Sociology magazine finds home at ‘U’

Co-editor Doug Hartmann, left, and managing editor Amy Johnson, right, discuss their magazine Contexts, while web editor Jon Smajda works in the background of their office in the Social Sciences Building on Friday. The goal of Contexts, which is owned by the American Sociological Association, is to make research more understandable.

Jules Ameel

Co-editor Doug Hartmann, left, and managing editor Amy Johnson, right, discuss their magazine Contexts, while web editor Jon Smajda works in the background of their office in the Social Sciences Building on Friday. The goal of Contexts, which is owned by the American Sociological Association, is to make research more understandable.

A nationwide sociology magazine with a goal of making research and trends more understandable has found a home at the University of Minnesota. Contexts Magazine, owned by the American Sociological Association, r eleased its third issue at the University Thursday. The editorship of the magazine has circulated every few years since its inception. Previous editors included New York University and the University of California-Berkeley. Co-editors Doug Hartmann and Chris Uggen were readers of the magazine before submitting their own application for the University when they saw a call for nominations. âÄúWe really wanted to bring a Minnesotan, Midwestern sensibility to it,âÄù Uggen, a sociology professor, said. Hartmann, who is an associate sociology professor, said while other fields, such as psychology, have their own mass-marketed publications, sociology didnâÄôt have an equivalent to that before Contexts. âÄúSome of the sociological work is important to people’s everyday lives, but they don’t hear about it because it doesn’t get out of the ivory tower,âÄù Hartmann said. Hartmann and Uggen, along with web editor Jon Smajda , have been making online content an integral part of the magazineâÄôs goal to reach out to wider audiences. âÄúThe question was how to give sociology more public attention,âÄù Hartmann said. âÄúThis was an answer to that.âÄù The University team added a blog to the Contexts website, and just last Wednesday, added their first-ever podcast. Taking issues that were examined in the print publication and examining them more topically on the web is âÄúsomething weâÄôre finding people are coming to from around the country,âÄù Uggen said. For the podcast, Smajda interviewed the author of a fall-issue article about why people choose to vote and asked the author what his opinions were on the outcome of the presidential election. Hartmann said deciding on what articles get published is the hardest thing the editors have to do. Some articles get sent to them as drafts, while others Hartmann and Uggen encourage to be written for the magazine. All submissions to the magazine get sent out to other sociology scholars to get reviewed, Hartmann said, like a typical library journal. âÄúThat way, it has the scientific credibility of a peer-reviewed journal, but it also has this flavor that makes it more accessible to people,âÄù Uggen said. Managing Editor Amy Johnson, whoâÄôs responsible for making the language of the articles easier to follow and less academic, said itâÄôs important that the research presented in the magazine gets published in a way that resonates with people. Johnson said she hopes the âÄúhigh standardsâÄù theyâÄôve set for the writing and design of Contexts will bring higher subscription numbers among non-sociologists. âÄúItâÄôs really important work, and it feels good to be doing it,âÄù she said.