American Sociological Association

2014 Editor Applicant Anonymous Vision Statements


Anonymous Editor Applicant Vision Statements

The ASA Committee on Publications invited members to provide input by December 5, 2014, for the anonymous journal editor candidate vision statements for the American Sociological Review and Sociological Methodology).

The application deadline for Sociological Theory was extended until January 15. Members are invited to provide input for the anonymous vision statements for Sociological Theory by January 30. (See the end of each journal section for the comment e-mail link.)

Member comments will be forwarded to the Committee on Publications for their consideration. The Committee on Publications votes on formal recommendations for editors. Those recommendations are forwarded to Council; Council makes the formal appointment of editors.

American Sociological Review Sociological Methodology
Sociological Theory

American Sociological Review

Application #1

If selected as editors, we will dedicate ourselves to fulfilling the journal’s mission and serving as faithful stewards of the journal on behalf of our professional colleagues. With respect to mission, ASR should be the outlet for the most creative, innovative, and highest-quality research in all areas of the field. Historically, many areas of sociology have been represented in the journal. To continue and extend that tradition, we will strive to maintain an editorial board that represents the full range of sociological perspectives and to present transparent standards for evaluation. These standards—(1) clarity in writing, organization, and interpretation; (2) theoretical development and insight; (3) empirical rigor; and (4) innovation and creativity—resonate across subfields of sociology, even if they manifest differently. In order to publish work that is of general interest to sociologists, rather than of specific interest to narrow subfields, we will follow the practice of the current editors in giving priority to articles that speak to two or more subfields. Bridging subfields benefits specific authors and articles by enriching the work theoretically and methodologically, and also benefits the discipline by encouraging intellectual cross-fertilization and discouraging overspecialization.
With respect to stewardship, we take seriously the special obligation the editors have to ensure that authors receive constructive and timely feedback. As the premier journal in the field, ASR plays an outsized role in shaping the careers of many sociologists. We intend to follow previous editors in working to maintain reasonable review periods and to provide authors with thorough reviews. We will consider marginally increasing the percentage of manuscripts that are “desk rejected” (currently at 10-15%). Although we do not wish to deprive authors of reviews, it is not in their best interest or the interests of the journal or the scholarly community to send manuscripts out for review when they are clearly inappropriate for the journal. We will take a similar approach to revise and resubmit decisions, offering authors the opportunity to resubmit only when we or the reviewers see a clear path to publication. When acceptance is very unlikely, offering the opportunity for revision prolongs the review process and deprives authors of the opportunity to submit their manuscripts to more suitable journals. Applying this criterion, second rounds of revise and resubmit will be unusual. We intend to provide comprehensive summary reviews to all authors, giving special attention to those whose manuscripts are rejected from further consideration. These reviews will identify key areas of concern and provide clear guidance for productive directions for revision (sometimes for outlets other than ASR).
As important as ASR is to professional conversations among sociologists, it has an equally important role to play in advocating for sociology with external audiences. We will continue the efforts of the current editors to expand ASR’s visibility to the general public and to allied professional audiences. These include sending e-mail announcements with the table of contents for each issue to members of national and international sociological associations and exploring ways of disseminating contents to the membership of the professional organizations of allied disciplines. We will also follow the current editors’ practices of engaging with the ASA Media Office to encourage mass media exposure for ASR articles and the creation of policy briefs for distribution to major federal policy offices. We will continue to post Spanish-language translations of ASR abstracts on the ASR website and plan to extend the translations to other languages, including Chinese, Russian, French (Francophone Africa), Polish, and Japanese, drawing from the extensive language offerings at our home institution. We also hope to work with Sage to improve the quality of the on-line podcasts and to develop videocasts for select articles. Within sociology, we intend to work with the editors of Teaching Sociology and Contexts to identify articles on topics that are of special interest to undergraduates and the general public, respectively.
We have developed a sensible plan for distributing editorial and managerial tasks between the two co-editors – a social psychologist and a macro-comparativist – taking advantage of the generous resources provided by the ASA and our home institution. This plan draws on our extensive editorial experience on ASA journals and other publications. Together, the co-editors have served on the editorial boards of three ASA journals including ASR, Journal of Health and Social Behavior, and Social Psychology Quarterly, as well as American Journal of Sociology and Social Forces. Our plan incorporates more extensive use of deputy editors than has been customary, both to allow time for the extended activities we have proposed and because service as deputy editor is an important professionalization experience. We anticipate inviting deputy editors who reflect the diversity of backgrounds of those in the discipline, and whose substantive and methodological expertise complements our own, enhancing ASR’s standing as the “must-read” journal for sociologists working in all substantive areas.
Application #2
These are both exciting and challenging times to assume the editorship of American Sociological Review.  The excitement comes from the opportunity to build on the success of previous editors and to showcase the very best sociological work being produced today.  Yet the editorship clearly also comes with its share of challenges, both old and new.  We see three such challenges as particularly relevant. Addressing these challenges forms the core component of our proposal and vision of the future of the journal. 
First, ASR has distinguished itself among the discipline's top journals for its admirable efficiency in processing initial submissions. We aim to maintain that standard, while also seeking out new ways to improve on past performance. We will address the issue of review-process efficiency in four ways: (1) by strategically using members of the editorial board during the review process, (2) by making a judicious use of the initial R & R decision, and (3) by implementing consistent editorial best practices for papers that do receive the R & R decision. These last include: (a) providing guiding feedback in collaboration with deputy editors and other members of the editorial team, (b) eliminating the practice of bringing in new reviewers (if possible) during the R & R process, and (c) providing a final decision after the first revision unless there are extenuating circumstances are present, but never requesting a third R & R.

