Selecting journal editors who can resourcefully navigate the many responsibilities can be complicated. But the ASA Publications Committee and Council have done a brilliant job with the selection of Indiana University professors Art Alderson and Dina Okamoto as the new co-editors of the American Sociological Review.
Alderson is a lifer (we hope) at Indiana University. He joined the institution as an assistant professor in 1997, went through the ranks, and was appointed the Allen D. and Polly S. Grimshaw Professor of Sociology in 2016. Okamoto, the Class of 1948 Herman B. Wells Professor, is a relatively recent addition to Indiana University. After spending a dozen years (2001-2013) as a professor at the University of California-Davis, she joined the sociology department at Indiana University in 2013 and took on the directorship of the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES) the following year. Okamoto also is an affiliated faculty member in the university’s Asian American Studies, Latino Studies, and Southeast Asian Studies programs.
Alderson works in the areas of social stratification, economic and political sociology, comparative and historical sociology, and international development. He is currently doing quantitative research on income inequality; intercity relations and the global urban hierarchy; status, subjective well-being, and consumption; and the causes and social consequences of globalization.
Okamoto’s interests lie in the areas of race and ethnicity, immigration, social movements, and social psychology. Her research has addressed intergroup conflict and cooperation, group formation and collective action, as well as immigrant civic and political incorporation. She is a true believer in methodological diversity: her research draws on interview, archival, observational, survey, event, and text data, and uses both qualitative and quantitative methods.
Alderson and Okamoto may differ in their substantive interests, but they share an enviable record of scholarship and leadership in the discipline. Few scholars can match their publication record or their ability to contribute to multiple literatures and to generate novel, programmatic insights. Few scholars have demonstrated their lifelong commitment to the editorial process. In fact, even as graduate students, the two served as editors (associate editor of Social Forces and student editor of Social Psychology Quarterly, respectively).
Both Alderson and Okamoto are well known for their hands-on and committed graduate mentorship. Graduate students—current and formers—hold both in high regard.
One former student of Alderson says: “I’ll sing Art’s praises for as long as anyone cares to listen. Art was a caring and dedicated advisor. The number of pages of my papers, dissertation chapters, reviewer responses, etc., he carefully edited line by line during graduate school may not have equaled those in War and Peace, but they’re close. Art was always available and supportive to discuss everything from big picture to minor modeling issues. He cared for his students…I found Art’s balancing of roles as a parent and an academic deeply inspirational. His care and support for his family and kids were apparent during my time at Indiana, and I admired that he could be such a successful sociologist while also being so devoted as a father. I thought of him often and drew inspiration from him when I became a father.”
Another former student: “Art Alderson is one of the coolest people I know—not ‘cool’ as in stylish, though he often is, but ‘cool’ as in level-headed, even-keeled, low-blood-pressure, mild-mannered, chill, grounded. I am sure co-editing ASR will challenge that characteristic. The depth of Art’s coolness is such that he can easily take the heat.”
Okamoto’s former student says: “Dina is an extremely generous collaborator—encouraging and inspiring her colleagues to put forward the best version of themselves. I can’t say how many times I’ve gone into a meeting with Dina lost and unmotivated, and by the end of the meeting, I feel totally different—completely excited about the research project…Before I worked with her, I dreaded writing, but she was always so complimentary and reassuring, [it] vastly improved my relationship with the writing process. I’m so grateful.”
Another former student notes: “Dina is one of the hardest-working academics, as well as one of the most positive and uplifting academics out there. I’ve found that it is rare to meet an academic who works so hard, is so productive, and is also genuinely passionate, optimistic, supportive, and encouraging. She is particularly inspiring as a woman faculty of color who has dedicated her career to supporting graduate students of color and other faculty of color. Her focus on bringing together different fields and sub-fields to better understand the social construction of race and racial hierarchies over time is crucial for our field of sociology.”
Through their proposal to co-edit ASR, it’s clear that Alderson and Okamoto believe in the journal, sociology, and sociologists. “The ASR editors play a role in shaping the journal’s content and practices, but the journal belongs to the discipline and its members,” they say in their vision statement.