American Sociological Association

Katha Pollitt Award Statement

Katha Pollitt - Award Statement

The 2011 Award for Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues goes to Katha Pollitt, writer and columnist for The Nation.  As the nominating letter for Pollitt, signed by more than sixty sociologists, stated, “Her incisive voice covers a wide range of sociologically relevant topics,” revealing “a keen understanding of social science research,” and tying “social science to the issues of the day.”  Among them are racism, welfare reform, abortion, and poverty. Inequality is her central theme. She is a defender of contemporary feminism and human rights movements around the world.

Her range is extraordinary. ‘Subject to Debate’, her bimonthly column in The Nation has addressed women and work, dead-beat dads, the media, panhandlers, school prayer, same-sex marriage, electoral politics, and, most recently, the main-streaming of Occupy Wall Street, and how Anita Hill changed the world. She has been praised for “…picking out the hypocrisy from the rhetoric”, “voicing sharp, lacerating truths about society, never missing an opportunity for wit…”, and  her “zestfully argued, blazingly commonsensical and morally precise” writing.

Her authorial voice has a wide reach.   She has published in The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, Ms. Magazine, The New York Times, The Atlantic, the New Republic, Glamour, Mother Jones, and the London Review of Books. In addition, she has published six books.  She is the recipient of several prestigious awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award (1983),  the National Magazine Award (1992, 2003), the American Book Award’s “Lifetime Achievement Award” (2010), and grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the  National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Foundation.

Known primarily as an essayist and a social, political, and cultural critic, among her six books are two volumes of poetry.  In her most recent, The Mind-Body Problem (Random House, 2009), her poem “Silent Letter” is a meditation on the act of writing:

So too the leisure seeming
of a girl alone in her blue
bedroom late at night
who stares at the bitten
end of her pen
wondering how to write
so that what she writes stays written…

It is plain that she herself is the girl. A persistent gadfly on the social consciousness of the public, Kathe Pollitt has mastered her craft.   We are pleased to honor her outstanding achievements with the ASA 2012 Award for the Reporting of Social Issues.