April 2014 Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 4

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ASA’s New Opportunities in Retirement Network Formed

At its Winter 2014 meeting, ASA Council approved a member-generated proposal to establish a program focused on the needs and interests of sociologists at or near the retirement stage of their careers. The creation of the ASA Opportunities in Retirement Network (ASAORN) provides a national-level outlet for an initiative that began at the Eastern Sociological Society meetings in 2009. “Opportunities in Retirement” sessions have also been held at the Pacific Sociological Society, the Midwest Sociological Society, and, most recently, at the Southern Sociological Society meetings. An exploratory meeting for ASAORN was held at the 2013 ASA Annual Meeting, with nearly 40 ASA members attending, in addition to ASA staff Karen Gray Edwards and Margaret Weigers Vitullo.

The need for this group is evident in the fact that, as of 2013, 680 ASA members were in the retired/emeritus category—the highest number in that category in five years—and that number will likely continue to grow in the years to come. Authored by Jon Darling, Rosalyn Benjamin Darling, Charles Green, and Peter Stein, the proposal for the new group listed seven goals:

  1. To promote retention of ASA members as they transition from full-time work to retirement.
  2. To promote interaction and a sense of community among retired members.
  3. To promote interaction between retired members and other members at all career stages.
  4. To lessen the sense of isolation felt by some retired members.
  5. To provide the means for sharing information about opportunities in teaching, research, and other activities that would benefit from the expertise of retired sociologists.
  6. To provide the means for sharing information about other issues of concern to retirees, such as financial security, health care, and relocation possibilities.
  7. To serve as a resource for the regional ORNs that already exist or are being established at the Eastern, Midwest, Pacific, Southern, and other sociological societies.

At the 2014 Annual Meeting, ASAORN will hold an evening meeting to discuss procedures for the new group and to elect a governing committee. Beginning with the 2015 Annual Meeting and moving forward, ASAORN will organize a paper session relating to retirement issues, provide a professional development workshop on a topic, such as “transitioning to retirement,” and hold an evening event that might combine a meeting for retired members and others interested in issues of retirement with an invited lecture by a late-career sociologist. A ticket-based reception or dinner may follow the evening event.

ASAORN will also be exploring ways to help retirees network with colleagues around research interests and lifestyle questions beyond the Annual Meetings, through newsletters, regular articles in Footnotes, and use of various forms of social media. According to the proposal, “in addition to providing support, interaction among retirees would enable the dissemination of opportunities for new professional endeavors, such as visiting or part-time teaching appointments, volunteer consulting, activism, or collaborative research.” To facilitate this type of interaction, the ASAORN Listserv (established for others interested in this initiative after the 2013 Annual Meeting) will be expanded to automatically include all emeritus/retired members of the ASA (with an opt-out provision), as well as other members who wish to be included.

The potential contributions of ASAORN to the discipline are numerous. As the proposal for the group stated, retired sociologists “are also uniquely positioned to assist ASA in its outreach… [they] have a wealth of experience to share and could serve as mentors to others… Moreover, they are likely to have the time to serve in advisory or consulting positions, to engage in research to benefit the profession, and to serve as advocates for sociology and the social sciences in meetings with government officials and others.”


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