I’m off to Boston tomorrow, to attend the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association for the first time since 1999. (Well, I’ll be spending most of my time hanging around in bars and seeing old friends). British sociologist Alan Carling went to the 1990 conference in San Francisco, and described it like this:

… but you have to hand it to US academics: they sure know how to organize a conference that feels like a serious business convention. There were actually men and women there in suits, especially those silver-sheeny ones in a mottled semi-reflective material that looks as if they descend from a job-lot of curtain lengths delivered by UFO somewhere over Colorado circa 1955… By dressing below this level, it was possible to regard oneself as a marginally dangerous intellectual presence, or at any rate a marginal one. (In the UK, by contrast, it is physically impossible to dress so low as to be the worst-dressed person present at the Annual Conference of the British Sociological Association).

From his essay, “Rational Choice Marxism and Postmodern Feminism: Towards a More Meaningful Incomprehension” in Rational Choice Marxism, ed. Terrell Carver and Paul Thomas, Pennsylvania University Press, 1995, p.301.

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