American Sociological Association

Rhoades History Chapter 9

 Chapter 9: Consolidation and Transition

The rapid growth of the Association in the fifties and sixties set the stage for a period of consolidation and transition in the seventies that was also supported by changes in the external and internal situations confronting the Association.

Consolidation was supported by the dramatically changed external situation confronting the Association; the growth of activities; and a desire to protect previous gains.

The War on Poverty and the Great Society were gone. Support for graduate training was rapidly declining and funding for basic research was not keeping pace with inflation. A drop in college enrollments was predicted, but the production of PhD's continued to increase. The economy was battered by inflation, unemployment and low productivity. And science was no longer on a pedestal.

The growth of activities led to more elaborate and formal policies related to publications, awards and Sections. The desire to protect previous gains led to the first investment in real estate and a dues structure based on graduated income.

The transition was well underway by the beginning of the decade. In 1970, Secretary Peter H. Rossi said, "The Council agenda have expanded to include a wider variety of topics many of which go outside immediate internal ASA affairs. High on the agenda have been such topics as our relationship to other professional associations in closely related fields, the impact of government policies on our professional activities, the treatment of sociologists in universities and other places where they may be employed, and the development and implementation of a code of professional ethics."

This transition towards a professional association, although lamented by many, should not have come as any surprise to the membership, for a survey of ASA officers conducted by President-Elect Ralph Turner in 1968 identified the following "basic, long-term issues" confronting the Association:

1. Creation and implementation of a code of ethics.

2. Relations with the federal government in connection with research support.

3. The nature and functions of Sections.

4. Relations with international sociological associations.

5. Whether and how the ASA should be involved in matters of public policy.

6. The extent to which the ASA should be concerned with the health of universities and the issues confronting them.

7. What account the ASA should take of the "generation gap" in its organization and its meetings.

8. What changes or total overhaul of the Annual Meeting format would enhance our service to members.9. How deeply ASA should be involved in efforts to improve the quality of teaching sociology at all levels.

10. Whether ASA should try to influence the practices of granting agencies in financing research.

Additional items were added to the agenda by supporters of the trends toward equalization and democratization within the Association: Women, racial and ethnic minorities, teachers, applied researchers, gays, political activists, non-academics, administrators, "gypsy professionals" and the unemployed.

Although the Association continued to pursue its original purposes throughout the decade, it increasingly responded to the broader agenda emerging from the profession upon whose development the future of the discipline depends.

These responses were made at a time when total membership was no longer increasing and when financing was again problematic. Nevertheless, most agenda items were addressed in the seventies. Some have been dealt with more successfully than others, but all will continue into the eighties, and most likely, beyond.


Executive Office

Generating programmatic responses to the needs of the profession called attention to the facilities and staffing of the Executive Office. In 1970, John A. Clausen, Chair, Committee on Long-Range Planning for the Executive Office, said, "Quite clearly, the demands of maintaining liaison within the federal government, being in touch with sections and committees, being of assistance to chairmen of small departments and meeting the many demands for information that come to the Executive Office would seem to call for some expansion of professional staff."

That same year, the first Executive Associate, Kurt Finsterbusch, was appointed. In 1972, the first Executive Specialist for Race and Minority Relations, Maurice Jackson, was added to the professional staff. This position was initially funded by the Grant Foundation. In 1973, the position was renamed Executive Specialist for Minorities and Women.The final addition to the professional staff came in 1973 when the Center for Minority Group Mental Health Programs, NIMH, provided support for the ASA Minority Fellowship Program. Cheryl Leggon was appointed Acting Director that year; William Anderson became the first full-time Director in 1974.

Prior to 1977, most members of the professional staff served for two years or less. That year, Council moved to increase the stability of staff by instituting the following terms of office: Executive Officer-five years, once renewable, annually reviewable; Executive Associates-two years, once renewable. The MFP Director does not have a fixed term.

Expansion of the professional staff was only one of the problems created by the increasing number of functions being assigned to the Executive Office. The other was space.In 1970, Council empowered the Executive Officer "to search for alternative housing for the Executive Office, in light of anticipated new needs for space..." That same year, a red brick townhouse at 1722 N Street, N.W., Washington, was purchased. After several months of renovations, the new quarters were occupied later that year.



