This is not going to help recruiting for sociology, because they are both scientists (!)
a) John Snow, the doctor who removed the handle from the Broad Street water pump to prevent the spread of the 1854 cholera outbreak;
b) Barbara McClintock (1902-1992), molecular biologist who got the Nobel prize in 1983 for her work on transposable genetic elements.
The common factor between the two (and that should hold for social scientists as well) is that they looked at the evidence, not at the orthodoxy, and then stuck to their guns for what the data said was right.
Both Erving Goffman and Stanley Cohen seem to me, in different ways, to be sensible and thoughtful and (most importantly) not try to build excessively grand theoretical structures – unlike some!
Over the last few years I’ve developed what I think is a more nuanced view of veiling by Muslim women (but which I’m sure other people would see as a watering down of former convictions). I now have more respect than I used to for the value of doing one’s duty. On the whole, there’s not much on which I’ve actually changed my mind – my convictions have just got a bit less adamant and baggier around the edges. The exception is Thatcherism, where my views remain clear and totally unforgiving.
Patti Smith’s Gone Again.
Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919). Sophie Scholl (1921-1943). Margaret Fell (1614-1702). Two out of three of those were assassinated/executed, which is a bit depressing, so the fact that Margaret Fell outlived two husbands and three political regimes, and lived into her late 80s, is more hopeful.
A Matter of Life and Death (Powell and Pressburger, 1946) for the sense of humour, the use of colour vs black and white, and the wonderful cut-glass accents.
That no single sociological (or other) idea explains everything about human lives.
Annie Dillard; Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica (“Nothing but the rain….);
Vivian Bullwinkel (look her up!) is historical rather than cultural but I want to name her, because heroism like hers is airbrushed out of history when war is assumed to be something that only men ‘do’. Her story formed part of the BBC TV series “Tenko”.
“The Years of Rice and Salt” by Kim Stanley Robinson. It’s a counterfactual history of the world. Nobody has ever heard about it so I recommend it to a lot of people.
Standpoint epistemology – that reality can not just be understood very differently from different social positions, but it can be perceived and described differently as well. This doesn’t mean we can’t identify larger patterns and structures (we’d all give up and go home if that were the case), only that we probably have to work harder to spot them and to keep constantly in mind that the patterns and structures that seem obvious to us might not be so to other, differently positioned people.
That atheism is an absence of belief.
Charles Darwin; Eleanor Roosevelt; my mother.
Margaret Urban Walker’s “Moral Understandings” is a work of feminist ethics, not really social sciences. But I include it because her argument that ethics needs to draw on the empirical facts of “actual moral and social orders” gives a strong philosophical basis for contemporary, sociologically-informed ethics. Reading this book was formative for me because it demonstrates very clearly the culturally and historically loaded assumptions behind what we think of as morally obvious or ethically objective.
A performance of Handel’s Messiah that mixed (heard) music and sign language.
The city of Dresden: what’s there, what’s not there, what’s been resurrected. The new synagogue is particularly striking, with two buildings surrounding an empty space that was formerly occupied by the synagogue destroyed in Kristallnacht, so that the new synagogue both replaces, and embodies, an unrecoverable absence.
An orchestra tuning up.
Realistic talent or superhero gift? If the former, to sing; if the latter, to read minds!
Greece around the time of Aeschylus (about 400 BC) – but only as a man, because most historical periods have been pretty unpleasant for women. As a woman, England during the Suffragette campaign, so I could do my bit by chaining myself to some railings.