ASA2011: Win, Lose or Draw?

ASA 2011 ended on Tuesday. This year’s annual sociology moot took place in Caesar’s Palace. I’d been to Vegas once before, but only for about 45 minutes on a cross-country drive. I can say now that I’m glad we decided to keep driving instead of spending more time there.

The Good:

The blogger party. I didn’t get a chance to catch up with everyone, but it was great to meet new folks, and to reconnect with old friends. And thanks Tina for continuing Scatterparty traditions!

The Econ Soc reception. I think the “free food” aspect of receptions may have increased turnout this year, but either way, the event was well-attended and a lot of (tame, network-y) fun.

Co-authors. In Vegas, I got to meet a new co-author for the first time. We had communicated via Skype before, but there is still something nice about being able to sit around a table and hash out ideas and plans in person. Also, Russ Funk and I co-presented our paper on the fall of Glass-Steagall at an excellent session on the Politics and Culture of Markets (or somesuch), which was warmly received.

Discussants. Craig Calhoun was my discussant on a social theory panel and his comments were both kind and extraordinarily useful. I heard several other acts of good discussant-ing at the panels I attended.

Leaving Vegas. Honestly, the most fun I had was at a silly dinner at the Vegas airport waiting for my red-eye home with an impromptu crew of sociologists in similar straits and somewhat silly from sleep-deprivation. Only in Vegas would the airport have better, cheaper food than anywhere else I’d been all week.

#asa2011. This year was the first time I paid attention to the twitter feed much. When folks were live-tweeting sessions I attended, it was definitely worth the cost of splitting my attention. Paying close attention also revealed a hilarious ASA trailer by Princeton University Press’s Soc editor and some free book opportunities.

The Bad:

The food. For some reason, I expected Vegas to have abundant food choices. I’m sure the city at large did, but our corner of the strip was pretty limited (especially for vegetarian options) and radically expensive.

The noise. Everywhere in Vegas was loud. After 4 days of shouting in restaurants and bars, plus giving talks, my throat is pretty upset. Also, the lovely award speeches at the Econ Soc reception were almost inaudible over the dull roar that seemed to permeate every establishment.

The dank. Michigan, like most of the US, banned smoking in bars and restaurants. Vegas seems to have upped its game in response. Every establishment was permeated by the dank even when no one was actively smoking.

The price of everything. My favorite example was the $4 club sodas as the bar where the scatterparty, and many other planned and unplanned gatherings took place, but the high cost of sin and gluttony in Vegas was pretty pervasive (at least on the strip). Another example: no free coffee in the hotel rooms. Instead, you could pay $12 for 4 cups. A coffee at the nearest place to the conference was $5.

Random Bits:

I went to the student book giveaway for the first time this year. I was unimpressed – if you didn’t arrive in the first few minutes, there were no actual books left.

Section councils. This year, I am the student representative for the Economic Sociology section. I went to the new section officers orientation, and the business and council meetings for Econ Soc. I may do a longer update based on my notes from that orientation, but the short story is that sections run mostly on auto-pilot. The main tasks are organizing the section sessions (which is the prerogative of the chair), recruiting members (which determines the size of the section budget, and the # of sessions), giving out awards, and holding the section reception (which takes up most of the small budget, along with the awards). Some sections, with ASA approval, also run their own journals, and Economic Sociology is actually considering starting a journal after being approached by a published. I’m sure more about that will be discussed on the listserv, as well as possibly this blog.

Ok, I think that’s it for my ASA update. How was your ASA? Looking forward to seeing everyone in Denver next year. I got to spend two weeks in Denver this summer, and I am excited to return. There’s fantastic food and drink, and at least one incredibly nerdy bar I can recommend: the 1-up bar, with 80s video games and giant Jenga!



  1. Blog Party 2012: 1up. Be there.

  2. Dan- it was great meeting you at the ASA this year (and Tina too- if ever so briefly!) I agree that eating was a challenge, particularly for those with dietary restrictions. Overall, I felt the sessions I attended this year were far better than sessions I’ve attended in the past, and I had a lot of fun at the socials.

    I am really excited about ASA 2012. I’ve never been to Denver, and it looks fabulous. See you then!

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