American Sociological Association
|Formation||January 1, 1905|
|Headquarters||1430 K Street|
The American Sociological Association (ASA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discipline and profession of sociology. Founded in December 1905 as the American Sociological Society at Johns Hopkins University by a group of fifty people, the first president of the association would be Lester Frank Ward. Today, most of its members work in academia, while around 20 percent of them work in government, business, or non-profit organizations.
ASA publishes ten academic journals and magazines, along with four section journals. Among these publications, the American Sociological Review is perhaps the best known, while the newest is an open-access journal titled Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World. Contexts is one of their magazines, designed to share the study of sociology with other disciplines as well as the public.
The ASA is currently the largest professional association of sociologists in the world, even larger than the International Sociological Association. The ASA consists of over 13,000 members—composed of researchers, students, college/university faculty, high school faculty, and various practitioners—while its 52 special-interest sections contain more than 21,000 members. The "American Sociological Association Annual Meeting" is an annual academic conference held by the Association consisting of over 6,000 participants.
As the national organization for sociologists, the ASA provides a unique set of services to its members, promoting the vitality, visibility, and diversity of the discipline. Function at both the national and international level, the Association aims to articulate policy and implement programs likely to have the broadest possible impact for sociology now and in the future.
In the summer of 1905, a George Washington University professor began a discussion among sociologists throughout the United States, writing to several dozen people to gauge the need for or interest in forming an sociological organization. Ultimately, a consensus was reached that the time had come for a society of sociologists in the U.S.
In early December, the professor and eight others wrote to about 300 people inviting them to a special session during the American Economic Association (AEA) and American Political Science Association meetings later that month to discuss the potential formation of a sociological society.
On December 27th, approximately 50 people, including one woman, gathered in McCoy Hall at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and, by its end, the group would motion to form a new society of sociologists. Though there would be debate as to integrating this new society with an existing organization, such as the AEA, the group would ultimately decide that the new society ought to be an independent entity.
At the end of the day of the initial meeting, those gathered at the meeting formed a five-person committee to develop a plan for the new society and how it should be governed. The committee members would re-convene the next afternoon to review the proposed structure of the society. Council members would include Edward A. Ross, W.F. Wilcox, Albion Small, Samuel Lindsay, D. C. Wells, and William Davenport.
The following men would be elected officers of the new society:
- Lester Frank Ward, President
- William Graham Sumner, First Vice President
- Franklin Giddings, Second Vice President
- C.W.A. Veditz (the professor), Secretary and Treasurer
When the committee left Baltimore, the birth of the American Sociological Society was complete, a Constitution had been adopted, officers were elected, and plans were made for the second Annual Meeting of the new Society.
In 1981, in celebration the Association's 75th anniversary, Lawrence J. Rhoades prepared a 90-page publication entitled A History of the American Sociological Association, 1905-1980, commonly referred to as the "1981 Rhoades History." The publication provides a brief overview of the founding and early years of the Association, as well as highlights of key activities and events in the decades since.
In 2005, in celebration of the Association's 100-year anniversary, ASA would publish a 201-page book entitled A History of the American Sociological Association, 1981-2004. The publication picks up where the 1981 Rhoades history concludes, continuing the story and capturing the Association's history from 1981 through 2004. It is the culmination of over two years of detailed research by Katherine J. Rosich. The objective of this volume would be to describe and report on the major events in the life of ASA during the last two decades of the 20th century, leading up to a new century and millennium, as well as to commemorate the ASA's 100th anniversary in 2005.
The "ASA Wikipedia" Initiative
In the fall of 2011, the ASA launched its "Sociology in Wikipedia" initiative. Erik Olin Wright, President of the ASA, called for improvement in sociological entries in Wikipedia. He asked that professors and students to get more involved by having Wikipedia-writing assignments in class. The basic goal set forth by the initiative would be to make it easier for sociologists to contribute to Wikipedia, and for sociologists to become better involved in the writing and editing processes to ensure that social science articles are up-to-date, complete, accurate, and written appropriately.
In conjunction with the Wikimedia Foundation and a research group at Carnegie Mellon University, the ASA developed its Wikipedia Portal in an attempt to achieve the initiative’s goal through providing tutorials on how to contribute; video discussions of norms and procedures; and lists of articles and subject areas that need improvement. The Portal would also provide instructions for professors on how to use Wikipedia writing assignments for academic courses.
Code of Ethics
The ASA is governed by a code of ethics and ethical standards, which has been revised since 1970, with the first ASA code of ethics being written in 1970. The Committee on Professional Ethics worked to write this code and upon completing and approving it in 1997, the code focused on three goals, which would be to make the code more educative, accessible/easier to use, and more helpful for sociologists to understand ethical issues.
