American Sociological Association

Rhoades History Chapter 8

Chapter 8: Growth and Turmoil

The golden era of the Association reached its zenith in the sixties: a decade of turmoil and crisis for the Association as well as for American society.

In that decade, membership more than doubled-6,436 to 13,357; attendance at the Annual Meeting did the same-1,400 to 2,888; nine publication ventures were undertaken, and three major projects were launched.

Teaching began emerging as a major concern; a code of ethics was approved; the problem of presidential succession was confronted; an international congress was hosted; and some traditional problems were faced.

The Association, however, was in turmoil throughout the decade. The turmoil was generated by the growth in numbers and activities and by trends toward democratization and equalization that had been operating for, at least, four decades within the Association, and for even longer within the larger society.

In the first half of the decade, the crisis centered on the operation of the Executive Office, relations with regional and affiliated societies, the organization of the Association and the Constitution.

In the second half, the crisis focused on equalizing opportunities within the Association and the profession of women, racial and ethnic minorities, and members employed in non-academic settings as well as upon relations between the profession and the larger society, especially in response to proposed regulations of research, Camelot and the Vietnam War.

In 1963, President Everett C. Hughes outlined a guiding philosophy for the Association as it attempted to cope with the strains of growth: "Since we are a lively and growing organization, none of our problems can be solved once and for all. The best we can do is to seek solutions for the present and near future, with an eye to the direction of change, while remaining true to the goals of a learned and scientific society."



The expansion of the publication program which began in the fifties gathered momentum in the sixties.

In 1963, the Association acquired the Journal of Educational Sociology from the Payne Educational Sociology Foundation, Inc. Renamed Sociology of Education, the first issue appeared that fall under the editorship of Leila Sussman. That same year, the fifth Russell Sage Bulletin was published—Sociology and the Field of Public Health by Edward A. Suchman.

In 1964, the Association received an NIMH grant to produce a Guide to Graduate Departments of Sociology. The first issue was published in 1965. In 1966, the Committee on Publications authorized another edition of the Guide provided that it was "thoroughly revised" and financially feasible. In 1969, the second edition of the Guide appeared. It has been published on an annual basis ever since.

In 1965, the fifteen-year quest to publish a journal on the practical problems of the profession of sociology was realized when The American Sociologist appeared under the editorship of Talcott Parsons. That same year the Association, in cooperation with the Vocational Rehabilitation Administration, published Sociology and Rehabilitation edited by Marvin B. Sussman. The volume reported the proceedings of a conference held that spring.

In 1966, the Association acquired the Journal of Health and Human Behavior for a trial period of three years. Renamed the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, the first issue was published in March that year under the editorship of Eliot Freidson. The transition period was supported by grants from the Milbank Memorial Fund and NIMH.

In 1967, Arnold M. Rose proposed a monograph series for the Association and made "suitable financial arrangements" for the series. The first publication in the Arnold and Caroline Rose Monograph Series was Deviance, Selves and Others by Michael Schwartz and Sheldon Stryker which was published in 1971.

Uses of Sociology , edited by Paul F. Lazarsfeld, William H. Sewell and Harold L. Wilensky was also published in 1967. The volume was a follow-up to the 1962 Annual Meeting.

In 1968, the first edition of Sociological Methodology appeared under the editorship of Edgar F. Borgatta. The first edition of the "Career Booklet" was also published that year under a grant from the Russell Sage Foundation and a "readers series" to be composed mostly of articles from ASA journals was approved.

Major Projects

The three major projects undertaken by the Association during the sixties were the Visiting Scientists Program for Sociology, Sociological Resources for Secondary Schools, and the National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel—Section on Sociology.

The Visiting Scientists Program for Sociology, initially funded in 1962, continued throughout the decade with support from NSF. In 1962, the Program was directed by a committee composed of Gresham Sykes, Donald Young, John W. Riley, Jr., Wilbert E. Moore, Paul F. Lazarsfeld and Talcott Parsons.

