One of the best things about being chair of an ASA section (besides the incredible swag, like the super cool “Critical Realism Is Awesome” t-shirt I got in the mail—thanks Phil!) is that you get to hand out awards without actually having to do the hard work of serving on award committees. Don’t get me wrong: being on an award committee can be fun, especially in a dynamic section like ours, where deciding on prizes means you get to read all sorts of innovative and interesting papers and books you might not otherwise come across. It can be a little time-consuming, though, which is why section chairs who give prizes feel like they’re getting away with something.
The Theory Prize committee also awards an honorable mention to Omar Lizardo of the University of Notre Dame and Michael Strand of Brandeis University for their 2015 paper in Sociological Theory, “Beyond World Images: Belief as Embodied Action in the World.”
Thanks very much to the chair of the committee, Kwai Ng of UC San Diego; and to committee members Hillary Angelo (UC Santa Cruz), Jeannette Colyvas (Northwestern University), Francesco Duina (Bates College), and Karen Hegtvedt (Emory University).
The Junior Theorist Award goes to Larissa Buchholz of Northwestern University for her piece, “What Is a Global Field? Theorizing Fields Beyond the Nation State.” The important question Larissa takes up in her article is how to rework Bourdieu’s concept of “field” to enable it to be applied transnationally. The Junior Theorist Award committee, chaired by Julian Go (Boston University), and also including Ben Carrington (University of Texas), Caroline Lee (Lafayette College), and Anna Sun (Kenyon College), also awarded an honorable mention to Victor Ray (University of Kentucky) for “A Theory of Racialized Organizations.” Warm congratulations to Larissa and Victor, and thank you to the committee members. I know these were hard decisions to make, as there are a lot of talented junior theorists out there.
Paige Sweet (University of Illinois-Chicago) is the winner of the 2017 Edward Shils-James Coleman Memorial Award for Best Student Paper. Her winning entry is “Ideology, Bodies, and Trespass between Feminist Theory and Critical Realism.” There is an honorable mention in this category as well: Christopher Rea (UCLA) for "Theorizing Command-and-Commodify Regulation: The Case of Species Conservation Banking in the United States." Thanks are due once again to the committee members who volunteered their time: committee chair Ruthie Braunstein (University of Connecticut), Matt Desan (University of Colorado), Dan Hirschman (Brown University), and Ellis Monk (Princeton University).
Last but not least: the Lewis A. Coser Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting. The members of this prize committee are stipulated by the terms of the award: the chair of the Theory Section (so I did have to do some work), the previous year’s award winner (Isaac Reed, University of Virginia), the President of the ASA (Michèle Lamont, Harvard University), the ASA’s Vice-President Elect (Chris Uggen, University of Minnesota), and a sociologist designated by the president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (Dave Lane, University of South Dakota).
We did a lot of reading, fortified by the I Know No BoundariesÔ-brand chocolate bars Michèle has been developing to provide ASA with a new revenue stream. And we’re very pleased to announce that this year’s winner is Gabriel Abend of New York University, one of the leading sociological theorists of morality. Most Perspectives readers will know his wonderful book, The Moral Background: An Inquiry into the History of Business Ethics, which has already won numerous awards. But he’s written perceptively about a slew of topics, from causality to the theory enterprise itself. Gabi will give a talk in the Coser Salon at the ASA meeting in Philadelphia in 2018. I understand he’s hard at work on a book about contemporary politics to be titled The Immoral Foreground.
Before closing, I want to take the opportunity to extend a special thanks to three sociologists who have done an extraordinary amount of labor for the section over the past few years. Rob Jansen will soon end his term as Secretary-Treasurer. He’s been indefatigable, helping us keep our budget balanced, our plates and cups (more or less) full during Theory receptions, and the institutional memory of the section’s rules and procedures alive.
The outgoing editors of Perspectives, Erin McDonnell (University of Notre Dame) and Damon Mayrl (who will be joining me at Colby College), also deserve our gratitude. They’ve done a phenomenal job with the newsletter, publishing an assortment of pieces that together showcase theory’s vitality and range, and working with authors to make contributions as strong as possible. My son’s (admittedly unreliable) Magic 8 Ball predicts a successful journal editorship in their future. In the meantime, however, Erin and Damon have agreed to help the incoming Perspectives editors—Luis Flores, Dylan Nelson, and Pinar Ustel, all graduate students at the University of Michigan—set up shop.
See you all in Montreal!