April 7, 2011 at 4:35 am

| Gabriel |

As discussed before on this and other blogs, the ASA leadership has put a measure on the April/May ballot to increase the dues. The justification provided in Footnotes is extremely misleading by giving most of its attention to questions of distributional impact to the point that a reader could be forgiven for not noticing that it is a strictly monotonic hike for employed sociologists in all income brackets. What the leadership has not provided the membership is a justification of why the ASA should be the most expensive social science professional society, with the proposed dues being roughly two or three times as expensive as AEA and 10-20% more expensive than AAA or APSA. Basically, what services are we getting for the money and do we as a membership really support such expenses? Maybe we do, maybe we don’t, but certainly it’s a question we should take seriously.

Although I am personally optimistic that the ASA will gather and disseminate such information over the next year or so, this is information that the membership needs before voting on the dues hike. Whether or not we expect that on having such information that we would probably support or oppose the dues hike, we can all agree that at the present we lack sufficient information to make an informed decision. As such I urge my fellow ASA members to read and sign the petition at that demands a better justification for the dues hike rather than just letting the ASA expand through a fit of absence of mind.

The text of the petition is reproduced below but you need to visit to sign it:

We the undersigned sociologists1 hereby register our concern with the ASA leadership’s recommendation that the membership vote for a significant aggregate dues increase. (See the March issue of Footnotes for the recommendation and rationale.)2 We urge ASA members to vote against the proposed dues increase unless the ASA leadership presents a cogent explanation that specifically addresses why a substantial increase in total dues beyond the usual cost of living increase is warranted.

The published rationale argues that ASA dues should be more progressive. Like the ASA leadership, we support progressivity in the distribution of dues payments across the ASA membership. But what of the aggregate size of those payments? As shown inTable 3 of the Footnotes article, the proposal increases dues in every income bracket for employed sociologists.3 The new proposal does much more than just redistribute the dues burden in a more progressive way. It will also generate a substantial amount of new revenue, and the ASA has offered no explanation for why this is needed.

We believe that such a large aggregate increase in dues should be explained to members, before any vote, by a clear account of what more the ASA will be doing or why it needs to raise funds beyond a cost of living increase to continue existing services. This explanation must be specific about the services to be funded by additional dues revenue, and distinguish services that need additional dues funds from those that generate enough revenue on their own to break-even or make a profit. The explanation should also compare dues and services offered by peer organizations like APSA, AEA, and AAA, and provide a compelling explanation of why ASA leadership proposes dues that are higher.4

Unless the ASA leadership provides a compelling justification that meets these criteria before the May elections, we urge ASA members to vote against the new dues schedule.




1. “Sociologists” includes both Ph.Ds and graduate students in sociology, as well as other social scientists who engage in sociological research or teach sociology.


3. The proposal holds student dues steady and decreases dues for unemployed members by twenty dollars (, yet it appears the aggregate increase in other categories is far greater than what would be needed to simply balance this decrease for unemployed members.

4. For a comparison of current and proposed ASA dues with other social science organizations, see “A Comparative Look at ASA Membership Costs and Benefits“.

OK, now that you’ve read it, go to and sign the thing.

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