American Sociological Association

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American Sociological Association
Formation January 1, 1905; 116 years ago (1905-01-01)
Headquarters 1430 K Street
Washington, D.C.
2015 President
Paula England
Entry to the ASA conference, Boston, 2008.

The American Sociological Association (ASA), founded in 1905 as the American Sociological Society, is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing the discipline and profession of sociology. Most members work in academia, but about 20% work in government, business, or non-profit organizations.

The ASA holds its own annual academic conference, the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting. The 103rd ASA Annual Meeting in Boston in August 2008 attracted 5,458 attendees.[1] ASA publishes several academic journals. The best known is the American Sociological Review and the newest one is Contexts, a magazine designed to share sociology with other fields and the public. In 2010, ASA's membership went beyond 14,000 and consists of various sociology-related professionals: academics (professors, students, researchers) as well as other practitioners. ASA currently is the largest professional association of sociologists in the world, even larger than the International Sociological Association.[citation needed]


The mission of the ASA is to advance sociology as a scientific discipline and as a profession serving the public good.[2]


Lester Frank Ward.


The American Sociological Association was founded in December 1905 at Johns Hopkins University by a group of fifty people. The first president of the association was Lester Frank Ward.[3]


The American Sociological Association is governed by a code of ethics and ethical standards. In 1970, the first ASA code of ethics was written. Since 1970, the code of ethics has been revised. The Committee on Professional Ethics worked to write this code and upon completing and approving it in 1997, the code focused on three goals. These three goals were to make the code more educative, accessible, easier to use, and more helpful for sociologists to understand ethical issues.[4]

In 1993, then-doctoral student Rik Scarce was jailed for more than five months as a result of following the ASA's code of ethics. Scarce's Ph.D. research was on the radical environmental movement. Based on an FBI investigation of an Animal Liberation Front break-in, federal prosecutors argued in court that Scarce may have engaged in conversations with individuals believed to be involved with the incident. Prosecutors demanded that Scarce testify to a federal grand jury about those conversations, but Scarce refused to answer three dozen questions, citing the ASA Code of Ethics and the First Amendment as his reasoning for remaining unresponsive.[5] Scarce's refusal to answer resulted in a contempt of court citation and 159 days spent in jail. He was never suspected of wrongdoing and—in keeping with contempt of court practice—he was never read his Miranda rights, arrested, or tried.[6]

In early 2010, ASA publicly expressed outrage over a controversy involving Frances Fox Piven and Glenn Beck, asking Fox News to stop Beck's comments.[7] An article written by Piven concerning mobilization of unemployed individuals had spurred the commentary by Beck.[8] ASA suggests in their public statements that the line should be drawn at name calling and that political commentators should instead rely on gathering evidence related to the topics and then drawing the proper conclusions.

In January 2012, a United States district court ordered Boston College to turn over material from the "Belfast Project", an oral history project pertaining to the violence in Northern Ireland. Boston College filed an appeal in February 2012, challenging the district court's decision. ASA became involved in the case to help protect human participants from the subpoena of confidential project research data.[9] The statement by the ASA council cited the potential damage this ruling would have on social science research by stifling the ability to study controversial topics. ASA is looking for an affirmation by the court for confidentiality in research.[citation needed]

ASA style

ASA style is a widely accepted format for writing university research papers that specifies the arrangement and punctuation of footnotes and bibliographies. Standards for ASA style are specified in the ASA Style Guide, which is designed to aid authors in preparing manuscripts for ASA journals and publications.


The association publishes the following academic journals:[10]

Organizational structure

Officers of the association are:[11]

  • President
  • President-Elect
  • Vice-President
  • Vice-President-Elect
  • Secretary
  • Council-Members-At Large


The following persons have been president of the American Sociological Association:[12]


There are five different types of membership categories:[13]

  • Regular membership
  • Student members
  • Associate members
  • International associate members
  • Emeritus members

ASA Members may also join special interest sections at an additional cost to their membership.[14]


The association comprises the following specialist sections:[15]

