Diversity and Inclusion Committee Report

In Winter 2022, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee conducted a survey of section membership regarding demographics and diversity-related issues. The 2021-2022 D&I committee consisted of Barbara Combs, Mikki Liu, Daniel Karell, Elisabeth Becker Topkara, Elena Ayala-Hurtado, and myself as committee chair.

We conducted this survey in order to get a “temperature check” on diversity and inclusion issues as they relate to our section. Thanks to all who completed the survey (about 1/4th of section membership)! There was a relatively equal distribution in terms of both years of being a member of the culture section and stage of career represented among survey respondents.

Herein I outline some general findings:

– Demographic breakdown of respondents – 64% white; 15% Asian/Asian-American; 7.8% Black/African-American; 5.7% Hispanic/Latinx/Chicanx; 3.67% Middle Eastern/North African; 0.8% Native American

– About 65 percent of respondents have served on either a committee or subcommittee for the Culture section.

– The main ways respondents participate in the culture section were attending a culture section session at the ASA Annual Meeting (19%); reading the section newsletter (20%), and attending the culture section reception at the ASA Annual Meeting (11%).

– Regarding the extent to which respondents feel welcome in the social and intellectual life of the culture section, 41% reported neither strong nor weak, 31% reported to a strong extent, 12.67% reported to a very strong extent, 11.76% reported to a weak extent, and 3% reported not feeling welcomed at all in the culture section.

Beyond these quantitative responses, there were some common themes in the open-ended questions I wish to also highlight (each of the themes I note below were mentioned by at least 5 respondents):

1. A critique and questioning of what “counts” as sociology of culture and cultural sociology, both in terms of the substantive content and methods of such research as well as identities of scholars themselves (i.e. elevating white cis-heterosexual scholars over scholars with identities marginalized and excluded in academia)

2. Lack of sufficient attention to scholarship on race and culture/cultural sociology, although some respondents also acknowledged some change in this area

3. Lots of praise for the Culture and Contemporary Life webinar series

4. The culture of the section is too elitist, insular, and exclusionary

5. Too much of a “social justice agenda” within the section and ASA more broadly

6. More focus needed on non-U.S. based scholars and non-U.S. based scholarship

7. More diversity needed re members of award selection committees and section leadership positions

We as a committee take these questions and concerns seriously and welcome your additional thoughts and ideas about how to be more intentional towards creating a welcoming and inclusive section community. Please send any suggestions you have to the 2022-2023 Diversity and Inclusion committee (Jean Beaman, committee chair; Victoria Asbury-Kimmel, Luis Antonio-Vila-Henninger, Mattias Smangs, and Mari Sanchez).