Under the Program, "outstanding" sociologists visited several hundred campuses to (1) present recent developments in sociology to teachers and students; (2) stimulate research in sociology, and (3) encourage interest in sociology as a professional career, both in academic and nonacademic settings.

Sociological Resources for Secondary Schools was designed to develop sociological materials for social studies teachers. Initially funded in 1964, this project also continued throughout the decade with support from NSF. In the early seventies, it produced a textbook, readers and other instructional materials.

The project was developed by a committee composed of Leonard Cottrell, Jr., Robert Feldmesser, Harry Alpert, Paul Lazarsfeld, William Sewell, Robin Williams, Jr., Gresham Sykes, John A. Valentine and Neal Gross, chair. The first executive director was Robert Feldmesser; the first associate director was Paul Kelly.

The Executive Office began collecting data for and maintaining the sociology section of the National Register in 1964 and continued doing so through the decade with support from NSF. It was hoped that the database would provide more complete information for the membership directory and for studies of the profession.



The Visiting Scientists Program and the SRSS project helped focus attention on teaching in the sixties. In 1965, Council expressed "its continuing concern with the nature and quality of sociological instruction on the high school, college and graduate levels and strongly recommended that the 1966 Council take action to improve the quality of teaching in the field of sociology."

The 1966 Council took two actions related to teaching. It empowered President-Elect Charles Loomis to appoint a committee to study the problem of undergraduate teaching of sociology and it advised the Committee on Classifications to "take into account not only scientific and scholarly contributions but also substantial contributions in the teaching of sociology as a primary responsibility" in determining a member's status.

The Committee on Teaching Undergraduate Sociology was composed of William V. D'Antonio, Dean G. Epley, Russell L. Langworthy, Gerald R. Leslie, Charles M. Tolbert, and August B. Hollingshead, chair.

In 1969, Council approved two conferences and a survey of graduate training in sociology to be funded by NIMH. In addition, it appointed a committee to explore means by which "members who are primarily or wholly teachers" can best "achieve full participation in the ASA."

The Committee on the Role of the Teacher Sociologist was composed of Ruth S. Hamilton, Kiyoshi Ikeda, Dennis C. McEIrath, Robert P. Rankin and Julian A. Samora, chair.


Code of Ethics

The development of a code of ethics, originally explored in the early fifties, was revived in 1960 with the appointment of a Committee on Professional Ethics composed of Bernard Barber, Albert J. Reiss, Neal Gross, Robert A. Nisbet and Robert C. Angell, chair.

The committee produced a draft document covering teaching, research, consulting, publication and the profession and the public in 1963. Opposition to the adoption of a code of ethics developed and the code was shelved.

In 1967, another Committee on Professional Ethics was created "to consider those issues, relating to sociologists as scientists, that are currently in public attention." The attention-getters were Project Camelot, a study of social change that was being conducted in South America with funding from the Department of the Army, and the concern expressed by the Surgeon General over the protection of human subjects in research.

The new committee was instructed to develop "a set of general guiding principles, applying to the subjects of research as well as to research procedures." The committee was composed of C. Arnold Anderson, A. Lee Coleman, Amitai Etzioni, William L. Kolb, Talcott Parsons, W. Richard Scott, Gideon Sjoberg, Preston Valien and Edgar A. Schuler, chair.

The document developed by the committee was approved by the membership in 1969 by a vote of 2,369 to 236.


Presidential Succession

The problem of presidential succession emerged with the death of President-Elect Arnold Rose in January 1968. Council ruled that Vice President-Elect Ralph Turner would succeed to the office of President-Elect and then to President for 1968-69.

Secretary Robin Williams reported that Council based its ruling on Article III, Section i of the By-Laws which "provides that in the event of the death, resignation or absence of the President his duties shall devolve in the first instance upon the Vice President, and that the officer thus involved shall become President if he is to serve a full term. Records of legislative intent in the drafting, revision and approval of the present Constitution, further show that the provisions of Article III, Section 1, are intended to apply to the Presidency, including the office of President-Elect."

