Author Archives: neal caren

what happened in 1999?

From the ASA permission form sent to authors when a publisher wants to reprint an article that appeared in an ASA journal:

Prior to 1999, ASA policy on revenue sharing with its authors stated that proceeds will be shared equally by the author(s) of the article and the ASA as copyright holder. For articles published prior to 1999, the ASA will collect all fees and will disburse one half of these receipts to authors upon collection from the requestor, unless you agree to donate your share to the ASA. For articles published in 1999 and later, ASA retains all fees received for reprint permission requests. (This applies to journal articles only). 


ritzer on ritzer on ritzer

George Ritzer, Editor in Chief, The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology, 2nd Edition, in an email to me:

We would like to invite you to contribute to Wiley-Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of Sociology, Second Edition, under the general editorship of George Ritzer… The Author will be entitled to receive access to the electronic (online) version of the encyclopedia for a period of two years…  In addition, the Author will have the right to purchase the entire set of volumes of the current print edition of the Work for personal use at a discount of 25% from the published price, copies of any work published by the publishers and currently in print, provided that all such purchases, including purchases of the Work, are paid for in advance by the Author.

George Ritzer, social theorist:

For example, when you write product reviews for you are enhancing the value of that site and the company; you are working for them and you are not being paid for that work…To put it baldly, the value of these computer-based businesses is based largely on the “work”- those clicks and likes- that you do for them free of charge. In a capitalist world you ought to be paid by all of them, but of course you are not paid. From the perspective of the critics of capitalism, you are being exploited by firms such as Google and Facebook (Fuchs, 2013). In fact, you are being exploited more than the paid workers in the capitalist system. Most of them are being paid relatively little, but you are paid nothing at all. Low paid work often yields great profits, but work that is unpaid leads to an even higher rate of profit.

I asked George Ritzer about this tension. He wrote:

As you know, this is a high compliment- using my ideas.. even if only to critique me. Your point is well-taken, but I am one of the exploited low-paid workers in the quotation (on a per hour basis for the number of hours it takes to edit a 2500-entry encyclopedia…far less than the minimum wage). I am also a prosumer in this case “consuming” the entries and “producing” edits, comments, etc. If there is an exploiter here, it is Wiley-Blackwell, but this is endemic to academic publishing. When we submit articles to journals owned by them (and SAGE, etc) we are the prosumers of those articles (and others), we are paid nothing, and they are profitable companies in large part because of the free work done by authors. There’s a broader critique here.

By my calculation Wiley, an academic publisher, has earned about a billion dollars in profit since the first edition of the Encyclopedia of Sociology came out.

i decided to ride on an available silver space ship

Cal State Northridge sociologist Lewis Yablonsky passed away last month at the age of 89. The LA Times describes him as, “A leading figure in sociology in the 1960s and ’70s … who gained national prominence as a sociologist, criminologist and author.” In 2003, he received the ASA’s “Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology.”

The Times obituary notes that, “Although Yablonsky was opposed to recreational drug use, he tried marijuana and went on an LSD trip as part of his study” of hippies, detailed in his 1968 book “The Hippie Trip.” The book isn’t available online, but I scanned in the chapter where he describes his LSD trip with his wife Donna who he met while doing research, in “a psychodrama session at Synanon.” Spoilers after the jump.

Continue reading

52 works that inspired sociologists this year

  1. Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A social critique of the judgement of taste. Harvard University Press, 1984.
  2. Glaser, Barney G., and Anselm L. Strauss. The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Transaction Books, 2009.
  3. Putnam, Robert D. Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster, 2001.
  4. Raudenbush, Stephen W. Hierarchical linear models: Applications and data analysis methods. Vol. 1. Sage, 2002.
  5. Massey, Douglas S. and Nancy Denton. American apartheid: Segregation and the making of the underclass. Harvard University Press, 1993.
  6. Goffman, Erving. The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY (1959).
  7. Steensland, Brian, Lynn D. Robinson, W. Bradford Wilcox, Jerry Z. Park, Mark D. Regnerus, and Robert D. Woodberry. “The measure of American religion: Toward improving the state of the art.” Social Forces 79, no. 1 (2000): 291-318.
  8. Swidler, Ann. “Culture in action: Symbols and strategies.” American sociological review (1986): 273-286.
  9. McPherson, Miller, Lynn Smith-Lovin, and James M. Cook. “Birds of a feather: Homophily in social networks.” Annual review of sociology (2001): 415-444. Continue reading

nra membership, 2013 edition

The NRA added more than 500,000 members in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, based on their latest magazine circulation reports.