ASA Style Guide
ASA style is a widely accepted format for writing university research papers that specifies the arrangement and punctuation of footnotes and bibliographies. Standards for ASA style are specified in the ASA Style Guide, which is designed to aid authors in preparing manuscripts for ASA journals and publications.
ASA Academic Journals and Magazines
- American Sociological Review
- The American Sociologist (1965—1982)
- City and Community
- Contemporary Sociology
- Journal of Health and Social Behavior
- Journal of World-Systems Research
- Social Psychology Quarterly
- Society and Mental Health
- Sociological Methodology
- Sociological Theory
- Sociology of Education
- Teaching Sociology
- Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
- Vice President
- Council-Members-At Large
- Vice President-Elect
The following persons have been presidents of the American Sociological Association:
- Lester F. Ward 1906–1907
- William G. Sumner 1908–1909
- Franklin H. Giddings 1910–1911
- Albion Woodbury Small 1912–1913
- Edward A. Ross 1914–1915
- George E. Vincent 1916
- George E. Howard 1917
- Charles Cooley 1918
- Frank W. Blackmar 1919
- James Q. Dealey 1920
- Edward C. Hayes 1921
- James P. Lichtenberger 1922
- Ulysses G. Weatherly 1923
- Charles A. Ellwood 1924
- Robert E. Park 1925
- John L. Gillin 1926
- W. I. Thomas 1927
- John M. Gillette 1928
- William F. Ogburn 1929
- Howard W. Odum 1930
- Emory S. Bogardus 1931
- Luther L. Bernard 1932
- Edward B. Reuter 1933
- Ernest W. Burgess 1934
- F. Stuart Chapin 1935
- Henry P. Fairchild 1936
- Ellsworth Faris 1937
- Frank H. Hankins 1938
- Edwin Sutherland 1939
- Robert M. MacIver 1940
- Stuart A. Queen 1941
- Dwight Sanderson 1942
- George A. Lundberg 1943
- Rupert B. Vance 1944
- Kimball Young 1945
- Carl C. Taylor 1946
- Louis Wirth 1947
- E. Franklin Frazier 1948
- Talcott Parsons 1949
- Leonard S. Cottrell Jr. 1950
- Robert C. Angell 1951
- Dorothy Swaine Thomas 1952
- Samuel A. Stouffer 1953
- Florian Znaniecki 1954
- Donald Young 1955
- Herbert Blumer 1956
- Robert K. Merton 1957
- Robin M. Williams Jr. 1958
- Kingsley Davis 1959
- Howard P. Becker 1960 (died in office)
- Robert E. L. Faris 1961
- Paul Lazarsfeld 1962
- Everett C. Hughes 1963
- George C. Homans 1964
- Pitirim A. Sorokin 1965
- Wilbert E. Moore 1966
- Charles P. Loomis 1967
- Philip M. Hauser 1968
- Arnold Marshall Rose 1969 (died in office)
- Ralph Turner 1969
- Reinhard Bendix 1970
- William H. Sewell 1971
- William J. Goode 1972
- Mirra Komarovsky 1973
- Peter M. Blau 1974
- Lewis A. Coser 1975
- Alfred McClung Lee 1976
- John Milton Yinger 1977
- Amos H. Hawley 1978
- Hubert M. Blalock Jr. 1979
- Peter H. Rossi 1980
- William Foote Whyte 1981
- Erving Goffman 1982
- Alice S. Rossi 1983
- James F. Short Jr. 1984
- Kai T. Erikson 1985
- Matilda White Riley 1986
- Melvin L. Kohn 1987
- Herbert J. Gans 1988
- Joan Huber 1989
- William Julius Wilson 1990
- Stanley Lieberson 1991
- James S. Coleman 1992
- Seymour Martin Lipset 1993
- William A. Gamson 1994
- Amitai Etzioni 1995
- Maureen T. Hallinan 1996
- Neil Smelser 1997
- Jill Quadagno 1998
- Alejandro Portes 1999
- Joe R. Feagin 2000
- Douglas S. Massey 2001
- Barbara F. Reskin 2002
- William T. Bielby 2003
- Michael Burawoy 2004
- Troy Duster 2005
- Cynthia Fuchs Epstein 2006
- Frances Fox Piven 2007
- Arne L. Kalleberg 2008
- Patricia Hill Collins 2009
- Evelyn Nakano Glenn 2010
- Randall Collins 2011
- Erik Olin Wright 2012
- Cecilia L. Ridgeway 2013
- Annette Lareau 2014
- Paula England 2015
- Ruth Milkman 2016
- Michèle Lamont 2017
- Eduardo Bonilla-Silva 2018
- Mary Romero 2019
- Christine Williams 2020
- Aldon Morris 2021
The ASA is aligned with several regional associations, as well as various state-based, international, cause-oriented, and academic associations. The regional Associations associated with the ASA include:
- District of Columbia Sociological Society
- Eastern Sociological Society
- Mid-South Sociological Association
- Midwest Sociological Society
- New England Sociological Association
- North Central Sociological Association
- Pacific Sociological Association
- Southern Sociological Society
- Southwestern Sociological Association
There are five different types of membership categories:
- Regular membership
- Student members
- Associate members
- International associate members
- Emeritus members
ASA Members may also join special interest sections at an additional cost to their membership.
