We’ve Gone Bi-Coastal

We’ve gone bi-coastal. In September Contexts’ editorial offices moved to Seattle and New Jersey. We now hold weekly meetings via Skype and rely on rapid-fire text messaging for daily communication. We’re not tweeting yet, but look for the Contexts “app”—coming soon!

It’s an exciting moment to be taking the helm of a magazine dedicated to translating sociological ideas to a broad audience. A few months ago, when a rag-tag band of young people decided to occupy a public park in lower Manhattan, few could have predicted how successful they would be in focusing attention on growing social inequality in this country—and the failure of government to address it.

The protesters have registered a diffuse array of complaints: against the banking industry, environmental degradation, the corporate stranglehold on Washington, and countless others. Scrambling to make sense of what it all means, the press has suggested that the protesters are all over the place, disorganized. But as our cover photo suggests, it’s not that the protests are disorganized—“America just has too many issues.”

We agree. Our goal is to provide rich description and deep analysis of those issues. That analysis will go beyond simplistic explanations and partisan politics, to uncover underlying patterns, tensions, and contradictions.

We’ll also turn our sights to the production of knowledge itself, asking: how do we know what we know? What are we learning—and how are we learning it?

These questions are especially important at a time of retrenchment and shifting intellectual priorities. Higher education budgets are being slashed, and public education, in particular, is threatened. How are we, as laborers in the groves of Academe, coping with these changes? Can we become global citizens and educate our students to grapple with the challenges confronting them?

Toward that end, with this issue, we introduce a regular department called “Pedagogies” under the editorial stewardship of Gary K. Perry. “Mediations” (formerly known as Culture Reviews), now headed by Kari Lerum, will explore how we can engage critically with the forms and sources of information that tell us how to live in the world. Katie Hyde is editing photo essays—now called “In Pictures.” Tom Linneman and Arvind Rajagopal have also joined our team as Trends and Books editors, respectively.

We’re welcoming new editorial board members, too: Wendy Chapkis, Patricia Clough, Ted Conover, Gary Alan Fine, Ilene Kalish, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Victor Rios, Sharmila Rudrappa, Zakia Salime, Rita Stephan, and John Torpey.

Day-to-day operations are in the capable hands of Carly Chillmon, our Seattle-based managing editor, and Jennifer Hemler, our associate managing editor at Rutgers. Jon Smajda is continuing on as our webmaster. Big thanks to former editors Doug Hartmann and Chris Uggen, and also Letta Page, former managing editor, for their generous assistance in guiding us through the editorial transition. You’ll note some design changes in this issue, with more to come, thanks to the creative team at Minnesota-based ThinkDesign Group.

We’ll continue to work to make Contexts a leading forum for the broad dissemination of sociological perspectives among educators, policy makers, activists, and students. We look forward to hearing from you.