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American Sociological Association: S.M. Miller Award Statement
S.M. "Mike" Miller exemplifies the outstanding contributions to sociological practice recognized by this award. His distinguished career in sociological practice has spanned six decades, throughout which he has made important and lasting contributions in academics and beyond. Crossing the boundaries of social science and social practice has been the hallmark of Miller’s career as he has turned his sociological ideas into action and social action into ideas He is a respected academic, a public intellectual who has been involved in translating sociological ideas for diverse audiences, an activist in some of the most important social movements of the past half century, and a leader in shaping policy debates in the United States and internationally. He has also been a supportive mentor to hundreds of young scholars and activists.
Currently, Miller is research professor of sociology at Boston College, directs the Project on Inequality and Poverty at the Commonwealth Institute, and serves on the board of United for a Fair Economy, which he co-founded. He also serves on the board of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council in Washington, DC, and isthe first social scientist to serve in that capacity.
Such "firsts" run throughout Miller’s career. He founded Ideas for Action in the late 1940s, a magazine that brought social science ideas to union and community activists. He helped found Social Policy and has remained a contributing editor for three decades. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, he organized and chaired a social science advisory committee to the Congress on Racial Equality (CORE), joined the Ford Foundation and initiated that Foundation’s support of Latino advocacy groups and grants to CORE, the National Urban League, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). He wrote speeches for Martin Luther King, Jr., and an economic policy chapter in Where Do We Go From Here? King’s 1967 Annual Report to the SCLC. He was also active in the areas of welfare rights and anti-poverty policies.
Poverty policies, both in the United States and internationally, have been a career-long area of focus for Miller. He has been involved with national policy creation, community organizations, or consulting in China, Ireland, Israel, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Malaysia, and the Soviet Union. The European Union’s poverty policy is based on his theoretical perspectives.
Miller’s perspectives have informed audiences ranging from grassroots activists to public officials, foundations, journalists, and the general public. He has held a range of editorial positions with leading publications including the American Sociological Review, Social Policy, and the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. A prolific writer in his own right, Miller has published more than 300 monographs, books, articles, opinion pieces, and notes that demonstrate the range and breadth of his contributions to sociological practice. Identification of the problem of "over-rapport" in fieldwork, the first study of comparative social mobility, identification of the stratification process in credentialism, the importance of neoliberal political ideology, and early work on gender relations among dual-earner couples are but a few notable examples.
Miller’s scholarship has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including several visiting scholar positions and fellowships throughout his career. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a German Marshall Fund Fellow, an International Fellow with the Institute for Family and Environmental Research, and a Fulbright Lecturer in India.
He has a notable history in service to the discipline that demonstrates the confidence his professional colleagues have placed in him and his able and well-respected leadership across the discipline. He has been the president of the Eastern Sociological Society and Society for the Scientific Study of Social Problems. He chaired the National Council of Science Committee on Under-Enumeration in the Census, co-chaired the American Academy of Arts and Science Committee on Poverty and Stratification, and was president and co-founder of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Poverty, Social Welfare, and Social Policy.
For weaving together a life and career that includes a commitment to sociological practice and social action that has resulted in these outstanding contributions, we recognize S.M. "Mike" Miller with the 2009 ASA Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology.