Category Archives: dialogues

cfp: fun with dick and jane

Notre Dame’s ever-creative director of Gender Studies, Pamela Wojcik, is at it again. Last year she designed “That’s what she said” t-shirts (the year before, they read “Get Bent”). Pushing the envelope (which might mean different things here at Notre Dame than elsewhere) ’round these parts this year, she offers up a creative conference title:

“Fun with Dick and Jane: Gender and Childhood”
A Gender Studies Conference at the University of Notre Dame
South Bend, Indiana
December 4-6, 2014
Continue reading

beyond the existence proof

In response to Fabio’s defense of nonrepresentative sampling, Sam Lucas sent his paper, “Beyond the Existence Proof,” published last year. Fabio mentions Lucas’s article in his follow-up, but doesn’t really address the claims in the paper. I hadn’t seen it before Sam sent it, but after reading it I think it’s really smart and deserves attention in methods classes and elsewhere.

Continue reading

elysium and the fact/value distinction

I saw the new Matt Damon movie, Elysium, this summer. I loved the prior movie by the same director (Neill Bloemkamp), District 9, which is a dystopian alien-visitation movie wrapped up in an extended allegory for apartheid.  Like District 9Elysium has an explicit political message along with plenty of violence, action, and gore (all of which I confess to liking!).

To me, though, Elysium was disappointing in its political/theoretical content for one of the reasons I am troubled by Phil Gorski’s approach to transcending the fact/value distinction:

Social science is not (entirely) value free or ethically natural. Instead, it is axiologically committed to the realization of human flourishing and freedom. This is not to say that social sciences provide ready answers to policy questions like “is proportional representation better than first past the post?” Those are of a different order. Nor is it to deny that justice must be part of a social ethics, either.

WARNING: the remainder of the post contains a SPOILER, so if you haven’t seen Elysium but plan to you may want to stop reading here.

Continue reading

too much sociology…?

The magazine n+1 recently published an article about the rise and inefficacy of critical sociology. It’s a strange piece which, i think, accords sociology way too much influence. but it does have some salient points, particularly relating to the balance between structure and agency in sociological writing. The editors write:  “In spite of the strenuous attempts by sociologists to preserve some autonomy for the acting subject — Bourdieu’s “habitus,” Latour’s “actor-network” theory — popularization has inevitably resulted in more weight being thrown on the structuring side of things, the network over the actor.” I teach at Lehman College in the Bronx where the majority of students are working class. To put it simply, they are fed up with the overemphasis on structure, they find it deeply tiresome and profoundly disempowering. Continue reading

could we prevent some scientific retractions?

Fabio Rojas and others have been discussing retractions over on our buttoned-up nemesis, and making the excellent point that the presence of scientific retractions is good for science. However, it can only be good for science insofar as bad or even falsified science takes place to begin with. Continue reading

every rose has its thorn

I know yesterday was Valentine’s Day, so this post might seem a bit late. But it’s Susan B. Anthony Day, which is as good a day as any to turn to the thorny relationship between women, love, and education.

This past weekend, Stephanie Coontz wrote an encouraging opinion piece in the NY Times that asserts that “for a woman seeking a satisfying relationship as well as a secure economic future, there has never been a better time to be or become highly educated.” She cites the decline in the “success” penalty for educated women, asserting that men are more interested in women who are intelligent and educated than in the past.* Marriage rates are similar, and divorce rates lower for educated women. In fact, “by age 30, and especially at ages 35 and 40, college-educated women are significantly more likely to be married than any other group.” As if this wasn’t enough, Coontz cites other benefits for educated women: better physical and mental health, satisfying relationships, less housework, and steamier sex. Like usual, she makes a great (and entertaining) argument and her sources – including a number of sociologists – are sound. However, I’d like to suggest that things aren’t as rosy as they seem, particularly for women with (or pursuing) a Ph.D. Continue reading

should i add postmodernism back into my theory course?

The postmodernism firestorm over on OrgTheory contains a delicious irony to me: I actually did not teach postmodernism the last time I taught my graduate theory course, for reasons much like Fabio’s #4: other theory seemed more relevant to contemporary sociological practice. When I teach the class again in fall ’11, I’m wondering whether I should add it back in. (NOTE: I’m actually leaning against adding it back, but thinking it through.) Continue reading

more on grading policy

I’ve written before about my work through EPC on grading policy. After a year’s worth of consideration, we are presenting a resolution tomorrow for UNC to report grade distributions on transcripts for each class, and to report grade patterns to faculty each semester.

Two colleagues wrote me a detailed and thoughtful message about the proposal, and while I do not agree with their position, I asked and they agreed to have me post it to scatterplot for further discussion. Their message is below the break; my response and further discussion is posted as the first responses to the post.

Continue reading

overheard: love in the time of h1n1

“I love you, I miss you, and I can hardly wait until you’ve been without a fever for at least 24 hours.”

at the dinner table

Kid: When people are dead, what happens when they have to go to the bathroom?

Husband: I call Twitter.

Me: *sigh*

seven years ago today

I was in my first semester teaching at UNC. I had a young child – about to turn 1 – at home. I was in my office early, preparing for class (SOCI 10, Introduction to Sociology), when Ted Mouw came to my door. “Hey, did you hear, a plane hit the World Trade Center.” Continue reading

overheard (not exactly “the rules” edition – or, “paging foucault” – central square)

man: what are you doing tonight?

woman:  I’m meeting a friend in harvard square for dinner.

man: is this a date?

woman:  no, it’s that guy I told you about, the one who is just way too sane for me.  he’s really cute, but I just can’t imagine dating someone that is so together.

man:  you know what I’m thinking right now…

woman: yes, I know.  I dated you.  but you’ve got your quirks.  you’re really only sort of normal.

methinks he doth protest too much

In Public Opinion Quarterly 72:1 (the latest issue), Andrew Kohut reviews Sarah Igo’s (IMHO terrific) book The Averaged American. Predictably, Kohut likes the “good stories that are generally well told,” but complains that Igo fails to give credit to polls’ capacity to wrest control from elites and put it in the hands of “ordinary Americans.” Continue reading

he’s probably for cloning, too

I have to tell you what Kid said yesterday.

What?

Kid: That lady has a bigger belly than anyone in the whole world.

Mom: Well, honey, some people are big and some people are small. Everyone’s different. Would you want everyone to be the same?

Kid: Yes, everyone the same!

So, basically, our Kid is Hitler.

I think all 4-year-olds are Hitler, though. That’s why you have to raise them well.

overheard (boston T edition)

I.

The same joke has been in the past two books I’ve read.

What’s the joke?

Something like “Two behaviorist psychologists have sex. And then afterwards, one says to the other, ‘It was good for you. How was it for me?’”

I read that in a book, too!

II.

A lot of Irish people immigrated to the U.S., and particularly to Boston, when a blight destroyed the potato crop in Ireland.

Oh, right. It was a fungus, actually, phytophthora infestans. We just sequenced it at the Broad!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 569 other followers