Politics and the Professor
In his 2004 American Sociological Association Presidential Address, sociologist Michael Burawoy suggested that the discipline of sociology moved politically leftward in recent years, whereas the United States generally moved to the right. This perpetuated the perception of sociology as a left-leaning, liberal discipline. Moreover, it has long been a contention of the politically conservative (and many general sociology students) that the liberal bent of academic professors, particularly in the humanities, is both too obvious and influential in the classroom. However, an article from The New York Times reports recent studies that suggest professors’ liberalism, albeit present, has little effect on students’ political inclinations. The real problem, several scholars argue, is not that professors’ political ideologies influence those of their students’ but that universities tend to employ professors with more left-leaning ideologies than right. This is perhaps no more obvious than in the field of sociology. As George Mason University public policy professor A. Lee Fritschler explains in this article, the problem may not be too much politics on campus, but instead too little.