Outsider Scholars and Outsider Sociologists

Vilna Bashi Treitler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


If we take the time to look at the academy writ large and sociology as a discipline specifically, we can readily find the evidence to confirm a long-standing exclusion of certain scholars from the academic mainstream. This exclusion is especially evident in the case of scholars of color, but also includes women, nonelites (e.g., college and graduate students who lack academic social capital from elders who have been through it and could help), and those who wish to push for a more humanist scientific agenda over purist positivist science. Sexism and racism keep us from seeing the best of our ideas emerge to bring the discipline forward. As if the pursuit of good work and good works are mutually exclusive, an embrace of purist positivism leads us to shun antiracist, antisexist, nonhumanist science, labeling it “advocacy” or worse, “activist,” and conversely, ceding ground to those who wrap themselves in “objectivity” even as they may further regressive agendas. This article makes a case for the existence of an “outsider scholar,” and outlines sociology's outsider problem. I argue that this problem endures at all levels of the academic endeavor, from undergraduate education all the way through to the ranks of administration. I conclude by offering remedies to lead us toward a more inclusive and social justice-oriented sociology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-212
Number of pages12
JournalSociological Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • academia
  • elitism
  • exclusion
  • racism
  • sexism
  • social capital

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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