Disrespect

April 19, 2011 § 1 Comment

Randall Collins, the sitting president of the ASA, has responded to the organizers of the petition calling on the ASA to increase its transparency regarding its finances, and the (putative) need for a dues increase. That’s great: when the top elected official of the leading professional association, and a prominent theorist in his own right, weighs in, one can hope for the start of the kind of constructive dialogue that would make everyone happy.

Umm, no.

Collins, unfortunately, does not address the issue of transparency at all. Does not say “you’re right; we could have communicated this better.”  Does not say, “you’re right; you deserve a fuller accounting of our reasoning.”  Does not say “I understand that you also want what is best for the organization, but here’s the problem.”

Instead, Collins says – to paraphrase – “trust me.” Which is an ironic response to a petition calling for greater transparency, better communication, and more information. “Trust me.” Perhaps the reason nearly 700 people have signed the petition is that – well, that they don’t really trust you?

The ASA and its defenders (see, for example, some commenters in this orgtheory thread) can apparently only see this issue through the lens of progressivity. Or, to be more precise, they can only view the vote on the dues increase as a litmus test. If you do not support the dues increase, you are just another Tea Party member. If you do not support the dues increase, you are somehow not a real sociologist. If want more transparency to go with your dues, you can go elsewhere.

The Disgruntled Sociologist is trying very hard to respect Jenn Lena’s call for civility in the discourse surrounding this issue. But it is hard. Really hard.

The nearly 700 people (as of this writing) who have signed the petition deserve better. Look at the list.  They come from all over. They range from the most senior and accomplished, to students just starting out. To paint them with one brush is impossible. To dismiss them as rabble-rousers is irresponsible. Give them the respect they deserve when they ask for the answer to some very simple, very reasonable questions.

If you have not yet done so, please sign the petition.

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