sunday morning sociology, tax cut edition!

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At the Monkey Cage, John Sides graphs just how unpopular the GOP tax reform proposal is. At OrgTheory, Beth Popp Berman explains to nonacademics how the bill would imperil graduate education.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, tax cut edition!”

mechanisms, “mechanisms”, and a call for pluralism in sociological explanation

The following is a guest post by Natalie Aviles.

The language of social “mechanisms” has become so widespread in recent decades that it seems sometimes to operate as a stand-in for any mid-range theoretical proposition about a given social phenomenon. Despite the ubiquity of “mechanism-talk”, there is little agreement over what social mechanisms are and how they should be used in sociological explanation.

In “Ratio via Machina: Three standards of mechanistic explanation”, I (with Isaac Reed[1]) argue that debates over how we might explain social phenomena mechanistically must contend with the existence of (at least) three separate practices of mechanistic explanation that have emerged over the years, each of which assumes different standards of what a mechanism is and what it can achieve.

Continue reading “mechanisms, “mechanisms”, and a call for pluralism in sociological explanation”

are adjuncts asked to write too many reference letters?

A Twitter exchange in response to my post saying that mediocre students deserve reference letters raised the problem of adjuncts’ reference-writing woes. Some adjuncts apparently get asked to write a lot more letters of reference than many full professors.  Some of the people who are being asked to write a lot of letters are contingent faculty who are already being overworked for poverty wages and it seems particularly unjust for them to be expected to shoulder this burden. My Twitter exchange was with an adjunct who teaches in five different departments and has a post doc besides, so I’m going to assume that the wage per course for this person is low. There are, of course, other adjuncts who are in regular non-contingent positions for reasonably good wages whose situation is somewhat different.

Writing a reference letter for an undergraduate takes at least 3 hours. Continue reading “are adjuncts asked to write too many reference letters?”

ask a guest scatterbrain: should i write to professors in the grad programs i’m applying to?

The following is a guest post by Daniel Laurison.

Many things about the grad school application process (not to mention everything that comes next) are not at all obvious, especially if you do not already know a lot of people (besides your professors) who went to academic graduate school themselves.  The formal requirements can be tricky enough (what goes in a research statement, exactly? How is it different from a personal statement, for schools that require both? How important are the GREs?). When you add the possibility of informal expectations or norms – oof.  So here I want to address one potential unspoken norm: Apparently a lot of students have heard that they ought to write to professors of programs they intend to apply to.

Continue reading “ask a guest scatterbrain: should i write to professors in the grad programs i’m applying to?”

sunday morning sociology, late edition

We’re pivoting to video on this late edition of Sunday Morning Sociology. This delightful bit from Australia comedy show “Growing Up Gracefully” mocks the gender pay gap.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, late edition”

do B-average undergrads deserve letters of reference?

Once again there are discussions  about writing letters of reference in my social media. Some people seem to believe that getting a letter of reference is a privilege that only the very best students deserve, and that instructors ought to put a cap on how many students they will write letters for. Some of the arguments are based on managing instructors’ workloads. Coming from the pro-student side, there are also people who argue that letters of reference should  always be excellent letters that can really help a student’s career, which would seem to imply that letter-writers should decline to write at all if their letter would be merely tepid. (See below for samples.) This latter discourse also seems to imply that all students are excellent, or at least deserve to be written about as if they are excellent. So it is a real question: Do undergraduates who have failed to form close relations with faculty deserve letters of reference? Do mediocre undergraduates deserve letters of reference? My answer to both is, yes.  Continue reading “do B-average undergrads deserve letters of reference?”

sunday morning sociology, lost cause edition

 

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Historians agree that slavery caused the civil war. Lots of Americans, unfortunately, don’t.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, lost cause edition”