Second, because the journal is the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association, editorship comes with an obligation to publish scholarship that reflects the theoretical and methodological diversity of the discipline as a whole. While previous editorial teams have attempted to address this challenge, the pervasive problem of under-representation of qualitative research and theoretical papers remains (ASR Editor’s Report 2012, 2013). To deal with this issue, we intend to be proactive in the earliest stages of the process when it comes to submissions that belong to underrepresented categories.  This would involve giving close attention to new submissions, identifying those promising papers that utilize underrepresented methodology or papers whose primary contribution is theoretical.  Selected reviewers, at least one of which will always be a member of the editorial board with the relevant expertise, will be provided with specific guidance and direction pertaining to the journal’s standards for different types of work.

Third, as the ASA’s flagship journal, we believe that ASR should be the natural home of research that presents groundbreaking empirical work that is relevant to ongoing policy debates or to theoretical debates in the field. The standard developmental process may work against the goal of publishing timely articles. We plan to address this issue by using a directed review process, proactively identifying these types of papers in the submission pool and providing specific guidance to selected reviewers and members of the editorial board delineating explicit criteria for assessing these unique contributions. The primary aim of this directed review is to expedite the evaluation and publication of papers whose impact depends on the timeliness and policy relevance of their findings.

In short, we believe that ASR can continue to be the discipline's flagship journal, while improving on current editorial best practices, broadening the scope and general appeal of its content and becoming a more central player in important substantive and policy debates. All the while maintaining and expanding on current strategies of content dissemination. 

E-mail your comments about these applications.


Sociological Methodology

Application #1

The editorship of SM has been in great hands, and there is nothing I would want to see changed substantially as editor.  There are therefore only a few slight changes I would make, or emphases I would make or continue.  First, I would continue the “symposia” with comments and rejoinders.  Many contemporary methodological issues involve some controversy, and so it is important to get opposing views and responses to them when they exist.  It seems that these symposia have become routine under the current editorship, and I think they have enhanced the journal’s contribution to methodological innovation and reader understanding.

Second, I would personally encourage more submissions, by contacting both established and young methodologists and directly requesting submissions.  The content of the journal over the last several editorial cycles has been broad, and I think it should continue to be.  Thus, I would solicit submissions from those working across the methodological spectrum, from quantitative to qualitative to mixed methods research, and from macro level, network level, and micro level research.

Third, I would encourage shorter submissions (in conjunction with longer ones), perhaps even including a shorter “research note” section that presents results of simulation studies or other relatively small, but important contributions.  Currently, most published papers in the journal average 35 or more pages in length. Welcoming shorter submissions would likely increase submissions and allow more papers to be published within the same page limits, thereby increasing readership.