Members of the ASA belong to sections devoted to specific subfields, such as Social Psychology or Medical Sociology, for example. Each section has its own set of officers and committees that organize sessions at the annual conference and present awards to section members for their achievements, among other things. Some sections also operate their own academic journals, such as Society and Mental Health edited by the Section on the Sociology of Mental Health, or Sociology of Race & Ethnicity edited by the Section for Racial and Ethnic Minorities. The association comprises the following specialist sections:
- Aging and the Life Course
- Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity
- Animals and Society
- Asia and Asian America
- Body and Embodiment
- Children and Youth
- Collective Behavior and Social Movements
- Communication and Information Technologies (formerly Sociology and Computers section, renamed in 2002)
- Community and Urban Sociology
- Comparative and Historical Sociology
- Consumers and Consumption
- Crime, Law and Deviance
- Disability and Society
- Drugs and Society (formerly Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco)
- Economic Sociology
- Environment and Technology
- Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis
- Evolution, Biology and Society
- Global and Transnational Sociology
- History of Sociology
- Human Rights
- Inequality, Poverty and Mobility
- International Migration
- Inequality, Poverty and Mobility
- Labor and Labor Movements
- Latina/o Sociology
- Marxist sociology
- Mathematical Sociology
- Medical Sociology
- Mental Health
- Organizations, Occupations and Work
- Peace, War and Social Conflict
- Political Economy of the World System
- Political Sociology
- Race, Gender and Class
- Racial and Ethnic Minorities
- Rationality and Society
- Science, Knowledge and Technology
- Sex and Gender
- Social Psychology
- Sociological Practice and Public Sociology
- Teaching and Learning
The Annual Meeting of the ASA is held each August to provide opportunity for professionals involved in the study of society to share knowledge and new directions in research and practice. It provides networking outlets for nearly 3,000 research papers and 4,600 presenters. The meeting is spread across four days and covers 600 program sessions.
All ASA Committees and Task Forces meet during the annual meeting. The ASA Council and several Constitutional Committees meet mid-year during the winter months in Washington D.C.
Every year, in August, the ASA presents awards to individuals and groups deserving of recognition. The awards presented are:
- Distinguished Scholarly Book Major ASA Award
- Dissertation Major ASA Award
- Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Major ASA Award
- Jessie Bernard Major ASA Award
- Cox-Johnson-Frazier Major ASA Award
- Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology Major ASA Award
- Distinguished Career Major ASA Award for the Practice of Sociology
- Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Major ASA Award
- W.E.B. Du Bois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award
Additionally, the Sections of the ASA administer separate multiple awards, which are presented each August during the Annual Meeting.
In 1993, then-doctoral student Rik Scarce was jailed for more than five months as a result of following the ASA's code of ethics. Scarce's Ph.D. research was on the radical environmental movement. Based on an FBI investigation of an Animal Liberation Front break-in, federal prosecutors argued in court that Scarce may have engaged in conversations with individuals believed to be involved with the incident. Prosecutors demanded that Scarce testify to a federal grand jury about those conversations, but Scarce refused to answer three dozen questions, citing the ASA Code of Ethics and the First Amendment as his reasoning for remaining unresponsive. Scarce's refusal to answer resulted in a contempt of court citation and 159 days spent in jail. He was never suspected of wrongdoing and—in keeping with contempt of court practice—he was never read his Miranda rights, arrested, or tried.
In early 2010, ASA publicly expressed outrage over a controversy involving Frances Fox Piven and Glenn Beck, asking Fox News to stop Beck's comments. An article written by Piven concerning mobilization of unemployed individuals had spurred the commentary by Beck. ASA suggests in their public statements that the line should be drawn at name calling and that political commentators should instead rely on gathering evidence related to the topics and then drawing the proper conclusions.
In January 2012, a United States district court ordered Boston College to turn over material from the "Belfast Project", an oral history project pertaining to the violence in Northern Ireland. Boston College filed an appeal in February 2012, challenging the district court's decision. ASA became involved in the case to help protect human participants from the subpoena of confidential project research data. The statement by the ASA council cited the potential damage this ruling would have on social science research by stifling the ability to study controversial topics. ASA is looking for an affirmation by the court for confidentiality in research.
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