Please, please do not go

March 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

An acquaintance of The Disgruntled Sociologist, who has taken the step of resigning his or her membership, reports that this has resulted in a series of emails touting the virtues of the ASA. He/she sends along the following, most recent example:

I am writing to encourage you to renew your ASA membership. I write not only as the ASA Executive Officer and a fellow sociologist, but also as a long-term member myself, having joined the Association as a graduate student at Columbia University over 40 years ago.

You know about the financial benefits of ASA membership—special rates on journals, free access to the online Job Bank, meeting registration discounts—because you have already received renewal reminders from ASA detailing these perks

Whatever the reason for ASA not having received your renewal yet, I want to share with you some activities that have been undertaken to by our public affairs office to advance and support your discipline.

Over the past two weeks the Public Affairs office has worked to:

  • Improve and raise awareness of the U.S Census Bureau.
    • ASA co-sponsored a Congressional briefing on the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS)—a tool vital to sociological research;
    • ASA met with key Capitol Hill staff members about Census Bureau’s FY 2012 budget; and,
    • Census Bureau Director Bob Groves has agreed to update ASA members on the 2010 Census, the ACS, and preparations for 2020 Census at the ASA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
  • Increase social science and behavior research funding.
    • ASA works closely with the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) in meetings with NSF and NIH administrators; i.e. meeting with NIH’s Office of Behavior and Social Science Research director and the National Institute of Aging director in March; and
    • ASA sent joint letters other science societies to Capitol Hill leadership about the importance of social science funding at the NIH for the FY 2011 and FY 2012 budget.

In addition, ASA has worked to advance academic freedom, protect sociology departments, and defend the validity of social science research.

  • ASA led 24 other organizations in a joint statement condemning the attacks on Frances Fox Piven;
  • ASA defended ArizonaStateUniversity sociologists’ efforts to keep the MA and PhD in Sociology; and
  • ASA defended sociological research in a U.S. Supreme Court Amicus Brief related to the Wal-Mart v. Dukes case.

ASA is active in many disciplinary and interdisciplinary organizations devoted to the sciences and social sciences, including the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA), the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), Research!America, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACAU), and the International Sociological Association.

ASA members benefit both by a healthier and stronger discipline, but also individually. ASA’s public information office promotes the work of ASA members through press releases. On a daily basis, ASA’s media relations officer refers journalists in mainstream media to ASA members with expertise in a wide variety of specialty areas. The media coverage (see the “In the News” section of each Footnotes) is the envy of other social science organizations, with ASA staff frequently being asked to disclose their “secrets to success.”

All ASA members are covered by and adhere to the current ASA Code of Ethics, in place since 1997. The Code serves ASA members and also acts as a model for ethics guidelines for other groups across the discipline. ASA staff work with regional and other sociological associations that have adapted the ASA Code to implement it through professional development activities and teaching.

Please renew today. We seek your participation in these core professional concerns and hope to add your voice to these important issues and activities. (If you have very recently renewed, thank you for your continued support. To vote in the 2011 ASA election, renew by March 31.)

Click here to renew online for 2011

Sincerely,

Sally T. Hillsman

Executive Officer

Please do not reply to this message as it is being sent from an unmonitored e-mail account for outgoing messages only. For assistance or information, contact membership@asanet.org.


Some of these benefits are simply silly. As far as The Disgruntled Sociologist can determine, from the ASA website and the Sage Publications website, it simply is not possible to subscribe to, say, ASR without being an ASA member. Here is the pricing structure:

American Sociological Review

ASA members $45
ASA student members $30
Institutions (print/online) $311
Institutions (online only) $280

In some sense this is a “special rate on journals” but it is a special rate in the same sense that members get “discounts” on registration for the meetings — since you cannot register to present at the meetings without becoming a member. (Yes, TDS understands that one journal subscription is included in the membership.)

The Disgruntled Sociologist also finds it somewhat disturbing that part of the pitch is that the ASA condemned Glenn Beck’s attacks on Frances Fox Piven. Those attacks are deplorable, but TDS is skeptical that the attacks reflect Piven’s work as a sociologist rather than as a political activist. So in what sense does “defending” Piven “advance academic freedom, protect sociology departments, and defend the validity of social science research”?

Similarly, it is not obvious that sociological research per se was under attack in the Wal-Mart vs. Dukes case, as opposed to the work of a particular sociologist (Bielby). Other sociologists have different opinions of the merits of his argument. Is it the job of the ASA to take sides?

(TDS cannot help but notice that both Piven and Bielby are past presidents of the ASA. Certainly that had no influence on these decisions.)

The Disgruntled Sociologist’s correspondent, meanwhile, comments on how ineffectual these emails are:

Two interesting aspects to them: (1) there must be enough other defections for them to worry about this and to get someone to prepare these messages for broadcast mailing; and (2) the fact that it purportedly comes from the ED but then ends by saying “don’t reply to this email because it comes from an unmonitored account” tells me that she isnt serious about engaging dropouts like me but is simply trolling. Does she think I am so stupid that I cant figure this out and would be motivated by such nonsense? A personal message from her, on the other hand, to which I could reply might actually get my attention.

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