Fourth, I would discuss with the publisher switching production to LaTeX.  Most contemporary methodologists use LaTeX, and many current submissions are in LaTeX.  Authors who submit in LaTeX must then convert their (final) manuscripts into MSWord to meet the submission guidelines for copyediting, and doing so is inefficient.  Equations are much more readable in LaTeX, and the general style is much more visually appealing.  From a publishing standpoint, there would be less typesetting involved and surely a quicker production time.

Application #2

Sociologists have reason to be proud of the role that SM has played and continues to play in the advancement of social science methodology in general. At the same time, we can always do better. First, we would like to see more chapters in SM that reflect recent advances in the development of qualitative methods and, especially, cutting-edge work on mixed methodologies that combine qualitative and quantitative approaches. Increasingly, social science research relies on both, and SM is an ideal outlet for innovative work on how best to integrate different methodologies to take advantage of the strengths of each.  Second, while maintaining the high standards of the contributions, we propose a strategic initiative to bridge the gap between the technical sophistication of the papers published in the journal and their accessibility to a broader community of sociologists.  Sociologists who want their research and teaching to draw on these state-of-the art approaches, social scientists who strive to stay current in their understanding of new methodologies, and graduate students who want to apply these techniques to their dissertations can benefit from extended explanations and applications of what appears in the volume.  This extension of SM’s mission will enhance the reputation of the journal and augment the methodological training doctoral programs provide to their students.

Goal 1: To increase the number of high-quality, diverse submissions to SM, particularly in the areas of qualitative and mixed-methods research.

Goal 2: To provide reviews that result in better scholarship (thereby advancing sociological methods) even in the case of manuscripts that in the end are not published in SM.

Goal 3: To extend the readership and impact of articles published in SM by:

  • writing overviews of the articles in each issue;
  • including abstracts that are written in plain English, even if that means somewhat longer abstracts than is the norm;
  • soliciting expert commentary on one or more key articles in each issue;
  • pursuing ways to use the internet more effectively to enhance the value of SM to the sociological community by providing SM subscribers with:
    • enhanced electronic versions;
    • links to possible extensions, exercises, and applications;
    • access to teaching tools developed jointly with authors, specialists in the area, and graduate students; 

Application #3

We seek to continue Sociological Methodology's (SM) long tradition of excellence in publishing papers on a wide range of methodological topics. In particular:

(1) We will continue SM’s practice of publishing the highest-quality papers on a wide range of methodological topics. These include, but are not limited to, new statistical developments, issues in causal inference, network analysis, innovations in survey methods, mixed methods, developments in qualitative and ethnographic work, methods for theoretical work, and broader epistemological issues that bear on methods used in the social sciences. Our goal here is to have SM continue to reflect both the breadth and depth of methodological developments in sociology and related disciplines.

(2) We will also seek to continue SM's recent practice of “forums” in which one or more papers focus on a particular methodological topic, together with commentary by other distinguished scholars. Our goal here is to reflect various points of view, not excluding sharp and ongoing debate, that reflect important issues at the current state of art.

In addition, we recommend three changes to SM in moving forward:

(3) We recommend making papers available online as soon as they have been accepted, copyedited, and proofed by authors. Our goal here is to make publications in SM available and easily accessible as quickly as possible.

(4) We recommend letting authors put additional supplemental material online (e.g., software code for novel estimation procedures). Our goal here is to broaden the usefulness of publications in SM by allowing others easy access to software, code, etc., representing state-of-the-art methodological developments.

(5) We recommend that SM consider publishing papers of varying lengths, as appropriate. A hallmark of SM is that it allows many authors to publish lengthier papers than is often the case in other journals, but it may be possible to shorten some papers by letting authors present some material online. Our goal here is to provide greater flexibility to SM, including the possibility of a modest increase in the number of papers published in each volume.

An overarching goal in (1)-(5) above is to continue to publish papers of the highest quality, while also recognizing and responding to the changing landscape of academic publications, including several new ASA journals. Thus, our goal is both to continue what has served SM so well while strengthening its niche and identity among ASA’s other journals and other journals in sociology and allied disciplines.

