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ASA Award Recipients Honored in Atlanta

The 2003 recipients of the major ASA awards were honored on August 16 at the Awards Ceremony during the Annual Meeting in Atlanta, GA. Craig Calhoun, Chair of the ASA Committee on Awards, presided over the ceremony, which was attended by Annual Meeting participants, friends, family, and colleagues of the award recipients.

The ASA awards are the highest honors that the Association confers, with selections made by award selection committees who work, in some cases, for many months to make their final selection. [See p. 6 of this issue of Footnotes for a photo of the award recipients.]

Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award

Immanuel Wallerstein, Yale University
This award is presented annually to honor a scholar who has shown outstanding commitment to the profession of sociology and whose cumulative work has contributed in important ways to the advancement of the discipline. The selection committee decided to present the 2003 Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award to Immanuel Wallerstein.

Wallerstein has been described as one of the most influential sociologists of his generation, due in large part to his development of a new paradigm for sociology, world-systems analysis. The world-systems paradigm offers linkages for previously unlinked studies and previously unaffiliated scholars. His world-systems analysis shifted the focus of studies of large-scale political processes from societies and nation states as the unit of analysis, to the world system, thereby bringing attention to interdependencies that had been largely ignored.

Through his work, Wallerstein has extended the influence of sociology into other disciplines, including history, geography, economy, political science, cultural studies, ethnic studies, and women’s studies. His work has crossed not only academic borders but also has extended the influence of sociology to other parts of the world. His writings have inspired a whole generation of sociologists in Asia, Africa, and Latin America who want to know more about how the capitalist world-economy has shaped the contour of development of their own countries. His multi-volume The Modern World-System is a classic.

His contribution has been to start not only a paradigm shift in motion, but to sensitize sociologists to think in world-system terms for epochs predating our own. He has helped us to see that globalization is not merely something that set in at the end of our century, but shaped the very character of the “rise of the west” five centuries ago.

Wallerstein’s mark on the ASA is clear in many ways, but most visibly through the existence of the Section on the Political Economy of the World System, which he founded. His service to the field extends beyond his research to include work as a mentor to younger scholars, and development of the Fernand Braudel Center at SUNY-Binghamton and its journal Review. Immanuel Wallerstein truly has had a career of distinguished scholarship.

Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award

Richard Lackmann, State University of New York-Albany
This award is presented annually for a single book or monograph published in the three preceding calendar years. The winner gives the Sorokin Lecture at a regional or state sociological association.

Swimming against the tide of hyper-specialization, atheoreticism and the focus on ever-narrower stretches of human social experience, Richard Lachmann’s publication of Capitalists in Spite of Themselves in 2000 stood out as an extraordinary piece of work eminently deserving of the ASA Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award for 2003. A century ago, sociology was founded as a distinct discipline by the debate over the “great transformation” question: What led to the rise of modern industrial capitalism in the West? Marx, Weber, Spencer, Durkheim and many others advanced various explanations in terms of class conflict, religiously inspired cultural transformation, population growth, and evolutionary change. Refurbishing these theories, contemporaries have pointed to imperial conquest, cultural modernization, state-building, and ecological advantages. None of these, however, have proved satisfactory.

By drawing on a fine-grained historical comparative analysis of the major social formations of early modern Europe, Lachmann pokes holes in all of these answers and provides impressive support for his own elite conflict theory of transformative social change. An elite is “a group of rulers with the capacity to appropriate resources from non-elites and who inhabit a distinct organizational apparatus.” Lachmann argues that the institutional foundations for the breakthrough to modern capitalism were first created in post-Reformation England as an indirect by-product of elite conflict. Defending their interests against rival elites (i.e., the crown and aristocracy) as well as subordinant classes, the English gentry used their autonomy in local county government to transform traditional land rights, creating a new form of alienable landed property combined with a growing pool of “free” wage labor that made capitalist agriculture possible.

Through a series of political struggles, including support for the Puritans in the English revolution, this autonomous gentry was able to transform feudal agriculture and institute the features of modern capitalist agriculture. Lachmann shows that this configuration of elite power and conflict was unique and created unintended outcomes in terms of the rise of modern capitalism. Lachmann’s is a rich groundbreaking analysis, which will inspire new research and better answers on what remains the central sociological question.

Jessie Bernard Award

Cynthia Fuchs Epstein, City University of New York
The Jessie Bernard Award is given annually in recognition of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society. Cynthia Fuchs Epstein is the recipient of this year’s Jessie Bernard Award. Currently Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the City University of New York, Epstein is one of the most distinguished social scientists working on gender today. Her long and distinguished career has been influential not only within the field of sociology but also in advancing women’s equality in the legal profession.

