FOOTNOTES April 2001
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ASA to Publish New Magazine; UC Press Gets the Nod

by Karen Gray Edwards, Director of Publications

Contexts Invites Ideas

The American Sociological Association (ASA) is pleased to announce that it has selected the University of California Press to publish Contexts, the Association’s new quarterly magazine. In a contract signed this month by ASA and the Press, both parties were enthusiastic about the value of this new journal and its unique niche in the social and behavioral sciences.

In negotiating the arrangement, ASA Executive Officer Felice J. Levine praised the Press for the experience they bring for publishing scholarly magazines. She also noted the “important vision that led ASA to create Contexts, and the talent and dedication that inaugural editor Claude Fischer brings to the table.”

Contexts will publish its first issue in Winter 2002.

ASA Council initially approved the publication of a general perspectives journal in August 1998. After an intensive review of competitive candidates, Fischer (University of California-Berkeley) was appointed editor of the journal in August 1999.

The 2000 year was devoted to developing Contexts from vision to operating plan, and to identifying the right publisher to produce the journal on ASA’s behalf. Fischer and Levine worked long and hard on this enterprise.

Directed to anyone interested in the latest sociological ideas and research, Contexts seeks to apply new knowledge, stimulate fresh thinking, and disseminate information. Its articles, both commissioned and unsolicited, will synthesize key findings, weave together diverse strands of work, draw out implications for policy, and debate issues of controversy.

The hallmarks of Contexts will be accessibility, broad appeal, and timeliness. By design, it is not a technical journal, but a magazine for diverse readers who wish to be current about social science knowledge, emerging trends, and their relevance. It regularly publishes letters and opinions, brief notes on recent findings, feature articles with comments, and essay reviews of books. While significant as scholarship, articles published in Contexts will be prepared in an easy and engaging style. It aspires to be a meeting place for discussion among social scientists and the public.

The principal audience will be sociologists across subfields of interest and work sectors. The journal aims to be a “must read” for sociologists, irrespective of their primary professional roles, who wish to remain current and engaged in sociological knowledge and its potential developments or use (e.g., researchers, teachers, survey researchers, program officers, academic or private foundation administrators, graduate students). The journal also seeks to gather an audience of social and behavioral scientists in aligned disciplines. Because of the intended readability and broad appeal of the articles, the journal expects over time to find a readership among policy makers, journalists and others in the media, social critics, public intellectuals, and the “educated citizen.”

Contexts welcomes suggestions for articles that advance these goals. See accompanying box for submission information.

The publication of Contexts is a hallmark for the Association and its members, the discipline of sociology, and the wider public. We encourage all members to support this exciting new initiative by submitting ideas in 2001 and subscribing in 2002.