Friday, February 8, 2019
Are you a criminologist or a sociologist? Anon Responds
For me, the idea of cementing a scholarly identity was not really something I considered for most of grad school. I was in a sociology program with sociologists for mentors, so I just considered myself a sociologist. Even after I started attending LSA and ASC, I don't remember reconsidering my professional identity at all. I did start thinking about it, however, after I first went on the job market. It turned out that there were a lot of criminology positions open in sociology departments, criminology departments, some law and society programs, and elsewhere. I began to think of myself a bit more as a sociologist and a criminologist. One label that I grew to like was "sociological criminologist." But my first year on the market, I wasn't getting many bites, despite coming from a strong program and having a steady publication record. As the academic year drew to a close, a colleague suggested that the issue was simple: "You don't have a publication problem," he said, "you have a framing problem." Even though my conception of my professional self was starting to take a clearer shape, it might not have appeared this way on paper. In his eyes, it was possible that search committees couldn't easily tell what I "was." Essentially, was I a crim person or a soc person? I knew that I was something in-between: a punishment scholar that drew on sociological frameworks to understand the prison. But I had to make sure that I was conveying this properly. So, leading in to the next year on the market, I redrafted all of my application materials to foreground my identity as a scholar of punishment, work, and inequality in that order. And when I started getting interviews, the thing I really tried to figure out about each department was how well I thought I could fit in there having this identity--being a sociological-criminologist. I tried to leverage my boundary-spanning as a strength. In the end, it worked out quite well for me, but only after I became explicit about who/what I was and what I wanted to do. I could only effectively do that after I had dedicated the time to reflect on it myself.