Society of African Journal Editors

South African Journal of Sociology

Sociologia cognitia: A note on recent concerns in sociology in South Africa

Authors: Olajide Oloyede

Journal: South African Journal of Sociology

There are, of recent, expressed concerns, albeit small in number, about the failure of sociology to ‘engage with the wider society’. Implicit and explicit in the concerns is the suggestion that sociology is no longer as exciting as it was during the period of the struggle against apartheid. The period of apartheid was taken as one of the ‘rise’ of sociology because of sociology's engagement with the political issues of the day. This paper argues that the assumed ‘rise’ and ‘fall’ of the discipline in South Africa can better be characterised as the visibility of sociology in the ‘public’. It is argued that the decades 30s, 40s and 50s were decades of success for sociology just like the 60s, 70s and early 80s that some point to as the period of ‘rise’ of the discipline. The earlier decades saw the ascendancy of positivism, and sociology of that period contributed in great measure to the construction of apartheid, which was subsequently dismantled with contributions from sociology, specifically, the Marxist sociology. If there is therefore a ‘fall’ of sociology, it is the ‘fall’ of a theoretical perspective in sociology. However, given the call for a ‘critical edge’ in the discipline, it is suggested that such an edge would need to start from the classroom.