July/August 2014 Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 6

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Social Psychology Quarterly
Welcomes New Co-Editors

Brian Powell, Indiana University

Jan Stets and Richard Serpe

Jan Stets and Richard Serpe

“Hardest working sociologist I know.” “Extraordinarily organized.” “Astonishingly prolific.” “Genuinely nurturing.” “Tireless.” “Must never sleep.” “Committed to sociology and social psychology and their future.” These are among the responses I received when I asked social psychologists from around the country to describe Richard Serpe and Jan Stets, the incoming co-editors of Social Psychology Quarterly (SPQ). With descriptors like these, it’s no wonder that their selection as co-editors has been greeted with enthusiasm in the sociological social psychology community.

Jan (Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Riverside) and Richard (Chair and Professor of Sociology at Kent State University) met over three decades ago as graduate students at Indiana University. In their first few years as graduate students, both showed an interest in the fundamental issue of self and identity—i.e., what determines who we are and how we and others see ourselves—that continues to guide much of their scholarship. This topic is central to social psychology but also transcends it and has broad applicability to sociological scholarship on gender, culture, social movements, medical sociology, education, and law and society, among others.

Different Research Paths

Despite Richard and Jan’s joint interest in the question of identity, each approaches it in different ways. Richard’s research explores the linkage between people’s identities and their position in the social structure, while Jan’s research emphasizes the internal dynamics that govern individuals’ claims of identity in social situations. Richard’s research relies mostly on surveys, while Jan’s research relies mostly on experiments. Richard’s research often takes on an applied direction and, in turn, covers diverse and “real-world topics” such as decision-making among minority or women science college students, body dysmorphic disorder, views about poverty, interethnic adoption, and the identity construction of people who do not fit societal norms (e.g., being childless, single, unemployed, or not religious). Jan’s research takes on a more theoretically driven approach and bridges identity theory to other theories in social psychology and to topics such as emotions and the moral self.

Jan and Richard have accumulated a record of accomplishment in scholarship and leadership that most of us can only aspire to. Although quantity of publications and grants is only a rough indicator of influence in the field, one cannot help but be impressed by the sheer volume of articles, chapters, and books written or edited by, and grants awarded to Jan and Richard. Jan’s CV lists more than 40 refereed articles, more than 20 book chapters, and 6 volumes. She also has the distinction of being one of the most published sociologists in SPQ, having authored 14 articles in the journal. Jan’s selection as co-editor means more room in SPQ for the rest of us! Richard also has been a regular presence in SPQ: his first SPQ article appeared in 1987 and most recent one will appear later this year. Reflecting his interest in showcasing the applicability of social psychological thought to and in branching out to other disciplines, his scholarship has been featured in communications, psychiatry, education, medical, and music journals. He also has been a principal investigator or co-principal investigator for over 60 grants.

Richard and Jan’s influence goes far beyond mere quantity of published and funded scholarship. For example, Richard’s SPQ article (coauthored with frequent collaborator Sheldon Stryker) “Identity Salience and Psychological Centrality: Equivalent, Overlapping, or Complementary Concepts” is a must-read piece for any serious student of social psychology, as is Jan’s SPQ review piece (coauthored with longtime collaborator Peter Burke) “Identity Theory and Social Identity Theory.”

Esteemed Scholars

Their contributions to sociological social psychology, sociology, and higher education have been acknowledged in many ways. Jan was elected as chair of three sections of the ASA, was selected as a fellow to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASA Emotions section, and was inducted into the Sociological Research Association. She also has served on the national board of the General Social Survey and the Executive Committee of the International Society for Research on Emotions. For some of us, though, her most important role to date has been as Sociology Program Director for the National Science Foundation, where she tirelessly advocated for theoretically grounded, empirically sophisticated, and innovative sociological research. Richard was elected as Vice President of the Pacific Sociological Association, was chosen for multiple positions in the ASA Social Psychology Section, and served with distinction as editor of Sociological Perspectives. He also chaired the University of California-San Marcos Sociology Department and will be entering his tenth year as chair at Kent State University. That anyone can be chair for that long and still be well-liked and admired by his colleagues is remarkable—indeed, almost unheard of—and speaks to Richard’s fair-minded, resourceful, and, in the words of one of his colleagues, “visionary” leadership. It also speaks to his obvious grasp of social psychology!

Deputy Editors

Richard and Jan have assembled a terrific team of deputy editors whose backgrounds nicely complement the theoretical, substantive, and methodological strengths of the co-editors. They are Linda George (Duke University), a respected scholar in the areas of medical sociology, mental health, and aging and the life course; Donileen Loseke (University of South Florida), a preeminent practitioner of qualitative methods; and Will Kalkhoff (Kent State University), an active and creative sociologist who studies group processes and neurosociology. The selection of these deputy editors is in line with Richard and Jan’s commitment to further diversify SPQ and to encourage self-proclaimed non-social psychologists—even those who use social psychological theories and measures in their own scholarship without recognizing it—to read the journal and consider submitting their own work to the journal.

With Jan and Richard as editors and Linda, Donileen, and Will as deputy editors, SPQ is in good—no, inspired—hands.

SPQ publishes theoretical and empirical papers on the link between the individual and society, including the study of the relations of individuals to one another, as well as to groups, collectivities and institutions. It also includes the study of intra-individual processes insofar as they substantially influence, or are influenced by, social structure and process. This journal is genuinely interdisciplinary and publishes work by both sociologists and psychologists. For more information, see www.asanet.org/journals/spq/social_psychology_quarterly.cfm.


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