Be More Critical About Critical Sociological Thinking

Vilna Francine Bashi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sociologists agree that teaching critical thinking is a key pedagogical goal, and we seem to think of ourselves as critical thinkers. But what does that mean? I see no clear disciplinary consensus defining critical thinking, nor what it means specifically for sociology. While I think it is an important part of our writing, speaking, and teaching, my own ideas on critical thinking simply do not seem to be included in the general definitional frame sociologists use. Here, I appeal for a more active and progressive use of critical thinking in sociology writing and teaching, and ask that we make a more formidable effort to have audiences master social truths and have ready means to discard false information. Instilling critical thinking in the audiences exposed to our research and teachings is some of our most important work, and I would argue that the current state of social, political, and cultural affairs worldwide shows me we must do more. Simply documenting the problems for our students and readers is insufficient. Sociologists study society and what shaped it in order to quite appropriately point to better ways of living. Fostering critical thought, then, may be the most important societal contribution sociologists can make, and I argue for us to make it the central aim of our work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1478-1485
Number of pages8
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • critical thinking
  • empathy
  • justice
  • morality
  • optimism
  • positivism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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