American Sociological Association

Public Understanding of Sociology Award


Originally proposed by former President Herbert J. Gans as an ASA Sociology in the Media Award, the award was officially established by Council on August 23, 1995 as the Award for Public Understanding of Sociology. A call for nominations was circulated in 1995 and 1996 and the first award was presented at the Annual Meeting in August 1997.

Selection Criteria

The Public Understanding of Sociology Award is given annually to an ASA member or group of members, who have made exemplary contributions to advance the public understanding of sociology, sociological research, and scholarship among the general public. This may include, but is not limited to, any of the following: community work, public engagement, contributing to policy and practices, and/or translating sociological knowledge into broader publics. The award may recognize a contribution in the preceding year or for a longer career of such contributions. 

Nomination Procedures

A new timeline for reviewing nominations and selecting winners will be implemented beginning in 2021. To transition to the new timeline, no nominations will be accepted in 2020.

Selection Committee Members

The selection committee is composed of nine members, each serving a staggered three-year term. Members are appointed from among the Association membership by the Council based on the recommendation of the Committee on Committees.

Name Begin End Position
Michael O. Emerson 1/1/2019 12/31/2019 Chair
Sabrina Alimahomed-Wilson 1/1/2017 12/31/2019 Member
Julie A. Dowling 1/1/2019 12/31/2019 Member
Alexes Harris 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Pedro Noguera 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
William Darity, Jr. 1/1/2018 12/31/2020 Member
Silvia Dominguez 1/1/2019 12/31/2021 Member
Elaine Alma Draper 1/1/2019 12/31/2021 Member
Lisa Wade 1/1/2019 12/31/2021 Member


2019 - Joe Feagin

2018 - Adia M. Harvey Wingfield

2017Victor Rios

2016 - Joel Best

2015 - Katherine Shelley Newman

2014 - Juliet B. Schor

2013 - Ruth Milkman

2012 - Douglas S. Massey

2011 - Barbara Risman

2010 - Valerie Jenness & Doris Wilkinson (co-winners)

2009 - Jack Levin

2008 - David Segal & Shirley Laska (co-winners)

2007 - Andrew Beveridge

2006 - Diane Vaughan

2005 - Pepper Schwartz

2004 - Jerome Scott and Walda Katz Fishman

2003 - Frances Fox Piven

2002 - No award presented

2001 - Alan Wolfe

2000 - Arlie Hochschild

1999 - Herbert J. Gans

1998 - William Julius Wilson

1997 - Charles Moskos

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