The purpose of the Comparative and Historical Sociology section of the American Sociological Association is to promote sociological research and teaching on cross-national variation and the temporal dimensions of social life. Section members are distinguished by their range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. The themes of investigation addressed by section members are likewise manifold, including such issues as revolution, the welfare state, state formation, aspects of culture, law and social control, and political economy.
Recent chairs of the section have addressed some of the current and future directions in the areas of comparative and historical sociology. Former chair Charles Ragin (Section Chair in 2000-2001) has most recently argued that there is a trend to be discerned in comparative-historical research over the last three decades from theory to cases. This increasing importance of case study research, Ragin maintains, has brought about a greater need for scholars to integrate and synthesize the results of case study research. Of course, this also implies a growing need for more discussion of case study methods as well as the characteristics of a valid and reliable case study (see Ragin's essay and related papers in the Newsletter, Fall 2000).
Recently, David Stark (Columbia University, Section Chair in 1998-1999) urged us to broaden the legacy of sociological thought inherited from the 19th century to not only consider state and class but also "racial, ethnic, and gendered forms" as well as other and new "organizational forms that are emerging at the interstices of the structures of states." Professor Stark specifically included attention to multinational corporations; the global organization of women's groups; international provisions on human rights; international criminal networks and transnational police agencies; and new patterns of migration and new forms of marginality. The task for comparative and historical sociologists is to develop categories that are "better for understanding the momentous social transformations in which we are living." (quotes from an essay by David Stark in the Newsletter, Fall 1998).
Ewa Morawska (University of Pennsylvania, Section Chair in 1999-2000) has also sought to extend our section's mission, specifically by confronting the challenges of the 'here and now' head-on. Professor Morawska cautions us to not just rely on our areas' success. She argues that we still have much to do to convince our mainstream colleagues that historical sociologists are not mere students of what happened long ago and comparative sociologists not mere students of what happens elsewhere.
Membership in the section includes:
Membership in the ASA is required for section membership and also comes with a variety of additional benefits, such as access to publications, such as the ASA newsletter Footnotes (online current and previous issues), and opportunities to engage with fellow sociologists from other sections. Please consult the ASA homepage for ASA Membership Information.
To join the section, click here. You will be redirected to the "join or renew" page of the main ASA website. From there, you can either click on "join" if you are not already an ASA member, "renew" if you need to renew your membership, or "update" if you would like to update your membership (by adding a membership in the Comparative and Historical Sociology section, for example). Fill out the relevant information on the subsequent pages, and click through until you get to the section page. Scroll down until you get to the Comparative Historical Sociology section, and check the box next to it to add it.
For more information please contact the ASA membership division at:
American Sociological Association
The Section on Comparative-Historical Sociology seeks to promote comparative and historical scholarship in Sociology. Comparative and historical scholarship is one of the oldest, most varied and distinguished traditions in sociology, now undergoing a renaissance. The Section seeks to promote the research, teaching and professional activities of those who work within this broad intellectual tradition. To this end, the Section may sponsor meetings and conferences, newsletters and publications, and other means of communication deemed appropriate by the council of this Section.
Comparative sociology refers to cross-cultural and/or cross-national research, and also includes comparisons of civilizations, historical periods, regions, commuities, and institutional sectors. Historical sociology refers to studies that examine processes over time and that describe and explain social phenomena that have been delimited historically. Comparative-historical sociology is thus interpreted to encompass a wide variety of theoretical positions, methodological styles, and substantive topics.
The officers of the Section shall be a Chair, a Chair-elect, a Past-Chair, and a Secretary- Treasurer. The Chair- Elect shall serve for one year, after which he or she will assume the Chair. The Chair shall serve for one year, after which he or she will become Past-Chair. The Secretary-Treasurer shall serve for a period of three years. There shall be a council, consisting of six members each serving for three years, with two council seats being vacated each year. Officers shall not succeed themselves. The Chair, Chair-elect, and the Secretary-Treasurer shall serve as ex officio voting members of the Council, with the Chair of the Section acting as Chair of the Council. The duty of the Chair-elect will be to plan the program for the Annual Meeting of the association. All other Section business will be handled by the Chair. Newsletter editor(s) shall be appointed by the Council and serve ex officio on it. No member can hold two offices simultaneously or serve more than two terms in any ten-year period for all official roles in the Section (except for newsletter editorship). If an elected officer is elected to another office, the prior office shall be declared vacant. If an elected office is vacated before the term is completed, it shall be filled through appointment by the Chair for the unexpired term, subject to confirmation by the Council at its next meeting. Only voting members of the Association shall be eligible to hold office.
