Public Sociology in Canada: Debates, Research and Historical Context


  • Rick Helmes-Hayes University of WAterloo
  • Neil Mclaughlin sociology, McMaster University



In “For Public Sociology” and other essays, Michael Burawoy acknowledges that the national sociologies of countries other than the US (e.g. Brazil, Norway, South Africa) differ substantially from the US case. The balance and dynamics among the four types of sociology, the timing and phases of the historical development of the discipline and the challenges that face the discipline, are some of the many ways sociology differs from country to country (2005a: 20-22; 2005c: 382-4, 2005d: 423-4). Canada is a particularly interesting case because of its geographic proximity and close economic and cultural ties to the United States. Canadian sociology has been deeply influenced by American sociology, but has always stood in an uneasy intellectual and political relationship to the US version of the discipline (Hiller 1982; Brym with Fox 1989; Cormier 2004; McLaughlin 2005). A serious discussion of the possibilities and challenges for a public sociology in Canada requires an analysis of the historical and sociological specificity of the Canadian version of the discipline, something we hope to offer here in this introduction as well as in the papers to follow.