Letters to the Editor: Karen Bass’ scholarship problem looks bad. Don’t ignore it.
I have been a student for over 20 years and found Karen Bass’s book “Culture, Race, and the Politics of Difference” (1992) to be a very enlightening resource and one of the best books I have read on the topic.
Karen Bass, a sociologist at Boston University, uses a sociological perspective to study how culture affects social relationships, including political socialization. Her book, Culture, Race, and the Politics of Difference, is a valuable contribution to political sociological writing, particularly in the context of racial politics.
When my daughter began graduate studies in sociology at Harvard University, I was very excited. I thought she would find much in common with Karen Bass. I was wrong. Her work focused on the role of culture and race in her thesis. She had never taken any courses in politics, so it didn’t make sense to me. Now that she has spent two years as a graduate student (the process of getting that degree is long and tortuous sometimes), I hope she has more in common with Bass.
Karen Bass believes that culture is not the dominant factor in political sociological research. She wants to know what’s most distinctive about the politics of her own culture, rather than what her culture has in common with others and is most like. Thus, she does not want to study race, ethnicity, or class.
Race, ethnicity, and class are all social factors that Karen Bass studied. Race, ethnicity, and class are not the only or the dominant factors in political sociological studies.
Karen Bass is a scholar who makes a contribution to the public at large. She is a writer who can be a provocative and entertaining participant in the dialog that can take place in these discussions. She also needs to be well-trained as a social scientist in the social theory of political sociology. Her work on race and ethnicity, for example, would have benefited greatly if she had been a careful student of those sociological theories and had taken more courses in the sociology of race and ethnicity in her 20 years at Boston and Harvard University.
As a society, we need scholars who come from the social sciences. We need to see the scholarly contributions of a wide variety of scholars. We also need to encourage these scholars to take more courses in the social sciences in order to be better prepared to make scholarly contributions to