Letter from the Chair

Happy Spring to everyone! I am delighted to present our second issue, a result of several months of planning by a dedicated team of young economic sociologists.

As promised in my last Chair’s column, this issue is all about crossing borders and building bridges: across subfields, disciplines, continents and ivory tower walls. In fact, while writing this column, I was reminded of a well-known quote from the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl: “Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.” It is in the spirit of academic wanderlust that this issue will take you places far and wide. There is a report on the state of economic sociology in Israel (it is thriving!), and another one on the household finance panel at the recent annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association. There is a review of two recent books that straddle the fields of economic sociology and healthcare, and markets and morality; plus the accompanying interview with their authors, Don Light and Adam Reich. There are several interviews with economic sociologists exploring or actively pursuing non-academic career tracks, and with those teaching outside of sociology departments. We also managed to chat with Zsuzsanna Vargha, the editor of economic sociology_the european electronic newsletter, and with Koray Çalışkan, a US-trained, Turkey-based interdisciplinary social scientist who actively combines economic sociology with anthropological approaches and is a co-author (with Michel Callon) of a recently published programme on “economization.” I hope you will enjoy the issue as much as we enjoyed working on it and join me in thanking both the editorial team, and all the contributors.

Before I move on to report on section affairs, let me also give you a taste of what is in store 1 for the final summer issue of the Accounts. I am very excited to share with you that we will be featuring a Conversation on money with Viviana Zelizer and Nigel Dodd, an interview with Brooke Harrington on her new book and more “bridge-building” activities involving economic anthropologists and European economic sociologists. Stay tuned.

And now a few items of Section news. Thank you for your overwhelming response to the membership renewal plea! We have bounced back to our last year’s membership numbers so quickly, that it must have set a record. We are in great shape, but we do not want to stop here. Our dedicated membership committee (Jenn Bair and Simone Polillo) is tirelessly scouting for new members. If we reach the magic mark of 800 members by September 30, we will be granted an additional (5th) panel at the 2017 meeting. Please consider sharing your excitement about economic sociology with your colleagues and students. Here is a link to gift membership if you are feeling particularly generous http://asa.enoah.com/ Home/My-ASA/Gift-Section (the page will prompt you to log in).

The response to the call for papers for our inaugural Section preconference on The New Economy has surpassed all of our expectations. We got close to 80 submissions, which is undoubtedly a tribute to the vibrancy of our session. Now the committee is hard at work reviewing the abstracts and forming the panels. We will be in touch shortly with all of you who applied, as well as with the rest of you with a warm invitation to attend.

Our regular ASA program also looks great: besides an invited panel on the Infrastructures of Valuation, there are three open call Section panels (thank you, Bruce Carruthers, Tim Bartley and Marc Schneiberg, for weeding through many submissions!), four Regular panels on economic sociology (thank you, Victor Nee!) and what may turn out to be a record number of roundtables (thank you, Aaron Pitluck, for stepping up to the plate on this, and thank you all those of you who volunteered to serve as presiders!). I will keep you updated as the program gets finalized in early May.

Annual elections will run from late April through June 1. Besides a large number of ASA office seats, the Section will be voting for the next Chair-Elect, the Treasurer, two Council members and a student representative. While ASA elections are admittedly not nearly as contested or high-stakes as the current presidential ones, I urge you to vote. Historically, a rather small portion of section members casts ballots, so here, literally, every vote counts. Please stay involved.

The last thing I want to mention is the upcoming SASE conference at Berkeley on June 24-26. The theme is “Moral Economies, Economic Moralities” with the amazing Marion Fourcade at the helm, and it is promising to be a hit. SASE is as much about bridge-building for me as it gets: both multidisciplinary and international. Hope to see you there, and let’s continue reaching across largely imaginary (but no less real) divides.

Until later, Alya Guseva.


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