towards a sociology of race and x (for all values of x)

On Twitter, Elizabeth Korver Glenn asked:

This tweet produced a lot of great answers and interesting discussion. One thing that struck me in trying to compose my own answer is that beyond some really excellent work in the sociology of race proper (my answers were Golash Boza 2016 and Fields & Fields 2012), there’s also been a tremendous amount of fantastic work at the intersection of the sociology of race and various other subfields.

Continue reading “towards a sociology of race and x (for all values of x)”

sunday morning sociology

Sociologist Devah Pager passed away last week. The NYT chronicles her work and life here, including reproducing the above chart from her groundbreaking research on racial discrimination in hiring.

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”

notes from the field: show how you know what you know

Let’s say you’re working on an ethnographic project. And you just spent an hour – or three – in the field. Now you’re sitting at your computer. And you know you’re supposed to write fieldnotes based on what you saw. But where should you start? And what should you write? And how should you write it?

It’s easy to assume that fieldnotes are just a running log of everything that happened during your visit to the field. But that running log approach is problematic, at least on its own.

As a reviewer, I’ve read countless studies where the methods section describes how the author conducted both interviews and observations. But then only the interview data appear in the text. The fieldnote data are nowhere to be found. My hunch is that, in most of those cases, the fieldnotes just weren’t useful. Because they weren’t detailed enough for a reader to make sense of them. Or, worse, because they weren’t detailed enough for the author to make sense of when they went back and looked at them six months later.

How do I know this? Because when I first started my dissertation, I wrote my fieldnotes as a running log of everything I saw. And the stuff I wrote in those first few weeks of data collection ended up being almost completely unusable. Because it lacked detail. And because it lacked context.

So, why not write a detailed, contextualized description of everything that happened? Because there aren’t enough hours in a day.

And that means you’ll have to make choices about what to include in your fieldnotes and what not to include. But that’s okay. Because the point of ethnographic fieldwork isn’t to describe in detail everything you saw. Rather, the point of ethnographic fieldwork is to gather the data you need to answer your research question.

So here’s what I tell my students:

  1. After you leave the field, write a brief, running log of everything you saw.
  2. Circle the three events or interactions most relevant to your research question. And definitely circle any incidents that don’t fit your hypotheses or the larger patterns you’ve seen.
  3. Write up each of those three events as a short story, with clear context, characters, action, motivation, and resolution.

Continue reading “notes from the field: show how you know what you know”

sunday morning sociology, constituent attitudes edition

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In the NYT, Alexander Hertel-Fernandez, Matto Mildenberger and Leah C. Stokes discuss their new research on the systematic gap between public opinion and congressional staffers’ assessments of public opinion.

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, constituent attitudes edition”

tips on grad school applications

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This post is adapted from a Twitter thread originally posted at @NBedera.

It’s that application time of year again and my inbox is flooded with emails from prospective students asking for advice about how to apply. To benefit everyone who didn’t have the courage to hit send (which we know can be raced, classed, and gendered), I offer you the advice I give out the most regularly. Continue reading “tips on grad school applications”

sunday morning sociology, economic indicators edition

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The NYT does a deep dive into the sources of stagnating wages, arguing that even though unemployment is low by historical standards, the employment-to-population to rate is still well below its 2001 levels and that may be more strongly connected to stagnating wages.

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, economic indicators edition”

keeping up with jones et al: toc emails and rss readers

Keeping up with the literature can seem like a full time job. In this post, I want to introduce two technological tools that can help you keep tabs on what’s happening in the research literature and in the broader public conversation: table of contents (TOC) emails and RSS readers.

Continue reading “keeping up with jones et al: toc emails and rss readers”