Williams continued, "Therefore, Council ruled that the office of President-Elect automatically devolves upon the Vice President-Elect. Since, in the instance at hand, the incumbent will serve for a full term as President, it was equally clear, and Council so held, that his office is that of President rather than Acting President."

The death of President Howard Becker in June 1960 did not create a similar succession crisis; for there were only three months left to his term.



The Association hosted the Fifth World Congress of Sociology in Washington in 1962. It received a $25,000 grant from NSF and a $50,000 grant from the American Council of Learned Societies to help finance the meeting.

One of the unusual social events held during the Congress was "An Evening of Symphony and Art" held at the National Gallery of Art. The musical program was performed by the National Gallery Orchestra.

In other actions, the Association established a Committee on International Order to promote research on war and peace; a Committee on International Cooperation to facilitate the "increasingly international outreach of the membership"; a Committee on Translating and Abstracting Scientific Publications in Foreign Languages, and a separate membership category of associate foreign members.

In addition, the Association submitted the report of the Committee on a Ten-Year Social Science Program for UNESCO to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and urged the Associated Research Councils to make travel funds available to families of scholars going overseas under the Fulbright-Hayes fellowships.



The traditional issues involved (1) awards, (2) discrimination, (3) civil service, (4) lobbying, (5) academic freedom and (6) public relations.

The establishment of the Samuel A. Stouffer Award in Methodology by the Section on Methodology in 1966 and the Sorokin Lectureship and Award through a gift in 1967 produced calls for the development of a comprehensive award policy for the Association.

The discrimination problem arose again over the use of the swimming pool during the 1961 Annual Meeting at the Chase-Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. A resolution passed at that meeting states "the Association recognizes the difficulties of policy changes in the race relations area. Therefore, it especially appreciates the constructive change instituted by the Hotel's management in regard to the swimming pool. And the Association hopes that other luxury hotels in the U.S. will follow the leadership and example of the Chase-Park Plaza, thereby avoiding embarrassment and conflict in the use of their accommodations."

In 1965, after many years of steady work by the ASA Committee on Sociologists in the Federal Government, sociology was finally entered in the Federal Civil Service Register as an occupational title.

Increasing pressure to become involved in the legislative process, led the Association to seek legal advice on lobbying in 1961. A report from the counsel of the Association advised that "subsidized efforts to influence legislation might jeopardize the tax exempt status of the Association."

In 1963, the Association endorsed the AAUP Statement of Principles relating to academic freedom and tenure. In 1968, it created the Committee on Freedom of Research and Teaching.

Public relations became a salient issue again in the sixties. In 1964, the Association appointed a committee "to investigate the possibility of holding a seminar for journalists and to study ways of reporting sociology and improving the reporting on sociology in the press." In 1966, it retained a consultant "to organize press relations activities at the Annual Meeting for a trial period of three years."


Hughes Letter

The crisis confronting the Association in the first half of the decade was outlined by President Hughes in a letter to the membership in 1962: "In the past year a good deal of unrest among members has come into the open. From the Executive Office and those who are most active in looking after the affairs of the Association, have come expressions of frustration as well as suggestions for reorganization."

Hughes attributed the "unrest" to four "pressing problems":

1. The administration (the Executive Office); its composition, powers, remuneration, location, and housing.

He said, "The Association is growing in numbers and in specialization. Administration activities, and demands for services by members are increasing in some geometric ratio. The Executive Office is understaffed and not well paid. We sociologists have provided our staff with neither pension, health plan, nor any sort of system of rewards for overtime work (of which there is plenty at the time of our meetings). We are housed in miserable quarters, part of which we have on uncertain tenure."

2. The Council, Executive Committee or other bodies which make policy and decisions on behalf of the members of the Association: their composition, powers, and selection.

Hughes said, "Some think the present Council too large, too clumsy, and not responsive to the will of the members...Some think there should be more representatives of regional and specialty societies on Council. Others think that, on the contrary, the Council should be small and should consist mainly of people elected by the members for that purpose, with strict adherence to the principle of 'one man, one vote'. Some suggest further, that a small Council could perhaps meet frequently and that its members might participate more fully in the ongoing affairs of the Association than they now do."

