Committee on Socioeconomic Status (CSES): 2011 Annual Report

Mission Statement

As approved by APA’s Council of Representatives in August 2006:

The mission of the Committee on Socioeconomic Status (SES) shall be to further the major purpose of the APA –“to advance psychology as a science and a profession and as a means of promoting health, education and human welfare”—by ensuring that issues of SES receive the full attention of the Association. The Committee will identify and act as a catalyst in the Association’s efforts to address issues of SES, and promote appropriate attention to SES in psychological research and practice. In this regard, the Committee shall: (a) collect information and documentation concerning SES; (b) promote scientific understanding of the roles of poverty and SES in health, education, and human welfare; (c) develop approaches to the application of psychology that take into account the effects of SES on psychological development and well-being; and (d) advocate for social policy that will alleviate or reduce the disparities between SES groups.

CSES Composition

In 2011, CSES welcomed two new members to the committee:

Salvador Macías, III, PhD, (2011-2013) is a Professor of Psychology at University of South Carolina Sumter (a two-year branch campus of the USC system). Dr. Macías received his PhD in Developmental Psychology from Georgia State University in 1984. A significant proportion of his professional commitment has been dedicated to issues related to SES and educational access.

Laura Smith, PhD, (2011-2013) is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Smith received her PhD in Counseling Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1990. Her career goals have focused on contributing to the exploration of poverty and social class within psychological theory, research, and practice, and to the preparation of applied psychologists to effectively serve poor clients and communities.

Drs. Macias and Smith join the current committee members Martha Wadsworth, PhD (Chair); Irene López, PhD; Hector González, PhD; and Faye A. Reimers, PhD for a term extending from January 2011 until December 2013.


CSES met in Washington, DC on March 16-18 and September 19-21 for the 2008 spring and fall consolidated meetings. During the consolidated meetings, in addition to discussing, planning, and initiating activities relevant to the committee’s mission:

  • CSES met with APA CEO, Norman Anderson, PhD; 2011 President Melba Vasquez, PhD; President-Elect Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD; ED of Public Interest, Gwendolyn Keita, PhD; the Committee on International Relations in Psychology; Psychology Teachers at Community Colleges; and Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools to identify and discuss areas of mutual interest and concern.

  • CSES reviewed, discussed, and prepared corresponding memos for 24 of the 29 Cross Cutting Agenda items. Committee members agreed that it is important to use the Cross Cutting agenda to increase CSES’ visibility and SES as a form of diversity to other committees, boards, and members.

CSES Convention Programming and Planning

2011 APA Convention Programming

CSES co-sponsored the following convention symposiums for 2011.

  • Mental Health and Youth in Foster Care - Systems of Care in Need of Review
    Co-sponsors: Divisions 27, 7, 35, 49, 53, 55, CEMA, CSES, and CYF
  • Sexual Oppression of Women - Social Science and Justice Perspectives
    Co-sponsors: BAPPI, CWP, CDIP, CLGBTC, and CSES
  • The New American Portrait - Census 2010, the Life Course and Future of Psychology
    Co-sponsors: BAPPI, CONA, CSES, and CWP
  • University-Community Collaborations to Promote the Socioemotional Well-Being and Educational Success of Children in Poverty
    Co-sponsors: Division 53 with support from BAPPI and CSES
  • Successful Models of Integrated Care - Psychological Programs That Address Health Care Disparities
    Co-sponsors: BAPPI, CONA, CEMA, CLGBTC, CRH, and CSES

CSES and NOVA (Neighborhood Opportunities for Volunteer Activities) co-sponsored a toiletries drive and partnered with Grand Hyatt Washington & Hyatt Regency Washington to benefit So Others Might Eat (S.O.M.E.).

CSES hosted its annual SES Network Meeting & Leadership Award Presentation to honor Jubilee Jobs, Inc. Established in 2008, the CSES Leadership Awards recognize the outstanding achievements of psychologists and friends of psychology who have made significant contributions to the understanding of socioeconomic status and the lives and wellbeing of the poor.

2012 APA Convention Program Planning

CSES was granted two convention programming hours for education and SES related topics. One was from TOPPS (Hidden Curriculum) and the other from PT@CC (Immigration, Poverty, 1st Generation Students).

CSES submitted a proposal to BAPPI requesting two convention hours in recognition of CSES’ 5-year anniversary in 2012 titled: Class Jumping: Non-traditional Social Class Paths to Professional Psychology.

Additionally, CSES is listed as co-sponsors/collaborators on three additional proposals to BAPPI for convention programming hours titled: Promoting the Health and Wellness of Women with Disabilities; Women Under Siege: Disparities and Despair; and Addressing Obesity and Health Disparities in the Nation’s Children.

Other CSES Activities

CSES Communications (Network, Listserv, Webpage, Newsletter)

CSES continues to engage in various communication activities to inform the discipline and increase attention and participation among psychologists to social class and SES related issues to include oversight of the annual SES Network Meeting, SES listserv, webpage, and SES Indicator Newsletter.

World Poverty Day

In observance of the 2011 UN World Poverty Day, CSES collaborated with the APA Committee on International Relations in Psychology (CIRP) on a social media based campaign to generate the public and psychology’s awareness of global poverty. In the days and weeks leading to October 17, 2011, CSES and CIRP used Twitter, Facebook, and to launch their 17-day countdown to World Poverty Day outreach campaign.

American Psychologist Submission

In October 2011, a subset of current and past CSES members made a submission to the American Psychologist titled: A Primer on Social Class: Conceptual and Measurement Issues in Psychological Research and Practice. Abstract: An extensive body of research has documented the relation between social class, socioeconomic status, and a host of outcomes, including physical and mental health, socioemotional well-being, educational attainment, and employment and economic mobility. In spite of this established relationship, there remains ambiguity regarding how best to conceptualize and measure the social class construct. This primer aims to clarify definitional and measurement issues related to measuring social class via indices of socioeconomic status and subjective social class, addresses why social class is important for psychologists to incorporate into their research and practice, and provides a review of some of the current best practices with regard to social class assessment.