Published by SAGE Journals in February 2021
Author: Federico Brandmayr, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Expertise Under Pressure Project
The terrorist attacks that struck France in 2015 had reverberations throughout the country’s intellectual fields. Among the most significant was a widespread polemic that turned around whether sociological explanations of the attacks amounted to excuses and justifications for terrorists. When prominent politicians and pundits made allegations of this nature, sociologists reacted in three main ways: most denied the allegations, others reappropriated the derogatory label of excuse, while others still accepted criticism and called for a reformation of sociology. These epistemological stances can be properly understood only by studying the long history of debates around ‘sociological excuses’ in France and by analysing French sociology as a field of forces and struggles.