What is The Sociology Shop?

*****An Invitation from TSS*****

TSS Directory

The Sociology Shop (TSS) is a concept, a website, and a goal. As a concept it is the idea that Sociology...and critical Sociology in particular...should be an exciting, broad, and informing subject. To paraphrase how one commentator put it...Sociology in TSS is broadly conceived of and knows no bounds...while stressing academic and intellectual matters and at the same time encompassing all aspects of life (economic, political, psychological, and so forth) of concern to non-academic audiences. I would add that of special concern is thinking...thinking about thinking...which concerns us all.

As a website, TSS was first conceived as a way for me to express my own sociological perspective and passion. In other words, TSS was created to be "me"...as an outlet for my knowledge, interests, and vision. While it is certainly still that, since its inception in October 1998, it has simultaneously become a place on the Internet for information that others either specifically seek or are interested in sort of stumbling upon as they surf. Some of that information is academic-oriented (including webpages for all my college courses since 2000 and overtly sociological concepts and tools) and much of it is more general. It has a strong political flavor, both current events and historical. The "rooms" in TSS, as well as one particular room...The Article Room...reflect the wide-range of subjects and interests incorporated in TSS since its beginning. In short, TSS has become a place where people can find a great variety of information...a kind of "general store"...and can feel free to explore their own interests.

As a goal...beyond what I've accomplished as a website, TSS reflects a desire of mine to have a physical location one day...a literal place where people can visit and browse, where they can relax and read or talk with others...informally and formally through workshops and discussion roundtables, where they can procure a variety of services from me and possibly others. This is the reason for the use of the "shop" metaphor utilized for its "virtual" presence on the Internet...why it's arranged in "rooms." Some day, hopefully sooner than later, there will be a real TSS...in either Eugene or Springfield, Oregon. This goal is part of my larger one...to work for myself and to be of service to others by promoting a sociological perspective which enables them to better and more completely understand their mental, physical, and social world...and thus, themselves.

This is the second "What is The Sociology Shop?" I have written. (If interested, the first is HERE). Since I began TSS I have been amazed at its growth and particularly, at the number of visitors I've had. While TSS is not the largest nor most frequented sociological website, it has become known around the world...as have I. Some rooms are more popular than others, of course, but with only a couple exceptions...most rooms are visited repeatedly. A number of Search Engines...starting with Google...have TSS well indexed and refer many people to it. I'm extremely proud of that...and humbled, too. I'm extremely happy that people from all over the world find benefit in using TSS. As the same commentator mentioned earlier also said...again paraphrased...TSS is clearly a labor of love and as such it is no worse off for being so. I appreciate this commentator's perspective and understanding of what TSS is about and the meaning of my efforts. It is, indeed, a labor of love and although and because it has its weak spots, I will endeavor to improve it in every way I can...but I will always keep it as simple as possible.

Thus...and finally, this leads me to soliciting advice on how to improve it. If you have any suggestions I will be glad to listen...I'll even take help if offered. Most certainly too. I wouldn't refuse financial support, either (although I'm hardly holding my breath for this to happen...eh?)

One of the unique realities which has happened in the time since TSS has been online is the almost total LACK of feedback from visitors...inspite of the always increasing numbers of them. It's not that I "need" praise and validation (I know its fairly good all on my own), it's that I'd like to to know what people like about it and what they don't...what it could do without and what it needs...I'm a curious person...a sociologist, in fact. So in the near future I'm going to ask/invite visitors to take a short "feedback" survey in order to guage these types of things. I'll post it in every room and leave it there as a permanent feature. As I approach the 10,000th visitor to the "front" page of TSS itself...not including the many other visitors who enter through other rooms (and gone past it for those reading this after mid-February, 2002)...I need and desire some guidance.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you will continue to utilize TSS in the future. If you're a first time visitor, please take some time to look around...there's lots of nooks and crannies to explore. If you're a repeat visitor, keep looking for more of them.


David H. Kessel


First "What is The Sociology Shop?"...October, 1998

TSS is based on over 15 years of experience teaching Sociology courses in college. Hence, it will have a bit of an academic tone to it. It seeks to raise questions and to provide some answers...which others can bounce off and develop their own. TSS seeks to get people to consider issues sociologically so this level of analysis can be appreciated by more people. However, TSS isn't merely for the intellectual, but for anyone who finds the so-called discussion in our society a bit lacking in real substance. It seeks to address everyone who has the ability to think or the willingess to learn how to think.

There are many sociological sites on the Web already. TSS seeks not to replicate them...but to utilize the information on them. TSS wants to promote open thought and discussion...it seeks to expand the agenda of ideas now passing as analysis. Most of this agenda is shallow and gets us nowhere. TSS wants to introduce deeper and far more serious matters for reflection. TSS is about thinking and how we go about doing that. Thus, TSS is not about talking down to anyone, but rather, talking with people, people who are capable of thinking if and when they are given something to really think about. Self-reflection about one's ideas is not a taboo in TSS...self-reflection is a necessity and the TSS hopes to promote it in everything it does and presents.