Transparency and Revenue at the ASA

by Kieran Healy on April 11, 2011

dues-comparison

How cost of membership compares across selected social science disciplines. Click for a PDF version.

The American Sociological Association is one of the more expensive associations one can join in the social sciences, and a proposed dues increase would make it just about the most expensive right across the income spectrum. (More data on that here.) The rationale for the increase says a lot about the importance of a progressive dues structure, which no-one disagrees with, but nothing about why additional funds beyond the (routine) cost-of-living increase—which the proposal will certainly raise—are needed in the first place. Perhaps there are good reasons, but they haven’t been forthcoming thus far.

So, there’s a petition at http://asatransparency.org requesting a better explanation from ASA for this proposal. If you’re a sociologist and feel the ASA should do more to explain and justify this increase to its members—which is of course consistent with either supporting or opposing the increase itself—please consider signing it.

The City and the City

by Henry on April 11, 2011

A piece I wrote on China Miéville’s _The City and the City._ has “come out”:http://bostonreview.net/BR36.2/henry_farrell_china_mieville.php in the _Boston Review_. The nub of my argument:

bq. Miéville brings these quotidian practices into stark perspective. He uses slips of perception and movement back and forth between cities to highlight the contingency of many of the social aspects of the real world. The City & the City draws no hard distinction between the world of fantasy and our own. Instead, Miéville seems to suggest, the real world is composed of consensual fantasies of varying degrees of power. The slippage isn’t between the real world and the fantastic, but between different, equally valid, versions of the real. As the title makes explicit, neither city has ontological priority over the other—Besźel is not a simple reflection of Ul Qoma, or vice versa.

I mentioned Farah Mendlesohn’s “Rhetorics of Fantasy”:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0819568686/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=henryfarrell-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0819568686 in the piece, but I wasn’t able to make clear how great a debt I owe to it (since Farah is an occasional CT reader, I hope this post can serve as both thanks and public acknowledgment). _Rhetorics of Fantasy_ allowed me to figure out what I thought about the book (some have “suggested”:http://vectoreditors.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/mr-h-mr-h-discuss-the-city-the-city/ that it’s indeed one of the texts behind TCATC. Its argument – brutally simplified – is that the different modes in which fantasy authors represent the relationship between the world they have created and the real world has important rhetorical consequences. Thinking about fantasy in this way highlights just what is most interesting about TCTATC – that it is a fantasy of superimposed worlds, none of which is entirely fantastic (the genuinely fantastic elements of the book are extremely limited, and are a kind of macguffin), and each of which is just as rooted (or unrooted) in reality as the other. This allows Miéville to make the familiar strange – to treat something (or somethings) that closely resembles real life as if it was fantastical in the same way that your imagined-world-of-choice is fantastical. It is a very interesting shift in perception, and one which I do not think I would have been able to decode, at least to my own satisfaction, had I not read Farah’s book.

Ireland’s _Sunday Business Post_ informs us that the country’s bishops have come out with a startling admission.

From “LanguageLog”:http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3070.