May-June 2009 Issue • Volume 37 • Issue 5

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ASA Awards Grants for the Advancement of Sociology

The American Sociological Association announces eight awards from the December 2008 cycle of ASA’s Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD). A competitive program co-funded by ASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and administered by the ASA, FAD provides seed money (up to $7,000) to PhD scholars for innovative research projects and for scientific conferences that advance the discipline through theoretical and methodological breakthroughs. Funding decisions are made by an advisory panel comprised of members of ASA’s Council and the ASA Director of Research and Development. In this round, the Advisory Panel decided to fund a higher number of proposals at smaller amounts. Below is a list of the latest FAD Principal Investigators (PIs) and a brief description of their projects.

Esther Ngan-ling Chow, American University, $3,500 for International Conference on Gender and Social Transformations: Global, Transnational and Local Realities and Perspectives. The purpose of this grant is to help support an international conference on gender to be held in Beijing, China, on July 17-19, 2009. The conference seeks to examine how women and gender relations are shaped by societal transformations economically, politically, socially, and culturally in the global, transnational, and local contexts. Gender will be an analytical and critical lens to study the globalization and transnational processes and their intricate linkages and impacts. A group of U.S. and Chinese gender scholars in sociology will present their work at this conference. The conference will address the cutting-edge issues, pressing social problems, and emergent phenomena that are critical for interrogating the theoretical paradigms on globalization and transnationalism from gender perspectives. It will promote the development of theory, method, and practice by emphasizing how theory and research on gender can inform public debates and policy, contribute to research and feminist scholarship, and inspire collective action locally, transnationally, and globally. The Chinese Women’s Research Society (CWRS) of the All-China Women’s Federation will provide additional funding.

Gary Alan Fine and Alice Eagly, Northwestern University, $3,500 for Bridging Social Psychologies: Building Linkages between Sociological and Psychological Social Psychology. The purpose of this grant is to support graduate student participation in a small conference that establishes links of theory and methodology between sociological and psychological approaches to social psychology in order to introduce the next generation of social psychologists to cross-disciplinary practices. The PIs have invited seven senior social psychologists from each discipline to consider the benefits and challenges of cross-fertilization between sociology and psychology. Each senior scholar will invite a graduate student to attend. The conference will explore similarities and differences between social psychology as practiced by sociologists and psychologists. Paired senior scholars will examine central analytical topics and prepare essays that address how social psychologists can establish cross-disciplinary research agendas. Sessions will examine identity, inequality, cognition, emotion, culture, gender, and prejudice from the standpoint of both disciplines.

Kathryn Gold Hadley, California State University-Sacramento, $7,000 for Deconstructing the Model Minority Experience in an Urban High School: Educational Expectations and Ethnic Identities. According to the PI, the model minority stereotype depicts Asian Americans as a homogeneous group of high achievers, who some researchers believe lose connections to ethnic identities through assimilation and academic achievement. In reality, Asian Americans are a heterogeneous group with variation in ethnic identity, social class, language proficiency, and immigration history. Using participant observation, student-led focus groups, and in-depth interviews with Asian American students, their parents, and teachers, the PI will investigate how Asian American students at a low-income public high school manage their ethnic identities in the face of academic stereotyping and varied academic performances. Academic achievement data reveal that, on average, lower- and working-class Asian Americans outperform other racial or ethnic groups at their school, but still fall short of state-imposed academic standards. The PI proposes that the school-level data mask the struggles this diverse group faces, including peer discrimination and academic pressures, and hopes to show how college-prep- and non-college-prep- track Asian American students manage the conflicting definitions of "academic success" and their ethnic and academic identities.

Annette Lareau and Kristen Harknett, University of Pennsylvania, $3,500 for Thinking about the Family in an Unequal Society: A Workshop Proposal. The PIs argue that research opportunities for sociologists are increasingly stratified because younger scholars at non-elite institutions have higher teaching loads, fewer colloquia, and a lack of travel monies compared to those in more prestigious institutions. As a result they have fewer chances to obtain informal feedback concerning their work, especially grant proposals to fund their work. The PIs will run a one-day workshop to provide such an opportunity for 20 qualitative and quantitative early- and mid-career researchers whose area is sociology of the family, but who are not employed at Research I universities. The scholars will receive feedback on a work-in-progress, attend a grant workshop, and mingle with senior scholars in sociology of the family. The workshop will occur the day before a conference on "Thinking about the Family in an Unequal Society" at the University of Pennsylvania, which will provide a discussion of current weaknesses in the field. In addition to advancing the quality of future research in sociology of the family, the workshop seeks to build a network among its 20 participants for future collaboration and exchange.