The Association sustained the largest deficit, $76,500, in its history in 1970-71. N.J. Demerath, Executive Officer, said, "Our financial crisis was the long-term product of a rise in fixed costs plus an accumulation of expansive commitments, both coupled with a rather sudden contraction of income. Grant overhead suffered a sharp drop-off with the end of the NSF secondary school project. Advertising and subscription revenue declined, as both the publishing and higher education industries began to feel the economic pinch."

The Sociological Resources for Secondary Schools project ended in 1971. The Association withdrew from the National Register of Scientific and Technical Personnel in 1970 and the Visiting Scientists Program for Sociology ended in 1972. To some extent, these losses were replaced by the ASA Minority Fellowship Program, beginning in 1973, and the ASA Projects on Teaching Undergraduate Sociology in 1974.

A graduated dues structure was adopted in 1972 in an attempt to develop a reserve fund "equal to the budget for one year."

In 1975, Otto N. Larsen, Executive Officer, reported, "In the period between November 1964 and June 1974, when membership in the ASA nearly doubled, annual revenue has quadrupled ($219,282 to $864,925), so have expenditures ($201,962 to $804,273), and equity has increased more than sevenfold ($33,396 to $246,482)."

Larsen continued, "Nevertheless, the general economic downturn, the sluggish academic labor market, the reluctant nonacademic labor market, the emergence of labor unions on the college scene, and the public disenchantment with science and scholarship are leading some observers to predict a decade of retrenchment for the learned societies, including the ASA."

In 1976, members were allowed to choose the publications they wanted to receive, but each received one less. In the ensuing years, the Association sought additional revenues through processing and registration fees, subscription and advertising rates, and the dues structure.

By 1979, total revenue had reached $1,098,271; expenditures $1,085,673, and equity $410,412.



Total membership has not fluctuated much during the seventies even though the greatest number of new PhDs were produced during that decade. In 1969, total membership stood at 13,357. It peaked in 1974 at 14,654 and dropped to 12,865 in 1980.

Total membership figures, however, cloak a significant difference between trends in the member categories and the associate categories. Between 1972-78, member categories grew from 7,756 to 9,654 while associate categories declined from 6,178 to 3,907. Both the rate of increase in the member categories and the rate of decline in the associate categories, appear to be dropping.

Given that situation, the concern expressed by Larsen in 1975 still appears appropriate: "The likely reality is that the ASA will have to struggle to maintain its present level of membership.. Whatever we currently are doing will have to be strengthened merely to hold the line. Plans could be developed to help. keep the organization attractive to the mix of members we now have. At the heart of that mix are the PhD sociologists who pursue teaching and research concerns."



Teaching was one of the major new efforts undertaken during the seventies. It was largely made through the ASA Projects on Teaching Undergraduate Sociology. The Projects began in 1974 when the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education provided support for a program of assessment, articulation and experimentation in the undergraduate teaching of sociology to be directed by Hans O. Mauksch. The program was partially formulated during a workshop in Chicago in November 1973 that was supported by the ASA. Additional support for the effort came in 1976 when the Lilly Endowment, Inc., funded a teacher development project to be directed by Charles A. Goldsmid. Between 1974-80, the Projects created a teaching resources center, a teaching workshop program, a departmental visitation program, a teaching newsletter and a teacher information exchange. In 1978, Council authorized the transfer of the teaching resources center from Oberlin College to the Executive Office. In 1979, it created a Standing Committee on Teaching, endorsed in principle the development of a teaching services program, passed a declaration on teaching that called for the incorporation of teacher training into graduate programs in sociology, and created an annual ASA award for contributions to the teaching and learning of sociology. In 1980, Council approved the establishment of the ASA Teaching Services Program with the following constituent units: (1) a teaching resources center; (2) a teaching workshop program, (3) a departmental visitation program, (4) an endowment fund for teaching, and (5) a teaching grant development fund. Besides the Projects, the Association was involved in two other teaching related activities. In 1972, it and NIMH sponsored a conference on "New Directions in Graduate Training: Policy Implications of Sociological Research." The proceedings were published in Social Policy and Sociology edited by N.J. Demerath, III, Otto N. Larsen, and Karl F. Schuessler. In 1973, six summer institutes for secondary school teachers in sociology were held under NSF sponsorship to introduce teachers to the materials produced by the Sociological Resources for Secondary Schools project.


