Why join an ASA section? There are at least as many reasons to join as there are sections. To start, there’s the dialogue, participation in section sessions, and even section journals. Sections account for half of all programming at the Annual Meeting and produce close to a third of all ASA journals (four total). They’re a vibrant and vital source of intellectual ferment within the discipline of sociology.
Sociologists certainly understand the value of forming ties and sections are the best place in the association to do this! Sections are much smaller, tight-knit communities than ASA as a whole. Even ASA’s largest section, Culture, only has 1,219 members (as of 2014). This is less than 10 percent of the size of the entire Association. Consequently sections are more intimate communities where members can more easily get to know one another. Sections also build community throughout the year through their Listservs, newsletters, and social media.
ASA has such a rich diversity of sections that there’s a home for nearly every scholar, whether they study one of sociology’s core interests like Gender or a tightly focused subfield like “Animals and Society”. Many members refer to sections as sort of intellectual homes.
Another excellent reason to join a section are the services they provide to students and junior scholars. Many sections offer programming directed at junior scholars in the form of mentorships, membership drives, and even roundtables dedicated to students and facilitated by high-profile scholars. In addition, they provide opportunities to grow careers by providing service to the discipline. Serving on a section committee is a great way to add accomplishments to one’s vita. Most sections even have opportunities for students to serve on committees, as an elected official, or in other roles like newsletter or website editors. Thanks to ASA’s decentralized structure, service in a section is easy to enter but still offers opportunities for significant accomplishments. These offices are an excellent way to demonstrate one’s dedication to the discipline and stand out in amongst the fierce competition in the academic job market.
Please add to the list of benefits of joining a section.