Erin Leahey, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, $6,370 for Straight from the Source: How Highly Cited Authors Explain Their Influence. The PI proposes to capitalize on an under-examined data set of more than 4,000 interviews spanning 17 years with authors of heavily cited science articles as to why they thought their work had become important. According to the PI, sociologists of science have theorized and empirically examined factors that contribute to such influence, including institutional support and social processes like the Matthew effect (by which initial advantage accumulates, regardless of merit). But the thoughts, ideas, and "origin stories" of the authors themselves should be considered, even though incorporating social actors’ "own understandings" or "points of view" are seldom analyzed. Such analysis may be critical to a complete, process-oriented explanation of the dissemination of innovations. In order to fill this gap, Leahey will code these stories using a variety of themes including integration, adaptability, institutional context, relationships, forms of novelty, and overturning. She is particularly interested in how these perceptions vary over time and across scientific fields.

Susan C. Pearce, East Carolina University, $6,996 for Re-imagined Communities, Mnemonic Mirrors, and Europe’s 1989 Revolutions: Research on the Twenty-Year Anniversaries. The PI will conduct ethnographic research in Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, and Serbia as these countries commemorate the 20th anniversary of the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc of the former Soviet Union. By comparing different countries, the PI seeks to demonstrate that context matters by emphasizing the historical contingencies of collective memory. The research will include photo documenting, recording, and collecting materials produced to remember the revolutions of 1989. In addition, the PI will supplement the naturalistic observations of these events and productions with qualitative interviews. She will ask about discrepancies between what was hoped for and what was achieved in the 20-year transformation process and about satisfaction with the present in light of perceived discrepancies. The goal is to understand the social-memory meanings that both state and civil society produce and to draw comparisons across countries. The research will emphasize the historical collective memory and the process of remembering non-traumatic histories. If successful, it will contribute to stronger links between cultural and political theory, particularly in the nexus where collective memory and social movement theory meet.

Erin Ruel and Deirdre Oakley, Georgia State University, $7,000 for Journaling the Public Housing Relocation Process: Home, Place and Strata in the Social Hierarchy. In early 2007, the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA) announced plans to demolish 12 more public housing communities by 2010, effectively ending the vast majority of project-based public housing in the city. The goal of this project is to employ participant audio journaling and photo-elicitation, an innovative and little used methodology within the social sciences, in order to explore the lives of public housing residents as they are relocated to subsidized, private market housing. According to the PIs, the project will add an in-depth dimension to their current longitudinal data collection efforts of public housing residents before and after relocation. They argue that having the "Photo Journalists" document their relocation experiences will provide insights into how the residents negotiate and cope with the power structures that control many aspects of their lives. The project studies a disadvantaged group as their lives are about to be changed by the imposition of circumstances beyond their.

Lindsey Wilkinson, Portland State University, and Jennifer Pearson, Wichita State University, $6,550 for Exploring the Role of Heteronormative School Culture in the Sexual Identity Development, Disclosure, and Well-Being of Young Adults. The PI will analyze data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD Health), and supplement it with in-depth interviews of young adults. The purpose of this data collection effort is to investigate how variation in heteronormativity within high schools impacts the well-being of self-identified lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) young adults and the construction and disclosure of sexual identity in young adulthood. According to the PIs, this study will overcome the lack of research aimed at understanding the subtle, yet pervasive influence of heterosexist norms within our social institutions on the sexually marginalized feelings and identities. The PIs build on prior analysis of ADD Health that found heteronormativity within schools, as measured by the religiosity of the student body, the prevalence of participation in hyper-masculine team sports, and urbanicity, as a moderator between adolescent same-sex attraction and well-being. The current study focuses attention to the power of socializing institutions, such as schools, to reinforce or undermine the reproduction of stigmatizing beliefs and practices.

FAD grants are funded through a dollar-for-dollar match by ASA and NSF. FAD provides awards to sociologists at all levels and all types of institutions for cutting-edge research and conferences. Send contributions to FAD, c/o Business Office, American Sociological Association, 1430 K St., NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005, or call Girma Efa at (202) 383-9005, ext. 306. The program director, Roberta Spalter-Roth, can be reached at For more information, visit logo_small


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