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Major ASA Award Recipients Honored in Montréal

The American Sociological Association proudly announced the recipients of the 2006 major awards at this year’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 13, in Montréal. The Awards Ceremony, which was followed by the Presidential Address, was well attended by sciologists. These awards are given to sociologists for their outstanding publications, achievements in the scholarship, teaching, and practice of sociology, as well as for their overall advancement of the discipline. Award recipients are selected by committees appointed by the Committee on Committees and the ASA Council.

Herbert Gans
Winner, Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award

In an age of specialization, Herbert Gans stands apart because his name and contributions are known throughout sociology. This is not because, like a previous generation of sociologists who worked in a generalist mode, he sought directly to influence sociology in its totality, but rather because he has made seminal contributions— and written classic works—in a remarkable number of different fields. His influence on the discipline as a whole has come from his distinct sensibility, which combines scholarship satisfying to the most professional of sociologists with writing that speaks to much broader publics, rigorous application of ethnographic and other methodologies with a catholic appreciation for good evidence whatever the source. He has deeply felt democratic egalitarianism with tough-minded, social-scientific analysis of explanations for, and policies proposed to remedy, poverty and inequality.

Gans early on made enormously influential contributions to urban sociology, through his studies of urban ethnic communities in The Urban Villagers and of new suburban ones in The Levittowners, books that are still widely read four decades after their publication. The Urban Villagers was among the first sociological works to recognize the importance of second-generation communities descended from an immigration that had then been over for decades, and it thereby helped to found the study of ethnicity; its analysis of the linkage between urban ethnicity and social class retains the status of a classic statement.

Gans has also profoundly shaped the fields of mass media and culture. His rich observational study of newsrooms, which appeared as Deciding What’s News (now reissued in a 25th anniversary edition), went well beyond the then dominant research tradition by demonstrating the structuring roles of media organizations and of the institutionalized processes of news production; it remains unsurpassed as a model for studying the media and as a source of insights. He gave powerful new impetus to the sociology of culture with his book, Popular Culture and High Culture, which critiqued the superiority that the affluent and well educated attribute to their cultural preferences and argued for the right of every person to the culture he or she prefers. He has brought to these fields a sociological concern for democracy, the subject of his MA thesis, to which he returned later in his career with the publication of Middle American Individualism and Democracy and the News.

A thematic thread throughout his writings is spun from the manifestations of class inequalities (this is, famously, the subtext of The Urban Villagers). His specific contributions to the study of poverty and inequality have been numerous (e.g., More Equality, The War Against the Poor) and benefit from his graduate work in planning, which trained and accustomed him to undertake sociological analyses and critiques of public policy. His writing on poverty has been important as an antidote to the neo-conservatives’ emphasis on the undeserving underclass; and indeed, he has debunked not only their arguments, but also critiqued the underclass concept and its users. He ventured into grand theorizing, proposing a radical version of structural functionalism, in his often reprinted 1972 American Journal of Sociology article “The Positive Functions of Poverty.”

A half century after his career began, Gans not only keeps abreast of sociological currents but continues to influence them, especially in the fields of race, ethnicity, and immigration. His concept of “symbolic ethnicity” informed research about third- and fourth-generation descendants of European immigrants. With the concept of “second-generation decline,” forged by his reflection on the situations of the second generation to emerge from the newest wave of immigrants, he anticipated the theory of “segmented assimilation.” Most recently, he has theorized about a new racial hierarchy emerging as a result of contemporary immigration. As always, his thinking on these and other topics is fresh and therefore widely read.

His sociological output has been prodigious: he has written 17 books and monographs and published nearly 200 articles and book chapters. Many of his writings are intended for both sociologists and general audiences. Not coincidentally, therefore, Gans has also been a trailblazer for the cause of “public sociology.” This was the subject of his presidential address to the ASA, where he was the first to call for “public sociology.” Subsequently, he received the ASA Award for Contributions to the Public Understanding of Sociology.

In sum, Gans is deserving of the ASA Award for a Career of Distinguished Scholarship because of his profound and extensive impacts on our discipline. These are indicated, above all, by the remarkable number of subfields where his work remains seminal and by his path-breaking efforts to communicate effectively with both sociologists and outsiders.

