Author Archives: tina

asa renewal – now with social media

Look! When you renew your ASA membership, there are now fields for you to enter your Twitter, handle, blog address, or other social media info.

asa member

This is something that we requested on the Task Force on Social Media (now the Task Force on Engaging Sociology) that was begun by President Annette Lareau last year to improve the ASA’s engagement with social media. If you input your Twitter handle here, for example, the ASA can include the info on our nametags at the conference, create a list of sociologists’ blogs, etc.

It is all optional, of course.

the official asa blog is launched

The ASA Council received an email today from President Paula England, who announces the launch of a new blog for ASA members: Speak for Sociology. England writes:

I invite ASA members to post comments on this new blog. It is a place where members can comment on ASA issues, and on public issues of particular interest to sociologists.

Members may want to use this space to talk about public sociology. We can discuss how to engage sociologists in public debates and get their voices heard. We can discuss the pros and cons of such engagement, including when ASA should or shouldn’t take a stand on public issues. And we can debate or brainstorm about ASA’s internal policies.

We are requiring those who post to provide their name, hoping that this encourages accuracy and civility, and discourages personal attacks.

Please initiate or join in discussions here!

Many of us, myself included, have been eager for ASA leadership to participate in our online conversations, and I think this is a great day for sociology.

asa presidents, secretary send a letter to UIUC chancellor

There is an update to some discussion in the comments about why the ASA has not sent a letter of concern regarding the UIUC’s failure to hire Steven Salaita. As I mentioned there, the ASA Council handed the matter over to the ASA presidents, who decided at that time, there was insufficient consent to warrant a letter.

Since then, as additional information has come to light, the three ASA presidents (President Paula England, Past-President Annette Lareau, and President-Elect Ruth Milkman) and ASA Secretary Mary Romero reconvened and decided to send a letter at this time. Please note that this letter is not from the ASA organization per se, but from these four prominent sociologists as they occupy these key elected and appointed positions in our professional organization. The text of the letter is here:

UPDATE: ASA Vice President Elect Barbara Risman and Council Member-At-Large Stephanie Bohon have written a letter of support for the UIUC’s decision. Both letters can be found as pdfs on the ASA website in the “What’s New” section.

Continue reading

asa council decides on gender categories

Remember how the ASA was trying to decide how to expand its gender categories? Since then, the ASA Committee on the Status of LGBT Persons in Sociology has been holding conversations, doing research on how other organizations do it, and thinking through what schema will best capture the sociological categories that are meaningful to people. They came up with the following proposal, which ASA Council voted on and passed at their meeting this week:

Continue reading

your chance to sound off about asa tech

Some of us have had our share of fun ribbing the ASA for being slightly behind the times in its approach to technology and social media. We have whined about wifi. We have had a laugh or two about The HUB. We have said salty things about the HUB’s stuffed bear mascot. And, of course, we have mercilessly mocked the “app.”

With all this, the staff at the ASA office might be forgiven for ignoring us, claiming the higher ground of dignified intellectual discourse. Luckily for us, however, they have decided to give us a listen. Introducing the brand new feedback forms for the ASA App and the ASA website.:

I should also add that the person collecting this feedback is a brand new staff member at ASA, not responsible in the least for the existing infrastructure, so please give a lot of details in your feedback, and be nice about it.

blog party: elevenses

How did it get to be nearly August? I don’t know where the time flies. But I do know that you are flying to San Francisco in a few weeks, and you will need a drink when you get there. Your servants at scatterplot have selected a superb spot just for you. It’s the special sort of place that has fancy appletinis, $3 bottles of beer, and everything in between. I am very pleased to announce:

The 11th Annual Blog Get-Together

Sunday, Aug 17 at 5:30pm

Trocadero Club

701 Geary Street

All blog writers, commenters, and readers are welcome, as are folks-who-used-to-write-but-don’t-so-much-anymore-you-know-how-it-goes, lurkers, tweeters, and assorted people who simply would like to come. Please recall that well-behaved sociology faculty will generously purchase a beverage or two for a thirsty graduate student. We may be awkward, but we don’t need to be that awkward.

the lgbt movement did not, it turns out, tone it down

“Groups Debate Slower Strategy on Gay Rights” was the title of this 2004 NY Times article that I just discovered in my file drawer.* In which the author describes a bedraggled and frustrated LGBT movement just weeks after George W. Bush had been elected to his second term.

