American Sociological Association

Sociology Action Network



What is the Sociology Action Network (SAN)? 

The goal of SAN is to leverage our sociological expertise to empower various sectors of civil society to intervene in current sociopolitical contexts in meaningful ways.  SAN will do this by providing direct support to organizations with missions related to issues that can be informed by sociology.  This is a nonpartisan effort to connect individuals interested in volunteering their sociological expertise—including substantive knowledge and methodological skill—with organizations in need of such expertise.  ASA’s role is facilitating productive partnerships—the sociologists work as independent contractors, not on behalf of ASA.

Which sociologists and organizations will be eligible to participate in SAN? 

Sociologists:  Any PhD sociologist with an interest in volunteering, irrespective of whether s/he has done such work in the past, may sign up to participate in SAN.  SAN sociologists must be ASA members.

Organizations: Organizations with not-for-profit missions, including nonprofit and public-sector organizations, are eligible to request SAN sociologists.  While there are no formal financial requirements for organizational participation, we want to avoid working with organizations that are asking for SAN sociologists simply to save money they would otherwise spend on paid consultants.  Under ordinary circumstances, an organization that has hired consultants in the past for similar roles will not be eligible for SAN participation.  If a request comes from an organization that would clearly be unable to pay for an outside consultant, this is a non-issue.  If a request comes from a large organization that should be able to pay, it may be eligible for SAN, but with tighter constraints on the duration and scope of the project. 

What constitutes a project that is eligible for SAN support?

  • The project must be pro bono.  However, while the lead sociologist should be working pro bono, resources could be provided to support paid undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Sociological skill must be central to the project (as opposed to a project that is oriented toward “doing good” in a general sense, such as serving food at a shelter).
  • The outcome of the project must be a tangible work product, such as a research report, a program evaluation report, or a survey design (as opposed to, for example, serving on a board or running for elected office).
  • The primary goal of the project must be advancing the work of the organization and the people it serves (as opposed to, for example, a service learning project that primarily supports student learning or a data collection project that primarily advances a scholar’s research agenda).
  • The project must have a specified, bounded time frame, though the duration may vary considerably.  The range is likely to fall between one day and two years. 

How will SAN participants be identified and matches made?

ASA will encourage sociologists to sign up for SAN through typical communications channels including Footnotes, Member News and Notes, targeted messages to department chairs and section chairs, and social media. 

We will proactively seek organizational partners by using our networks, including regional associations, department chairs, section public engagement liaisons, and associations of nonprofit organizations. Much, but not all, of this work will be locally oriented, so we will ask our members to think about their local community organizations. 

Interested sociologists and organizational representatives will fill in web forms to apply to participate in SAN.  Sociologists will be asked for information such as education, employment, areas of research and methodological specialization, relevant consulting experience, and the kind of SAN work they are interested in doing. Organizational representatives will be asked to supply information about their organization, including mission, years in operation, and a detailed project description.

When sociologists sign up for SAN, they will be entered into a database.  When organizations submit requests for SAN sociologists, staff will review the initial proposed project description and have a preliminary conversation with the organizational representative to begin refining the potential scope of work.  If it is determined that the project is eligible for SAN, the database will be searched and up to three appropriate sociologists will be identified based on a variety of factors including expertise and geography.  Before setting up matches, the sociologists will be interviewed and references will be contacted.  Organizational references will be called only if there are questions about the organization. 

Once ASA determines that there is a good match, the sociologist’s CV and contact information will be given to the organization.  The organization can then decide whether to move forward with the referral or not.  Should the organization contact a sociologist, the sociologist is under no obligation to agree to the engagement.  It will be up to the sociologist and the organizational representative to negotiate the parameters of the project.  ASA will provide a generic template independent contractor agreement that partners can use if they believe it will be helpful.  ASA will also provide a checklist of additional items one might consider negotiating in advance. ASA will not be involved once the referral is made, though we hope SAN participants will let ASA know how the project went.

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