The sociologist’s interaction

The sociologist’s interaction with his subjects forms a part
of, and takes place in the context of, the overall interaction between those
subjects and the wider society. He may be seen as a potential legitimator or
defender of their public image or a threat to it. Those groups which are, or
have been, in conflict with agencies of the wider society are likely to view a
potential threat to their public image with hostility . . . The sociologist who
undertakes to study the social structure and dynamics of powerful groups . . .
must expect his revelations to be met with hostility and the mobilisation of
strategies to censor or even prohibit his work . . . While in the past
sociologists have . . . displayed concern over the dangers of harming the
interests of the powerless groups they have chosen to study, they should not
altogether forget the problems of the relatively powerless sociologist faced
with the threat of censorship.

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