Transparency and Revenue at the ASA

by Kieran Healy on April 11, 2011


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 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.



geo 04.11.11 at 7:19 pm

just about the most expensive

I’ll bet membership in the Bohemian Grove — which is also dedicated to the advancement of social knowledge — is more expensive than membership in the ASA. According to Wikipedia: “Since the founding of the club, the Bohemian Grove’s mascot has been an owl, symbolizing knowledge.”


Sev 04.12.11 at 1:44 pm

Still only one comment? All right, I’ll take the bait. This looks like an old NYC subway map. And thank you, ASA, for that improved service to Laguardia.


Minor nonsense 04.12.11 at 2:56 pm

The latest figure that appears accurate for unions is from 2007. The average is $377 for the fifteen largest unions –

Per Wikipedia: The 103rd ASA Annual Meeting in Boston in August 2008 attracted 5,415 attendees.[1] ASA publishes several academic journals. The best known is the American Sociological Review and the newest one is Contexts, a magazine designed to share sociology with other fields and the public. In 2010 ASA’s membership went beyond 14,000 and consists of various sociology-related professionals: academics (professors, students, researchers) as well as other practitioners

If almost one third of the membership of ASA can go to a convention in Boston in 2008 and the proposed dues increase is less than the union average, my heart bleeds for your increased dues.


Kieran Healy 04.12.11 at 3:10 pm

If you’re the sort of person who’s happy to give people money without needing any particular explanation of what they’re spending it on, I’ll give you my address and you can mail me a couple of hundred dollars. I promise to use it for your benefit.


Sebastian 04.13.11 at 4:49 pm

“If you’re the sort of person who’s happy to give people money without needing any particular explanation of what they’re spending it on”

We can get lots of people to vote to spend it on things with explanations that pretty much no one understands….



chris 04.13.11 at 5:37 pm

If you’re the sort of person who’s happy to give people money without needing any particular explanation of what they’re spending it on

They don’t provide the minutes of their directors’ meetings to those members interested enough to ask, including a budget? That seems pretty basic for any organization. I don’t see what secrets they could think they have worth preserving anyway. It’s an association of sociologists, not the Knights Templar.

Well, at any rate, they can’t conceal the content of directors’ meetings from the directors. Who are the directors, and have they each been asked, individually, what is going on here?


CP 04.13.11 at 7:48 pm

Does the ASA have a life membership rate?

While my impression is life memberships tend to be used mainly by big donors who then go on to give more (which is the rationale for offering it), I have found them cost-efficient, personally. They require an upfront layout of substantial sum, but within a decade the cost is recouped, typically. I am a member of four professional associations on this basis (paid for when I came into a windfall from a house sale some time ago).

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