Minority Fellowship

Another major effort undertaken by the Association in the seventies was the Minority Fellowship Program, initially supported by NIMH in 1973. Additional support was obtained from the National Institute of Education. The development of the Program stems from a resolution introduced by James E. Blackwell in 1970, calling for the Association to "establish and obtain funding for an Opportunities Fellowship Program to provide stipends for graduate training in sociology for representatives of the following minority groups: Black Americans, Chicano-Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, and American Indians." When the Program was funded, Blackwell, Chair, Committee on the Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Sociology, appointed the following members of his committee to serve as the first governing board of the Program: Maurice Jackson, Chair; Ruth S. Hamilton; John Moland, Jr.; Frank Bonilla; Joseph H. Stauss; Jaime Sena Rivera, and William H. Sewell. Additional support for the Program was received in 1975 from The Cornerhouse Fund, which gave $15,000 to support two dissertation fellowships. The Fund continued to support the Program throughout the decade. The Program was expanded again in 1979 when the Center for Minority Group Mental Health Programs, NIMH, funded a proposal prepared by Paul Williams, current MFP Director, that established a predoctoral fellowship program in applied sociology. By 1980, the Program had supported 168 Fellows and had added 21 new PhDs to the profession.



The caucuses which became active in the latter part of the sixties continued their activities into the seventies. The caucuses represented the interests of blacks, Chicanos, women, radicals and gays. Among the interests pursued by the Caucus of Black Sociologists and the Chicano Caucus were the establishment of a fellowship program for racial and ethnic graduate students; a staff position in the Executive Office for racial and minority relations, and greater representation in the activities of the Association. In addition, the Caucus of Black Sociologists sought an award that recognized the research tradition of W.E.B. DuBois, Charles S. Johnson, and E. Franklin Frazier. In 1970, an Ad Hoc Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities in the Profession was appointed. It was composed of James E. Conyers, Chair; Rodolfo Alvarez; Edgar Epps; Joan Moore, and. Frank Miyamoto. The Committee was given standing status a year later. In 1977, The Status of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Sociology edited by James E. Blackwell, Maurice Jackson and Joan Moore, was published as a supplement to the August issue of FOOTNOTES. Among the interests pursued by the Caucus of Women Sociologists were a position in the Executive Office concerned with women's equity, child care, the abolition of nepotism rules, the Equal Rights Amendment, and increased representation on scientific advisory groups and peer review panels. In 1970, the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession was composed of Elise M. Boulding, Chair; Rose Laub Coser; Paul C. Glick; Cora Bagley Marrett; James A. Sweet, and Lenore J. Weitzman. In 1973, The Status of Women in Sociology, 1968-72, prepared by the Committee and edited by Helen MacGill Hughes, was published with support from the Russell Sage Foundation. In 1974, Council affirmed its support of the ERA and in 1978 a referendum moved the 1980 Annual Meeting from Atlanta to New York City because Georgia did not support the ERA. A resolution presented by the Radical Caucus in 1972, calling for wider representation in the nominating process eventually developed into the open nomination process used in elections since 1974. The Gay Sociologists Caucus sought recognition of the civil rights of gays. In 1979, Council appointed a task force to review existing knowledge in the sociology of homosexuality and to identify topics in this field which demand research. In addition, Council recommended that "sexual orientation" be included as an anti-discrimination provision in civil rights legislation and regulatory codes.



Employment re-emerged as a problem in the seventies because of the declining academic market. In 1971, Council initially addressed the problem by authorizing the Executive Office to develop a "universalistic talent bank for PhDs interested in non-academic employment" on a trial basis for two years. Early in the decade, the Executive Office also compiled a listing of new PhDs for circulation to potential employers. In 1976, the Employment Bulletin was removed from FOOTNOTES and published as a separate document to shorten turnaround time on advertisements and provide quicker delivery by first class mail. The Bulletin is distributed to all departments of sociology free of charge. In 1977, the Committee on Expanding Employment Opportunities presented a list of recommendations for action that included conducting studies of potential employers of sociologists; expanding the scope of listings for sociologists on civil service registers; developing substantial retraining programs; and increasing the visibility and enhancing the status of careers outside of academia. The Committee was composed of Albert E. Gollin, Chair; James Cowhig; Nelson Foote; Charles Kadushin; Paula Leventman, and John Pease. In 1979, Council appointed an Ad Hoc Committee on Professional Opportunities in Applied Sociology to report on how ASA might improve (1) graduate and undergraduate training in sociology to meet the needs of applied social science research; (2) the functioning of the labor market in making employers aware of the skills of sociologists; and (3) the general awareness within the profession of the opportunities for employment as applied sociologists. A report from the committee chair is published in the December 1980 issue of FOOTNOTES.



