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ASA NEWS

August 01, 2003

Sociological Association Takes Position on Conflict in Iraq

The American Sociological Association (ASA), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving its nearly 13,000 academic and practicing sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions and use of sociology to society. The elected Council of the Association makes occasional official statements when it concludes there is substantial, relevant scholarly research that speaks directly to a significant policy issue. In the last twelve months, ASA’s Council has approved a Amicus Curiae brief to the United States Supreme Court in the affirmative action case Grutter v. Bollinger, and released a statement, The Importance of Collecting Data and Doing Social Scientific Research on Race, bearing on public accountability regarding racial and ethnic classifications.

The Association’s bylaws also provide for members to seek a direct vote of the membership on any policy matter about which they feel the Association should make a statement. In 2003, ASA members who were also members of an organization called Sociologists and Political Scientists Without Borders circulated a resolution pertaining to the U.S.-led coalition war in Iraq.1 Three percent of the eligible ASA membership signed this resolution, meeting the Association’s bylaw requirement to send it to the membership for a vote.

The resolution, written prior to the conclusion of major hostilities in Iraq, called for the Association to make a statement favoring an immediate end to the war against Iraq. The statement emphasizes that this position does not in any way reflect support for the Saddam Hussein dictatorship, but, rather, reflects a view that such involvement could create more problems than solutions. Passed by a vote of 65.8 percent of the voting membership (in favor) to 34.2 percent (opposed), with 22 percent of the voters abstaining or not voting on this issue, the resolution is now an official statement of the American Sociological Association (see below).

By contrast, a similar resolution circulated in 1968, during the Vietnam War, was also voted on by the ASA membership, but defeated. This earlier resolution had called for an end to the bombing of Vietnam and the immediate withdrawal of American troops. While a simultaneous poll of opinions indicated that a majority of the Association’s voting members favored the resolution’s policy position, a majority was not willing, at that time, to view a policy position on such an issue to be consistent with the role of a scientific and professional society, thus defeating the resolution.

1The members of Sociologists and Political Scientists Without Borders included Judith Blau, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Texas A&M University; Walda Katz-Fishman, Howard University; Tanya Golash-Boza, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and Natalia Deeb-Sossa, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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American Sociological Statement Against the War on Iraq

The American Sociological Association comprises sociologists and kindred professionals who study, among other things, war and peace, democracy and totalitarianism, conflict resolution and violence, systems of inequality and their effects, states and legal orders, nationalism, and nation-building.

  • We believe that foreign interventions that do not have the support of the world community create more problems than solutions. President Bush’s and Prime Minister Blair’s decision to invade Iraq against the wishes of most of the nations of the world will undermine the already weakened UN, the League of Arab States, and the rule of international law, and will bring more harm than good to the Iraqi people.
  • We also believe that the threat of terrorism is not ameliorated by this intervention in Iraq. Instead of lessening the risk of terrorist attacks, this invasion could serve as the spark for multiple attacks in years to come.
  • This statement is not issued, and should not be construed in any way, as supporting the dictatorship of President Hussein or his regime. Our major concern with Bush and Blair’s policy is not the stated end but with the means.
  • Hence, the American Sociological Association calls for an immediate end to the war against Iraq.
Officers of the American Sociological Association

William T. Bielby, President, University of California-Santa Barbara
Ivan Szelenyi, Vice President, Yale University
Michael Burawoy, President-Elect, University of California-Berkeley
Bernice A. Pescosolido, Vice President-Elect, Indiana University
Barbara F. Reskin, Past President, University of Washington
Elijah Anderson, Past Vice President, University of Pennsylvania
Arne L. Kalleberg, Secretary, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Sally T. Hillsman, Executive Officer

Elected-at-Large
Linda Burton, Pennsylvania State University
Craig Calhoun, Social Science Research Council
Esther Ngan-ling Chow, American University
Robert Crutchfield, University of Washington
Jennifer L. Glass, University of Iowa
David B. Grusky, Cornell University
Deborah K. King, Dartmouth College
Rhonda F. Levine, Colgate University
Victor Nee, Cornell University
Barbara Risman, North Carolina State University
Lynn Smith-Lovin, University of Arizona
Pamela B. Walters, Indiana University

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About the American Sociological Association
The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.