Application #4

As the only ASA periodical publication devoted entirely to research methods, SM plays an important role in the discipline. Not only is it considered the top journal in the field of sociology focusing on research methodology, it is among the top five sociology journals, and among ASA-sponsored journals, ranks 2nd to the ASR in terms of overall impact and article influence. As the only ASA journal devoted to research methods, I agree with others (including many previous editors) that SM’s mission should include a focus not only on statistical methods but also on the broad array of methodological issues that face the field of sociology. The mission of SM is to broadly reflect the research methods and the epistemological choices made by all members of the discipline and welcomes the publication of scholarship dealing all aspects research design, measurement, data collection, modeling, and data analysis. SM had done an excellent job in representing this mission over its 45-year history, and although it is difficult to imagine improving on this record, given the opportunity to edit the journal, I would do my very best to maintain this fine record of accomplishment, and continue to make improvements where possible. In the ideal scenario, SM will continue to publish broadly across the spectrum of qualitative vs. quantitative, nomothetic vs. idiographic, etc. methods.

SM enjoys a privileged status among ASA journals, as noted above, with a very high impact factor. This reflects not only its high visibility and quality of the work published there, but the widespread support it has received from the membership of ASA. At the same time, I think most people would like to see more methodological diversity in the journal, and there have been some clear efforts taken in the past to include greater breadth in coverage of research methods in the discipline. This is not always easy to achieve, given that SM is a submissions-based periodical, and that it is an annual publication, without a great deal of flexibility in being able to devote “special issues” to selected topics. The current editor, Tim Liao, has done some creative things in recent years that reflect efforts in this direction, as illustrated in the symposia he has developed in the three most recent volumes of SM. These symposia have provided a rare opportunity for comment, critique and exchange on important methodological topics, and reflect a very successful innovation in the journal’s content. Without going into detail about the positive impacts these special symposia have on the field of sociological methodology, I believe this mechanism permits the editor to initiate conversations on important trends. I would propose continuing the tradition started by Prof. Liao to the extent possible, developing the option of providing discussion of special topics without taking too much away from the normal submission-based publication needs of the journal, and at the same time giving voice to diverse views on relevant issues that are important to ASA research constituencies.

I would work to maintain the high visibility and impact of the journal, would work to maintain methodological breadth, and continue the annual special symposia initiated by Prof. Tim Liao. I would emphasize a focus on future challenges to sociological methods, including issues surrounding 1) big data social science, 2) longitudinal design and analysis, 3) comparative sociology, 4) the demands of integrating of social network models with other data, 5) the changing approaches to inferential statistics, 6) survey methods, and 7) measurement quality. I would continue the reputation of the journal for attracting excellent submissions through communicating the journal’s mission to the broad international community of sociological methodologists.

Given the stellar reputation of SM over its history, it is difficult to imagine improving on this record, but given the opportunity, as editor, I would do my very best to maintain this fine record of accomplishment and continue to make improvements where possible.

Application #5

Sociological Methodology (SM) is a superb journal, but there are a number ways SM can better attest to the critical role of methods in sociological scholarship.

First, editors and board members can encourage and seek out more papers with a point, even a controversial point.  Indeed, Tim Liao has done this twice during his editorship, via symposia on Quantitative Narrative Analysis and Qualitative Comparative Analysis.  I applaud this courageous effort and, if appointed editor, plan to continue it.  At a recent ASA pre-conference on Computational Social Science at Stanford, I heard a brilliant talk by a young assistant professor at UCSD, Kevin Lewis.  I had never heard of this fellow before, but he argued persuasively against the ‘big data’ boom, especially as it applied to social network analysis.  Unfortunately, there was little time for discussion, but his presentation, if turned into a paper, could start a larger conversation about this important trend.