Edward Telles
Winner, Distinguished Book Award

Edward E. Telles’s book, Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil (Princeton University Press, 2004), was selected for the 2006 Distinguished Book Award for its insightful comparative analysis of race relations in Brazil and the United States. Breaking a number of social myths about race in Brazil, he provides a detailed analysis of how ideas about race emerged in Brazil and the resulting racial classifi- cation systems. In a detailed accounting of racial stratification in Brazil, Telles also shows how race matters in Brazil in several dimensions of life, ranging from intermarriage to housing and income inequality. He concludes with a chapter examining and suggesting social policies to support anti-racism in democratic societies. The book was selected for the importance of its contribution, not only to comparative studies in the sociology of race, but also for the study of social stratification, comparative and historical sociology, and demographic research.

Telles (PhD, University of Texas, Austin; BA,, Stanford University) is Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Los Angeles where he teaches courses on race and ethnicity, social demography, development, and urban sociology. Race in Another America was also awarded the best book prize from the Brazil section of the Latin American Studies Association and the Hubert Herring Award from the Pacific Council of Latin American Studies. In 2005, he also received the Otis Dudley Duncan Award from the American Sociological Association.

Telles was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation (2004-05), where he began analyzing intergenerational change in ethnic identity, language use, education and other issues among Mexican Americans, based on random sample surveys of Los Angeles and San Antonio in 1965 and 2000. With Vilma Ortiz, he is completing a manuscript of that book, tentatively titled: Racialized Ethnicity: Mexican Americans and the Persistence of Ethnic Boundaries. He served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel on the status of Hispanics from 2002-05, and was Program Officer in Human Rights for the Ford Foundation in Rio de Janeiro from 1997-2000.

Telles has published widely in the area of immigration, race and ethnic relations, social demography, and urban sociology. Some of his work focuses on the economic impacts of immigration in the United States, the effect of skin color on education and income for Mexican Americans, and the demographic foundations of the Hispanic population. He has received grant awards from the National Institute of Child and Human Development, the National Science Foundation, and the Fulbright Commission. Prior to entering graduate school and becoming an academic, he was a community organizer and English as a Second Language Instructor in Los Angeles.

Vivek Chibber
Honorable Mention, Distinguished Book Award

Honorable mention is given to Vivek Chibber’s book, Locked in Place: State Building and Late Industrialization in India. Locked in Placeexamines the role of elite entrepreneurs in class development. Using the cases of India and Korea, the book shows the significant role of industrialists in resisting or facilitating state development. The argument, based on detailed comparative histories, shows the central role of capital in state formation while also revealing the structural forces that shape the class and state relations.

Chibber (PhD, MA, University of Wisconsin, BA Northwestern University) is Associate Professor Sociology at New York University. His research interests are in economic sociology, development, Marxian theory, political sociology, and comparative-historical sociology. His prior work focused on the role of the state in economic development. Specifically, he has examined the conditions under which state-building can be successful in late-developing countries. He has published on the dynamics of long-term historical change in South Asia and on the plausibility of the Marxian theory of history.

His current research continues some of the above themes while taking on some new ones. He is engaged in a project that compares the political economy of late development in the 20th century with late development in the 19th century. It is widely recognized that in both periods, the state played a central role in fostering development. But the kinds of class alliances that supported state intervention did not remain the same, nor did the kinds of tasks that states took upon themselves. This difference in the political underpinnings of late development created a strikingly different set of constraints on state action across the two centuries, as well as opening up new possibilities. Through investigating how these dynamics have changed over time, Chibber proposes to historicize our understanding of state-led development.

In a second project, related to the first, Chibber is doing research on the emergence of neo-liberalism as a global project in the 1970s and 1980s. While there is an emerging body of work tracing the rise of a conservative and free-market economic agenda in U.S. domestic policy, the process through which it was settled upon as an arm of foreign policy in the same period has not received very much attention. He plans to examine how the policies known as the Washington Consensus became central to U.S. economic diplomacy and the process through which it was implanted in key developing countries.

