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University of Chicago professor Andrew Abbott visits Peking University

SEP . 22 2016
Peking University, Sep. 21, 2016: Andrew Abbott, the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago is visiting Peking University this week. He is giving five lectures, as part of the “Global Fellowship” program, including a speech at the inauguration ceremony of the Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Peking University, as well as an informal talk on the history and the present conditions of American higher education at the School of Education.

His five lectures are entitled “The Role of Theory in General Education and Social Research”, “The Substantive Sociologies of Occupations, Professions, and Knowledge”, “The Philosophy and Practice of Methods”, “Scholarship as Ideal and as Daily Practice” and “The Theory of Processual Sociology”. In these lectures, he will be reviewing his entire research career, from his early studies at a mental hospital for a genealogy of the American psychiatry profession, to his recent research on a processual perspective of sociology. His interests have been eclectic. Based on his early empirical studies, he developed a novel understanding of the concept of professions, which culminated in his early classic The System of Professions. From there, he went on to develop sequential analysis, as well as challenging many traditional methodologies. His books on his own methodology, Methods of Discoveryand Digital Paper, remain instrumental for sociology scholars. His new book, Processual Sociology, takes on a brand new perspective, injecting a dynamic awareness into what was sometimes a static ontological approach within the discipline. His erudition is further exemplified in that since 2001, he has been editing one of the most prestigious journals in sociology, the American Journal of Sociology, only relinquishing the role last month. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Computation Institute at Argonne National Laboratory.

Apart from his academic work, he also takes a huge interest in higher education in America. He has served on various administrative committees at the University of Chicago, including dean of the Social Sciences Division, chair of the Department of Sociology, chair of the Library Board and chair of the Faculty Executive Committee, the last of which is a seven-member committee that represents the voice of faculty members in university management decisions. Because of these administrative roles, he studied how American higher education functioned, resulting in books such as Department and Discipline, a comprehensive investigation into the Chicago system.

Indeed, his prominence is recognized as such that he is viewed as the modern flagbearer of the renowned Chicago School of Sociology. He is the primary exemplification of sociology at Chicago: a solid foundation of knowledge, and a broad interest in various areas of academia. He will be presenting his final lecture on Thursday, but, it is without doubt that his theories, ideas and research will live long in the Chinese intellectual world.

Reported by: Xu Liangdi
Edited by: Zhang Jiang