The publications program continued to expand in the seventies. In 1971, the Association established a newsletter to be published nine times a year by the Executive Office. Initially entitled Socio-Log, it was merged with The American Sociologist in 1972 before becoming ASA FOOTNOTES in 1973. In 1972, Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews appeared under the editorship of Dennis Wrong. Two years later, Council authorized the Executive Office to develop and disseminate publications to serve the professional needs of members by creating the Professional Information Series. The first publication in this series was the Author's Guide to Selected Journals, compiled by Lawrence J. Rhoades and published in April 1975. In 1974, the first publication in the Presidential Series appeared—Approaches to the Study of Social Structure edited by Peter M. Blau. These books were based on the plenary sessions at Annual Meetings. In 1977, Cambridge University Press became the publisher of the Arnold and Caroline Rose Monograph Series. In its first decade, the Rose Monograph Series issued 20 titles. Two publications appeared in 1978: The new booklet on Careers in Sociology and the ASA Directory of Departments of Sociology which listed undergraduate as well as graduate departments. In 1979, Council approved the publication of a new annual, Sociological Theory, and appointed Peter Berger, Randall Collins and Irving Zeitlin as editors. The first issue is expected in 1981. Besides creating new publications, the Association also agreed to equally share reprint fees with authors; declared multiple submissions unethical; set a 12-week limit on turnaround time; instituted a processing fee for manuscripts; and, adopted a general policy on publications.



Several new awards and a general award policy were established in the seventies. In 1970, Council approved the biennial DuBoisJohnson-Frazier Award. The first award was made in 1971 to Oliver C. Cox. Grants from The Cornerhouse Fund enabled the Association to give Sydney Spivack Fellowships for significant contributions to the area of intergroup relations starting in 1977 and ending in 1979. The first recipients were R.A. Schermerhorn, William J. Wilson, Ernst Borinski and James W. Loewen. In 1976, Council established the biennial Jessie Bernard Award to recognize "work that has enlarged the horizons of the discipline of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society." The first award was made in 1977 to Mirra Komarovsky. In 1979, the Council approved a new policy that established four categories of awards: General, Traditional, Section, and Special Awards and Prizes. The three new general awards were first presented in 1980: ASA Award for a Career of Distinguished Scholarship to Robert K. Merton; ASA Award for a Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship jointly to Peter Blau for Inequality and Heterogeneity, and to Theda Skocpol for States and Revolutions; and the ASA Award for Contributions to Teaching to Everett K. Wilson.  



Relations between Sections and the Association were somewhat strained through a major part of the seventies. The problem centered on the amount of time allocated to Sections during the Annual Meeting and the scheduling of Section Day activities. In 1979, Council re-established a Standing Committee on Sections as a first step in improving coordination between Section and Association activities. The Committee had been eliminated by an earlier Constitutional revision. In addition, Council supported the formation of a Board of Section Chairs to facilitate communication among Sections on matters of common concern. Sections were also permitted to give awards under the new awards policy.



In 1973, Council established the Problems of the Discipline Small Grants Program to support small groups of sociologists and other scientists interested in working on the synthesis, integration and evaluation of the knowledge base and methodology of the profession. That same year Council also created the Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline "to establish a means whereby persons could make contributions, including the assignment of royalties to the ASA." In 1973, the Association joined with other social science associations to sponsor a project "on questions concerning confidentiality of social science research sources." The project was funded by the Russell Sage Foundation. The Association began moving toward continuing education for sociologists in the seventies. Early in the decade, it organized didactic seminars at the Annual Meeting. In 1979, it held the first ASA Research Skills Development Institute with support from the National Institute of Education.



