Posts Tagged ‘Tag Checking’

Aside from hearing about the latest research in one’s area of interest and worrying about the academic job market, I think that one of the most interesting aspects of attending ASAs comes through encounters with “famous” sociologists.  Obviously, some sociologists have published more visible work than others, but the likelihood of somebody’s sociological fame extending out into the real world is near zero.  Despite the media blitz surrounding Gang Leader for a Day, for example, I highly doubt that Sudhir Venkatesh gets recognized on the street.

I wonder if this lack of recognition outside of sociology is what causes some big-name (or even medium-name) sociologists to be such ridiculous assholes.  While lots and lots of well-known people are nice, interested, and respectful, there seems to be a handful of status-happy tag checkers who give everybody else a bad name.  One such person stepped between a friend and I and the person we were talking to and was reportedly delighted at the fact that she ended our conversation by doing so.  In fact, the conversation had been rather awkward (as conversations with that person tend to be) and this bout of jackassery provided us with a good opportunity to continue on our pursuit of lunch.

If you ever catch yourself thinking that you’re a famous sociologist, I think that the key is to put this thought in perspective.  While the individual described above and others like her may think, “I”m a famous sociologist, bitch!” the rest of us are thinking, “You’re just a famous sociologist… asshole.”

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I’ve stated in the past that I don’t mind when people look at my nametag at ASA.  Of course, I may be a little more aware of tag checking than I was when my institutional affiliation was slightly more impressive, but if you are going to create a social situation in which people are required to wear nametags, it is pretty ridiculous to think that nobody is going to look at them.  What I do find offensive is when I introduce myself to somebody and after telling them where I work they say, “I’ve never heard of that.”  I know that sociologists have a reputation for being socially awkward, but what kind of asshole thinks that they have heard of every school in the country?  This year, I have decided that my official response to this statement is going to be, “Now you have.”  I’ll refrain from adding, “Asshole.”

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