Kathleen McKinney
Winner, Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award

Kathleen McKinney, Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning at Illinois State University and former Carnegie Scholar on the Scholarship of Teaching, is the 2006 recipient of the ASA’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. Her career aptly illustrates her dedication to all aspects of teaching. She has enhanced teaching at all levels through her teaching, research, The American Sociological Association proudly announced the recipients of the 2006 major awards at this year’s Annual Meeting on Saturday, August 13, in Montréal. The Awards Ceremony, which was followed by the Presidential Address, was well attended by sciologists. These awards are given to sociologists for their outstanding publications, achievements in the scholarship, teaching, and practice of sociology, as well as for their overall advancement of the discipline. Award recipients are selected by committees appointed by the Committee on Committees and the ASA Council. publications, and mentoring.

McKinney’s teaching record ranges from the “Teaching Seminar” at Illinois State University to the many workshops she has offered at ASA meetings and various colleges other than her own. These workshops include “The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning” (2004 ASA meeting) to “Teaching Large Classes: Encouraging Responsibility, Involvement, and Community” (2001 Midwest Sociological Society) to “Collaborative Learning Groups” (1993 Illinois Sociological Society). McKinney’s focus on teaching extends from the classroom level to the national level.

She won numerous teaching awards throughout her career. She was first recognized at Oklahoma State University as a “Teacher of the Year” for the College of Arts and Sciences (1984) and the University-wide AMOCO Outstanding Teacher Award (1985). Recognition of her skill and talent as a teacher was similarly recognized at Illinois State University with the College of Arts and Sciences Junior Distinguished Teacher Award (1991), Senior Distinguished Teacher Award (1994), and the Distinguished University Teacher Award (1995- 96). She was formerly recognized by the ASA Section on Undergraduate Education with the Hans Mauksch Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education (1996), which provided further recognition of her excellence in teaching.

Importantly, McKinney’s teaching is highly informed by her own research and publications. Her research focuses on gender, characteristics of faculty and students, and learning outcomes. An important aspect of this research is how she defines learning and the factors that impact it. From “How Sociology Majors Learn Sociology: Successful Learners Tell Their Story” to “Contrapower Sexual Harassment: The Effects of Student Sex and Type of Behavior on Faculty Perceptions.” She uses a variety of methods and data to explore the myriad ways that perceptions and interactions affect learning. This active research agenda concerning teaching and learning is highlighted by two key points. First, her research has been published in a wide variety of academic, peer-reviewed journals, such as Teaching Sociology, Sex Roles, Journal of Sex Research, and Journal of Marriage and Family. Additionally, she is author, editor, or co-editor of four published books, three ASA teaching resource books, and six monographs or manuals on teaching. The second key point is the local and national recognition she received as a Carnegie Scholar on the Scholarship of Teaching and as the first Cross Endowed Chair in the Scholarship of Teaching and learning at Illinois State University.

The final aspect of McKinney’s distinguished contributions to teaching concerns her mentorship of an entire generation of talented and dedicated teachers/scholars. The letters supporting her nomination, from former students to university administrators and current colleagues, provide eloquent evidence of her impact on teaching. All the letters attest to her enthusiasm, professionalism, support and encouragement, and most importantly, to her foresight, skills, and talent as a teacher and researcher.

Students attest to Dr. McKinney’s talent, skills, and passion as a teacher, including her ability to teach large classes: “I recall my amazement with Kathy’s energy level and ability to engage not only the students in the front row, but also those who sat furthest from her. Her lecture style was engaging and warm and she used a diverse array of imaginative pedagogical techniques, which incorporated various styles of learning. Whether it was the use of collaborative learning groups, dyadic techniques, or individual and subsequent small group activities, Dr. McKinney strove to accommodate students at multiple comprehension levels.”

Her colleagues highlight McKinney’s enthusiasm for improving the teaching of sociology at all levels: “I have been continually impressed with the quality of Kathleen’s work, and her enthusiastic willingness to volunteer to work on projects that improve the teaching of sociology, and research on teaching and learning.” Another writes that, “Kathleen uses her classes as laboratories to study how to enhance student learning. She reads widely and is exceedingly knowledgeable of the most recent theories and methods used to enhance student learning. She continuously applies what she learns from the scholarship in her classrooms and simultaneously collects data in her classes that become the basis for book chapters, articles, and presentations. Her commitment to the dialectical relationship between scholarship and teaching demonstrates Kathleen’s dedication to teaching and learning.” Finally, McKinney’s time as editor and on the editorial board of Teaching Sociology as well as her active participation with the teach-soc listserv further exemplify her contributions as a mentor to us all.