Second, the journal can serve more as a resource than it currently does.  Methods are developing so rapidly that many ASA members have difficulty keeping current.  One way SM can help is to, on occasion or perhaps in every volume, offer a review piece that clearly outlines developments, portends a trajectory, and suggests fruitful topics for future work.  SM could also help by offering more how-to guidance for practitioners.  I realize that the submission guidelines for authors state that “Discussions of implications for research practice are vital, and authors are urged to include empirical illustrations of the methods they discuss” and that “Sociological Methodology seeks contributions that address the full range of problems researchers may encounter in doing empirical work in the contemporary social sciences…,” but perhaps more needs to be done to encourage submissions of review pieces, and papers that aim to be truly resourceful for a broad swath of sociologists.

Third, SM can and must stay abreast of trends, and not just the prominent ones.  A number of scholars use micro-simulation to answer important sociological questions; but these techniques are foreign to 95% or more of sociologists.  Perhaps to some they are not considered ‘empirical’ and thus would be excluded from the purview of SM.  I beg to differ, and would encourage submissions and perhaps a review piece from a prominent scholar in this area.  Broader computational approaches to social research are also becoming more popular and necessary, given the vast amounts of textual data now available on the Internet.  In this area, too, I would try to be a proactive editor and encourage submissions that demystify it for ASA members, demonstrate its usefulness via application, and provide practical guidance for implementation.  While methodological discussions can and do take place in specialty journals, it would be nice to see SM join discussions about interviews and meaning (as demonstrated by Vaisey and Pugh in the American Journal of Cultural Sociology), and topic modeling (as demonstrated in a special issue of Poetics).

And lastly, although this may not be as important for a methodological journal, I think it is imperative for journal editorial policy to encourage if not mandate the submission of code and (when possible) data for quantitative papers.  As Jeremy Freese has made clear in his SMR paper on this topic, transparency embellishes the legitimacy of the research and can serve as a teaching resource.  For a methodology journal, the ‘code’ is often akin to the practical guidance I called for earlier.  Because of space constraints, the code could be put in on online supplement rather than the article itself.

If appointed editor, I would continue to acquaint myself with new developments and new techniques, attend methodology sessions at the ASA meetings and identify interesting developments, and encourage authors to submit this kind of work to the journal.  I fear that SM is not on the radar of many authors deciding where to send their methodologically interesting research.  I’ve written a few methodological papers in my time, and I regret that it never occurred to me to send some of these manuscripts to Sociological Methodology.  I have reviewed for the journal and have served on its board, but – I am somewhat embarrassed to admit – I have never submitted a paper to SM.  One of the most brilliant methods papers of recent years is the ASR paper by Anthony Paik and Kenneth Sanchagrin. Did they even consider SM as an outlet?  If appointed SM editor, I would be proactive in identifying methodological contributions and encouraging authors to submit to the journal.  The editorial board could be encouraged to be proactive in this way as well.

E-mail your comments about these applications.

Sociological Theory

Application #1

Five thoughts:

(1) Flexibility in length of articles:
A half-century ago, the average length of AJS and ASR papers was just over 10 pages.  Some excellent, classic papers were published at barely half that length.  Today, of course, articles in those same journals—as well as in Sociological Theory—are considerably longer; one hardly ever sees a 5- or 10-page paper publication.  And authors with a qualitative bent often are heard clamoring for still longer pieces to be let in.  Only seldom does one hear calls for a return to shorter papers.

What if we recognized that good ideas don’t always come in neat, stardardized 25-page packages, that some are best presented in just a few pages while others need considerably more than the conventional length?  What if we published both types of papers?  What if we were more flexible in what we allowed into our journals?

Of course, Sociological Theory does have as its mission to publish a certain number of papers per year.  And it cannot afford to increase its average length to 50 or more pages per article.  It still is bound to a certain page allocation.  But perhaps if we also published the occasional short paper, we could afford to take in a few longer ones as well.  Why not a variety to reflect the sheer diversity of ways in which good theoretical thinking is done?

Allowing pieces of varying lengths to be published in ST possibly would widen the range of submissions coming its way.  I suspect that sometimes authors with unconventional-length papers choose not to submit to ST and look elsewhere.  Who knows what terrific works of theorizing we thereby lose out on?

