Call for Short Essays: Sociology and Biological and Evolutionary Sciences.

Call for short essays about sociology and evolutionary for This View of Life.

We cordially invite you to contribute to a new series of short essays on the connection between sociology and the biological and evolutionary sciences. Never has it been more important to re-examine this connection in the light of the current pandemic and its aftermath.

The essays will be published in the online magazine This View of Life, which is at the forefront of publishing academically informed content on all aspects of human affairs from an evolutionary perspective. TVOL reaches a diverse audience of academic professionals, public policy experts and the informed general public across the world (typically between 30K-50K pageviews/mo). The essays will be published first individually to be the center of attention and then collected into a special issue for long term visibility (go here for current special issues). We expect that our special issue will provide a foundation for further discussion and exploration of collaborative potential.

We are extending the invitation to the chairs of all the ASA sections, in addition to members of the Evolution, Biology, and Society section, to include the full diversity of sociological perspectives.

The essays should reflect upon the following theme:

A biologically evolved virus finds an environmental niche it can successfully exploit and upends human society.  Whether we celebrate or fear modern technology, whether we applaud or dismiss science, whether we view health as a personal or public concern, an invisible pathogen forces us to recognize our interdependence both with the natural world and with each other. 

Of course, sociology begins with the importance of social connection, highlights the social processes that shape human outcomes, and takes account of social groups and the cultures they create when explaining human behavior.  And we now know that these insights take us back to, not away from, our evolved biology:  that the environment influences genetic expression; that culture influences evolutionary change; that the need for group support and social connection are the evolved lodestone of our species and are reflected in the functioning of our brains.

The COVID -19 crisis provides an opportunity for sociologists to reflect upon the history of evolutionary thinking and current understandings in their area, and the potential benefits and costs of a more transdisciplinary vision. These reflections, representing the full diversity of sociological perspectives, will be valuable in their own right in addition to their relevance to the current moment. Hence, explicit connections to the COVID-19 crisis are encouraged but should not overshadow the theme of the past, present, and future of evolutionary thinking in the discipline.

The essays should be approximately 1000 words in length, which is enough for a concise statement and can link to the larger literature. Please let us know within two weeks if you can take part. If you are unable, please help us identify someone else in your section to approach, since it is important for the series to reflect the diversity in the discipline. We have flexibility in due dates but would like to receive at least some essays by June 1. Authors who accept our invitation will receive guidelines about formatting and other details.

This project is a collaboration between Russell Schutt (current chair of the Evolution, Biology and Society section), Rengin Firat (EBS Council member), David Sloan Wilson (Editor in Chief of TVOL) and Eric Michael Johnson (Managing Editor of TVOL).  David has made foundational contributions to theories of social evolution and Eric’s recently completed PhD thesis is on the early impact of Darwin’s Theory on sociological thinking.  Russ studies social engagement in relation to organizational functioning and health outcomes, with connections to social neuroscience, evolutionary theory, and psychosocial treatments for serious mental illness.  Rengin’s research focuses on inter-group relations and racial disparities of health and well-being with a neurosociological approach.

We hope you, your loved ones, your colleagues and students remain safe and healthy throughout the pandemic.  We look forward to hearing from you within two weeks so we can assemble our roster of authors for the series.

Thanks for considering our request,

Russ, Rengin, David, Eric

Russell Schutt
2020 Chair, Evolution, Biology and Society section
Professor of Sociology, University of Massachusetts Boston
Clinical Research Staff Scientist I, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Lecturer (part-time), Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Rengin Firat
Council member, Evolution, Biology and Society section at ASA
Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of California, Riverside

David Sloan Wilson
President, Evolution Institute, and Editor in Chief, This View of Life
SUNY Distinguished Professor of Biology and Anthropology, Binghamton University

Eric Michael Johnson
Managing Editor, This View of Life

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