As I write this column, I am reminded of how my own coming-of-age as a scholar has been inextricably connected to the history of the Section. Economic sociology has always been at the center of my intellectual identity, ever since I came across the works of Granovetter, Zelizer, Powell and DiMaggio, and the likes. I remember attending the ASA meeting in the late 1990s as a graduate student working on the emergence of consumer credit and payment card markets in Russia and being profoundly dismayed and frustrated. Not only was it difficult to find a proper home for my own work, but there were virtually no other papers focused on markets, consumer credit or finance. (I ended up presenting in a panel on post-communism).
Everything changed after the Section was founded in 2001. In the next several years, Section membership grew exponentially to its current 700+ members, and the annual meetings became a much more exciting and welcoming place with many like-minded scholars to listen to, learn from and talk with.
I am extremely honored and humbled to be leading the Section. I am following in the footsteps of several prominent and distinguished Past Chairs who have passed to me the reins of the Section that is very healthy both financially and in terms of human capital and organizational culture. I want to thank Greta Krippner for her tireless and skillful steering of the Section over the last year. Greta ran a very tight ship, and as a ChairElect I have learned a great deal from her last year. Both she and her predecessor Nina Bandelj have set the bar for Section leadership high, for which I am very grateful. I also want to thank the outgoing member of the Council Sarah Quinn, and the outgoing student member Lindsay Owens. Lindsay oversaw a popular student mentorship program. And Sarah was instrumental in leading many governance-related initiatives, most recently – compiling Section’s institutional memory and revising Section by-laws. While Sarah has finished her official term on the Council, she is continuing to serve the Section as a Seattleite involved in ensuring the Section runs a successful program at the 2016 meeting too. Now onto a brief report of the state of Section affairs.
After hovering just above 800 members for the past few years, Section membership declined this year to 748, despite an active membership drive during the month of September. Unfortunately, this means that the Section will only get 4 session slots allocated at the 2016 annual meeting. While we are not where we wanted to be, the decline is not isolated to economic Sociology. Overall, Section membership across the ASA declined by almost 1000. 37 out of 52 sections ended the year smaller (but 13 grew and 2 remained the same). We are monitoring Section membership, and are planning on running the end-of-the-year membership drive. Please do not forget to renew your Section membership when you are renewing your ASA membership for 2016 and invite your colleagues and students and join (2016 membership renewal is already available online).
We have exciting plans for the upcoming annual meeting. The Section is organizing a mini-conference (the first such ASA preconference for the Section) on the topic of the New Economy to take place on August 19, the day before the start of regular ASA programming. We are planning to host 6 open-call panels plus a plenary. Together with 4 Section panels in the regular program, this would constitute a total of 10 panels slots to present members’ work and to attend. You will find the mini-conference call for papers in this issue, and I hope many of you will be able to join us for what should be a stimulating and memorable one-day event.
Finally, I am very excited to unveil the first issue of Accounts for this year produced by the Boston-based team of graduate students that hail from 3 campuses. You’ll be the judge, but I cannot be more proud of them. Both the content and the layout of the issue surpassed my greatest expectations.
In this issue, we continue Conversations with notable economic sociologists pioneered by the last year’s Accounts team. You will find a Conversation on State and Markets with Marion Fourcade and Wolfgang Streeck. Also, don’t miss a new column dedicated to teaching economic sociology that features teaching advice from Mark Mizruchi and Sarah Quinn. We are pleased to present to you four “newly minted” economic sociologists: Kimberly Hoang at Chicago, David Pedulla at Texas, Austin, Adam Goldstein, currently on a postdoc at RWJF at Harvard and soon to begin at Princeton, and Dan Hirschman, a Michigan PhD soon to move to Brown. These four young scholars are discussing their views on the state of the discipline and its future. Additionally, each of this year’s Accounts issues will profile one or more new Council members. In this issue, you will meet Simone Polillo of the University of Virginia. You will also find a recap of this summer’s ASA meeting, a new “Bookshelf ” column featuring brief reading recommendations from members of the Section, and the usual news and announcements, including members’ publications and PhD students on the market.
Following my strong commitment to building bridges across sections, neighboring disciplines, and national borders, in subsequent issues we are planning to explore non-academic career options in economic sociology, feature interviews with editors of economic sociology publication outlets, profile different national traditions in economic sociology and feature review essays and conversations that reach out to the neighboring sections.
Please let us know how you liked this issue, and what features or discussions you would like to see in subsequent ones. This publication is about you and for you, dear economic sociologists! We specifically solicit submissions for the “comings and goings” section. Have you been up to something interesting, particularly related to public service? Please tell us, and also share your recent publications or new appointments. We will consider publishing short review essays, opinion pieces and reflections of your fieldwork or conference experiences. The members of Accounts editorial team and I are looking forward to hearing from you. Until later and fondly, Alya Guseva