Some section chairs, I have noticed, are as good at writing inspiring and informative pieces for their section’s newsletters as they are at crafting powerful works of sociological scholarship. That’s not me. Although a long time ago I had a stint editing Perspectives, I find the conventions of the genre elusive, and the pressure to say something profound about the state of the field too much to bear. I begin with this confession to forewarn you that what follows is neither well-composed nor profound. But perhaps it will do its job of giving you a sense for why I put together the panels I did for the meetings in Montreal.
Critical realism is a series of philosophical positions on a range of matters including ontology, causation, structure, persons, and forms of explanation. Emerging in the context of the post-positivist crises in the natural and social sciences in the 1970s and 1980s, critical realism represents a broad alliance of social theorists and researchers trying to develop a properly post-positivist social science. Critical realism situates itself as an alternative paradigm both to scientistic forms of positivism concerned with regularities, regression-based variables models, and the quest for law-like forms; and also to the strong interpretivist or postmodern turn which denied explanation in favor of interpretation, with a focus on hermeneutics and description at the cost of causation.
Montréal, Québec, Canada, August 11, 2017
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: February 20, 2017
We invite submissions of extended abstracts for the 11th Junior Theorists Symposium (JTS), to be held in Montréal, Québec, Canada, on August 11th, 2017, the day before the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA). The JTS is a one-day conference featuring the work of up-and-coming sociologists, sponsored in part by the Theory Section of the ASA. Since 2005, the conference has brought together early career-stage sociologists who engage in theoretical work, broadly defined.
It is our honour to announce that Richard Biernacki (University of California - San Diego), Julian Go (Boston University), and Joey Sprague (University of Kansas) will serve as discussants for this year’s symposium. We are also pleased to hold an after-panel entitled, “Theory, the Good Society, and Positionality.” The panel will feature Gabriel Abend (New York University), Seth Abrutyn (University of Memphis), Hae Yeon Choo (University of Toronto), and Claire Decoteau (University of Illinois at Chicago).
We invite all ABD graduate students, postdocs, and assistant professors who received their PhDs from 2013 onwards to submit up to a three-page précis (800-1000 words). The précis should include the key theoretical contribution of the paper and a general outline of the argument. Successful précis from last year’s symposium can be viewed here. Please note that the précis must be for a paper that is not under review or forthcoming at a journal.
As in previous years, in order to encourage a wide range of submissions, we do not have a pre-specified theme for the conference. Instead, papers will be grouped into sessions based on emergent themes and discussants’ areas of interest and expertise.
Please remove all identifying information from your précis and submit it via this Google form. Shai Dromi (Harvard University) and katrina quisumbing king (University of Wisconsin - Madison) will review the anonymized submissions. You can also contact them at email@example.com with any questions. The deadline is February 20. By mid-March we will extend up to 12 invitations to present at JTS 2016. Please plan to share a full paper by July 21, 2017. Presenters will be asked to attend the entire symposium and should plan accordingly.
Finally, for friends and supporters of JTS, we ask if you might consider donating either on-site, or through PayPal at this link or to the firstname.lastname@example.org account. If you are submitting a proposal to JTS 2017, we kindly ask that should you wish to donate, you only do so after the final schedule has been announced.
We need to recover the lost art of writing brief, densely packed journal articles. We need more flexibility, a greater range of acceptable, legitimate options, one that reflects the wide diversity of ways in which good theorizing can be done. Sometimes good ideas fail to come out because authors feel they need to produce a standard-length paper in order to get them published. Sometimes good ideas would be better served by short, focused pieces than by articles that follow the conventional guidelines.
As editor of ST, I encourage you to give me your best theoretical ideas. If the most appropriate vehicle for doing so is a manuscript of no more than 4,500 words, then so much the better! It’s the ideas that matter, not the format in which they’re delivered.
Also, publishing the occasional short paper will allow us occasionally to publish longer pieces, on the model of AJS or Theory and Society. Again, something for everyone.
Read more below for new 2016 books, chapters, articles and updates from the members of the Theory Section...
The Theory Prize (Article in 2017)
The Theory Prize is given to recognize outstanding work in theory. In even-numbered years, it is given to a book, and in odd-numbered years, to an article; in both cases, eligible works are those published in the preceding four calendar years. This year the Prize will go to an article published during 2013, 2014, 2015, or 2016. To be considered for the award, a nominating letter must be sent by email to the chair of the committee by March 1, 2017. An electronic version of the nominated article must be sent to all committee members by the same date. Self-nominations are welcome.
