This year has exposed a lot of glaring flaws in how modern society functions, not least of which its relationship with race and racism. We all, as individuals and as part of institutions, had to take a long hard look at ourselves and the ways we were contributing to the problem. Racism has a long history within the academy — from unethical research methodology and cruel experimentation to outlandish theories about the hierarchies of human races — and no field was exempt, including the social sciences.
Some will try to relegate the history of racist social research to the past but the fact is, it’s alive and well —though sometimes under different names and guises. That puts academic publishers in a tricky position. On the one hand, they publish research that could further entrench racist ideas and institutions but on the other, they are also publishing some of the most important contributions to the fight against racism in its myriad forms.
So, if we do not have complete control over the research produced and disseminated, then how can we as academic publishers here at SAGE Publishing, the parent of Social Science Space,help restore a bit of balance to the world of ideas? An easy solution is simply to highlight and spotlight authors and researchers of color, as well as any research that helps both academic and wider audiences to better understand the causes and manifestations of systemic racism and, consequently, how we can address it.
We at SAGE began by compiling a selection of this work and making it freely available. The more research we found, the more we realized that we need to make an extra effort to ensure this research is disseminated widely to the public, to policymakers, to researchers, and decision-makers that can affect change. This is not something we can do alone, nor is all the content from our own publishing.
That is why we are reaching out to social scientists—whether educators, researchers, or practitioners— to ask them about what they think has the been most valuable and impactful anti-racist research in their field. Our survey, which we are asking those educators, researchers and practitioners to access below, will be gathering these answers through October 16.
This also provides us with a unique opportunity to see how this research can work on a multi- and interdisciplinary plane. Most social scientists identify with their field more than the social sciences at large. By collating answers from a variety of fields we can help the wider community engage with each other’s work. It is more important than ever for sociologists to be talking to economists, for psychologists and political scientists to be working together.
The crises of 2020 have made it clear that we can no longer afford to work in siloes. We are hoping that in the process of collecting and sharing this information, we can encourage other academic publishers to also free up useful resources and use their unique position to engage with the vital work produced by the social sciences.
We will also be producing a conversation series on anti-racist research in the social sciences on Social Science Space. It’s a small start on a long and arduous journey that we need to take together.