Scholarly Groups' Choices Yield Diverging Fortunes

Disciplinary Societies' Decades-Old Choices Lead to Uncertain Futures for Some 1

Mark Abramson for The Chronicle

Twenty-eight people work for the MLA's Bibliographic Information Services (above), maintaining a database of 2.4 million records dating back to 1926.

Will disciplinary societies become the bowling leagues of academe?

Declining participation in those leagues symbolized the larger generational decline of social participation in Bowling Alone, the 2000 best seller by Robert D. Putnam, a Harvard political scientist. Similarly, scholarly groups have long served as hubs of academic life and the embodiments of their disciplines, but they face uncertain and divergent futures.

Some disciplinary associations are struggling