Committee Chair: Kwai Ng, University of California, San Diego (email@example.com)
Hillary Angelo, University of California, Santa Cruz
Jeanette Colyvas, Northwestern University
Francesco Duina, Bates College
Karen Hegtvedt, Emory University
Junior Theorist Award
The Junior Theorist Award honors the best paper each year submitted by an early-career sociologist. Self-nominations are invited by scholars who have received the Ph.D. but who, at the time of nomination, are not more than eight years beyond the calendar year in which the Ph.D. was granted. Nominations should consist of one article written or published in the 12 months preceding the nominations deadline and a letter explaining how the paper advances sociological theorizing.
The winner will present a keynote address at the Junior Theorists Symposium the year after the award is given (2018). Please submit the article electronically to all members of the awards committee at the email addresses below by March 1, 2017.
Committee Chair: Julian Go, Boston University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ben Carrington, University of Texas, Austin
Caroline Lee, Lafayette College
Anna Sun, Kenyon College
The Edward Shils-James Coleman Memorial Award for Best Student Paper
The Shils-Coleman Award recognizes distinguished work in the theory area by a graduate student. Work may take the form of (a) a paper published or accepted for publication; (b) a paper presented at a professional meeting; or (c) a paper suitable for publication or presentation at a professional meeting. Papers must be authored solely by graduate students or jointly by graduate student collaborators. Each year's selection committee has latitude in determining procedures for selecting the winner, including the option of awarding no prize if suitable work has not been nominated. The Shils-Coleman Award includes an award of $500.00 for reimbursement of travel expenses for attending the annual ASA meeting. Please submit the article electronically to members of the selection committee at the email addresses below. Self-nominations are welcome. The deadline for submission is March 1, 2017.
Committee Chair: Ruth Braunstein, University of Connecticut (email@example.com)
Matt Desan, University of Colorado, Boulder
Dan Hirschman, Brown University
Ellis Monk, Princeton University
Lewis A. Coser Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting
The ASA Theory Section seeks nominations for the Lewis A. Coser Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting. This prize is intended to recognize a mid-career sociologist whose work holds great promise for setting the agenda in the field of sociology. While the award winner need not be a theorist, her or his work must exemplify the sociological ideals that Lewis Coser represented, including resisting the fragmentation of sociology, maintaining the discipline's critical edge, and insuring the predominance of substance over method. Eligible candidates must be sociologists or do work that is of crucial importance to sociology. They must have received a Ph.D. no less than five and no more than twenty years before their candidacy. Nomination letters should make a strong substantive case for the nominee's selection and should discuss the nominee's work and his or her anticipated future trajectory. No self-nominations are allowed. After nomination, the Committee will solicit additional information for those candidates they consider appropriate for consideration, including published works and at least two additional letters of support from third parties. The Committee may decide in any given year that no nominee warrants the award, in which case it will not be awarded that year. Send nominations to the Chair of the Committee, Neil Gross (firstname.lastname@example.org). The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2017.
Committee Chair: Neil Gross, Colby College (email@example.com)
Isaac Ariail Reed, University of Virginia (previous year’s recipient)
David Lane, University of South Dakota (for the Society for the Study of Social Problems)
Christopher Uggen, University of Minnesota (Vice President-Elect of the ASA)
Michèle Lamont, Harvard University (President of the ASA)
In light of Theory Section Chair John Mohr’s focus this year on Big Data, we the Editors approached scholars from a variety of different subdisciplines to ask for their perspective on how Big Data might shape the future of theory and theorizing in their subdiscipline. In the spirit of Big Data, we asked them to “tweet” their thoughts—though instead of 140 characters, we asked for around 140 words. Ten scholars were gracious enough to respond. Their takes range from celebratory and optimistic to wary and cautioning, but each draws attention to important features of Big Data and how they might interface with theory.
Featuring Julia Adams and Hannah Brueckner on the sociology of knowledge, Adina D. Sterling on organizations and inequality, Elizabeth Popp Berman on education, Neal Caren on social movements, Mara Loveman on comparative historical sociology, Deborah Lupton on health, Robin Wagner-Pacifici on culture, Gary Alan Fine on ethnography, and Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra on economic sociology and science studies.