Arthur Shostak
Winner, Distinguished Career for the Practice of Sociology Award

The Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology is presented each year in recognition of outstanding contributions to sociological practice. The award recognizes work that has facilitated or served as a model for the work of others, work that has significantly advanced the utility of one or more specialty areas in sociology and, by so doing, has elevated the professional status or public image of the field as a whole, work that has been honored or widely recognized outside the discipline for its significant impacts, particularly in advancing human welfare. The selection committee selected Arthur B. Shostak as the 2006 recipient of the Practice of Sociology Award.

Arthur Shostak taught at Drexel University from 1967 to 2003. Before retiring in the fall of 2003, he introduced courses at Drexel in applied sociology, futurism, race and ethnic relations, social implications of 20th century technology, and urban sociology. Previously, he was on the faculty of the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania (1961-67). As an applied sociologist, Shostak has been a futurist consultant for various levels of government, labor unions, and companies. As well, he has regularly assisted k-12 school systems and colleges and universities. In this context, Shostak has pioneered the study of Labor’s use of computer power, coined the term “CyberUnion,” and written the major book to date on the subject. From 1975 to 2000, Shostak served as an Adjunct Sociologist with the National Labor College degree program at the AFL-CIO George Meany Center for Labor Studies. He has consistently connected his studies to projects of collaboration with the American Federation of Government Employees, the American Federation of Teachers, the IBEW, the Painters Union, the Postal Workers Union, the Steelworkers Union, and many others. Further, Shostak has promoted reforms in the ways in which waiting room males are treated in abortion clinics. He is the principal author of the only book on this subject and has self-financed three field studies now involving nearly 3,000 such men located in over 50 clinics. Presently, he is busy working with educators across the country in improving a blueprint he prepared for the nation’s first high school focused on long-range forecasting. Shostak is the author, co-author, or editor of 31 books and 146 articles which are all, in one form or another, concerned with demonstrating the value of using sociology.

Diane Vaughan
Winner, Public Understanding of Sociology Award

Diane Vaughan is the 2006 winner of the Public Understanding of Sociology Award because she has had exceptional influence as a public intellectual for the past several decades. Indeed, she makes precisely the sort of contributions that the ASA had in mind when it established this award.

Vaughan, who has published three important books and more than 40 articles, chapters, and book reviews, has had an impressive role as a public intellectual. She has stated that she is a “public sociologist by accident” and that she started her practice of public sociology in a “low-profile way” because she knew of some professional sociologists’ disdain for it. As her career unfolded, however, it is clear that her public intellectual role is marked by unwavering intention and commitment.

One of Vaughan’s earlier works, Uncoupling: Turning Points in Intimate Relationships (Oxford University Press, 1986; translated into at least six languages), made important intellectual contributions to the field of sociology and was of widespread popular interest. This book received extensive media coverage, including appearances on Phil Donahue’s television program, two of the three major network morning shows, and a full-page story in the Washington Post. Uncoupling continues to sell after 20 years in print and it now has reached such an extensive audience that it ranks among sociology’s best sellers.

Vaughan’s widely acclaimed book, The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA(University of Chicago Press 1996), was a complex, detailed analysis of the processes that led to America’s first space shuttle disaster. It was one of the rare sociological works to receive a frontpage review in the New York Times Book Review, as well as extensive commentary in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker articles. It won three book awards, including the Rachel Carson Prize and the Robert K. Merton Award, and was nominated for several others, including the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Vaughan’s thesis—that NASA’s culture had normalized risk in ways that created a catastrophe—received considerable attention and revised history. Ultimately, in order to get the press to understand the tragedy, she had to teach the sociological perspective.

