(GPI Washington) American Sociological Association (ASA) President Talcott Webber today announced that the ASA was dissolving, effective immediately. In the ASA press release, Webber explained that
We have come to the realization that virtually every other discipline has adopted the sociological approach to not only the social sciences, but also the humanities and some of the natural sciences. All of this is really just sociology under a different name. There is Institutional Economics, Social Psychology, Organizational Theory, Cultural Geography, Ethnography, Literary Theory, Communication, Cultural Theory, Musicology, Socio-cutural Anthropology, Socio-biology, Mirror Neuron stuff, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, Evolutionary Psychology, and a host of other disciplines which are nothing but rewarmed Sociology. Even History has given up their old hagiographic tricks, and come over to do comparative and social history.
As for the applied social sciences like Social Work, Education, Public Administration, Geographical Information Systems, Marketing, and so forth, what are they but Social Problems courses? Zuckerberg even once admitted that Facebook is as much sociology as it is technology. It is clear that imitation is the best form of flattery—and Sociology has won the game!
We’ve even had a Sociology major elected to the US Presidency, as well as a First Lady. A Sociology Professor was even one of the key figures in the United States Senate in the twentieth century. And look at the op-ed page of the New York Times today. Krugman is not really an economist, he’s a sociologist focused on issues of economic inequality. Brooks is the ‘conservative’ who quotes Marx, and is really just a closeted Marxian, Weberian, or whatever,
In light of this, ASA is declaring victory. Webber in his characteristically blunt approach explained,
Look, we won, they lost. They are us, so now we can go home, which is why ASA is closing shop. At some point you need to quit while you are ahead. Why should we wait for a bunch of bean-counting Deans to shut us down when we are the most successful shop on campus?
Webber seems to think that it is problematic that despite the obviously widespread acceptance of the Sociological Imagination, hardly any of the daughter disciplines actually ask their students to take actual Sociology classes. “But what’s the point of having our own discipline, when we are everywhere? If our discipline is everywhere, we need to be everywhere, too.”
In light of this announcement, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) has announced that it will support the immediate closure of all Sociology Departments in the United States, and the reassignment of tenured, untenured, and adjunct faculty to the appropriate daughter disciplines. The purpose of this policy shift will be to sharpen the sociological skills in the many departments which have been teaching sociology all along. To assist with this shift, AAUP is recommending that all adjuncts be granted tenure.
“Look,” said an anonymous source from AAUA.
Why should a retired p.e. coach from the Education Department be teaching ‘Education and Society’ when you can have a well-trained sociologist? Or for that matter, why should some molecular biologist who’s never read Max Weber on social stratification be teaching a course in human cultural evolution? Or someone who’s never read Adorno teach a course in Marketing? Sociologists are the ones who get all this. And I’ve never understood what there is about the ‘socio’ in socio-biology that the Dean of Biology does not understand!
The Association of Post-Modern Sociologists was particularly excited about this development. “Whoa, does this mean we can move into the Business School and teach them about simulacra, consumer culture, and McDonaldization? The Business School—that’s really who needs us. I’m glad to shake the dust off my shoes, and put my backside to the quantoids. Give me Marketing, or give me death!”
As for the statisticians in the discipline, they too were relieved. An anonymous source commented,
You mean we can finally join the Department where they design Student Evaluation of Teaching forms? We can definitely show them a thing or two about reliability and validity of social measures. This will be far better than teaching a bunch of sophomores who hate the obligatory social statistics courses.
As for the ASA’s prime office space on K Street in Washington DC, the ASA is looking to sublet it to their Republican lobbyist neighbors. There was even a rumor that the resident sociologists from Fox News might move down the street so that they can take advantage of the prestige associated with the academy’s most successful discipline.
After concluding his news conference, President Webber pledged that the institution will reconstitute itself tomorrow with a new name and mission. “After all,” he said, “bureaucracies, even the ASA, are among the most enduring of all social structures.”
Tony Waters is czar and editor of Ethnography.com. He came to us from the Sociology department at California State University at Chico where he has been a professor since 1996. In 2016 though he suddenly found himself with a new gig at Payap University in northern Thailand where he is on the faculty of the Peace Studies Department. He has also been a guest professor in Germany, and Tanzania. In the past, his main interests have been international development and refugees in Thailand, Tanzania, and California. This reflects a former career in the Peace Corps (Thailand), and refugee camps (Thailand and Tanzania). His books include: Crime and Immigrant Youth (1999), Bureaucratizing the Good Samaritan (2001), The Persistence of Subsistence Agriculture: Life Beneath of the Marketplace (2007), When Killing is a Crime (2007), and Schooling, Bureaucracy, and Childhood: Bureaucratizing the Child (2012). His hobby is trying to learn strange languages–and the mistakes that that implies. Tony is a prolific academic, you can read more of his work at academia.edu.or purchase one (or more!) of his books from Amazon.com.