This award recognizes contributions to the practice of sociology outside of academic settings. It is conferred on a TASA member who has made an outstanding contribution to sociological practice in Australia.
In this context, outstanding contributions to sociology in action highlight the value and impact of sociological methods and theories to society. This includes both broad social issues, as well as more focused issues for industry, government, business or community sectors.
Nominations for the award will be judged against the following criteria:
- The application of sociology knowledge, methods and expertise to contribute to solving social problems
- The applicant’s role in the use of sociology for addressing social issues
- Recognised impact on a practical sociological problem, whether broad or focused in nature. Impact may be demonstrated through references from relevant stakeholders, and/or presentations, media, and publications (peer-reviewed, policy and general).
No more than one Award will be made each year, unless there are unusual and compelling reasons to make two Awards. The award may be granted to a single nominee or to a team. All nominees must be TASA members.
It is not necessary to make an Award every year, and it is to be expected that there may be years when an Award is not made.
The Award will comprise an engraved plaque and certificate, complimentary conference and dinner registration to attend the TASA conference in the year of the Award (this is not transferrable to future conferences). Recipients will be invited to write an opinion piece about some aspect of their work for publication in Nexus, TASA Blog, Journal of Sociology or any other publication TASA may sponsor at the time of the Award. A list of Award winners will be maintained on the TASA web site.
The Executive will call for nominations each year, with nominations closing June 15. The Award will be presented at the TASA Conference in the same year. This time schedule may be altered in any year at the discretion of the Executive. Recipients shall be offered the same assistance as other TASA prize winners to enable them to attend the prize presentation.
The written nomination must respond to the criteria in no more than 1000 words and must be accompanied by a two-page (maximum) curriculum vitae of the nominee. The CV should focus on work and outputs related to the nomination. Applicants may submit other materials (ie multimedia) with their nomination form. The nomination must be signed and supported by two TASA members and accompanied by a written reference from someone outside the applicant’s organisation who can comment on the impact and relevance of the applicant’s contribution.
Nominations will be considered by the Executive as a whole. At its discretion the Executive may assign this task to a sub-committee chaired by the President or Vice-President, with the decision to be ratified by the whole Executive.
The Sociology in Action Award process will be covered by the TASA grievance procedures. Apart from this, the Executive’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
2016 Recipient: Yoland Wadsworth
The Award for Sociology in Action was presented by TASA President Katie Hughes at the 2016 TASA conference dinner. As Yoland took the podium and prepared to speak, she said:
‘I don’t want you to think that if you spend a lifetime working outside in applied sociology, you’ll need a little torch and glasses, and you’re going to have to read what you’ve written because the brain cells don’t all join up, and various other bits of the bodily vehicle don’t work so well [laughter]–––but it was a great ride! [cheers, applause]’.
Many thanks for this award – which I’d like to accept not just as an individual sociologist who has been lucky to have had a fantastic 35 years working outside academe since taking that first job in 1972 as a Research Sociologist (that was the title) for the State Health Department – but also as one of a community of sociologists working outside the academy, many of whom have also had long careers as sociologists ‘outside’ (or as we call it ‘inside’).
The award means a lot to me because it confirms one can have a long and continuing career outside academe – still be a sociologist and do sociology – and be recognised by my peers for it. I hope it gives heart to those who make up the vast majority of sociology graduates who don’t remain in universities after our studies are completed, and I hope it also gives heart to those of you who are the teachers and supervisors, watching your students leave the academy, year in year out, wondering whether they will be able to use or retain their sociological perspective, theories and research capabilities ‘outside’.
Well, I for one wrote my occupation as ‘Research Sociologist’ on every Tax Return for at least 30 years, while working, according to my 67-page CV, with more than 3500 practitioners, projects, services, service-users, community groups, local, state and Commonwealth governments, non-government organisations, unions, community health centres, hospitals, welfare and community services, disability and mental health consumer organisations, neighbourhood houses and adult education centres [applause], assisting them with carrying out research, evaluation and co-inquiry projects; and also writing the books mentioned by Katie Hughes that have been Australia’s best-sellers on social research and evaluation to help demystify these and systems thinking and so on, creating a ‘social science for the people’.
Yet retention of a sociological identity ‘outside’ is initially uncertain, and I thank some sociological colleagues who provided our own little ‘sociology department’ in the State Health bureaucracy in those early critical years when I could all too easily have lost a sense of being a sociologist: Patricia M Price who was working in child maltreatment and breaking new ground there, Christina Metz who later worked on environmental issues, and Lucinda Aberdeen who conducted ground-breaking road accident research. I’d also like to thank Raewyn Connell, Helen Marshall and Rosalie Aroni for 40 years of knowing and respecting my work. They have been invaluable bridges for me between the academy and ‘outside’.
I specially thank those who nominated me for this award, who provided the formal reference, and who judged me worthy. Thank you for all that work.
It’s for another time to reflect on the significant differences in epistemological standpoint of sociologists situated materially in academic and non-academic settings – a topic I explored initially in my PhD studies looking at Sociologists in Academic and Social Policy-oriented Work Settings – and also for another time to look at the prospects of the current new hybrid academics-in-non-academic-practice; the prospects of the ‘full cycle science’ meta epistemology I generated from my work ‘outside’; and the prospects of social science per se in a world of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), and ABC Science Shows, and Chief Scientist appointments, that remain bewilderingly exclusive of social science and sociology.
It would be great to see the documentation of the positive impact and outcomes of sociology outside academe, to contribute to building a sociology that is seen as just as essential as the STEM quadrinity.
Thank you again.
[Editor’s note: Some of Yoland’s best known books are Do it yourself social research; Everyday evaluation on the run; and Building in research and evaluation: Human inquiry for living systems.]