As a result of her Challenger research and expertise in the field, Vaughan received great visibility in 2003 when the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry. In addition to responding to hundreds of media requests, she testified before the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, and then became a member of the Board’s research staff, working to analyze and write the section identifying the social causes of the Columbia accident. She helped to show how the accident resulted from a failure of NASA’s organizational system, and how the social causes of Challenger had not been fixed. Because of Vaughan the social causes were given equal primacy with the technical causes of Columbia’s tragic demise. The report’s important conclusions were shaped by her tireless involvement in the project, her insistence on a sociological frame for, and her commitment to bring her research findings and intellectual insight to the policy table.

In the Columbia aftermath, Vaughan’s respected expertise about what had happened enabled her to get a Board composed of engineers, scientists, military officers, and officials to recognize that there were organizational—that is, sociological— processes that had shaped these events. Her theories and concepts, such as the normalization of deviance, institutional failure, organizational culture, structure, and missed signals, became alive in public discourse and appeared in press accounts, even if she was not quoted.

Her work on the Columbia case is a remarkable instance of visible public service by a sociologist. Her current research is on air traffic controllers and the interface between human cognitive abilities and technology in a highly standardized system in which risk and safety are their responsibility. It seems clear that this work, like her previous projects, will lead to a greater public understanding of a sociological phenomenon.

Vaughan has been an important public intellectual for 20 years. She is acknowledged as an expert on both the demise of intimate relationships and on the failures of organizations to manage their behavior. In particular, she has helped to steer public debates toward the recognition that accidents in the space program are, in fact, social problems. Vaughan’s career has been a model of how thorough research, intellectual efforts, and personal dedication can lead to a greater public understanding and appreciation of sociology.

Rutledge M. Dennis
Winner, DuBois-Johnson-Frazier Award

Professor Rutledge Dennis is the 2006 recipient of the DuBois-Johnson- Frazier Award. His contributions in scholarship, teaching and service exemplify the best of the DuBois- Johnson-Frazier tradition. He is an exceptional teacher who has engaged in rigorous social research that culminated in prodigious purposeful scholarship that framed the nature and scope of his community activism. For more than 30 years, Dennis’s provocative and stimulating pedagogy has engaged students in critical thinking on the Black Family, Black Intellectuals, Black Political Thought, the dynamics of racial and ethnic relations, society and the urban community, and the intricacies of sociological theory and methodology. He has consistently developed educational programs that have enriched college curricula and created spaces for the perspectives of traditionally under-represented groups. His commitment to the success of faculty of color is evident in his mentoring of countless young students and scholars.

Dennis is recognized as one of the leading scholars on DuBois. Along with W.E.B. DuBois: The Scholar Activist, his significant works on DuBois include: “Intellectuals and Double Consciousness,” “W.E. B. DuBois and the Tradition of Black Intellectual Thought,” and “DuBois and the Role of the Educated Elite,” “Continuities and Discontinuities in the Social and Political Thought of W.E.B. DuBois,” “W.E.B. DuBois and the Objectivity of the Social Sciences,” and “W.E.B. DuBois and the Tradition of Radical Intellectual Thought.”

The DuBois-Johnson-Frazier tradition is evident in his outstanding publication record that includes nine books, 25 peer reviewed journal articles, and 13 book chapters. In this work, Dennis has advanced the cause of African-American scholarship, and the demarginalization of Black intellectuals in institutions of higher education in particular, and in American society in general. His series on race and ethnic relations provides evidence of a sustained effort to engage others in dialogue on the most challenging and persistent questions affecting our society. The edited series, published by JAI Press Inc., include Black Intellectuals, W.E.B. DuBois: The Scholar Activist, The Black Middle Class and Racial and Ethnic Politics.

