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Performing trustworthiness: The ‘credibility work’ of prominent sociologists

Baumberg Geiger, Ben (2021) Performing trustworthiness: The ‘credibility work’ of prominent sociologists. Sociology, . ISSN 0038-0385. (doi:10.1177/0038038520977805) (KAR id:83882)

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Abstract

To the limited extent that sociologists have considered non-academics’ trust in sociologists, legitimacy has become entwined with the idea of a value-free, ‘objective’ sociology. However, broader philosophical/sociological work suggests that credibility signals are more complex, with e.g. non-partisanship being separate to ‘epistemic responsibility’ (Anderson 2012). In this paper, I explore the nature of ‘credibility work’ in practice via interviews with 15 prominent English sociologists, making three contributions. Firstly, I find that some sociologists deliberately pursue credibility, a phenomenon largely ignored in previous research. They do this primarily by ‘performing’ non-partisanship or epistemic responsibility within interactions. Secondly, this credibility work does not require the pursuit of ‘objectivity’; sociologists can signal epistemic responsibility despite partisanship, or pursue ‘dispassionate advocacy’. Third, the extent and nature of credibility work varies by context; some sociologists benefit from partisanship, while others feel no need for credibility work. I conclude by stressing the need for further research.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/0038038520977805
Uncontrolled keywords: advocacy, objectivity, sociology, trust
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Benjamin Geiger
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2020 17:03 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 14:16 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/83882 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Baumberg Geiger, Ben: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0341-3532
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