September/October 2010 Issue • Volume 38 • Issue 7

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Sociologists Explore Citizenship As
Annual Meeting Returns to Atlanta

By Daniel Fowler, ASA Communications Office

habib

Adam Habib at the
2010 Annual Meeting

The American Sociological Association transformed "Hotlanta" into a hot spot for sociologists this summer, holding its Annual Meeting in the entertainment and cultural center of the South for the first time in seven years. More than 4,600 sociologists attended the 105th Annual Meeting this August—approximately 500 more than in 2003, the last time ASA held its meeting in Atlanta, Georgia—where they explored the theme, "Toward a Sociology of Citizenship."

"When I selected citizenship as the theme for this meeting, the Program Committee and I were cautiously hopeful that all of our many ASA sections and subfields would find topics that would relate to their particular concerns and interests," ASA President Evelyn Nakano Glenn said in her presidential address. "Little did we suspect that by the time of this meeting, the meanings of citizenship, inclusion, participation, and rights would become perhaps the hottest and most contentious issue in America." For this, Glenn said, "We can ‘thank’ politicians and media personages who have enflamed public passion by advocating for racialized nationalism, restrictions on immigrant rights, and, most recently, repealing of the 14th Amendment so as to end birthright citizenship."

During her speech titled, "Constructing Citizenship: Exclusion, Subordination, and Resistance," Glenn also outlined a sociological approach, which argues that social rights, while necessary, are not sufficient for people to enjoy substantive citizenship. "One needs to look also at local practices that serve to recognize or deny standing to certain groups and individuals," she said.

Meeting Highlights

nakanocollins

2010 ASA president Evelyn Nakano Glenn
and 2011 ASA president Randall Collins
at the August 16 Business Meeting.

The meeting featured 545 sessions, including three plenary and five presidential sessions, covering issues such as the global financial crisis and how disinvestment in higher education threatens democratic citizenship, political representation and the U.S. Census, and rebuilding society after natural and social disasters.

The presidential panel on the census featured U.S. Census Director Robert M. Groves, who discussed the design and implementation of the 2010 census enumeration, the innovations and changes in the census this decade, and the road map for completing the census and delivering the apportionment and redistricting data to the President and the Congress in the coming months. (Video of the plenary sessions and the presidential address will soon be available at videoarchive.asanet.org.)

Adam Mahomed Habib, a world-known political scientist and Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Innovation and Advancement at the University of Johannesburg, was the highlight of the presidential panel on rebuilding society after natural and social disasters.

A Muslim of Indian extraction, Habib has been a vocal critic of the war in Iraq and some U.S. terrorism-related policies. He had been denied entry to the United States for more than three years for political reasons before the U.S. State Department ended the ban earlier this year, thanks largely to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of the ASA and other organizations. During his presentation at ASA’s Annual Meeting, Habib spoke about empowering poor people in his country.

Sociologists Make Headlines

nakano

President Evelyn Nakano Glenn
giving her presidential address

Not surprisingly, Habib was a big hit with the media. The New York Times wrote an article about him and the ASA, and Habib was also interviewed on CNN. The Habib coverage was just a small part of the extensive press ASA received both during and after the Annual Meeting.

While 15 members of the media attended this year’s meeting — including reporters from the New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press and Inside Higher Ed —even more impressive were the number of media outlets that ran stories about research presented at the Annual Meeting.

In addition to the New York Times and Inside Higher Ed, articles tied to the meeting appeared in hundreds media outlets. They include the USA Today, Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC.com, CNN.com, TIME.com, Yahoo!News, the New York Daily News, and many others. Stories also ran on NPR, the CBS Radio Network, KGO radio (ABC affiliate in San Francisco), and others.

Interest in studies presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting wasn’t limited to the American press either. International media outlets including the United Kingdom’s BBC, the Daily Mail, The Telegraph, and the Press Association; Canada’s The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, and the Winnipeg Free Press; India’s The Times of India; and France’s Agence France-Presse all published stories based on research presented at the meeting.

Among those sociologists whose studies received substantial media coverage were Christin Munsch, Cornell University; Eric Grodsky, University of Minnesota, and Bill McCarthy, University of California-Davis; Michael Rosenfeld, Stanford University, and Reuben J. Thomas, City University of New York; and Donna Bobbitt-Zeher, Ohio State University-Marion, and Douglas Downey, Ohio State University-Columbus.

Munsch found that men are more likely to cheat if they are economically dependent on their female partners; Grodsky and McCarthy found that sex between adolescents in romantic relationships is often harmless to their academic achievement; Rosenfeld and Thomas found that Internet access at home increases the likelihood that adults will be in relationships; and Bobbitt-Zeher and Downey found that growing up without siblings doesn’t hurt one’s social skills. These are just a few of the research presentation that caught the attention of the media.

Looking Ahead

With the success of the 2010 meeting as a foundation, ASA is now looking ahead to the 2011 Annual Meeting in Chicago, August 13-16. Randall Collins, who officially succeeded Glenn as ASA president at the end of the 2010 meeting, and the members of the 2011 Program Committee are busy developing an exciting program around the theme, "Social Conflict: Multiple Dimensions and Arenas." ASA will post the call for papers on the association’s website (www.asanet.org) in late October, and will launch the online paper submission tool in early December. See you in Chicago! asalogo

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