3. Affiliated societies and the specialty Sections.

Hughes said, "The relations of the Association with the seven regional and two specialty societies are also a major issue ...What control should the Association have over them? Or they over the Association?"

He continued, "The same questions arise with respect to Sections ...In some fields of learning, specialization has led to the breakup of the more general association; in other fields to change in internal constitution ...In our Association, the present problem is that of better understanding and organization of the relations between the Association and its specialized sections; the long-term problem is some policy concerning the nature of specialties and their place in the scheme of things."

4. The Presidency.

Hughes said, "Some have suggested that the President devote a year to the administration of the Association, to representing it before the regional societies, sister learned societies, the public and the government ...In my opinion, the President should be so free of administrative detail that he could devote that year to encouraging his colleagues in the planning of a program of high quality, and to preparation of a presidential paper which might be an intellectual ornament and a paper which may open up new fields of thought and research."


Executive Office

To handle the problem of the Executive Office, Hughes appointed a Committee on Organization and Plans composed of Philip Hauser, George Homans, Paul Lazarsfeld, Wilbert Moore, Talcott Parsons, Guy Swanson, Conrad Taeuber, Ralph Turner, Donald Young, himself, and John W. Riley, Jr., as chair.

In early 1963, the Committee recommended that the Association (1) procure a full-time Executive Officer, (2) assure adequate housing for the Association, preferably in close proximity to other social science associations and with appropriate space for committee functions and other amenities, and (3) give full consideration to Washington, D.C. as an appropriate location for the Association.

At a special meeting, Council authorized Riley to negotiate a three-year lease for 1,500 square feet of space in the new wing of the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N. W., Washington, D.C.

In addition, Council authorized the appointment of a full-time Executive Officer according to the following agreed specifications: "...the incumbent should be a sociologist, a person of substantial professional standing, a good administrator, a diplomat, and (especially urged by John Useem) sympathetically supportive of the whole range of interests and activities in the profession. It was also agreed that the salary paid should be in the range of full professorships at leading universities." Changes in salaries and fringe benefits for the administrative staff were also made.

The Association moved to its new location in 1963 with Gresham Sykes serving as the first full-time Executive Officer and Evelyn Stefansson as the second full-time Administrative Officer. Janice Harris Hopper, for whom the post of Administrative Officer was created in 1960, had announced in 1962 that she would resign no later than the 1963 Annual Meeting.



To handle the remaining problems, Hughes appointed a Committee on Organizational Relationships in 1963 composed of Carroll Clark, Albert Cohen, G. Franklin Edwards, Morton B. King, Raymond Mack, Charles Page, Stanley Udy, Jr., John Useem, Eugene Wilkening, and Robert E.L. Faris, as chair.

In 1965, the "Faris Committee" adhering "to the notion of a society of individual sociologists" recommended that Council be reduced from 32 to 14 members by eliminating representatives from regional and affiliated societies and editors of ASA publications. The new Council would be composed of five officers and nine members elected-at-large. Council would continue to appoint the Secretary and the Executive Committee would be retained.

The elimination of representatives from regional and affiliated societies continued the movement toward disengagement that began in the fifties and resulted in a 1962 amendment to the By-Laws. The amendment stated that "each regional society shall nominate as candidates for three-year terms on Council two of its members who shall be Fellows of the American Sociological Association; the names of the nominees of the regional societies shall appear on the ballot of the national Association and the voting members of the Association shall be instructed to vote for one of the two from their region and no others." Regionals previously elected their own representatives.

The Faris Committee also recommended that the Committee on Nominations and the Committee on Committees be elected by members in six equal-size voting districts. The Committee on Publications would be elected-at-large.

In addition, the Committee called for the creation of a Committee on the Executive Office and Budget, a Committee on Regional Affairs, and a Committee on Sections. The Committee also reduced the powers of the President to presiding over meetings and filling vacancies that may occur on committees.

