Sociocast

Covering the ASA Elections

ASA elections are around the corner. If you are like me, you generally have no clue about whom you should prefer. You find most of the candidate statements to be of limited help. You might end up voting for people whose work you’ve read, or whom you’ve met. I’d be curious to see a study of how much the vote is swayed by departmental affiliation.

This is not a great way to choose leaders of our professional association. I’m sure the above criteria don’t tell us much about who would be the best stewards of the ASA. We are choosing leadership in a way that is not wholly unlike the low-information voters that people often deride in government politics. I believe that we can strengthen our association by promoting substantive communication between candidates and voters.

This morning, I have been thinking about how to use this podcasting platform to give candidates the opportunity to communicate with ASA members. Doing so is a dicey proposition, because egos are big and petty grudges can run deeeeeeep in this business, and I want none of that. Moreover, I estimate that our audiences have grown sufficiently large that we could impact down-ballot elections, and I want to act responsibly given that fact. So I’ve been wrestling with how to do this in a way that minimizes our independent influence, and tries to be as pure a conduit as possible.

So this is what I thought up:

  1. Solicit peer feedback on the idea of broadcasting interviews in principle (this post)
  2. Collect ideas on a slate of generic questions that we ask everyone. Please add your ideas below.
  3. Find some consensus way to narrow the questions down to 4 or 5
  4. Offer all candidates for ASA leadership an opportunity to answer these questions and only these questions in a brief interview. Those who do gain the opportunity to make their case to peers, and we adopt a policy of not publicly naming and shaming non-responses
  5. Distribute an substantively unedited version of the answers on our site, and maybe through The Annex (pending my cohosts’ approval).

What do you think? Let me know below. I’m willing to invest the time into doing this if there’s a sense that doing so would be of service to the discipline.

The B-Side is Back!

We are very excited to announce that The B-Side, a podcast that engages thinkers at the cutting edge of black culture, politics, and much more.  The podcast is hosted by Georgetown sociologists Leslie Hinkson (co-host of The Annex podcast) and Corey Fields (author of the much acclaimed Black Elephants in the Room).  The B-Side returns as a regular series after a well-received pilot episode.

Follow the B-Side on Twitter: @bside_podcast

Episode 2 will be released on April 11, and features Tamara Mose of Brooklyn College and Brandi Summers of Virginia Commonwealth University.

This will be the third regular series produced by The Sociocast Projecta public sociology project led by Joseph Cohen of CUNY Queens College.  Other programs

Help Produce an Episode of International Perspectives on Sociology

This past January, we rolled out the pilot episode of a new series, International Perspectives on Sociology.  The series is a showcase of news, ideas, research, and viewpoints from academic sociologists in other countries.  Its goal is to give American sociologists an opportunity to hear from our foreign colleagues.

This is a collaborative project, in which I hope to work with other academics who will help organize, host, and produce episodes featuring their home countries.  The general format is a 30-minute, informal conversation-style panel of three or four colleagues.  It is my opinion that panels are better when they have three people with strong and different personalities who can sustain engaging discussions effortlessly.  For this particular series, I think it is beneficial to have a co-national who either works or was trained in America, and/or an American national who works or trains in the featured country.

You can hear the pilot episode of this series here, featuring my home country of Canada.  I ask about my Canadian colleagues’ views on US politics, American sociology, the American Sociological Association, the higher education industry in Canada, issues related to data distribution by Statistics Canada, and their views on Canadians who deserve more attention from Americans.  These are the kinds of topics that I feel could resonate with both US and foreign audiences, although it is up to hosts to decide discussion topics.  The only rule is that it has to render interesting, intelligent discussion.

Interested?  I am in the process of developing materials to help others develop episodes.  If you are interested in doing an episode and would like to discuss it further, contact me at joe@sociocast.org.

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