Back in January and February, the NRA was making claims about its size and growth to ward off potential gun control legislation after the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, CT. Mother Jones and the Washington Post both looked into the claims using my method of examining the publicly available numbers of paid subscribers to the three major NRA publications. Since NRA membership comes with a free subscription to one of their magazine and that is the only way to subscribe, I suspect that the total number of subscribers is a good proxy for the total number of members.

The NRA recently release circulation reports for the first six months of 2013, giving us the first look at post Newton membership. The total number of subscribers to NRA publications went from 3,096,145 to 3,671,054. The biggest jump was between February and March, when the number of subscribers jumped by 184,575. Given the lag between when people sign up and when they are added to the magazine roles, this most likely reflects change in membership during December, the month of the shooting. This might also underestimate the number of new members that month because there was probably some existing members who choose not to renew their membership during that a month.

This blog also hosted a contest to see who could predict the number of members in June of 2013. Congratulations to Ben Lind for having the closest guess with 3,094,723. This is a tricky time series to estimate because of its strongly cyclical nature. While some of the ups and downs follow the political calendar, others, like the most recent surge, are due to well-framed responses to threats, both of which are harder to predict. My guess is the NRA continues to grow but at slightly slower pace and finishes the year with close to 4 million members.

I’ve made the complete time series available.

sociology clusters, 1900-2010

As a follow up to my look at contemporary sociology, I thought I would look at where we’ve been.

I grabbed all the available articles published in the four major general interest sociology journals: AJS (starting in 1900), ASR (starting in 1920 ), Social Forces (starting in 1922) and Social Problems (starting in 1956). I used my RefCliq program to analyze clusters of citations by decade.

Below, I’ve included the major clusters and central author. If you click on the decade, you can see the full reports. I’ve would say the results are strongly correlated with trends in elite sociology, but with a couple of caveats. In addition to problems with how references are reported and recorded, works/areas that span clusters are often misplaced. This problem is likely made worse studying this set of journals, which often have editors that specifically ask that articles, “speak more widely to different areas of the discipline.” Also, articles from the first thirty years of sociology don’t really look like modern articles, so I’m not sure what the reference analysis tells us. That said, I think it’s a quick and easy way to look at major trends in our field. Continue reading

clusters of sociology

Kieran’s recent analysis of philosophy citations reminded me that I’ve wanted to publish something similar for sociology.  So here it is and here’s how you can build a  reference network  at home. Continue reading

but what do they do?

Social workers (9%), elementary and middle school teachers (6%), counselors (4%), managers, all other (4%), lawyers (3%), secretaries and administrative assistants (2%), postsecondary teachers (2%), police and sheriff’s patrol officers (2%), human resources workers (2%), first-line supervisors of office and administrative support workers (2%), social and community service managers (2%), sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing (2%), and education administrators (2%).

According to the American Community Survey, those are the most common occupations for  full-time employed people ages 25-55 who were sociology majors in college. To put this in context, I made a graph showing the links between occupations and majors.

but who do they marry?

A recent report out of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently highlighted variation in income and unemployment by college major. I’m not a fan of this sort of thing, but it did alert me to the fact that the Census’s American Community Survey includes data on college majors. Over at IPUMS, not only can you get the data in an easy to use form, but you can also link respondents to other people in the household with the click of a button. Obviously, I was interested in figuring out how often undergraduate sociology majors marry each other. Continue reading

ncaa women’s lacrosse championship predictions

My predictions for the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship.   Continue reading

congress and science funding

In the latest battle in the war on science, the Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology has asked the NSF to explain the peer review process that lead to five grant applications being funded.