(2) Flexibility with occasional symposia:
There is some legitimate concern that devoting valuable space to special issues would detract from the mission of ST to be highly responsive to the submissions actually coming in to the journal.  But there could be flexibility as regards the occasional small symposium.  Why not, say, a symposium on theory and the new ethnography?  There has been an upsurge of interest in ethnography but, together with that, a lot of discussion about the place of theorizing in fieldwork-based ethnographic research.  ST would be the logical place to host a symposium on that issue.  Or there could small symposia on theory and social stratification, on intersectionality, or on economic sociology. Theorizing is something all sociologists do, regardless of substantive area or methodological bent.  My goal as editor would be to make ST a place where all sociologists go to keep in touch with theoretical debates relevant to their work.  I would aim to make it an exciting forum for discussion regarding the fundamental problems and issues of the discipline. Allowing shorter papers—my proposal immediately above—would make it possible to mount exciting symposia without having to devote to them most or all of any given journal issue.  There is no need to restrict the journal always to publishing four to six regular-length articles per issue.  Why not be flexible? 

(3) Work with ASA Press Officer to disseminate ideas of broad interest:
The ASA Press Officer works with journals like ASR, JHSB, and SPQ, occasionally also SOE, to issue press releases on papers whose ideas or findings potentially would interest a general audience.  Now, it is true that ST’s contents might not easily lend themselves to New York Times op-ed pieces or to hot debate segments on cable news shows.  But at the very least those contents could be of wide-enough appeal to merit all 14,000 ASA members—and not just the 1,000 or so regular ST subscribers—becoming aware of them.  Why not work with the ASA Press Officer to get those contents of broad appeal mentioned in the ASA Member News & Notes or posted online as Featured Articles?  We can and always should be looking to extend the reach of our theoretical insights well beyond the traditional subscriber base of the journal, so that we are speaking (at the very least) to all sociologists.

(4) Still more diversity of ideas:
Unfortunately, it is altogether possible for journals to have wonderfully diverse editorial boards while still not publishing the kinds of pieces that appeal vitally to diverse scholarly communities.  ST has done well on this score, but we should be striving always to make it more responsive to the full breadth of ideas being generated in the discipline.  As editors, we would do everything possible to make sure my editorial imagination and inclinations were not limited to the sort of work that conventionally passes for sociological theory.  Outstanding work of that nature would continue to be published in the journal, and indeed to have a valued place in it, but so too would work that stretches our thinking in fresh and creative ways.  In this regard, I would be building with even more energy on the efforts of recent editorships.  I want ST to reflect in its contents the changing membership of the ASA and the many diverse kinds of research and thinking currently being done across the discipline.

(5) Even faster response times:
ASA journals are much better than journals like AJS or Theory and Society when it comes to the time lag between first submission and the editor’s letter announcing acceptance, rejection, or R&R.  The ASA’s goal is to get that letter to arrive in authors’ mailboxes or inboxes within about three months from time of submission.  ST’s current lag time is 14 weeks, so we’re almost at that goal already.  But ASR’s lag time is only 10 weeks.  So we can do even better than we’re doing.  (This is not to criticize past editors.  They have done a wonderful job of shortening the wait.)  Having experienced some exceptionally lengthy waits myself during my career, and having had some of my students also experience them, I would dedicate myself to shortening the lag time even further.  At the very least, even if a delay was unavoidable, I would consider it my mission to keep authors well abreast of the situation.  No one would go for months on end waiting for some kind of word but hearing nothing.  That is unacceptable, and it would never happen under my editorship.

Application #2

As the editor of Sociological Theory I would endeavor to establish sociological theory as an essential – and central -- aspect of all sociological work, the conceptual framework within which we do our empirical work and in the light of which we interpret our findings, to reposition sociological theory vis-à-vis the substantive subfields of sociology, to reposition sociology vis-a-vis other social sciences, and to set the journal on a course of becoming the premier organ of sociological thinking. In doing so, I would capitalize on two current developments which place sociology in a new context and naturally invite reexamination of sociological theory.

