leaving las vegas

I just returned from the conference today. We went to the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon afterward. Also, as promised here earlier on this blog, I left Vegas ahead on roulette, and my partner left ahead on slots. I said I had a system. Not sure how many times certain findings need to replicated before folks will believe them.

Here is an Inside Higher Ed article on the sociologists’ views of the conference. The comments are mostly negative. Personally, I had a good time and probably had my sense of social wonder stimulated more by Vegas than any ASA venue other than New York City, and I liked the novelty of it as an academic conference venue. But I can understand the expense concerns and recognize the general thrust of the moral one, even if sometimes I think people have sounded maybe-a-little-naive about what goes on at other venues where ASA meets.

Overall, given the basic principle that many sociologists will not cross a picket line–and, hey, good for us–I think (1) ASA was right to move the conference, (2) timed the decision to move just about right, (3) came up with a logistically suitable venue-and-date combination on short notice and executed the conference itself pretty well.

Granted, it would be nice if they could get the name of the “Evolution, Biology, and Society” section correct one day–several years after a name change, we are still “Evolution and Society” on the ribbon and “Evolution, Body, and Society” somewhere in the program. Someone in the section likened it to a boorish boss who keeps calling you by different incorrect first names, despite your polite corrections.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

6 thoughts on “leaving las vegas”

  1. gosh–those comments are almost as painful to read as the ones on tennessean dot com. i certainly hope those folks who self identify as professors are better at curbing ad hominem critiques in class than they are in policing their own treatment of colleagues.


  2. I’m admittedly a person who really likes Vegas for a couple of days (and left having paid for the trip with craps and poker winnings) but… I don’t get the argument that it was expensive. I’m looking at $295 a night for PAA in SF and haven’t even checked the prices for ASC in DC but I’d wager it will be more than $99 a night (or $35 if you stayed across the street). The exploitation argument only goes so far with me as well — as Wade (I think) said in the article, it’s just more in your face in Vegas (though this argument is certainly up for debate). I was really surprised at the number of complaints that didn’t involve the heat and it certainly beats Anaheim or Atlanta.


  3. I liked Atlanta better. But for me a convention is work, not play, and it hardly matters to me whether it is in a vacation hot spot or Omaha, I’m going to have roughly the same experience either way. I evaluate sites by how they work for the convention, and wish I’d had more time to see the excesses etc of Las Vegas. Having the convention center attached to the hotel was a plus, but having no quiet place to sit and talk with people was a minus. As was the cigarette smoke. I went out two two really good dinners at restaurants chosen by others: one extremely expensive (my share was $120) and the other shockingly cheap (my share was $8 for a ton of Thai food and two beers.) In fact, I still keep thinking the latter had to have been a mistake. Off the strip, Las Vegas reminded me of home — Southern California, not Madison.


  4. My biggest complaint was the long lines for expensive coffee. There is a decent case to be made the ASA should offer free coffee and tea, but if they don’t, the least we could ask for is a way to avoid 20-30 minutes in line.


    1. After the first day or two of doing that I realized I could get a bottled Starbucks mocha from the “Emperor’s Essentials” for half the price in less than a minute. Even though I prefer hot coffee w/o milk, I don’t prefer it enough to wait half an hour for it.

      In other practical news, check your itemized hotel bill. If they overcharged you for wi-fi call and they’ll refund it.


  5. It is a pretty inane article and list of comments. My problem wasn’t at all the “inauthenticity” (just how authentic is the local Hilton in the other megacities we frequent? For that matter, just how authentic is authenticity at all?), but the high prices and long lines for food and the paucity of places to sit and talk. The single-venue conference was nice; we usually only get that at conference centers (e.g., Boston and Montreal) which are my personal favorites.


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