Who Needs Artless Period Pieces?
Nabanipa Bhattacharjee
ICSSR RESEARCH SURVEYS AND EXPLORATIONS: INDIAN SOCIOLOGY, VOLUMES 1-3 by Yogendra Singh Oxford University Press and ICSSR, New Delhi, 2015, 457 pp., 4750
April 2015, volume 39, No 4

‘Nearly every book’, George Orwell famously wrote in 1946, ‘is capable of arousing passionate feeling’—feeling which may range from ‘passionate dislike’ to equally passionate admiration—in the mind of the reader (George Packer [Comp.] George Orwell: Critical Essays, London, 2009, p. 290). The ever polemical Orwell was, of course, primarily referring to literary works. Still, there is no reason to believe that books of other genres are incapable of generating such feelings. Take, for instance, the genre of the sociological. Ironically, most sociological texts are built upon, given the disciplinary burden of neutrality, dispassionate treatment. Yet, they rarely fail to generate passionate feelings in readers. Obviously, not all sociology books are potentially passion-stirring, but a fair number are. Indeed, what we have in sociology, as in other disciplines, is a mix and match of exciting (either repelling or delightful), not-so-exciting (dull) and unexciting (forgettable) books. Put together, they allow us to critically map the health of the discipline.

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