  • Aging and the Life Course
  • Alcohol, Drugs, and Tobacco
  • Altruism, Morality and Social Solidarity
  • Animals and Society
  • Asia and Asian America
  • Body and Embodiment
  • Children and Youth
  • Collective Behavior and Social Movements
  • Communication and Information Technologies
  • Community and Urban Sociology
  • Comparative and Historical Sociology
  • Consumers and Consumption
  • Crime, Law and Deviance
  • Culture
  • Development
  • Disability and Society
  • Economic Sociology
  • Education
  • Emotions
  • Environment and Technology
  • Evolution, Biology and Society
  • Family
  • Global and Transnational Sociology
  • History of Sociology
  • Human Rights
  • International Migration
  • Inequality, Poverty and Mobility
  • Labor and Labor Movements
  • Latino/a Sociology
  • Law
  • Marxist Sociology
  • Mathematical Sociology
  • Medical Sociology
  • Mental Health
  • Methodology
  • Organizations, Occupations and Work
  • Peace, War and Social Conflict
  • Political Economy of the World System
  • Political Sociology
  • Population
  • Race, Gender and Class
  • Racial and Ethnic Minorities
  • Rationality and Society
  • Religion
  • Science, Knowledge and Technology
  • Sex and Gender
  • Sexualities
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociological Practice and Public Sociology
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Theory


The Annual Meeting of the ASA is held each August to provide opportunity for professionals involved in the study of society to share knowledge and new directions in research and practice. It provides networking outlets for nearly 3,000 research papers and 4,600 presenters.[16] The meeting is spread across four days and covers 600 program sessions.

Committee meetings

All ASA Committees and Task Forces also meet during the annual meeting. The ASA Council and several Constitutional Committees meet mid-year during the winter months in Washington D.C.[17]

Regional meetings

Regional Associations associated with the ASA are:[18]

The ASA is also aligned with various state-based associations, international associations, cause-oriented associations, and academic associations.[18]


Every year, in August, the ASA presents awards to individuals and groups deserving of recognition. The awards presented are:[19]

  • Distinguished Scholarly Book Major ASA Award
  • Dissertation Major ASA Award
  • Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues Major ASA Award
  • Jessie Bernard Major ASA Award
  • Cox-Johnson-Frazier Major ASA Award
  • Award for the Public Understanding of Sociology Major ASA Award
  • Distinguished Career Major ASA Award for the Practice of Sociology
  • Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Major ASA Award
  • W.E.B. DuBois Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award

Additionally, the Sections of the ASA administer separate multiple awards, which are presented each August during the Annual Meeting.[20]

Wikipedia Initiative

In the fall of 2011, the ASA launched its "Sociology in Wikipedia" initiative. President Erik Olin Wright of the American Sociological Association called for improvement in sociological entries in Wikipedia. He asked that professors and students to get more involved by having Wikipedia-writing assignments in class. The basic goal set forth by the initiative is to make it easier for sociologists to contribute to Wikipedia. In conjunction with the Wikimedia Foundation and a research group at Carnegie Mellon University, the ASA developed its Wikipedia Portal in an attempt to achieve the initiative’s goal by providing tutorials on how to contribute, video discussions of norms and procedures, and lists of articles and subject areas that need improvement. The Wikipedia Portal also provides instructions for professors on how to use Wikipedia writing assignments for academic courses. The overall goal of the initiative is for sociologists to become involved in the writing and editing processes to ensure that social science articles are up-to-date, complete, accurate, and written appropriately.[21]

See also


  1. "ASA Footnotes. September-October 2008 Issue". American Sociological Association. Archived from the original on 16 September 2014. Retrieved 2014-09-16. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Hill, Michael R. (2007). "American Sociological Association". In Ritzer, George (ed.). The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. pp. 130–134. doi:10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x. ISBN 9781405124331.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Iutcovich, Joyce M.; Kennedy, John M.; Levine, Felice J. (2003). "Establishing an Ethical Climate in Support of". Science and Engineering Ethics. 9 (2): 201–205. doi:10.1007/s11948-003-0007-z. PMID 12774652.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Rik Scarce. (2003). Contempt of Court: A Scholar's Battle for Free Speech from behind Bars. ISBN 0759106436.
  6. "American Sociological Association: Teaching Ethics Throughout the Curriculum, Ethics, Teaching, Teaching Ethics to Students". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. American Sociological Association: ASA Officers Respond to Attacks on Frances Fox Piven. January 24, 2011.
  8. The Editors (2011-01-20). "Glenn Beck Targets Frances Fox Piven". The Nation. Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. [1][dead link]
  10. "American Sociological Association: Journals". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "American Sociological Association: Slate of Candidates for the 2012 ASA Election". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "American Sociological Association: FAQs". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "American Sociological Association: Cost of Membership". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "American Sociological Association: Current Sections". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "ASA Annual Meetings". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "ASA Committee Meetings". 2012-01-19. Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. 18.0 18.1 Accessed 4 January 2014.
  19. "American Sociological Association: Awards". 2012-01-31. Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "American Sociological Association: Awards". Retrieved 2013-10-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "American Sociological Association: ASA Wikipedia Initiative". Retrieved 2012-05-03.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links