The first of these developments is happening in biology and, specifically, in neuroscience. The advances in this adjoining discipline now allow us to see clearly where explanations of behavior related to our animal nature stop and those, based on a different type of causation, related to what distinguishes us from all other animals and makes us human, must begin. The line of demarcation between biology and science of humanity has been finally drawn, in other words.  This demarcation establishes certain parameters for the interpretation of our subject-matter: it puts a limit on biological reductionism and assumptions about human (i.e., animal) nature; it makes features that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom the obvious focus of our investigation; and it sets a rule for our interpretation, against which our conceptual frameworks – i.e., theories – cannot transgress: causalities which we adduce, while irreducible to biological, must be logically consistent with them.

The second development is the rise of South-East Asian societies, specifically China and India, as major players in economic and political arenas and as a result in our consciousness. This, for the first time, brings us face to face with two colossal populations, whose experience has been largely outside the purview of the social sciences, thus bringing into question even the most general of our concepts as possibly culturally relative, applicable to Western societies alone. In psychology, this encounter has already led to the emergence of cross-cultural psychology studies which consistently contradict the assumption that basic mental functioning (perceptual, cognitive, and emotional) obeys the same rules everywhere, which is fundamental to Western psychology. It appears that South-East Asian subjects perceive same things differently, use different, unfamiliar to us, principles in logical inference, and have a different emotional repertoire.

To examine the implications of advancements in neuroscience and the encounter with East-Asian societies for the understanding of human reality will be a priority for Sociological Theory, if I am chosen as the editor. The purpose would be to inspire innovative interpretations of the ongoing research, thus leading to innovations in theory. As a parallel approach, the journal would also encourage authors to take score of our achievements thus far, examining in which way the understanding of human reality was advanced by the conceptual schemes of the past century and those current today, and which of its aspects are better explained now, thanks to the concepts such as class, field, gender, and so on, than they were before these concepts appeared.

In order to encourage new contents and emphases I would pursue 4 strategies: 1) issuing targeted calls for papers through newsletters of ASA sections, inviting the membership to reflect on the theoretical insights generated by studies in their respective subfields, and devoting a section of the journal to submissions generated by such invitations. This would explicitly connect the preoccupations of the subfield sections to theory. 2) Soliciting reasoned opinions through sections on the most important theoretical publications and problems, in the view of the members, and, at least once a year, publishing a symposium on publications that receive most votes. 3) Occasionally, when opinions of numerous sections converge on a particular theoretical problem, organizing special issues on such problems. 4) Establishing a blog on the journal’s site for exchanges of views between subscribers.

With the exception of the special section (1), the journal will continue processing and publishing the currently typical, traditional kinds of submissions, thus balancing my innovative vision and goals with the work in the field as it is at present. The blog (4), in particular, would encourage a dialogue between the traditional and new orientations, allowing for the free expression of competing ideas in real time.

 Application #3

My vision for Sociological Theory does not dramatically depart from the core principles of past editors. To the diagnostic of sociology’s disciplinary fragmentation, and the dichotomous solution of re-centering what counts as theory, or dissolving it into a multiplicity of perspectives without any possible dialogue I propose a third road: one in which unexpected encounters--thanks to a certain vagueness about what actually constitutes “theory”—spark innovative arguments for illuminating social life.

Consequentially, I see editing this journal as a curatorial job, less about promoting predetermined encounters and more about exploring new possibilities. You can identify exemplars of what I’m envisioning here throughout the last 10 years of Sociological Theory. Being attentive to pluralism is central--as Julia Adams, a former editor has signaled--not only as a political principle, but because this internal pluralism is what best suits this period of ongoing theoretical reconfiguration and experimentation. To paraphrase what Andy Perrin has recently written in Perspectives, the lack of clarity over what constitutes sociological theory is actually productive. It is through the unlikely encounter between competing ideas of what a theory is (i.e., for some what structures research and its categories, for others what explains a topic or area, for some others what explains an observational pattern across multiple fields) that the competing versions have actually engaged in productive exchanges, in such a way that the three (i.e., formalization, explanation of a given topic, or the discussion of ontological and epistemological principles that structure reality) have all triangulated in rich, variegated and innovative ways, helping theory–and sociological knowledge at large--advance despite fragmentation and the confusion of tongues.

