Thursday, August 13, 2009

The ASA is Instructive and Alienating

Final reflections on the American Sociological Association meeting.

I always learn things at the ASA. I can't say that I have ever enjoyed it, though.

I find it alienating. The conference is overwhelmingly for researchers, either professors or graduate students. This time there seemed to be even fewer people from small colleges than in the past. Conversations about teaching at the ASA tend to be as much about how to avoid doing it as about how best to do it.

I also find the assumed leftism and assumed secularity wearing. Not oppressive, just a constant reminder that I am guest in someone else's ideology.

Still, there are many smart people presenting empirical research about interesting things. And for people fully integrated into the ASA there are all kinds of research, job, and social networks formed there. I have a network of friends made elsewhere who I like to meet at the conference, including a growing list of former students. But I am do research slowly, as a teacher must, so I am rarely in a position to jump in to ongoing projects.

Still, the ASA is not really meant for my kind. I am happy to let an interval of years go by between visits.


TallCoolOne said...

A former colleague of mine once said about the same things about his professional organization: the American Academy of Religion.

I found it very amusing that a "religious" society would presume secularity, but, apparently, it was no laughing matter to him.

MadronaGreen said...

Love the line, "guest in someone else's ideology"

Anonymous said...

I understand your point of view, so I'm glad you were at this one so we could catch up. As long as you choose to go to the meetings that are in interesting cities and skip the ones in, say, Atlanta, I think you'll have a completely winning strategy.

michael bush said...

I was thinking the same thing as TCO above: once in five years is plenty for the AAR, for many of the same reasons Gruntled describes.