His use of scholarship to frame community activism is most evident in the study of annexation efforts of a powerful southern elite published in The Politics of Annexation: Oligarchic Power in a Southern City (with John Moeser). One colleague described Dennis as a scholar who “never cloistered himself behind the walls of the academy but was fully engaged in the life of the community and used his skills as a scholar to address concerns and issues important to citizens.” His scholarly and activist engagement is further demonstrated in his work as a Commissioner of the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority, Advisory Boards of the Richmond Human Relations Council, and the Quality Education Task Force of the Richmond School system. In memory of his parents, he established the Dennis-Weathers Award in support of African American Studies at George Mason University (GMU). This award honors the “work and spirit” of W.E.B. DuBois by faculty, staff and students who foster awareness, sensitivity, and cross-cultural understanding at GMU and the surrounding community. The award recognizes faculty and students who demonstrate a “commitment to increasing awareness of intercultural/crosscultural understanding at Mason and in the broader community.” He organized a successful book drive collecting over 400 textbooks for the Royal College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. His service to the profession includes: President of the Association of Black Sociologists, President of the Black Education Association, Chair of the Election Committee of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and Chair of the Race and Ethnic Minority Committee of the Eastern Sociological Society. Most recently, Dennis was awarded the Joseph S. Himes Distinguished scholarship Award from the Association of Black Sociologists, which honors scholars whose works have made a significant contribution to the understanding of black life and culture.

Rutledge Dennis has been among the leading scholars of the third generation of black sociologists, helping set the tone for research and activism in the black community and carrying on the tradition of W.E.B. DuBois, Charles S. Johnson, and E. Franklin Frazier.

Margaret Andersen
Winner, Jessie Bernard Award

Margaret Andersen, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies at University of Delaware, is the 2006 recipient of ASA’s Jessie Bernard Career Award. As a major figure in the sociology of gender, her commitment to excellence in scholarship, teaching, and professional service has touched countless scholars, students, and administrators.

Andersen is clearly a penultimate gender scholar. She has consistently pushed the frontiers of gender scholarship throughout her career. Her early work illustrates this commitment to gender with publications including “Affluence, Contentment and Resistance to Feminism: The Case of the Corporate Gypsies” in Social Problems and Social Policy (1979); “Rape Crisis Counseling and the Culture of Individualism” with Claire Renzetti in Contemporary Crisis (1980); and “Corporate Wives: Longing for Liberation or Satisfied with the Status Quo?” in Urban Life (1981). This work preceded her immensely influential Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender, (1983). Used consistently in college classrooms for over 20 years and now in its seventh edition (2006), this book has had a significant impact on gender teaching and scholarship.

Andersen has not only been involved in gender scholarship, she has also been at the forefront of cutting edge ideas within it. In particular, she was one of the early gender scholars to recognize that gender did not constitute a stand-alone concept, but rather intersected with race, class, sexuality and ethnicity. She writes about this path and how it framed her distinctive approach to gender scholarship in her 2005 Gender & Society essay, “Thinking about Women: A Quarter Century View.” Here Andersen spells out a retrospective of her work in gender, noting how personal experience informs critical analysis. In this retrospective, one sees how her early commitment to viewing gender through the prism of race and class has greatly contributed to the innovation in her work.

Andersen’s sociological publications can thus be read as a systematic engagement of gender with ideas about race and class. Publications such as “Women’s Studies/Black Studies: Learning From Our Common Pasts” (1985); “Moving Our Minds: Studying Women of Color and Reconstructing Sociology” (1988); “Studying Across Difference: Race, Class, Gender & the Social Construction of Knowledge” (1993); and “The Fiction of Diversity without Oppression: Race, Ethnicity, Identity, and Power” (1999) illustrate her longstanding commitment to what is now known as the field of race, class, and gender studies.

Andersen’s productivity in race, class, and gender studies goes beyond a commitment to scholarship as she has also worked to change social institutions. This dedication to gender equity is most evident both in her long and distinguished teaching career and the range of activities in which she has been involved concerning the advancement of teaching. Much of her early work in gender reflects this commitment to teaching. For example, her 1987 “Changing the Curriculum: Women’s Studies and Higher Education,” published in Signs, investigates issues of gender and curriculum transformation. Her innovative gender scholarship and commitment to social change through teaching are apparent in several projects including “Integrating Race, Class and Gender to the Curriculum in Sociology,” published by ASA’s Teaching Resources Center and Race, Class and Gender: An Anthology(1992), currently in its fifth edition (in collaboration with Patricia Hill Collins).

