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101st Annual Meeting Was an Overwhelming Success …

Sociologists Draw Significant Attention in Montréal

A few years ago Montréal sent its baseball team (The Montréal Expos, for you non-baseball fans) to Washington, DC (to become the now two-yearold Nationals team), and, in return, the DC-based American Sociological Association, feeling sorry for the baseball-less Montréal, held its 101st Annual Meeting in the welcoming city of Montréal, Quebec, Canada, this past August. Well, maybe that’s not the real reason the ASA Annual Meeting was held in Montréal sooner than the official Annual Meeting site line-up had originally scheduled, but it was a most enjoyable and rewarding meeting, according to the many participants who complimented the ASA leadership, staff, and program committee.

Despite having their mouthwash and water bottles confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration before boarding their planes, the Annual Meeting attendees, for the most part, enjoyed a very smoothly run meeting with fascinating panels and several big-name speakers. Of course, also enjoyable to attendees, most of whom came from areas that had recently experienced summer heat waves, was the lack of humidity in Montréal.

Fourth-Highest Registration

With 4,974 registered attendees, the 2006 annual meeting had the fourthhighest registration of any ASA meeting in our 101-year history. The exciting plenary sessions drew record crowds, and the fifth floor of the Palais des congrès de Montréal the primary meeting hall) bustled with energy as attendees moved between sessions each day. For the second year in a row, the very busy meeting offered more than 600 sessions. Yet, for all of the excitement and activity, and relatively late determination that Montréal would host the meeting (see Vantage Point on page 2 of this Footnotes issue for background), it ran flawlessly.

Much of the success of this year’s meeting is due to President Cynthia Fuchs Epstein and the members of the 2006 Program Committee for their work on building an interesting and diverse program. Credit is also due to the 2006 ASA Council, session organizers, and participants.

In relation to the theme, “Great Divides: Transgressing Boundaries,” the major plenary sessions addressed human rights, sex segregation, and gender and race. Following the tradition of bringing renowned scholars and leaders to speak at the Annual Meeting, this year ASA’s exciting sessions included UNESCO’s Pierre Sané, human rights advocate, who spoke about “Social Science and Human Rights” at the Welcoming Ceremony on August 10.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke at the plenary session, “Transgressing Sex Segregation: The Law, Social Science, and Social Policy,” on August 11 about changes in the legal profession over the past 40 years. She was joined by law professors Deborah Rhode of the Stanford Law School and Judith Resnik of Yale Law School, each of whom gave engaging presentations.

On August 14, Gloria Steinem, women’s rights activist, founder of Ms. magazine, and cofounder of the National Women’s Political Caucus, addressed a plenary on “Transgressing Distinctions of Gender and Race,” with sociologist Lawrence Bobo, Director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Their session focused on race and gender issues and the political sphere. On August 12, following the ASA Awards Ceremony (see "Major ASA Award Recipients Honored in Montréal"), Epstein received a very warm reception for her Presidential Address on “Great Divides: The Social, Cultural, and Cognitive Bases of the Global Subordination of Women.” If you missed the address, you can read it in the February 2007 American Sociological Review. (Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg didn’t miss it, though, as she had a front-row seat at this event.)

Sociology in the Media

In addition to the sociologists, students, and exhibitors in attendance, members of the American and Canadian media also foraged for the numerous newsworthy social science stories in the convention center. Whether they were presenting at a session on “Communicating Social Science to Diverse Public Audiences,” such as reporter Shankar Vedantam of the Washington Post and editor Barbara Jasny of Science magazine, or covering the meeting for the local Montreal Gazette, nearly 20 reporters were canvassing the convention center for the latest sociological research. Other media in attendance included, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the National Post, Religion Watch, the New York Post, and WBAI radio. Several news stories appeared in these media both during and after the Annual Meeting.

Of special interest to the reporters were the prominent speakers such as Ginsburg, Steinem, and world-renowned sex therapist “Dr. Ruth” Westheimer. But the well-known speakers were not the only reason the reporters covered the meeting. Some came to make connections with experts or gain future story ideas. Research by Phillip Cohen, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Matt Huffman, University of California-Irvine, on the gender wage gap and women in managerial positions was covered by the Washington Post and picked up by a number of other papers. Doctoral student Adrianne Frech, and professor Kristi Williams, both at Ohio State University, also made headlines for their research on the benefits of marriage for the clinically depressed.

2007 Quickly Approaches

On the last day, at the business meeting, Epstein passed the presidential gavel on to Frances Fox Piven. Next year’s Annual Meeting will be held August 11-14, 2007, in New York City. The Call for Papers will be posted very soon, and the online submission site will open around Thanksgiving. The deadline for paper submissions will be January 17, 2007.

With the 2007 theme, “Is Another World Possible? Sociological Perspectives on Contemporary Politics,” for next year’s Annual Meeting, it promises to be another exciting, educational, and newsworthy event. Find out more about the 2007 Annual Meeting on the “Meetings” page of the ASA website and watch for upcoming deadlines and updates about the major plenary sessions. It is too late, unfortunately, to propose session topics and/or invited panels for 2007. Program rosters are now full, and the 2007 Program Committee is unable to consider late suggestions.