Professor Epstein’s work has pioneered the exploration of women’s exclusion from the professions. Among her books are Woman’s Place (1970) and Women in Law (1981)—both of which established her career trajectory and an entire field of study. Her landmark theoretical work, Deceptive Distinctions (1988), exposes the sociological fallacies of assertions of sex differences.

Perhaps her most central insight is that since women and men are far more similar than they are different—in terms of both abilities and aspirations—the exclusion of women from equal status in the professions is without foundation and can only be attributed to inaccurate stereotypic notions of women’s lives, hopes, and abilities.

The Jessie Bernard Award committee characterized Epstein as a careful and eloquent sociologist, a tireless advocate for women’s equality, and a generous colleague and mentor.

DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award

John Moland, Jr., Alabama State University (retired)
This award, which honors the intellectual traditions of W.E.B. DuBois, Charles S. Johnson, and E. Franklin Frazier, is given annually for either a lifetime of research, teaching, and service to the community, or to an academic institution for its work in assisting the development of scholarly efforts in this tradition. The distinguished recipient of this year’s DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award is Professor John Moland, Jr.

Before heading to Fisk University where the young Mr. Moland would receive his bachelor’s degree under Charles Johnson, one of the scholarly greats for whom this award is named, John Moland served in the U.S. Army (1945-47) as First Sergeant, Infantry in the Pacific. An honors student at Fisk, Mr. Moland majored in sociology and minored in psychology, and went on to earn his master’s degree at Fisk with a Carnegie Corporation fellowship. A “magnet” for scholarships, Moland earned a sociology doctorate (focusing on social psychology) with a Noyes scholarship at the University of Chicago. An instructor at Florida A&M and then an Associate Professor at Grambling State before he left for Chicago, Dr. Moland returned to the historically Black university and spent the balance of his career first at Southern University, where he was Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Social Research from 1969-1988, and then at Alabama State University, where he was professor of Sociology and Director of Social Science Research from 1988-2001. He has been a servant to the ideal of the university in his various capacities as chairperson, assistant to the president, director of development, director of federal relations and grants, and director of international programs.

His work is careful, thoughtful, and always relevant, with research and writing on subjects from mental health to juvenile delinquency, from gang behavior to the culture of adolescent humor, from poverty in rural America to the impact of Alzheimer’s disease, from community relations with law enforcement to the importance of employment programs for African Americans across the South. The author of 30 publications including monographs, book chapters, refereed articles, and book reviews, Moland has just as frequently presented papers to audiences that were in positions to make a difference, whether they were in Mississippi, Nigeria, Shreveport, or his classrooms.

In the very best traditions of W.E.B. DuBois, E. Franklin Frazier, and Charles Johnson, John Moland, Jr., has shown his commitment to historically Black colleges and universities, has shown his commitment to the communities in which he has lived, and has shown everyone with whom he has come into contact that sociology has a purpose that is larger than the boundaries of its own discipline; it provides tools to live more justly and equitably in the world.

Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology

Lewis Yablonsky, California State University-Northridge
This award is presented annually to individuals who, in making contributions to the practice of sociology, have advanced the utility of the discipline, elevated the status of sociology in the public’s mind, contributed to the development of the field, and advanced human welfare in our community.

For more than 50 years as a sociologist, criminologist, and psychotherapist, Lewis Yablonsky has made outstanding and unique contributions that “advance human welfare,” both in and outside the field of sociology. His wide-ranging work has improved organizational performance, made communities better, and elevated the field of sociology in the United States and abroad. He has published 17 books in sociology and criminology that have been translated into 12 languages.

Yablonsky was one of the early pioneers in youth gang work and intervention, and his theoretical and applied research on youth crime has shaped the training of thousands of students and practitioners. He has been a pioneer in developing therapeutic communities to assist substance abusers and criminals. He has worked as a counselor in a juvenile jail, directed a New York crime prevention program, and been a marriage and family therapist at several California State Psychiatric Hospitals.

The award selection committee found that Yablonsky’s outstanding scholarship and practice in sociology and criminology made him a most worthy recipient of ASA’s Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology.

Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology

Frances Fox Piven, City University of New York
This award is given annually to a person or persons who have made exemplary contributions to advance the public understanding of sociology, sociological research, and scholarship among the general public. The award may recognize a contribution in the preceding year or for a longer career of such contributions.

The selection committee presented the 2003 Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology to social theorist, welfare rights activist, and political science professor Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Piven is a scholar who is equally at home in the university setting and the world of politics. Her work reflects a concern with the uses of political science to promote democratic reform. In fact, a Boston newspaper article some years ago described Piven as anything but “a cloistered academic.”