Finally, an important area of consideration for the Jessie Bernard Career Award is the nominee’s promotion of feminism in the ASA and other learned societies. Throughout her long career, Margaret Andersen has been a strong promoter of women’s interests. She was editor of Gender & Society from 1990-95, where she did a superb job of bringing more work on race and class into gender scholarship. In 1984, she was the first person to teach Women’s Studies at MIT. Twenty years later, in 2004, she was honored as the SWS Feminist Lecturer. She has held a remarkable range of service and leadership positions—from serving as one of the founders of ASA’s MOST program and codirecting that program at the University of Delaware for two years to serving on the ASA Council. She has served as President of the Eastern Sociological Society. In each of these positions, she was active in facilitating feminist work.

Not only does Dr. Andersen have tremendous feminist vitality, she also has enormous integrity and a commitment to supporting other women at faculty and student levels. She is a model for current and future gender scholars.

Jason Beckfield
Co-winner, Dissertation Award

Jason Beckfield, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago, is the other 2006 awardee for his work The Consequences of Regional Political and Economic Integration for Inequality and the Welfare State in Western Europe. Beckfield received his degree at Indiana University- Bloomington, where he completed his dissertation under the direction of Art Alderson. This paper is an exceptional and ambitious work that is fully deserving of the ASA Dissertation Award. It is careful, wide-ranging, and thoughtful research that is sure to have an impact within our discipline and beyond. Indeed, it is one of those works of sociology that will win praise among scholarly specialists while also affecting central policy debates.

Beckfield’s dissertation asks how we should go about making sense of regional integration—the construction of regional supranational markets and polities such as NAFTA or the European Union (a phenomenon that is often conflated with “globalization”). In doing so, he addresses a set of issues across the fields of sociology, political science, and economics and strike at the heart of many current debates. The deliberate construction of an integrated European regional economy and polity—the European Union (EU)—is one of the most remarkable developments of the postwar period. While of a type with other efforts at regionalization, the EU has moved faster and further towards integration than other such experiments. As such, study of the EU provides a unique opportunity to explore the effects of changes in the scale of social action and the development of new social forms beyond the national state. It also provides a point of purchase on a number of classic sociological questions and concerns.

To date, sociologists have had little to say about many of the “big questions” surrounding regional integration (and much of what they have had to say has been speculative). Beckfield takes on the extraordinarily ambitious task of providing rigorous, scientifically-defensible answers to four key questions surrounding regional integration and the EU. First, has regionalization produced economic convergence? In support of the goal of “ever closer union,” the reduction of economic disparities between member nations of the EU has been an explicit policy goal of the EU and its antecedents. Has this goal been accomplished and how? Second, how has regionalization affected inequality within countries? While many observers of the European scene conflate regionalization with globalization and expect “Europeanization” to widen gaps in income in EU nations, others suggest that European integration may insulate EU countries from the assumed polarizing effects of globalization. What is happening and why? Third, has regional integration made European welfare states more similar? Has the European polity produced convergence on a “European” welfare state model? Or have the distinctions, between “conservative,” “liberal,” and “social democratic” welfare states, been preserved? Finally, has regional integration contributed to welfare state retrenchment in Europe? Given strict convergence and accession criteria, the possibility of tax-competition resulting from an integrated market, etc., many have linked regionalization to welfare state regress in Europe. Exactly what role has regional integration played in welfare state retrenchment?

Using data on 17 European countries from 1950-2000 and state of the art theory and method, Beckfield finds that regional integration is associated with 1) economic convergence among EU member states, 2) increased income inequality within nations, 3) growing isomorphism among the welfare states of EU members, and 4) welfare-state retrenchment. These findings are, in and of themselves, extremely important and sure to be of great interest to a wide audience of scholars and policymakers, but their “blockbuster” status lies in how Beckfield treats the phenomenon of regionalization. Where most research in this area conceptualizes regionalization as an economic phenomenon, Beckfield argues that it also has important political, social, and cultural dimensions. Beckfield develops a “political-institutionalist” approach to regional integration, which combines institutionalist thinking with an acute attention to power and interests to highlight how institutions make and structure markets. He develops multiple indicators of the economic and political dimensions of regional integration and demonstrates empirically how convergence and inequality in Europe in the last half-century have been shaped as much by political integration as they have by economic integration.

