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Sociologists have long recognized the fragmentation our discipline’s knowledge, but few explanations go beyond ‘new internalist’ studies of practices. Abbott’s scholarship in the topic areas of professions and disciplines is synthesized here to highlight a condition identified as “ajurisdiction,” or, the absence of professional responsibility. Ajurisdiction explains sociological fragmentation by situating the development of sociology within broader historical contexts: first, within the history of the academic profession, in general; and, secondly, within wider systems of professions and power. Beginning with the origins of the social sciences in German legal science, the paper tracks the historical interactions between professional and academic knowledge to explain sociology’s ajurisdictional condition. The theoretical framework and concept positions the academic profession in a unique position in relation to abstract knowledge, a relation that effects the internal differentiation of knowledge between and within disciplines and professional faculties as demonstrated by the case of sociology and law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-191
Number of pages25
JournalTheory and Society
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • knowledge
  • professions
  • universities
  • legal science
  • social science
  • academic profession


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