David Brooks received the ASA award for “Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues”–an award begun as part of the recent desire for more public sociology. Apparently some people booed and such when the award was announced. I wasn’t there; neither was Brooks. Question: Are we talking a lot of jeering or a little? I know some people were worried there was going to be full-throated nasty insurrection and that appears not to have come to pass.
Given that Brooks was selected for an award through a clearly defined and ostensibly reasonable ASA process, is it okay for folks to boo the announcement?
Granted, I can’t imagine a circumstance under which I would boo an award-winner–although I could see myself discreetly walking out or simply refusing to attend. People have deeply held moral convictions and feel compelled by them; there is no sociology without passion for social issues, and “social issues” is right there in the award’s title. It isn’t like booing the person who wins Best Dissertation. Sure, it’s always a problem in sociology to figure out where the authentic expression of deeply-held moral convictions ends and less noble Kanye-esque moral preening begins, but that’s a different matter.
Myself, I wish there was more ideological diversity in sociology, because I think it would increase the public credibility of our profession, so the idea of there being at least some pretense of diversity of the folks we give awards for public reporting to is appealing.
It is interesting to imagine a scenario where Brooks had been there, which I presume would have provoked an even more boisterous negative reaction, and all that had been captured on video and uploaded to YouTube. (Perhaps alongside this video of one sociologist’s take on Vegas.) Would the interpretation of a person-on-the-street been “You go, sociologists, stand up to power!” or “Whoa! Why’d they give him an award if they were just going to be tacky about it?”