Category Archives: family

intensive mothering and movie star moms.

Oh, Gwyneth. What a week is has been. While I am not planning to teach an entire course on her, or on any other celebrities in the news, I do want to briefly say that her recent gaffe illustrates an important shift in the mothering of the rich and famous and shows how few mothers are immune to the demands of intensive mothering.

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on teaching durkheim at the high holidays

Many Septembers I find myself teaching Durkheim right around the Jewish high holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). I’ve often felt a degree of connection between the two: the juxtaposition between ritual and scholarship that characterizes the high holiday services, the emphasis on separating the holy from the ordinary, the sacred from the profane. My point in this post is not to establish that Durkheim’s work is in some way essentially Jewish, but to highlight this affinity. I also want to emphasize that I am no expert in Judaism; these are impressions I’ve noticed. Continue reading

kid’s view of the election

When I woke Kid up this morning, his first words to me were “Did Obama get 270?” Then, questions about the popular vote, Ohio, and Florida. I hadn’t really gotten the sense that he was such a political nerd, but now I see the signs were there all along.

Four years ago, I tried to explain to my 4-year-old why I was so excited about Barack Obama becoming president. I did that thing parents do, trying to pack a U.S. History textbook and an Intro to Sociology course in a few sentences targeted to a pre-schooler, and Kid came away from the conversation thinking that Republicans don’t like to share and that they are mean to people with dark skin for no good reason. It was the best I could do. Then we made a cake to celebrate Inauguration Day:

I didn’t know that Kid was paying much attention to the election this year. Continue reading

families and the academy.

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a week now, ever since I saw a presentation by the ASA’s Director of Research – the venerable Roberta Spalter-Roth – at the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN) Conference in New York City.*

But, I just wasn’t sure where to start. Until today, when a colleague sent along a piece from The Atlantic Magazine today, “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All.”

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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

what a summer!

Gosh, it’s been quite a summer – five separate trips not including ASA, and major family transitions. We moved to a new house, my kids both started new schools, and I did a lot of policy-related work early in the summer alongside. With all that, I miss scatterplot and my scatterbrained colleagues! I’ve been trying to read when I can, but haven’t written in a long time.

Look for that to change soon. I’m planning a long post about the feedback on our study on the Tea Party Movement; another on plagiarism and UNC’s honor court; and some retrospective stuff on disappointment and anger at President Obama, among many others. See you soon!

montessori, revisited

Some years ago, Dan Myers wrote a series of posts on his awesome (now invitation-only) blog that inspired me to send my kid to Montessori school. Kid was 3, and school was just around the corner anyway, so I looked into the local options, and I found a great school. He went all though pre-school there and is still there, just about to finish Grade 1 (Canadians would want you to notice that they say Grade 1, not first grade).

One of the things about Montessori is that they don’t evaluate the kids’ learning in the usual way with tests and report cards and notes home. There is good research on this that shows that the love of the gold star or the A+ will undermine the love of learning itself as kids want to get praised rather than learn more. It’s a strikingly different approach than public school, which gives near-constant feedback to kids and parents about how they are doing and whether they are ahead or behind. Continue reading

ses and life course isomorphism

The scene in the parking lot at my son’s school yesterday, for the holiday sing-along:

Generally the parking lot has about 40% Odysseys, 40% Priuses, and 20% assorted others. Convergence?

 

data visualization

Yesterday, Kid came home from school with this graph that he made, displaying the results of his poll of the favorite drinks of the elementary class:

Note that the color of the graph bar (sort of) matches the beverage color. No, I don’t usually serve him lemon lime juice, but maybe I’ll start now. For the record, this was a fixed-response survey of the entire lower-elementary classroom. I guess sample design will be next week’s lesson.

all in the family.

Although I’ve been a largely absent contributor for a long while now, I wanted to let faithful readers know that last Friday the incestuous relationship between orgtheory and scatterplot moved beyond mere musings about siblinghood. Continue reading

same-sex marriage and the courts

I am, of course, thoroughly delighted with the California federal court’s decision overturning Prop. 8 as unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses, doubly so because the judge, Vaughn Walker, is a card-carrying conservative. I am also thoroughly delighted with the Massachusetts federal court’s ruling the DOMA is unconstitutional on grounds of states’ rights. However, I am a bit confused at what seems to be a contradiction between the two rulings. The Massachusetts case seems to claim that DOMA infringes on states’ rights to define marriage for themselves–that is, that federal law should not determine how states may define and regulate marriage. The California case, on the other hand, argues that the state’s decision on how to define and regulate marriage is wrong and violates federal law. Now, I thoroughly admit that IANAL and so there is likely a way that these two decisions can…er…cohabit. Thoughts?

