Members of Working Class Academics Section of WCSA Join ASA Task Force on First-Generation and Working-Class Persons in Sociology

This past spring, sociologists and members of the WCSA’s Working-Class Academics Section Allison L. Hurst, Colby R. King, Jenny Stuber, and Deborah M. Warnock proposed that the American Sociological Association (ASA) form an ASA status committee for first-generation and working-class people in sociology. The ASA responded enthusiastically, and has formed a 14-member Task Force chair by Vincent Roscigno of the Ohio State University.

Among other efforts, the Task Force is charged to “Solicit feedback from first-generation/working-class persons in sociology (at every level, from graduate student through full professor status) regarding issues or concerns related to their status within the profession,” and to “Make recommendations to ASA Council as to how the Association can best address the challenge of integrating this population into our discipline in a way that maximizes equity.”

WCSA members Allison L. Hurst, Deborah M. Warnock, and Colby R. King are among the Task Force members.

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WCSA at ASA’s

Class cultures were a hot topic at the American Sociological Association conference a couple of weeks ago, not just because Michele Lamont is the new ASA president and she made “Culture and Inequalities” the overall conference theme, but also because 3 Working-Class Studies Association members worked to increase awareness of WCSA and all of our opportunities among the sociologists.

Jessi Streib, Allison Hurst, and Betsy Leondar-Wright (and their publishers) gave out many copies of a Class Cultures Caucus flyer with information about WCSA and the newly formed Class Cultures Caucus.

These three also organized a get-together over dinner which was well-attended. Some WCSA members and attenders came (including Lisa McKenzie, Colby King, Debbie Warnock, Jenny Stuber), but also people new to our network, including Joan Williams, author of White Working Class.

In the spirit of WCSA Treasurer Ken Estey’s encouragement to “go forth and multiply,” participants went out and encouraged interested sociologists to get involved with WCSA! The organizers gathered a list of over 30 people newly interested in WCSA. Jessi shared an inspiring description at the dinner for how great the WCSA conferences are, and we hope we may see some new people come to Stony Brook next year as a result.

Besides info on the next WCSA conference, the journal, the blog, the Caucus, Working-Class Academics and Class Action, participants also shared a call for papers that other WCSA members might be interested in. This CfP is for a mini-conference on Class and Culture convened by Annette Lareau and Elliot Weininger at the Eastern Sociological Society in February in Baltimore.

The Class Cultures Caucus founders (Barb Jensen, Jack Metzgar and Jeff Torlina as well as sociologists Jessi, Allison, and Betsy ) will come be working on plans to encourage some of those new folks to get more involved with WCSA. In the meantime, please continue to encourage other folks to get more involved with WCSA.

New book on class and the academy

Working in Class: Recognizing How Social Class Shapes Our Academic Work, edited by Allison L. Hurst and Sandia Kawecka Nenga, has just been published  by Rowman & Littlefield.  The volume features essays by several WCSA members including Sara Appel, Lynn Arner, and Deborah M. Warnock.  According to Rowman’s website, “More students today are financing college through debt, but the burdens of debt are not equally shared. The least privileged students are those most encumbered and the least able to repay. All of this has implications for those who work in academia, especially those who are themselves from less advantaged backgrounds. Warnock argues that it is difficult to reconcile the goals of facilitating upward mobility for students from similar backgrounds while being aware that the goals of many colleges and universities stand in contrast to the recruitment and support of these students. This, combined with the fact that campuses are increasingly reliant on adjunct labor, makes it difficult for the contemporary tenure-track or tenured working-class academic to reconcile his or her position in the academy.”