The Council shall make decisions by majority rule of its attending members, acting as the representative of the membership of the Section in order to carry out all necessary operations. Any action of the Section, including changes of the By-Laws, may be brought to the vote of the Section by the Council, or by a petition of 10 percent or twenty-five of the members, whichever is less. Questions that are interpreted by the Council to be matters of new program development or policy shall be brought before the membership for discussion.
The elections of the Section shall be carried out in cooperation with the American Sociological Association and coordinated to their schedule. Newly elected officers and Council members shall assume office on the day following the annual business meeting of the Section at the American Sociological Association's Annual Meeting. Newly elected officers and Council members are urged to attend meetings of the Council prior to assuming office as non-voting members.
There shall be a Committee on Nominations, formed each year at the annual business meeting of the Section. The Nominating Committee shall consist of three members: the Past-chair, one member appointed by the Council, and one elected from the floor at the business meeting. No member shall serve on the Nominating Committee for more than two consecutive years. Two candidates will be presented for each office by the Committee on Nominations. Other Committees shall be appointed by the Chair with the approval of the Council on an ad hoc basis.
The membership of the Section is open to any member of the American Sociological Association without regard to the classification of the membership. Members who do not pay their Section dues shall be suspended, and dropped from the rolls after two years.
Dues shall be set by the Council to cover the operation of the Section in accord with the requirements of the American Sociological Association.
Our section Announcement List is used to send out information of interest to the Section (e.g., calls for papers, nominations, etc.). This list will be used very sparingly by a List Manager who is solely responsible for messages. In our section, the Newsletter Editor of any year also serves as List Manager.
The Announcement List (and this list alone) is populated with the email addresses of all section members. In the unlikely event that a member might request that he/she be excluded from the list, an email should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Non-members cannot join the Announcement list.
The Discussion List of our section provides a forum for intellectual exchange on any and all topics within the confines of our section's areas of interest. The section encourages its members to subscribe to the Discussion list for anything members find useful to their research and teaching needs in comparative as well as historical sociology. The Discussion list is not prepopulated with email addresses. Therefore, every section member who is interested in participating in the Discussion List needs to subscribe as follows:
Hereafter you will receive an e-mail from email@example.com with the instruction to respond back with a second email. This step is to ensure that you alone can confirm your subscription. Once the confirmation is sent back, you will receive a message welcoming you to the list. Section members can unsubscribe at any time by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org with this command in the body of the text: unsubscribe comp_historical_soc
The section awards the Barrington Moore Book Award every year to the best book in the areas of comparative and historical sociology. Nominated publications should have appeared in the two years prior to the year in which they are nominated. Books may be nominated by authors or by other section members.
The section also awards a Best Article Award every year to the best article in the area of comparative and historical sociology. Nominated publications should have appeared within two years prior to the year in which they are nominated. Articles may be nominated by authors or by other section members.
Finally, every year the section awards the Reinhard Bendix Student Paper Award for the best student paper. Submissions are solicited for papers written by students enrolled in graduate programs at the time the paper was written. Students can self-nominate their finest work or can be nominated by their mentors.
For further information, see the Section Awards page of this website.
Section Sessions & Roundtables
The section also encourages members and other interested sociologists to submit their work to the regular sessions in the area of comparative and historical sociology that are covered by the central ASA organizing committee. Consult the ASA homepage for details.
The section publishes a newsletter, Trajectories, that covers a range of issues relevant to comparative and historical sociology. Back issues are archived online here.
Chair: Julian Go, Boston
Chair-Elect: Andreas Wimmer, Princeton
Past Chair: Neil Fligstein,
University of California Berkeley (2012)
Secretary-Treasurer: Ho-fung Hong,
Johns Hopkins University (2011)