Widely recognized as one of America’s most thoughtful and provocative commentators on America’s social welfare system, Piven started her career as a city planner. After brief service in New York City, she became a research associate at one of the country’s first anti-poverty agencies, Mobilization for Youth, a comprehensive, community-based service organization on New York City’s Lower East Side.

Piven’s collaboration with Richard Cloward came to influence both their careers, and the two eventually married. Their early work together provided a theoretical base for the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), the first in a long line of grass-roots organizations in which Piven acted as founder, advisor, and/or planner.

Piven is known equally for her contributions to social theory and for her social activism. Over the course of her career, she has served on the boards of the ACLU and the Democratic Socialists of America, and has also held offices in several professional associations, including the presidency of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and the American Political Science Association.

In the 1960s, Piven worked with welfare-rights groups to expand benefits; in the 1980s and 90s she campaigned relentlessly against welfare cutbacks. A veteran of the war on poverty and subsequent welfare-rights protests both in New York City and on the national stage, she has been instrumental in formulating the theoretical underpinnings of those movements.

In Regulating the Poor, Piven and Cloward argued that any advances the poor have made throughout history were directly proportional to their ability to disrupt institutions that depend upon their cooperation. This academic commentary proved useful to George Wiley and the NWRO as well as a great many other community organizers and urban theorists. Since 1994, Piven has led academic and activist opposition to the “Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996,” (known as the Personal Responsibility Act), appearing in numerous public forums, from television’s Firing Line to the U.S. Senate, to discuss the history of welfare and the potential impact of welfare reform initiatives.

In corollary activity, Piven’s study of voter registration and participation patterns found fruition in the 1983 founding of the HumanSERVE (Human Service Employees Registration and Voter Education) Campaign. The Campaign’s registration reform effort culminated in the 1994 passage of the National Voter Registration Act, or the “Motor-Voter” bill, designed to increase voter registration, especially among low-income groups.

Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award

Robert M. Hauser, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Michael Burawoy, University of California-Berkeley

This award is presented annually to honor outstanding contributions to the undergraduate and/or graduate teaching and learning of sociology, which improve the quality of teaching. This year, the award selection committee decided to honor two individuals for their distinguished contributions to teaching, Dr. Robert Hauser and Dr. Michael Burawoy.

Robert Hauser
Robert M. Hauser’s scholarship has profoundly changed several fields in which he has worked, including social stratification, social demography, and statistical methodology. His scholarly contributions have been widely recognized through numerous honors to his credit. However, former students felt that his important contributions to the sociological profession as an outstanding mentor to graduate students had not been appropriately acknowledged. He has served as mentor to scores of successful sociologists. His students consistently praise his level of engagement, close involvement in their work, and how he shares his wisdom. He is committed to the solid intellectual development of his protégés, and his dedication extends to those who are not officially “his” advisees. His students continue to emulate Hauser’s mentoring skills. They credit him for teaching them how to maintain a solid intellectual track. Finally, he engages his students in numerous professional socialization opportunities, all in an effort to invest in the discipline’s future.

Michael Burawoy
Michael Burawoy’s students note that he has made it his life’s work to place teaching on an equal footing with his well-regarded scholarship. Many of his graduate students have gone on to become very successful sociologists, have published their dissertations, and have collaborated with Burawoy on projects. They extol his devotion to his students, note with rich detail his intellectual impact on their work and his approach to the discipline, and comment on his desire to learn from his students. His commitment to undergraduate education is seen in the high respect given to his demanding theory course. He has inspired countless undergraduates to pursue sociology as a career.

Dissertation Award

Devah Pager, Northwestern University
The ASA Dissertation Award honors the best PhD dissertation for a calendar year from among those submitted by advisors and mentors. The winner of this year’s award is Devah Pager, currently at Northwestern University. Pager took her degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The award committee declared her dissertation, The Mark of a Criminal Record, as being very timely and using an impressively ambitious methodology. The committee stated that is was executed with rigor and interpreted with deep insight.

The study makes an important contribution to the growing body of research on the effects of the increasing incarceration rate in the United States. While the study, an employment audit, itself is focused on entry-level jobs in a single metropolitan area (Milwaukee), it is designed to be more generalizable across a range of entry-level jobs than prior assessments.

The core result of the research is that callbacks to job applicants were received for 34% of White testers, 17% for Whites with prison records, 14% for Blacks without prison records, and 5% for Blacks with prison records. These figures demonstrate that a felony conviction reduces the employment chances of all young men, and that the effects are even stronger among Black than among White men. Given that these testers were matched on all other attributes, this demonstrates the continuing salience of racial discrimination in labor markets as well as the importance of prison records in structuring the opportunities of both Black and White ex-felons. The committee believed Pager’s analysis effectively demonstrates that incarceration has become a substantial determinant of life chances in contemporary America.