This time the attack hits a little closer to home for sociologists. Although the focus seems to be cultural anthropology, as four of the five grants received at least part of their funding from that program, two of the five PIs are sociologists. The Directory of the NSF is being asked to defend awards given to Michael Macy (Cornell) and Linda Kalof (Michigan State).

The lead Democrat on the committee, Representative Johnson, has penned a pretty militant letter in favor of NSF autonomy, and is asking Representative Smith to withdraw his request. (h/t to @howardaldrich for the two letters.)


Over at OrgTheory, Philip Cohen asked about norms of retraction when a reviewer has an undisclosed conflict. Here is a test case.

Walter Schumm (Kansas State) is the author of an article in Social Science Research defending the New Family Structures Survey (NFSS) and the Regnerus article that uses the data. Dr. Schumm was also paid by the Witherspoon Foundation to consult on the, “early stages of the development of the NFSS”. His non-peer-reviewed article* makes no mention of this relationship. In an email to me, Dr. Schumm wrote, “I don’t recall if it did come up.” Jim Wright, the editor of Social Science Research, told me, “This was never revealed, at least not to me. This is the first I have heard of Schumm’s involvement.”

Ball is in your court, Social Science Research Editorial Board.

* The article is included in a “Commentary and Debate” section of SSR on the Regnerus and Marks articles. In his introduction, the editor writes, “This ‘Commentary and Debate’ section contains several items pertinent to the controversy. They are published here so that the journal’s readers, authors, editorial board members, and reviewers will have the full story as well as some of the larger context in which the story unfolded.” If you looked at Schumm article without reading the Wright preface, you would likely think it was a normal SSR article.  It does not say “Commentary” anywhere and provides “Article Info” including the “Article History.”

Update: I missed this before, but Mark Regnerus cites both his SSR followup and the Schumm article in the Supreme Court brief he co-authored. They write:

…what is clear is that there remains much to be studied in this  domain, and hence confident assertions of “no difference” ought to be viewed with suspicion. As the study author [Regnerus] indicated, [long quote from the Regnerus sequel]  See also Walter R.  Schumm, Methodological Decisions and the Evaluation of Possible Effects of Different Family Structures on Children: The New Family Structures  Survey, 41 Soc. Sci. Research 1357-66 (2012) (validating methodological decisions made in New Family Structures Study, and noting similar decisions in other large-scale surveys).

A reasonable person who followed the citation to the Schumm article would have no idea that (1) Schumm was a consultant on the NFSS, or that (2) neither article was not peer-reviewed. Setting aside the issue of whether or not the Schumm article should have ever been published, I think  SSR has an ethical obligation to clarify both of these issues ASAP.

Update 2: Both the Schumm and Regnerus articles in the, “Commentary and Debate” section are labeled, “Original Research Article.”



None of the others have this designation. For example, here’s the listing for the Gary Gate’s piece:



the poetry in sociology

We argue for a
sociology of health,
illness, and disease.

Few empirical
tests exist to address this
important issue.

Procedures used in
studies may blur or ignore
status distinctions.

Continue reading

academic caste system 2013

Recent discussions about department rankings and picking a department for grad school had me wondering how my own department is doing in placing our graduate students in top departments (Spoiler: Pretty good.) I had my undergraduate RA look at the faculty listing web pages for all the sociology departments with a rank of 20 or better in the current US News & World Report rankings. For each of the assistant professors, we noted where they went to graduate school and what year they earned their PhD.

I’ll say up front that this measure is not perfect for determining placement in top departments over the last six or so years (the period I consider). For example, if you earned tenure early, you aren’t in the dataset. I’m also not 100% sure all the people received their PhDs from a sociology department. Because of the small number of graduates from each department, these errors can have a substantive impact on the placement rank of individual departments, so I’m not going to assign ranks to all the departments. Regardless of these caveats, I’m pretty sure that the data capture the big picture of placement in top 20 departments, but feel free to argue that point.

Anyway, here’s what I found: Continue reading

scatterplot competition: guess the nra’s membership

You know what sounds fun? A Scatterplot competition! I know it’s not exactly a sequel to the epic Mario Kart races of 2009, but it might still be fun. This time it is a guessing game. How many members will the NRA have in June of 2013? Continue reading


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