In the past week alone, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, has accepted the resignation of its executive director, appointed its first non-gay board co-chairman and adopted a new, more moderate strategy, with less emphasis on legalizing same-sex marriages and more on strengthening personal relationships…

One official said the group would consider supporting President Bush’s efforts to privatize Social Security partly in exchange for the right of gay partners to receive benefits under the program.

While the article quotes two academics, George Chauncey and Jonathan D. Katz , who disagreed with a sharp, “They are, of course, completely wrong,” the most interesting tiff is among politicians: Continue reading

the real facebook power: agenda setting

Did everyone have a chance to read Noah Grand’s post on the Facebook issue? He posted a link in the comments, but I am afraid it will be buried. Noah has a background in journalism, so his post compares Facebook to other news outlets.

He brings up an excellent point about the bigger problem behind the Facebook issue. It’s not that users’ emotions were manipulated, but rather that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm has the power to deem what kinds of news are important:

“Facebook Manipulates Users’ Emotions” is a great headline that prompts people to think of a lot of nightmare scenarios. However, the emphasis on stealthy, subtle emotional manipulation makes it hard for people to understand the most powerful and plausible effect of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm: the ability to influence which topics we think are worthy of debate.

Read the whole post here.

open access, borders and boundaries

On the topic of open access journals, John Holmwood shares his concerns about the growth of open access on Global Dialogue, the official blog of the International Sociological Association. Have a look.

so what did the asa council decide about those asr archives?

Well, gradstudentbytheday, I’m glad you asked.

The ASA Council had an extended discussion of the issue of 588 boxes of journal-related correspondence from between 1990 and 2009. It is a complete set of ASR-related materials, and an incomplete set of other ASA journal material. The set includes rejected manuscripts, reviews, and other correspondence.

Saving the materials involves digitizing them into searchable pdf files. The estimated cost for this is between $100,000 and $120,000. Holding onto them costs the ASA $5,300 per year and is at best a temporary solution, as eventually the paper will deteriorate or mold. Another complexity is confidentiality. These materials belong to the respective authors, who were promised confidentiality.

After much debate, Council decided to hold the materials for another year, calling upon the many supporters of saving these materials to come up with a plan to raise the funds to digitize the materials. There are much longer background memos and the full decision linked from the “What’s New” section on the main page of the ASA website.

the asa is planning to launch an open-access journal

At the ASA Council meeting last weekend, the Council voted to launch an open-access journal with its publishing partner, SAGE. The journal, called Sociology Open, will function similarly to the new and fabulous, Sociological Science, in that it will be a quick, up or down review process and a submission fee/author pay model. SAGE assured the Council that author fees would be waived for those without funding support for at least the first 12 months of publication.

Given that this proposal generated some controversy among open-access supporters, I wonder whether sociologists in general will embrace the new journal, or how the two new journals will develop distinct personalities. I do think that seeing the ASA embrace the open-access project will help diffuse some of the big concerns around the status of articles published in this type of journal.

separate the ick from the harm

The controversy over Colorado’s response to Patti Adler’s exercise, in which undergraduate teaching assistants role played various types of prostitute to consider the stratification of deviance, has produced a wide variety of opinions among academic sociologists. Many here on the blogs and on twitter have raised questions about the appropriateness of this exercise, which is a fair point, but one that requires a bit more scrutiny, in my view.

