Understanding and Teaching about the 2016 Election and Its Results

Arlie Russell Hochschild recently commented “Whether Donald Trump rises or falls, we need sociology to take up the task of analyzing the rise of the right. And we need our government and society at large to address all the ways millions of Americans have been—in real life—left behind.”

As the 2016 elections come to a close, ASA encourages sociologists to read Hochschild’s  Featured Essay from the November issue of Contemporary Sociology and consider how we can take up her challenge.  

As sociologists, how can we understand this election? How do we discuss the election with our students? How do we put forth our best selves—as teachers and researchers—to work for the common good in a deeply divided nation? We invite ASA members to pick an aspect of the campaign, the electorate, the polling processes, or the policy issues raised by this election and then consider the insights and understandings that arise from the application of the data and methods within our sociology toolkit. Because when it comes to what is happening in our country, as Society Pages says, There’s Research on That.

We invite any ASA member to share your thoughts in keeping with this theme within the comments or, to send your own post, e-mail Johanna Olexy at olexy@asanet.org . Below are some recent blog post on this theme.


  1. Dear Colleagues,
    ASA is a professional organization and not an advocacy one. We neither win nor lost US presidential election, since our shared (!) values are specialized knowledge and truth, – the deontology of research.
    Sincerely yours,
    Guy Ankerl

  2. I was quite surprised by the title of ASA President Michèle Lamont’s op-ed “Trump’s Triumph and Social science adrift… What is to be done?” She notes that economists, political scientists and sociologists circulated petitions denouncing Donald Trump for his mischaracterization of social and economic facts and for his violation of the American constitution. My question is: Was this work of social and behavioral scientists who were leaders in their respective professional associations or a loose network of individual scholars? In either event, I assume it was not an official statement of the ASA, since it appears to straddle the fine line between educating the public on an issue and participating in an election campaign.

    Richard Arum and Joan Malczewski worried that our schools have failed to produce a democratic citizenry that could have done more to assess the flow of information in this election, concluding that we need to think carefully and deliberately about education policy in the wake of recent events and consider the role education can play in moving us beyond the difficult challenges we face as a democratic society following this election..

    As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan (I took Carl Cohen’s course on political philosophy) and student journalist on The Michigan Daily (Tom Hayden, editor and founder of Students for a Democratic Society), I learned of Lenin’s What is to be Done? During the student protests following Kent State shootings in May 1970, I held my sociology of organizations class and discussed Max Weber and Lenin on political organization. I quoted Lenin “A committee of students is of no use; it is not stable. Quite true. But the conclusion to be drawn from this is that we must have a committee of professional revolutionaries, and it is immaterial whether a student or a worker is capable of becoming a professional revolutionary” (Lenin, 1902, p78). At that point the students in the class asked me to stop while they leaned out the first floor window and invited the protestors to join them and learn about organizing a protest and opposition movement. My small classroom was overflowing when the administration representative came to see who was holding classes.

    This brings me to Arne Kalleberg’s statement that sociologists need to identify the kinds of policies that might be effective in addressing these concerns and thereby to contribute substantially to the framing of effective policies to rebuild the social contract. Unfortunately ASA abandoned its open public policy process following an ASA meeting at which a packed ballroom debated and voted on condemning Project Camelot, a counterinsurgency study involving psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, and economists among others with the aim of helping the US Army to predict and influence social developments in foreign countries. Currently, the best an ASA member can do is to petition the ASA Council to make a public statement on behalf of its members. Or, one can show up at the 8am business meeting during the ASA annual meeting a try to get a vote on a motion to put something on the Council’s agenda.

    If ASA as an organization wants to contribute to the dialogue on public policy, it needs to change its current procedures and move towards a more open forum for considering public policy statements. I have been active in the American Public Health Association’s public policy process and would suggest it as a possible model for the ASA.

    Lenin, V.I (1902). What is To Be Done? Available at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/download/what-itd.pdf

  3. Thanks for compiling all of this.

    Here’s an op-ed I wrote that came out on the 14th.


    Here’s a piece I collaborated on with some colleagues about sanctuary:
    Sanctuary Center of Higher Education: Background, Definition, and Proposal


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