The results are truly remarkable and are a showcase for what sociology contributes to the broader discussion of transnational processes and their consequences. They lend dramatic support to some of the fundamentals informing current economic and political sociology, and clearly demonstrate the centrality of sociological insights to the processes within the exclusive purview of economics or political science. Jason Beckfield’s dissertation is thus richly deserving of this honor.

Amy Hanser
Co-winner, Dissertation Award

This year’s ASA Dissertation Awards Committee selected two nominees. Amy Elizabeth Hanser, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of British Columbia, is an awardee for her Counter Strategies: Service Work and the Production of Distinction in Urban China. Hanser took her degree at the University of California-Berkeley, where she did her dissertation under the direction of Thomas B. Gold. The committee members are pleased that both Hanser’s ethnographic study and Jason Beckfield’s analysis of primary and secondary data were in the same pool. We could not and did not wish to choose between two meritorious works that testify to the breadth and catholicity of sociological scholarship and the vitality of the discipline..

Participant observation has long been central to the sociological research, and Hanser’s study is an exemplary illustration of what it can accomplish. Her ability to acquire and understand data through insinuating herself into and standing apart from the reality that concerns follows such classics as Whyte’s Street Corner Society. She employed excellent writing skills to produce a text that, like Street Corner Society, can attract students to sociology. Her text brings her colleagues and informants to life. With little editing, Hanser’s dissertation can become a book that would be required reading for beginning and advanced students alike.

The dissertation is an original, pathbreaking ethnographic study of the emergence of new social inequalities in urban China attendant upon major changes in national social and economic policies. Hanser examines this process from the vantage point of three staff positions (2001-02) as a retail clerk in Harbin, a large provincial city in northeast China. Her research is situated at the intersection of issues in stratification, culture, consumption, and gender. To organize the analysis, Hanser draws on the work of Bourdieu, Burawoy, Powell and DiMaggio, Fligstein, Lee, Swidler, Dorothy Smith, and others. The choice of retailing is particularly apt because, changing as rapidly as the economy and society, retail service reveals emerging inequalities. It continues a line of sociological inquiry as far back as Frances Donovan’s 1930 monograph, The Saleslady.

Hanser demonstrates that rapid political, social, and economic change in contemporary China is reflected in retail sector service and, thus, justifies her decision to situate her study there. She shows that economic reforms in response to consumer demands have transformed the selling staffs of state-owned department stores from state functionaries to clerks. Consequently, staff members have had to adjust to a new customer base and redefine their relations to it. This, in turn, impacted other retail forms and their clienteles and staff behavior. The resulting ferment provides a fertile setting for her study.

Hanser observed staff behavior and customer relations as a salesclerk in two very different urban department stores— a large state-owned enterprise and a privately-owned exclusive purveyor of expensive cosmopolitan merchandise— and, then, as a jack-of-all-trades, participated in and observed transactions in a privately-owned clothing stall located in a large bazaar specializing in lower quality merchandise for poorer shoppers. Her reports of the everyday activities of clerks, supervisors, and customers capture vividly the way in which systemic processes play out and are experienced at the individual level. Hanser witnessed and documented a process that is contributing to new social inequalities emerging in urban China; service work organized around the construction and communication of cultural boundaries legitimates these inequalities. The distinctions among retailers are produced by the way employees solve everyday problems and routinize their activities, while providing a newly selective clientele with the means to create and maintain distinctions among consumers. These distinctions may not take the stereotypical form of class-based hierarchies; rather, they are inequalities expressed as exclusive claims to entitlements. The exercise of such claims is a familiar phenomenon to students of strati- fication and inequality.

Hanser’s shrewd perceptiveness is apparent throughout the dissertation. Early on, she notes that relational labor processes and the distinctions they entail are as much the product of relations among organizations as of individuals acting out unconscious class distinctions. She later demonstrates the power of this conceptualization by showing how a change from maintaining local inventories to direct provision of merchandise by distant providers reshaped workers’ activities and customer relations. As another example, in an appendix on method in which she discusses non-neutrality issues for participant observers, Hanser notes that the observer’s dependency on her subjects’ acceptance makes her the observed at least as much as the observer. She then discusses some of the many consequences this has for collecting valid and reliable data. A dissertation replete with such nuggets can be mined indefinitely. We hope that the award will gain it the attention it merits.

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