The Constitution was revised three times during the seventies. The first revision, effective January 1972, created a new classification for members; enlarged the Committee on Publications from three to six elected members; permitted temporary appointments to Council and committees; empowered the President to break election ties; and gave voting privileges to regional representatives on the Committee on Regional Affairs. The new classification for members contained only two categories-members and associates-thereby, eliminating the Fellow category. In addition, members were given full voting privileges and the right to hold office. Persons could qualify as members if they held the PhD degree in sociology or in closely related fields or had completed three years of graduate study in such fields in accredited institutions. Persons lacking these qualifications could also become members if they presented evidence of comparable professional competence and commitment to the field of sociology. The second revision, effective January 1976, gave members the right to select the journals they want to receive; permitted Sections to be formed without the approval of Council as long as they had 200 members and abided by the Manual on Sections; eliminated the Committees on Sections and Regional Affairs; and required Council to consider Business Resolutions passed by 3 percent of the voting members. If Council rejected the resolution, it had to be submitted to the membership for a vote. The third revision, effective January 1981, created the position of Past Vice President; clarified responsibilities of the Program Committee and the Council in planning the Annual Meeting program, especially in regards to the allocation of program time to Sections; incorporated guidelines for the preparation and submission of petitions; and eliminated sexist terminology. The only Constitutional referendum to be rejected in the history of the Association occurred in 1976. It called for expanding Council to 24 members with 18 members-at-large elected in equal numbers by six voting districts. Although not required by the Constitution, Council, in 1975, opened its meetings to the membership except for those portions dealing with personnel and related matters. In 1979, Council also adopted a simple preferential voting system for the positions of President-Elect, Vice President Elect, and Secretary-Elect. In 1978, Council also authorized the Committee on Professional Ethics to prepare a new code of ethics. A draft of the revised code was published in the August 1980 issue of FOOTNOTES. It must now be approved by Council and submitted to the membership.



The Association remained active on the international level throughout the decade. In 1970, Council urged the Department of State and international organizations to enlarge their support for "UNESCO and its social science programs." That same year it supported the recommendation of the proposed new Constitution of the International Sociological Association which strengthened the position of research committees, but voted against increasing the number of national delegates to three. In 1969, Council had urged the ISA to work to strengthen "the principle of academic freedom in all member countries" and instructed ASA delegates to seek a Constitutional revision that would increase the participation of member organizations and individuals in the ISA. In 1970, Council also supported the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association when it invited the ISA to hold the Eighth World Congress in Toronto. In 1973, Council formed the Committee on the Development of World Sociology and the Committee on the Sociology of World Conflicts to further the work of the Association at the international level. Finally, in 1979, the Association became involved in establishing relations with Chinese sociologists to facilitate the restoration of sociology in that country. Sociology had been banned in China since 1952.



Council responded to several government actions that had implications for the discipline and profession during the seventies. It protested the existence of blacklisting within HEW; supported a federal charter for TIAA-CREF; expressed alarm over the reductions in support for graduate training; urged removal of age restrictions on support for graduate training; deplored the delayed availability of vital statistics; commented on proposed HEW guidelines for Institutional Review Boards; and protested the proposed dispersal of historical records housed in the National Archives.



Council also censured several universities and departments for not following equitable procedures in making decisions concerning the tenure, promotion and termination of sociologists. These actions were based on investigations conducted by the Committee on Freedom of Research and Teaching. In 1978, the Committee prepared "Guidelines for Initial Appointments in Sociology" in an attempt to reduce the number of these problems.  


Legal Actions

In addition, the Association joined with other associations in filing or supporting "friend of the court" briefs in cases related to research and scholarship before the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1972, it supported the "right of scholars to continue to make single copies of articles or parts thereof for their scholarly and educational activities under the 'fair use' doctrine" in the Williams and Wilkens Co. vs. the United States. In 1973, it supported the right of Samuel O. Popkin, a political scientist, to refuse to disclose the names of persons with whom he had discussed the secret war study conducted by the Pentagon because "the First Amendment of the Constitution protects confidentiality essential in scholarly and scientific research."In 1979, the Association supported Ronald E. Hutchinson, an experimental psychologist, who was suing Senator William Proxmire and his legislative aide, Morton Schwartz, for actions involved in a Golden Fleece Award. The brief argued that scientists do not become "public figures" just because they accept public funds for research and publish their findings in professional journals, and therefore, do not have to show "actual malice" in a libel suit. In 1979, the Association supported Ronald E. Hutchinson, an experimental psychologist, who was suing Senator William Proxmire and his legislative aide, Morton Schwartz, for actions involved in a Golden Fleece Award. The brief argued that scientists do not become "public figures" just because they accept public funds for research and publish their findings in professional journals, and therefore, do not have to show "actual malice" in a libel suit. By 1979, total revenue had reached $1,098,271; expenditures $1,085,673, and equity $410,412.

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