We’re now all returned home (or are off on vacation in Napa) after the San Francisco edition of the ASAs. I hope you weren’t in the last row, or sprinting for a connection, or experiencing the torment of lost bags. I had the pleasure of all three, but am awake at home, with my bags returned and looking forward to a day of laundry and grocery shopping. I’ve been on the road for a month and classes start in a week or so–I plan to really enjoy the day of errands and giving my brain and body the rest they deserve.
I thought I’d start my wrap up post with a further comment on my Prologue piece. In that conversation weeks ago with dad, I realized part of the reason I look forward to the meetings is that it is the rare week in the year when my work pays status dividends in a concrete way. Perhaps because of my research interests, or the qualities of those students that share them (or don’t), I spend much of the year feeling like my job success rests on my ability to make non-professionals feel good about themselves (ah…emotional labor in its loveliest gendered guise). At the meetings, I am fortunate enough to have people I respect treat me like a peer, a mentor, a successful scholar, and a leader. Simply put, I need the meetings to fill this role. I simply have sacrificed too much, and these dimensions of my occupational identity are too dear for me to deny them. But heading into the meetings with the perspective brought by that conversation with dad taught me I can enjoy the benefits of my hard work and good position without resorting to the kind of King Baby antics I described in that post. This was a great lesson for me.
Although the meetings are physically, emotionally and intellectually exhausting, and it gives me agata watching my own students navigate the treacherous waters of a section reception, they are immensely good to me. I want to especially give my personal thanks to Lisa McCormick for introducing herself and her research with such passion and enthusiasm, to my cohort from Columbia for their years of friendship and mutual support, to the Culture, Organizations, Networks and Markets scholars who inspire me and my work, to the Soc blogger community, and my Vanderbilt students and colleagues who work so hard to be good, and smart.
I’d especially like to convey my public gratitude to those who made it possible for me to be at the meetings. Marion Fourcade was the first to reach out, offering me the opportunity to preside over the Culture and Economy panel. The four papers, by Peter Levin, Daniel Friedman, Sarah Coslor and Lyn Spillman, were each terrific works of scholarship and it was an honor to sit at the table. Meeting Howie Becker, the discussant for that panel, was a professional highlight for me, in the way that shaking the President’s hand must be for those inside the beltway. I have so much respect for senior scholars that continue to make contributions to the discipline, that offer their time to younger scholars, and that have alligator anecdotes in their back pockets. Eric Klinenberg offered me the last minute opportunity to have a spot on the Media and Community panel Monday night. Again, the papers were terrific–danah boyd and Fred Turner continue to lead the field of communications toward a more sociological understanding of digital media, and Siva Vaidhyanathan is doing excellent work illuminating the costs and benefits of the Googlization of Everything. I especially thank Craig Calhoun, who is the uber mensch of sociology. His impromptu discussion of our papers, and encyclopedic knowledge of Ani DeFranco lyrics were awe-inspiring. Finally, I raise my green glass to Andy Perrin, whose sense of humor, wicked brain and kindness are a refuge in dark waters.
I feel like I just gave a really long Oscar acceptance speech. Should I have thanked god? Jeez.
I wanted to say a few words about things that were especially impactful this year. Although all the Culture & Economy panelists were terrific, Daniel Friedman’s paper really struck me. He examined the board game Cash Flow (especially popular in South America, or so I take it) spun off from a popular financial self-help book (Rich Dad, Poor Dad). Players of the game translate successful gaming strategies into their IRL financial planning. Daniel has both chosen the “right” case, and treated it smartly–we need more work that examines the concrete, observable ways in which “cultural” practice informs “economic” practice (the scare quotes are meant to gesture toward the purely heuristic differences between the two).
I missed Ann Miche‘s earlier presentation on forward thinking/future action, but caught her presentation at the Frontiers of Cultural Sociology panel. As usual, I find her to be wickedly, dangerously smart and equally wise and thoughtful about several hot button issues in the discipline, like the so-called “public sociology” debate. She joins John Levi Martin on the list of sociologists I most want to be when I grow up.
In closing, thanks to all of you who spent time–in short conversations or long dinners–who made the meetings so fun. I’ll post the picture from Saturday’s dinner soon–Andy, John, Peter, Sara, and Robin look spectacular, and thanks to Dan H. for taking the pic.