
and get your degree, because while almost half of black professional athletes believe that they
will make it in the pros, in actuality, only a small percentage actually do so.

Discussion Questions
1. Do you think it is appropriate for sociologists like Edwards and Lapchick to become involved
in reform efforts or would they be wiser to concentrate merely on studying society? Develop
arguments supporting each position.
2. Why do you think many people find Lapchick’s contention that African–Americans are widely
discriminated against in sports hard to accept

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