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More than one CSA member has suggested that the CSA develop sections, a little like the ASA does. We’ve had busy times at CSA since June around office re-organization, but for the first time now, as September nears its end, things seem more under control. I wanted to start communicating with the membership around sections.
How would we organize these? We need suggestions. First, it would be feeble to imitate the ASA and simply have “sections”, so we would need our own name. The British association has “study groups.” The ISA has its “research committees.” What’s the Canadian term? “Research Communities”? “CSA networks”? “CSA clusters?” Make suggestions.
I don’t think this should be top down, with the Executive Committee defining the groups. As I see it, the role of the Executive is to give this venture every support, if member desire it, but to take direction from the grass-roots. If clusters of members want to form around research interests, we can provide publicity through the E-Bulletin and via the direct e-mailings that we can now do thanks to the expertise of our Membership Manager, Sherry Fox. Previously our advice was that mass e-mailings were impossible due to spam filters, and so for the past few years CSA was not as visible as we would have liked. The new website is well equipped to support research clusters via the communications facilities you see along the top banner. The blog, the forum, the poll and the suggestion box can all be used in service of research clusters. If members would like to seek out fellow-travellers using these resources, contact Luc Boyer, our webmaster and CSA Communications Officer email@example.com.
The floor is open, for discussion on research clusters at CSA!
Karen Stanbridge [Not logged in]
Nov 25, 2010
We agree with Randy, Myra, John and Mark that cultivating research clusters in the CSA is a good idea, for all the reasons they have stated. We also agree that these sections should, ideally, emerge from the membership rather than be “top-down” endeavours, provided that they are articulated relatively broadly to avoid over-specialisation. The group of (mostly) Canadian scholars to which we belong, The Canadian Network for the Study of Identities, Mobilization, and Conflict, has been operating much like a section of the organization since 2003, connecting people with like interests, and providing them a “home” at the CSA meetings by hosting sessions that complement their research specialities. Friendships struck among members have spawned book projects, grant applications, workshop and conference opportunities, and other professional pursuits, as well as many enjoyable conversations at Congress each year. And thanks to past organisers of the meetings who have permitted mention of the CNSIMC as the “sponsor” of our sessions in social movement and nationalism research, we continue to welcome new members each year, people intrigued by the network name who then ask to be added to our mailing list (we have about 80 members at the moment). This includes a good number of graduate students who have come to us through our annual session on “Emerging Scholarship” in contention research. Our friend and fellow member, Slobodan Drakulic, was especially good at promoting the Network among grad students; we will try to maintain that dedication to cultivating young scholars in his absence (albeit with considerably less panache, no doubt)!
There may be some who are concerned that encouraging the development of research clusters might divide the already-small membership of the CSA and foster “cliques” that will undermine the larger sociological community in Canada. If our experience is anything to go by, however, involvement with the CNSIMC has only made membership in the CSA and attendance at Congress more appealing. The Network provides a “home base” for those of us in contention research that helps to organise what is usually, and understandably given the breadth of Canadian sociology, a highly varied schedule at the meetings. As well, a number of our members belong to other academic organizations – the Society for Socialist Studies, and the Canadian Political Science Association, for example – links that provide opportunities for cross-listed sessions and panels, and interdisciplinary work, and even greater dedication to Congress.
So we happily support the CSA encouraging research sections, or clusters, or communities – by whatever name.
Jim Conley (Trent University)
Ivanka Knezevic (University of Toronto)
Patrice LeClerc (St. Lawrence University)
Howard Ramos (Dalhousie University)
Karen Stanbridge (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
Mark CJ Stoddart [Not logged in]
Oct 29, 2010
Thank you getting the conversation going around the idea of “Research Clusters” in the CSA. We have all been involved in presenting and organizing sessions in Environmental Sociology over the past several years, and have been involved in the “Environment Caucus” that was established a few years ago. We believe something along the lines you suggest would be quite valuable for several reasons. First, Research Clusters can provide a ‘hub’ for students and new scholars to connect with others working in similar areas of sociology. Second, they may provide venue for more effective information-sharing within Canadian academic communities (rather than relying solely upon ASA or ISA resources). Third, they may facilitate conference sessions that more accurately reflect the type of work being done within specific sub-disciplines (as per the ISA or ASA model, where the executive of the Section or RC decide on session themes after being given a block of x number of sessions to work with). Fourth, they can provide a framework for larger-scale collaboration, as exemplified by recent work on the sociology of climate change produced by members of the ASA Environment and Technology Section. Finally, in combination with a web presence on the CSA website (as you suggest), they help create a higher profile for Canadian sociologists working in our specific sub-disciplines. This may produce more effective use of current Canadian sociology scholarship by media, governments, civil society organizations and others. In our particular case, a higher profile is very important as environmental scholarship too rarely includes sociology or the social sciences although most environmental problems are related to social organization. For all of these reasons, we heartily support the idea of moving towards Research Clusters in the CSA.
Randy Haluza-DeLay (The King’s University College, Edmonton)
Myra Hird (Queen’s University)
John Parkins (University of Alberta)
Mark Stoddart (Memorial University of Newfoundland)