May/June 2013 Issue • Volume 41 • Issue 4

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ASA Awards Seven Grants for the
Advancement of Sociology

Member donations are needed to continue advancing the discipline

The American Sociological Association (ASA) announced seven awards from the June 2012 round of the Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD). This program, co-funded by ASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and administered by the ASA, provides seed money (up to $7,000) to PhD scholars for innovative research projects and scientific conferences that advance the discipline through theoretical and methodological breakthroughs. Funding decisions are made by an advisory panel composed of members of ASA’s Council and the Director of Research and Development.

Without member donations, we cannot maintain FAD at its current funding level. Therefore, we are asking ASA members to provide the donations needed to allow us to continue to fund six or seven proposals per cycle (December 15 and June 15). FAD has funded a wide variety of projects—quantitative and qualitative, domestic and international, micro and macro. Individuals can send contributions to FAD, c/o Business Office, American Sociological Association, 1430 K St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005.

Below is a list of the latest FAD Principal Investigators (PIs) and a brief description of their projects.

Mikhail Balaev, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, $7,000 for Who Rules America Revisited.

This research focuses on the power elite in the 21st century and proposes to document, and analyze the corporate backround and network ties of senior government employees before and after they hold their government appointment. The PI will examine the affiliations of the senior executive government officials (SEGOs), defined as presidential appointees from 2004 to 2012. SEGOs’ employment and board memberships prior to and after their executive political offices will be coded in a set of variables including the type, sector, and industry of the organizations. This data collection includes identifying and coding documents from a variety of sources such as Financial Disclosures and Ethics Agreements letters. According to the proposal, the most important aspect is that there was no previous analysis of the connection between corporations and the executive government through SEGO’s. The project will use the collected information to develop a new database on the interlocking directorate ties for U.S. presidential appointees.

Carolyn Chen, Northwestern University, $7,000 for Zen and the Art of Modern Corporate Productivity: Asian Religions and Instrumental Spirituality.

This study focuses on how religious practices are secularized, transformed, and utilized in a different context—the American corporate workplace. Specifically, it will examine how corporations use Asian religious practices, such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga, to attempt to improve the productivity of their employees. According to the PI, corporations tailor Asian religions for a secular audience. It also examines how these religious practices in the workplace extend into employees personal lives. Data will be collected through 150 in-depth interviews with professionals, managers, and spiritual practitioners, observations of corporate wellness programs, and content analysis of corporate literature. In short, this project offers an analysis of the relationship between work, self, and spirituality in a postindustrial economy. This project advances sociological theory on the notion that work influences religion rather than, as Weber would have it, that religion influences work.

Ashley Currier, University of Cincinatti, $7,000 for Diffusing LGBT Rights: U.S. Foreign Policy and LGBT Organizing in Côte d’Ivoire.

This pilot project will investigate whether and how U.S. foreign policy on LGBT rights has affected gender and sexual diversity organizing in Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia. Specifically, this project asks how interested groups in two African nations respond to a positive U.S. stance on LGBT rights. The project will compare responses in Côte d’Ivoire (a benign political climate) and Liberia (a hostile political climate) by pro- and anti-LGBT activists (via interviews) with responses by politicians and political leaders (presented in local newspapers). In addition, the study asks how different groups, such as LGBT activists, anti-LGBT activists, religious authorities, and political officials and parties, have responded to the policy. Finally, the PI hopes to gain an understanding of how gender and sexual diversity politics intersect with human rights norms.

Kim Ebert, North Carolina State University, $6,993 for The Role of Policy, Media, and Local Context in Shaping Symbolic Boundaries between Foreign- and Native-Born Groups.

According to the PI, the government plays a central role in defining the boundaries between immigrants and non-immigrants. These definitions have implications for the maintenance of racial and ethnic inequality. The author contends that in many cases, boundaries between native and foreign-born groups stemming from immigration policy only become meaningful when they are disseminated to the public by means of the media. Specifically, the research will investigate the relationship among immigration policymaking at different levels of government. The study examines three general areas: a 10-year analysis of trends regarding the purpose of the policies (receptive vs. exclusionary); an analysis of local newspapers’ framing of policymaking, and an analysis of whether these boundaries get translated into social boundaries between immigrants and non-immigrants. By focusing on different levels of policymaking, the author goes beyond established gateways and global cities.

Chunping  Han, University of Texas-Arlington, $6,997 for Psychological Well-Being in Reform-Era China.

This project is a sociological study of psychological well-being in reform-era China. According to the author, the sociological research on subjective well-being is far less extensive and systematic than what has been done by psychologists and economists. Psychological well-being reflects the extent to which individuals feel their life is thriving or withering, indicates “the quality of the social system in which they live,” and serves as a predictor of many life outcomes such as longevity, health, income, and social skills. Specifically, the PI intends to explore the definition, description, and the explanation of social and psychological sources of life satisfaction and psychological distress in transitional China. The author suggests that the results (based on in-depth interviews) will also shed light on policies and practices conducive to subjective well-being during large-scale, dramatic social and economic shifts that have occurred in China, and ultimately can be used to compare “transitional societies” with “developed societies.”

John W. Mohr, University of California-Santa Barbara, $2,000 for Measuring Culture.

The grant is intended for a conference, titled “Measuring Culture,” which will bring together quantitative and qualitative scholars to sit down together and discuss the problem of measuring culture in the discipline of sociology. The goal of the meeting will be to forge a new set of common understandings and basic orientations toward measurement practices and theories as they relate to cultural analysis. Citing findings from other fields, the PI argues that small conferences are indispensible for paradigm shifts to occur. Based on this view, the PI states that forging common understanding through a small-conference format will move the sociology of culture forward and help establish a coherent sub-field of scientific sociology. The proceedings of the conference, should result in a special issue of Theory and Society or an edited volume.

Tiffany Taylor, North Carolina State University, $5,760 for Race and Place: A Comparative Case Study of Welfare-to-Work Service Delivery in North Carolina and Ohio.

The purpose of this proposal is to compare welfare-to-work service delivery in rural counties in two states, with very different rural populations (North Carolina’s welfare population is predominantly black, while Ohio’s is predominantly white). The study allows an examination of race, place, and service in which rural poverty is particularly understudied. The focus will be on the challenges faced by agencies and organizations in both states and the place of race in how government employees implement TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). The project will combine rural marginalization and critical race theory on welfare stigma to understand how both race and location interact to play a role in the potential effectiveness of Welfare-to-Work programs.

The next deadline FAD Round is June 15, 2013. We encourage ASA members to submit. Potential applicants can reach the program director, Roberta Spalter-Roth, at spalter-roth@asanet.org, the co-director Nicole Van Vooren can be reached at vanvooren@asanet.org. For more information, visit www.asanet.org/funding/fad.cfm.

 

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