Last year we reinvented the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, not as a forum for traditional academic research articles, but as a platform for writing a history of the present. We sought to contribute to public debates by utilizing sociological knowledge to contest unquestioned assumptions, complicate common sense, challenge spurious empirics, supply theoretical frameworks, and mount political critiques — in other words, to regard the interpretation of the social world as a constituent element of attempts to change it.
It is in this spirit that we introduce the 2015 volume of the BJS. Each piece in the present volume puts forth a critical view of history as it unfolds before our eyes. Contained in the print issue are articles centered on crucial 21st century dilemmas such as the environment, technology, borderlands, and incarceration. Diverse in focus, scope, and perspective, they speak to pressing contemporary problems and encourage us to imagine and work toward alternative futures.
For almost sixty years, the BJS has published pioneering sociological research, foreshadowed the rise of new areas of inquiry, and offered critical perspectives on mainstream sociology. The present volume represents the continuity of the BJS mission and the transformation in means required to enact it. We speak to contemporary issues that sociology should not ignore, but in ways that broaden the interpretive range, imaginative scope, and prospective application beyond the traditional limits of academic research. We are not content to be relegated to the sidelines. The point, after all, is to change the world.
—The BJS editorial collective
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