Sexual topics of all kinds have to deal with the “ick” factor. Many forces in our culture encourage us not only to be critical of, but also to be viscerally repulsed by, sexuality. So, I worry that the administration’s reaction, as well as that of my colleagues, is magnified, triggered, or made more extreme by the ickiness of the topic, rather than by the actual harm done. I am not saying that it is not possible for lectures/exercises on sexuality to harm students or teaching assistants. Of course it is. Sexism, as well as sexual violence and exploitation and harassment, are real phenomena and should be concerns of university campuses. Students and employees should be considered and cared for, and not subject to harassment. Period.

However, I am concerned that the sexual nature of the lesson itself makes it highly suspect to administrators, and I fear that the ick makes it seem obvious that such a topic must therefore be harmful. If the sexual nature of the topic–and our repulsion to it–gives us permission to skip the step where we weigh the benefits against the harms, then we are heading down a road to total censorship of sexual topics in sociology. And it is my view that, as sensitive as these topics can be, more harm comes from being silent about sexuality than discussing it openly. So, that is why my response to the news–which of course hasn’t yet been fully fleshed out–is to express great concern for administrative intrusion in the classroom and academic freedom. I am worried that it is all too easy for everyone to agree that this exercise is icky and assume, therefore, that it is also harmful.

what should asa’s gender categories be?

Cross-posted on Social (In)queery.

The ASA is trying to respond to a request from its members to expand the options for gender on its membership form. Right now, the choices are female, male, and prefer not to answer. There is no category that acknowledges transgender members at all, but creating a new category scheme is not as easy as it might seem. For example transsexual people and transgender people have not always appreciated being lumped into the same category. Some people reject gender categories altogether and might prefer a “none” or some other less alienating gender-non-specific category.

These gender categories are important for a number of reasons. First, by having exclusive gender schemes, the ASA is not acknowledging its trans members. Second, it is a missed opportunity to collect data on the size of the trans membership in the ASA. Third, gender categories are communicative; they tell members who may not be aware that transgender sociologists work among their ranks. Finally, it is important to get the gender categories right because they are teaching sociologists what the “appropriate” categories to use are, setting an important example for us as we design survey questions , courses, departments, etc.

The ASA staff have brought the matter to the Committee on the Status of LGBT Persons in Sociology, but there wasn’t consensus there. They propose (and are planning to implement), the following scheme: Continue reading

bloggerly beverage at asa nyc ftw

The ASA is catching up with the times. There is WiFi in all the meeting rooms. They are webcasting the plenaries. The organization even announced the twitter hashtag for the meetings (#asa13 – four digit years are so Y2K). It might seem like things are changing too fast for you (if so, you can take a course from The HUB). But there is one thing you can always count on to remain steadfast in these tumultuous times: the bloggers will drink together at the ASA.

Please join us at

5pm on Sunday, August 11

for a bloggerly beverage at

Lillie’s Victorian Establishment

249 W 49th St

It will be so wonderful to see you there. As always, all blog participants-writers and readers, commenters and lurkers-are most welcome. Rumors to the contrary aside, we also like twitterers and tumblrrs. Come on by!

We encourage faculty to buy at least one drink for a thirsty student, who will someday impress her future colleagues: “I recommend Citizen Speak for your work on democratic participation.” “Oh, yes, Andy bought me an appletini in New York that time. What a nice guy.”

I hope you all can make it.

take me out to the asa ballgame

Princeton U Press editor Eric Schwartz has a great idea for this year’s ASA baseball trip. Why not go to a minor league game? Cheaper tickets, better seats, and a chance to see some great baseball. So this year, we have cooked up the following plan:

Staten Island Yankees: Friday, August 9 at 7pm

Featuring:

  • tickets that cost no more than $25 plus fees
  • two free rides on the Staten Island Ferry, which has the best view of the Statue of Liberty (especially now that you can no longer climb into her head)
  • throwback jerseys given away to the first 2,500 fans
  • amazing views of the Manhattan skyline
  • friendly sociologists hanging out together

If we get a group of 10 together, we can get even cheaper tickets (I know, right?). Please email me at fetner@gmail.com if you are interested in joining us. Everyone is welcome; don’t be shy.

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