Jason Jimerson, Ph.D, associate professor of sociology and sociology department chair, has always had a passion for sports, especially basketball. So much so, he decided he wanted to make it a part of his professional life as well.
Jimerson chose to attend Earlham College to earn his bachelor’s degree so he could study computers and play basketball. As a student, he completed a semester-long internship with the Philadelphia 76ers, where he met players “Dr. J.” Julius Erving, Moses Malone and Charles Barkley.
Jimerson left Indiana to get a master’s degree from the University of Virginia and his doctorate from the University of Chicago. His dissertation was on the topic of pickup basketball.
Jimerson later taught as an assistant professor at Indiana University in Bloomington for several years. Through his contract, Jimerson had season tickets to IU basketball games while publishing papers on pickup basketball.
During his first year as a professor at Franklin College, Jimerson’s documentary about pickup basketball aired on public television in several states, including Indiana. His basketball playing days ended, however, when he ruptured his patella tendon while playing basketball in Spurlock Center during lunch. To stay involved, Jimerson participates in the summer bridge program for student-athletes.
“I choose to study the sociology of sport, because too often, sociology and social science in general, focuses on social problems, which is one reason why economics is known as ‘the dismal science,’” Jimerson said. “I decided to study positive, fun aspects of human interactions, such as play. My next research project will focus on jam sessions. Much like pickup basketball games, where players come together to form ad hoc teams and play, in jam sessions, musicians come together to form ad hoc bands and play.”
Jimerson also believes preparing students for life post-graduation, such as graduate school and future careers, helps students lead successful lives.
“Our department has two goals,” Jimerson said. “First, we want to combine the liberal arts goal of educating creative, critical thinkers with the pragmatic goal of preparing graduates for current and future jobs. Second, we aim to help students learn how to deal with adversity.”
Franklin College sociology majors appear to do well after graduation; more than 90 percent of students have obtained jobs or entered graduate school within one year of leaving FC. Graduates tend to work in social service agencies, law enforcement offices and for-profit companies, which often provide great benefits, good job security and interesting clients. In addition to police officers, social workers and marketing directors, many graduates have joined the Peace Corps.
“I am proudest of my students’ accomplishments,” Jimerson said. “I am especially proud of the students who graduated in defiance of the negative predictions of other people.”
Currently a resident of Greenwood, Ind., Jimerson has taught at Franklin College for over a decade, and though he left the state to earn two of his degrees, he considers himself a true Hoosier.
Jimerson has published numerous sociological works since 1992. That year, he published his first piece, “The Sociology of Money,” in the American Behavioral Scientist. A few years later, in 1996, he published a paper entitled “Good Times and Good Games: How Pickup Basketball Players Use Wealth-Maximizing Norms” in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography.
In 1999, Jimerson published a paper in Social Psychology Quarterly titled “‘Who Has Next? The Symbolic, Rational, and Methodical Use of Norms in Pickup Basketball.” In 2001, he published “A Conversation (Re)Analysis of Fraternal Bonding in the Locker Room” in the Sociology of Sport Journal.
More recently, in 2006 Jimerson published again in the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography a piece called, “Telling the Code of the Street: An Ethnomethodological Ethnography.”
“Earning a doctorate from the University of Chicago, which has a famous sociology department, publishing in peer-reviewed journals, earning tenure at Franklin College and, most of all, helping so many students graduate, who often go on to lead happy successful lives, are my greatest professional achievements,” Jimerson said.
Last year, Jimerson participated in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Citizens Academy where local agents taught local citizens about the FBI’s missions and methods. He said he loves his subject matter, sociology, and likes sharing the discipline with other people.
“Sociology was a subject at which I excelled,” Jimerson said. “I love learning, but learning about how people interact seemed so philosophical and pragmatic, so abstract and real. This still keeps me interested.”
After more than a decade teaching at Franklin College, Jimerson said he stays excited about teaching.
“I remain excited about teaching at Franklin College thanks to the opportunity to introduce new students to new ways of thinking,” he said.
Jimerson is available to discuss the sociology department and what a Franklin College liberal arts degree as a sociology major or minor can do for you. Schedule a visit by contacting the Office of Admissions at (800) 852-0232.
Founded in 1834, Franklin College is a residential, liberal arts institution with a scenic, wooded campus, spanning 207 acres, including athletic fields and a 31-acre biology woodland. Students enjoy the comfort and safety of suburban living, while also experiencing the many opportunities Indianapolis has to offer with a short 20-minute drive to downtown. The college prepares students to think independently, to lead responsibly and to serve with integrity in their professions, their communities and the world. The college offers its more than 1,000 students Bachelor of Arts degrees in 51 majors from 25 academic disciplines, 42 minors, 11 pre-professional programs and five cooperative programs. In 1842, the college began admitting women, becoming the first coeducational institution in Indiana and the seventh in the nation. Franklin College maintains a voluntary association with the American Baptist Churches USA. For more information, visit www.FranklinCollege.edu. Find Franklin College on Facebook and follow @FranklinCollege on Twitter.