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Engaging Public Sociology, Fiction and the Sociological Imagination

My project explores fiction as a form of sociological work. It contributes original methodological and epistemological knowledge to sociology, and addresses two significant problems: that sociology has restricted ways of working to engage publics which limits the discipline’s impact and affect; and traditional scholarly work limits the development of new sociological understandings. The central research question of the project is: how can we engage people with sociology (and why should we)? This is addressed through what I have termed a ‘braiding’ of autoethnography, literature analysis, and arts-based research (fiction writing). The result of this is a two-part product; my thesis is comprised of a sociological novel and an exegesis. The central purpose of this work is to extend the understandings sociology makes possible through the medium of the novel to better engage publics and advance contemporary approaches to sociological work. In particular I position first-year university students as an important public. This research is grounded in a Spinozan ontology and positioned between critical, cultural, and public sociologies. I argue that fiction writing is a complementary approach for contemporary sociological research, and sociological fiction is an important contribution to sociology.

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