The Faris Committee Report generated a fair amount of controversy, especially over the degree to which power in the Association was still centralized.


Constitutional Revision

The task of reconciling the Faris Committee Report with the commentary from the membership was given to a committee composed of Marshall B. Clinard, Gerhard E. Lenski and J. Milton Yinger.

The Constitutional Committee retained most of the recommendations of the Faris Committee, but did make the following changes to further decentralize power in the Association:

1. The size of Council was increased to 18 members by adding the office of Vice President-Elect and three members elected-at-large.

2. Members-at-large could not be re-elected to Council until one year after the expiration of their terms and no individual could serve more than two terms as a member-at-large.

3. The Secretary was to be elected directly by the membership and was ineligible for reelection. The Secretary would serve one year as Secretary-Elect, sitting on Council as a non-voting member.

4. The Executive Committee was eliminated.

The new Constitution was adopted by the membership in 1967.


Vietnam War

The Vietnam War emerged as an issue at the 1967 Annual Meeting when a demonstration was held outside the San Francisco Hilton and a resolution sponsored by the Sociology Liberation Movement calling for the "immediate end to the bombing of Vietnam and the immediate withdrawal of American troops from South Vietnam" was passed during the Business Meeting.

The resolution was submitted to the 4,429 voting members in a referendum in 1968 with the following results: "By a vote of 1,874 to 989 the voting membership voted that the Association should not adopt an official policy on the issues; but, by a vote of 1,472 to 1,247 these same members voted to favor the Members' Resolution."

The resolution was reintroduced at the 1968 Business Meeting in Boston but it was defeated. In response to another resolution, however, Council transferred the 1969, 1972 and 1976 Annual Meetings out of Chicago because of the treatment anti-war demonstrators received during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

In 1969, Council "censured and condemned those persons—members and non-members—who disrupted the presidential address and plenary session" that year in San Francisco with an anti-war demonstration.



Several caucuses became active in Association affairs during the 1968 and 1969 Annual Meetings.

In 1968, Council responded to a resolution presented by the Caucus of Black Sociologists by resolving that "the ASA shall make every effort to ensure that black sociologists are brought into the fullest participation in all aspects of the governance and other activities of the Association."

That same year, Council endorsed in principle several provisions of a resolution presented by the ASA Radical Caucus that addressed sources of research funding, the conduct of research, and the publication of findings. Council referred the provisions to the Committee on Professional Ethics for inclusion in the proposed Code of Ethics.

In 1969, Council endorsed resolutions from the Caucus of Women Sociologists calling for "surveys of graduate departments on a regular basis, including listing of faculty and students by sex" and for the removal of "any barriers to equality that exist" in departments, universities, and institutions "as well as within its own jurisdictions."


Government Relations

The Association passed a series of resolutions concerning Federal Government activities related to research during the sixties.

In 1963, it questioned "the need for fingerprinting and security forms for consultants in nonsensitive positions" and requested that its opinion be "solicited on any contemplated changes in the rules and procedures by which research grants are evaluated, assigned and administered by granting agencies ...especially the National Institutes of Health."

In 1966, the Association urged the Surgeon General to "initiate consultation with appropriate professional bodies" when developing safeguards for the rights of human subjects of research and expressed concern over increasing "governmental control over the gathering of data" as represented by the questionnaire approval required from the Bureau of the Budget for domestic projects and the clearance required from the Department of State for cross-national studies.

In 1968, it urged President Johnson "to grant equal status to all disciplines with regard to draft status" and expressed "strong opposition" to the proposed prohibition on the "use of federal funds to provide payment, assistance or services, in any form, with respect to any individual convicted of a riot-related felony."

In 1969, the Association called upon HEW to keep "the scientific integrity of its review committees" intact by reconsidering its policy to submit such appointments to White House review and urged continuing support for the training and social research programs of NIMH and the Fulbright-Hayes program.

During the sixties the social sciences were also brought to the direct attention of the Congress through hearings on (1) a Council of Social Advisors and (2) a National Foundation for the Social Sciences


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