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Contexts Is Where Itís At!

Contexts, ASAís newest entry into the publishing world, was officially launched on August 18 with toasts and fanfare at the 2001 Annual Meeting. With a formal program featuring inaugural editor Claude Fischer, there was much praise and commendation for Fischer and what he has achieved from ASA Executive Officer Felice Levine, ASA then-President Douglas Massey, and Rebecca Simon, Director of the Journals Division at the University of California Press. The centerpiece of the evening, however, was Contexts. In poster form and with a prototype flyer to preview the first issue, Contexts came to life as an accessible, timely, and important sociological presence.

Contexts has already begun to generate its own buzz! Its touch and feel are distinct and palpable. Whether the context is crime, the ambiguous triumph of English-only education, or the real risks to children without fathers (all to be published in the first issue), this new magazine achieves penetrating sociology with broad appeal.

Contexts indeed seeks to traverse contexts and boundaries. Sociologically, it seeks to be informative, to debunk myths or commonplace assumptions about what we know, and to foster new thinking and new ideas in new ways. One of those myths that Contexts artfully transcends relates even to the issue of the audience for such sociological work. Instead of Contexts being captured by conventional categories in order to sort and classify what it is (e.g., fresh findings versus synthesizing knowledge, professionally significant versus publicly relevant), this new venture has something important to say and dedicates itself to working with authors to write and say it well. Thus, the audience is:

  • all sociologists who want to remain current and engaged with findings across the field;
  • social and behavioral scientists interested in the cross-fertilization of ideas and creative new thinking;
  • teachers, students, journalists, civil servants, and policy makers seeking out important developments in social research . . . and, if thatís not enough . . .
  • anyone interested in sociological trends, social change, and the implications of sociological knowledge for policy and public debate.
Contexts takes seriously that ambitious products depend on innovative process. Authors with potential ideas prepare a prospectus outlining what they want to do and why it is sociologically significant or socially important. Authors then work with Editor Fischer who is buttressed by a consulting editor team with specific knowledge and expertise on issues of relevance to a piece. The process of manuscript creation benefits from an iterative process of writing and review to hone the best ideas and bring them to the fore. In addition to feature articles, Contexts also includes discoveries, field notes, book reviews, and photo essays.

The first issue of Contexts will be published in February 2002. All ASA members who renew in 2002 will receive the first issue free. Those who subscribe to Contexts during the renewal season in Fall 2001 will receive the rest of the volume year discounted for this complimentary issue. For further information on the journal, subscriptions, submissions, or other topics of interest, please visit early and often ASAís dedicated, new website launched for Contexts at Contexts is being published for the American Sociological Association by the University of California Press.