This book is about the development of sociology in Britain told through the story of its learned society, The British Sociological Association. Learned societies have been neglected in the history of the discipline, though they are a vital part of the social structure of academic life. The BSA has had its internal dynamics, but it has also been affected by external factors relevant to wider academic life, which range from government policies to the rise of feminism. These have had an important effect on all the social sciences, but their impact upon sociology has been particularly marked.
The first two chapters of the book give a general historical overview, starting with the range of predecessor organisations, and going on to how the BSA came to be founded, the major changes in educational policy and structures which have formed much of the context for its activities, and how it has, in response to both internal and external pressures, changed over time. Against that background, the remaining chapters look in more analytical detail at particular issues across the whole time-span. These include the role of the BSA in the intellectual life of the discipline, the nature of the membership and activists, the role of feminism, case studies of key issues of controversy and politics arising from individual cases, and consideration of how the association has been run and its relationship with other organisations such as the International Sociological Association and the ESRC (a key government funding body). The book concludes with an overview of the history of the BSA and its role as a professional association.
The book will be of interest to sociologists, and to others interested in the history and sociology of the social sciences and the professions