This focus on producing dialogues among competing perspectives is even more urgent when we consider how social theory at large has dramatically changed over the last 25 years, as a new, complex and fragmented space of discussion has emerged. For example, insights from the humanities and science and technology studies transform theory development in sociology while at the same time sociologists occupy jobs in business schools and medical schools. With these shifts, there is no shortage of creativity; new connections and possibilities are clearly on the horizon for theoretical work in sociology. This fragmentation also nurtures different genres of theory. I envision the journal polymorphically engaging with how theory has been conjugated: as an activity to produce explanatory statements, as the formalization and abstraction of what comes from empirical work, as mapping an ontology, or the result of close reading of canonical texts and the aporias it produces, as well as encouraging creative, boundary-spanning theoretical work.

So what do I plan to do to move the journal forward? For the last five years Sociological Theory has attempted to isolate the sociological from social theory work at large, identifying what should count as theoretical sociology. The journal has climbed in the rankings, become a prestigious target for submissions, while also becoming less thematic, more open, and more article-centered (there has only been one symposium and no translations). Given my role as a facilitator, I’d like to focus more on some conversations that have not been covered during the last tenure and expand on those to the extent that is possible, though I will of course make sure the journal is open to all types of theoretical perspectives and approaches, and also understand that the content of the journal will depend on the range of material submitted.. On this note, I will ensure that the journal will be a place for continental theory (e.g., the sociology of conventions, ANT, performativity) as well as theories that have recently gained traction (e.g., on sovereignty, empire, affect). I hope this contributes to further the internationalization of the journal. Perhaps more importantly, I hope to engage with “book” authors--it’s in that format not coincidentally those theories have further been advanced in the United States.

I imagine two ways to achieve this synergy. First, I aim for one out of every seven issues to be a symposium, either on an uncharted theoretical perspective or on a “big” book. This intellectual work seems to have recently been ceded to the newsletter (albeit in a smaller format), or by other journals. Relatedly, a symposium or special issue on Theories of gender could be a good way to encourage female authors to submit to the journal at large. I’ve noticed that after the 1992 symposium on Dorothy Smith, there has not been much discussion of that kind of scholarship at ST.

Second, I would also be interested in returning to some of the translation work undertaken during the Yale editorship (e.g., on Durkheim, Adorno, Marianne Weber), publishing texts that are missing from US sociology but central to theory in other national fields, which would necessitate including an introduction by an specialist in the topic. This would be occasional, probably an article per volume at most. When it comes to articles on “classical” theory, I’d be interested in articles that urge to recapitulate theory (to cite Craig Calhoun in one of his statements as editor of ST) should be complemented by the determination to advance it.

All this work will require a diverse board, both in terms of the scholarship represented, geographical origin (nationally and internationally) as well as the gender, race, and career stage and institutional types of those in the board. To actively reach out to a diversity of scholars, I will work closely with the board and with a core of Associate editors to develop specific strategies to encourage submissions from authors doing work across the full spectrum of sociological theory, to diversify the reviewer pool, and to do basic outreach at professional meetings and other forums. We will, for example, establish a social media presence via Facebook and Twitter in order to increase the visibility of the journal and encourage responses to articles and work featured in special issues.

Following the practice instilled by the previous editor and given the pressure to publish both for junior scholars’ and, increasingly, graduate students, I'll make sure to desk reject any papers that do not feel appropriate for the journal's mission and scope. I would only extend invitations to “revise and resubmit” manuscripts that I judge to have a significant chance (i.e., better than 50/50) of publication to reduce the burden on reviewers, to minimize the length of time that a manuscript is under review, and to be fair to authors. I also plan to send the final decision letters to all reviewers, and allow authors submitting a revised version of their paper to submit a response letter, to be sent to the reviewer of the paper's revised version (although I would like for those letters to be no longer than two pages, as they have ballooned in recent years).

Last not but least, my team and I will work to keep the best editorial practices that have produced great scholarship and a very quick turnaround time for its evaluation, production and publication. All of the minor changes I’ve proposed here will maintain the vitality of the journal. I will look to the past two editorships as models for best practices, rather than proposing a substantial reimagination of Sociological Theory

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