Current Issue

Sociology at Work: The Beloved Community

January 2021

Message from the President

We made it through 2020! Sociology at Work became a casualty of the challenges posed by the pandemic, but we are back with some brief notes and a look forward to the year ahead. This week, many of us pause and return to the work of one of our most famous sociology majors, Martin Luther King, Jr. For many of us who use sociological methods, concepts, and theories to effect beneficial social change, his vision of the beloved community is at the heart of our work. 

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks are among the most talked about deaths at the hands of U.S. police officers in 2020, but they are just a fraction of those who met such a fate. In addition, U.S. COVID-19 mortality rates reflect entrenched systemic biases: 1 in 750 Black and Indigenous people in the U.S. are dying COVID-19 related deaths compared to 1 in 1,030 white Americans and 1 in 1,670 Asian Americans.

The work of eliminating systemic biases from criminal justice, the economy, education, healthcare, housing, exposure to environmental toxins, and more, and of ensuring that all people have access to the means to live healthful lives that develop to their full potential, is the work of building the beloved community that King envisioned. This work requires not the rejection of these institutions, but an embrace of the benefits of the social contract and of prosocial norms in our institutions and in our civil discourse. As applied and clinical sociologists, we work across diverse institutions and sectors to build smart, effective programs, organizations, and institutions that are the foundation of resilient communities where all people have an opportunity to thrive. 

As the world watches the U.S. transfer of power in the week ahead, may we have a renewed sense of resolve and commitment to work toward King’s vision of the beloved community. 

In community,

Melissa Fry, PhD 

President, Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology

2021 AACS Annual Meeting October 7-9 Louisville, KY

“Float Like a Butterfly, Sting Like a Bee”

Those of us in the Louisville-Metro area also pause this week in celebration of what would have been Muhammad Ali’s 78th birthday. You may not know the full story of how Cassius Clay became Muhammad Ali, a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War and, after a stint with the Nation of Islam, rejected NOI and became a champion of humanitarian causes as a Sunni Muslim. Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005, Ali became a symbol of global unity. In the months ahead, we will help you get to know his work and that of other civil rights, social, and economic justice champions in Louisville. We hope you will engage the civil rights walking tour and visit the Ali Center for Social Justice during our 2021 AACS Conference.

Today, Louisville is home to ongoing demonstrations stemming from the death of Breonna Taylor,and seeking redress and justice in institutions shaped by race and class inequities. The city, like many others, faces the long-term consequences of redlining and divestment from the Black community, and sociologists are playing an important role in public education, journalism, policy-making, organizing and community development. In the months ahead, this newsletter will highlight some of this work and direct you to resources to learn more.

Pandemic Playlist (follow links for trailers)

One Night in Miami, a fictional account of a gathering of Muhammad Ali, Malcom X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown, discussing their roles in the civil rights movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960’s. Available on Amazon Prime.

Will Smith stars in the 2001 biopic Ali, streams on hulu.

Muhammad Ali-The Greatest YouTube mini-doc.

Applying Sociology

Louisville Spotlight: As a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, Sociology/Journalism double major (Bowling Green University) Tessa Duvall provides careful reporting and fact checking on the events that led to Breonna Taylor’s death, months of protest and demonstrations in Louisville, and the legal battles that surround the case.

Rashawn Ray: Public sociologists speaking to structural racism in U.S. law enforcement.Fatal Force: Washington Post’s gun deaths at the hands of police.


2021 Professional Development Workshops coming soon. Please send ideas or offer to Share your Expertise by Leading a Webinar 

Current Issue of the Journal of Applied Social Science. Submit your latest work here.

AACS needs you. Our focus this year is on communications: telling the stories of work sociologists do across sectors, using our website, social media, and our newsletter to share the work of applied and clinical sociologists around the world. We will focus on creating member value and professional networks through professional development webinars and enhanced networking capacity in the coming months. Join us. To join a committee, expand your own networks, and build the professional association you want, fill out the interest form here.

Call for Proposals

Call For Proposals: an edited volume on inequalities in the U.S. child welfare system, tentatively titled Policing or Providing?: The Child Welfare System as Poverty Governance. Interested authors should submit their 500-word extended abstract and one paragraph biography by February 1, 2021 to the editors, Kerry Woodward and Jennifer Randles, at: and  

We will meet again face to face: October 7-9, 2021 The Brown Hotel, Louisville, KY

Start planning your visit:

AACS provides significant opportunities for undergraduate and graduate student engagement. We would like to build on our success by forging stronger community among Sociology alumni who use their sociological perspective and skills in a wide range of professions and career paths. 

Please share this newsletter with colleagues, alumni, and professionals who use their sociological background working outside of academia.