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Session Submission Type: Invited Session
By the time that the ASA annual meeting in Philadelphia occurs, the massive enterprise of launching the 2020 U.S. Census of Population will be well underway. The preparedness, focus, and purpose of this enterprise have been subject to often intense debate among sociologists, even playing a role in the creation of a new ASA task force on federal data. This presidential session will delve into this discussion by considering the past, present, and future of the U.S. Census through the lens of sociological research. The “past” part of this presidential session will cover the historical value of the U.S. Census for research on key sociological issues (e.g., the persistence of racial inequality, prevailing family structures). The speaker will be John Robert Warren and Steven Ruggles of the Minnesota Population Center that has been a leader in harmonizing past editions of the Census for historical comparisons. The “present” part of this presidential session will cover the challenges facing the upcoming the U.S. Census, including the measurement of race/ethnicity, the use of new data collection technologies, and procedures for including hard-to-reach populations. The speaker will be Matthew Snipp of Stanford University, co-chair of the aforementioned ASA task force. The “future” part of this presidential session will cover potential future directions for the U.S. Census and what sociologists want and need from future editions. The speaker will be Hedwig Lee of Washington University, a population scientist who studies racial disparities and is also a member of the ASA task force. Overall, the value of this session involves informing the ASA membership, supporting the current mission of the U.S. Census, and helping to set the agenda for future Census data collections.