American Sociological Association Essay

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The American Sociological Association (ASA), founded in 1905, is the largest and most influential organization of professional sociologists in the USA. In 1959, the organization’s original name was formally changed from the American Sociological Society (ASS) to its current moniker, the American Sociological Association. In 2009, the ASA reported some 14,000 dues-paying members and operating investments valued at approximately $4.6 million. A comprehensive, independent history of the organization has yet to be written.

The first ASS presidents comprised the major white male intellectual architects of what became the American sociological tradition. The pioneering work of the ASS is chronicled in the Papers and Proceedings of the American Sociological Association (1906-28) and the American Journal of Sociology (AJS). The AJS, founded in 1895 by Albion W. Small at the University of Chicago, served as the voice of the ASS until 1935 when the ASS membership established a separate journal, the American Sociological Review (ASR). Today, the ASA publishes several journals, including Footnotes, the organization’s professional newsletter. Since 1963, the day-to-day bureaucratic operations of the association are administered by an Executive Officer and an ever-growing paid staff, now housed in Washington, DC. In consequence, the annually-elected ASA presidents have become less responsible for ordinary bureaucratic tasks and the ASA executive office has itself become a consequential force in shaping and promoting the public image of disciplinary sociology in the United States.

Whereas the ASA is national in scope, several regional, state and special interest organizations provide more focused, more accessible and often more convivial professional sociological outlets. Many sociologists participate in both the ASA and one (sometimes more) of the smaller sociological organizations or regional societies. Some smaller organizations work alongside or within the ASA while others thrive as fully separate and sometimes competitive entities.

Bibliography:

  • Rosich, K. J. (2005) A Historyofthe American Sociological Association, 1981—2004. American Sociological Association, Washington, DC.

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