American Sociological Association

ASA Footnotes

A publication of the American Sociological AssociationASA News & Events
July/August 2016

ASA Awards Small Grants to Advance Sociology

The Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD) is a small grants program funded jointly by the Sociology Program of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Sociological Association (ASA). The December 2015 round of FAD applications saw an unusually strong group of proposals, so the competition was especially intense. Following review by a panel composed of members of the ASA Council and ASA Director of Research, seven projects have been selected for funding and are described below.

The FAD program, in existence since 1987, has funded nearly 400 research projects and conferences. Proposals are accepted biannually, in June and December, and the selection process is competitive. All PhD sociologists are eligible to apply, and individuals who are early in their careers or based at institutions without extensive support for research are especially encouraged to submit a proposal. Projects can receive funding of up to $8,000 for innovative proposals to advance the discipline of sociology. For more information, see

Although NSF provides significant funding, ASA members can help extend the strong FAD tradition of supporting innovation and diversifying the discipline by donating online (by logging into the ASA website and clicking “contribute”), by phone at (202) 383-9005, or by mail to FAD, c/o Business Office, American Sociological Association, 1430 K Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005.

The following are the most recent projects selected for funding:

Hillary Angelo, University of California-Santa Cruz, for Global Problems, City Solutions: The Urban Sustainability Imperative and its Consequences ($7,995).

In the first decades of the 21st century NGOs, governments, and planning organizations have placed their hopes in cities as the places where a global sustainable future can and will be forged. This “urban sustainability imperative” has created a policy context in which urban planning professionals are charged with the impossible task of solving global problems at city scales. This proposed research project will examine urban sustainability planning in California to understand the relative influences of structure and values on planning outcomes, and to explore how experts respond to demands to solve problems that are beyond their control. It will create an original database of climate action plans from 500 California cities, supplemented with interviews of urban planners in selected cities, in order to explain how structure and norms interact in expert decision-making. This interaction transforms cities in ways underestimated by political economic accounts of urban change and overlooked by norms- and values-focused explanations of policy outcomes. The project employs a multidisciplinary approach to bring a sociological perspective to geography and urban planning.

Reginald A. Byron, Southwestern University, for Discriminatory Race and Gender Termination from Low-Wage Work ($6,784).

Despite broad coverage of many forms of employment discrimination, Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the anti-discrimination acts modeled after it were primarily designed to promote fair institutional access for minority groups given the overt animus they faced at the time. Even in the wake of these landmark pieces of legislation, race-based hiring discrimination, sexual harassment, and exclusion of pregnant women have continued. Low-wage workers may be hit particularly hard by discriminatory dismissals from work including race or pregnancy-based firings, constructive discharge, or quid pro quo sexual harassment. There is a wide gap in scholarly literature about why some workers are unfairly pushed out of the workplace despite legal protections. This research project seeks to shed light on the range of discriminatory race- and gender-based terminations from low-wage jobs by analyzing both dismissed and upheld complaints of employment discrimination. It will examine how employers attempt to legitimize firing members of racial minority groups and women from low-wage employment and whether these affect adjudication outcomes in employment discrimination cases.

Angela Jones, Farmingdale State College, and Michael Yarbrough, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY, for LGBTQ Scholarship and Politics after Marriage Equality ($4,000).

This funding will support the participation of sociologists in leading roles at a conference in October 2016 that will stage important debates about the inclusion of LGBTQ people in broader society and racial, class, and other forms of diversity within LGBTQ communities. By connecting activists with scholars and committing to a diverse range of presenters, the conference will help facilitate future collaborations among attendees and foster novel conversations about these issues from a range of perspectives. Sociologists influenced early theories of homosexuality and helped push scholars to think more critically about the social construction of sexuality more broadly. The conference organizers view the post-marriage equality era as a pivotal moment in LGBTQ studies and activism, and it is crucial that sociology is prominently featured in what promises to be a watershed moment in intellectual and political history. The project includes a plan for disseminating products of the conference via a web and video archive and publication of an edited volume.

Tiffany D. Joseph, Stony Brook University, for Race, Documentation Status, and Socio-Political Exclusion: The Growing Racialized Citizen-Noncitizen Divide in American Life ($8,000).

Latinos are the largest ethno-racial minority in the United States and comprise a large percentage of immigrants. In recent decades, public policies have become harsher towards noncitizens, making it legal to discriminate on the basis of documentation status. Little is known about how the intersection of documentation status (de jure discrimination) and de facto discrimination qualitatively shapes Latino immigrants’ lives. This study explores these issues through a focus on how the Affordable Care Act—which excludes most noncitizens—influences Latino immigrants’ healthcare access. FAD funding will support interviews of Latino immigrants, healthcare professionals, and immigrant health organization employees. The findings promise to enhance our understanding of how legal constructions such as documentation status intersect with the social construction of race and ethnicity to reproduce social exclusion and inequality. The project makes the important distinction among several Latino ethnicities, and it has strong policy relevance in its design to evaluate the consequence of a change in policy.

Shelley McDonough Kimelberg and Gabriel Shira, University at Buffalo, for Diversity in the Classroom: Measuring the Racial Preferences of Urban Parents ($8,000).

Despite substantial literature highlighting the role that race plays in the school selection process, few studies have attempted to quantify parents’ preferences concerning racial diversity in the school setting. This study will address that gap by measuring the school racial composition preferences of parents of young children in Buffalo, NY. It will use an innovative adaptation of the Farley-Schuman showcard method, an instrument whose use is well documented in studies of neighborhood racial-composition preferences. Instead of addressing neighborhood composition, this study will create a hypothetical classroom by replacing houses with desks and move the study online so that parents can privately indicate their preferences. The research will also attempt to disentangle racial preferences from other beliefs about urban public schools by introducing variation in hypothetical school test performance and student poverty rates into the design. The project promises important methodological innovation and policy-relevant evidence regarding school choices rather than simply assessing attitudes.

Alexandra Marin, University of Toronto, for When Relationships Fade: Theorizing and Measuring Dormant Ties ($7,934).

Relationships change, and ties that were once significant sometimes fade or disappear. However, as Marin points out, “a relationship that fades is not the same as a relationship that never existed.” Just as active social ties represent means for accessing resources, support, and instrumental aid, dormant ties represent a latent cache of these same possibilities. Without understanding dormant ties we can neither gauge the full potential for support and resource access held within individuals’ social networks nor describe the process of reactivating ties. This project seeks to develop a theoretical understanding of dormant ties and an empirically informed measure of dormancy. The researchers will respondents use respondents’ wedding photos to catalog lists of relationships for quantitative analysis. They will also complete follow-up interviews to elaborate dimensions of dormant network ties.

Caitlin Patler, University of California-Davis and University of California-Irvine, for Collateral Consequences of Immigration Detention: The Impacts of Long-Term Detention on Children and Households ($8,000).

Literature on criminal incarceration indicates that imprisonment can generate severe household disadvantage, yet we know very little about the experiences of long-term mass detention of immigrants. The population of immigrants housed in detention facilities more than doubled between 2001 and 2013, swelling to over 477,000—more than 10,000 of them detained six months or longer. This well-designed and focused study builds on existing sociological literature, and extends the analysis to the special case of “non-criminal” immigrant detention and its impact on families and communities. It includes a focus on mixed-immigration status families and recognition that the consequences of incarceration extend beyond immediate families to communities. FAD funding will support follow-up interviews with spouses and children of current and former detainees whom Patler has previously surveyed and interviewed detainees and their families. This project promises to advance research on immigrant detention and re-entry and to inform current policy debates on these critical issues.