UPDATE: I’m reading through the California decision instead of working on a pressing deadline…. it makes for great reading! There’s quite a bit that is essentially about how best to gauge the reliability of social science, and much of it picks specifically on David Blankenhorn, to wit:

24. Blankenhorn identified several manifestations of deinstitutionalization: out-of-wedlock childbearing, rising divorce rates, the rise of non-marital cohabitation, increasing use of assistive reproductive technologies and marriage for same-sex couples. Tr 2774:20-2775:23. To the extent Blankenhorn believes that same-sex marriage is both a cause and a symptom of deinstitutionalization, his opinion is tautological. Moreover, no credible evidence supports Blankenhorn’s conclusion that same-sex marriage could lead to the other manifestations of deinstitutionalization.

and:

Blankenhorn’s book, The Future of Marriage, DIX0956, lists numerous consequences of permitting same-sex couples to marry, some of which are the manifestations of deinstitutionalization listed above. Blankenhorn explained that the list of consequences arose from a group thought experiment in which an idea was written down if someone suggested it. Tr 2844:1- 12; DIX0956 at 202.

navigating graduate school as a (single) parent.

I’m a tremendously disorganized electronic file-keeper. While this has proven disastrous at times, it makes it fun when I stumble across gems as I’m searching for particular items. Today, while on the hunt for teaching tips I might have written, I  rediscovered an unrelated presentation I made at last year’s ASA meetings.  I thought it might be helpful to some scatterplot readers (even those without children).

I had been enlisted to talk about navigating graduate school as a single parent… Continue reading

what’s a fan to do?

My Tar Heels are miserable this year. Barely above .500, they are all but certain not to make the NCAA tourney (unless they win the ACC tourney, which would require acts of several deities acting in concert), and frankly will only be invited to the NIT because the UNC franchise is so valuable that Carolina probably brings in more TV dollars losing than, say, George Mason does winning. It’s been a difficult year in the southern part of heaven.

So why did I watch the whole debacle on Saturday when the Dark Side avenged four years of losses to the Good Side on their home court with a whipping of historic proportions? What’s a fan to do? My wife wanted to fast-forward on the TiVo. My older son, who really does consider the Duke-Carolina rivalry an epic battle between good and evil, felt more like I did: waves of horror punctuated with the kind of rapt attention that a grisly road accident commands.

I am a relatively recent convert to sports at all, having paid no attention whatsoever before moving to Chapel Hill 10 years ago. Soon after we moved here, the day after the Heels were knocked out of that year’s NCAA tournament, a disheveled homeless man sat down across from me on a Chapel Hill city bus, stretched out, and declared, “I’m ashamed to be associated with this town.” I understand why we cling to political and moral ideals even when they’re losing, which I’ve done plenty of times beginning with the Mondale-Ferraro defeat in 1984. I am, and remain, Tar Heel faithful. I’m just not clear on the social psychology of why I was and am proud to root for the Heels during and after this awful season.

best of alternative 2009

It’s time again for the year-in-review lists, and here is my fave of faves, Husband’s 2009 Best of Alternative Music list (iTunes link–should take you to the Canadian store*). I’ve mentioned before that Husband is a long-time list maker, and this was a good year for this genre.

I was also going to point out how much more awesometastic the Canadian list is than the American one (which is usually more boringly mainstream), but then I found out that the US store doesn’t even have a Best of Alternative list! It’s a tragedy for all the Rob Gordons of the world, who would be dying to spend 100+ hours to make such a list and donate it to Apple just for the love of music. And lists.

*To get to the Canadian store, click the little flag circle at the bottomest right on your iTunes main page.

extended family

(Note: This does turn into a “professional” post as well as a “personal” one, and a sociological one as well, if you hang in there. This was written last week but I didn’t have time to post it from the road. Today’s snow emergency gives me the time to finish it.)

We’ve been here all week due to the death of my father-in-law Thanksgiving night. The funeral was yesterday, a week after he passed. It was a great celebration of a life well lived by a man who spent time with his children and grandchildren and gave abundantly of himself to a wide variety of community projects. The funeral was followed by a noisy and warm family gathering. Now it is quiet. As I write this, my mother-in-law and brother-in-law are napping, my sister-in-law is watching TV, the other set of grandchildren have headed home or are out shopping. My daughter is napping in the motel. My husband, son, son-in-law and I are all sitting in the living room playing games on our laptops. I decided this was the time to write the blog I’ve been thinking about all week.

I’m not sorry I came here for the whole week. It is important to honor a family you have been part of for nearly forty years. At the same time, it was a hard thing to do. Continue reading

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