three lessons to young researchers from gang leader for a day

(Book available here.)

1. If you are going to test a survey in an obviously dangerous public housing project, do not have your first question be arguably the worst survey question I have ever seen. (here)

2. If you hear a person planning a drive-by shooting of another person, you are under a legal–as well as, some of us might add, ethical and moral–obligation to do something about it. (This lesson, according to the author, was not learned until four years had been spent doing fieldwork.) (here)

3. If you are told information by interviewees, you should not divulge that information to criminals you know already are extorting money from some of the interviewees. (here)

are we allowed to plug our stuff here?

To answer foodgirl‘s question: absolutely. To pull said plug from a long comment thread:

My dissertation is about the foie gras controversies in the US and France and looks at the nexus of movements, markets, and the state in defining morality and virtue. My other project was about ‘virtuous food’ movements – the connections and disjunctures between local food, organic food, and the Slow Food movement…That turned into a book chapter that is coming out next year in an edited volume: The Globalization of Food, edited by David Inglis (the editor of the new Cultural Sociology journal), and I’ve collaborated with two great folks at Kellogg (the business school) for an article on the grass-fed beef movement as the creation of a market out of a movement (forthcoming in ASQ).

Speaking of which, there was a local news story out here in sunny California today about slaughterhouses mistreating cows. Has my living with a vegan for many years led me to falsely believe this is commonplace, or is this one of those things where now that there’s some video of cow torture circulating, everyone is just pretending that this is aberrant behavior?

where his mouth is

I’ve said it’s the great thing about prediction markets: either you can accept their implied probabilities as correct, or you can show that your disagreement is not just prattle by trying to make money off their “errors.” A friend of mine, “J.,” has been sulking around complaining that the rest of the world does not appear to apprehend what an especially bad matchup McCain versus Clinton is for the Democrats. Tonight he’s decided to take action, and he is attempting to allocate the entirety of his long-dormant account on betting for the by-implication-underpriced Republican candidate to win in 2008.*

“J.” hopes he’s wrong. Indeed, he made money in 2004 on a dual bet that Bush would win the general election but Kerry would win Wisconsin. This did nothing to abate his desolation after Election Day. And, yet, he bets ’em and he sees ’em. Continue reading “where his mouth is”

race names 2: caucasian

I just went along with a major report that uses the word Caucasian throughout (along with African American). I personally hate the word Caucasian, I associate it with scientific racism*, it seems smarmy to me, it makes my skin crawl. But I know a lot of people use it if they think the color names (Black, White) are wrong, and I don’t want to get into dissing people about using a word in good faith just because I hate it. The proper parallel to African American is European American, which I also call myself, along with White. I did not say anything because we had way too many other things to worry about to bother with my dislike of this race name. So anyway, does anybody else care about this?

*Its origins are scientific racism, in the distinction between Caucasoid, Negroid and Mongoloid as the three main races. I’m not saying the people who use it today are racists, scientific or otherwise. They are just grasping for some word to use in uncertain terrain where the colors names are stigmatized and the continent names have not caught on for Whites. Why the name European American has not caught on tells you a lot about US race culture, but that is another story.

PS . This would be an example of why using a pseudonym is good, as I don’t want to hurt the feelings of the people who worked hard on the report using the race name I hate.

what ever happened to…

That idea of Jeremy’s where grad students ask questions about things they’ve heard about the discipline, the job market, navigating grad school, etc.? And then folks who’ve been around the block chime in and answer. Wasn’t that going to be a regular feature of this blog? I really liked the idea. It was first suggested here. This could be one of our niches in the sociology blogosphere. And I could list it as “service” for my reviews. We could call it our, “question of the week (or weak)”.

why i’m pro “animals and society” and think “the sociology of food” should be more central to the discipline

There, I said it. Beyond my friendship with Colin Jerolmack (“the pigeon dude”) who has guided me to respect the animals and society section, I just read Mark Bittman’s article in the NYTimes, “Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler” and thought to myself, “sociologists should work more on this relationship”. The Times has been doing a series of articles on meat (Jamie Oliver’s “new goal” of  understanding why meat is cheap is less interesting than Bittman’s, but still worth a gander). I have become more and more concerned with our agricultural practices over the last five years. Some of this has nothing to do with sociology, emerging instead through my work as a chef in Madison for a food collective
organized around sustainable food. And some because of casual reading on the issue – in particular Pollan’s book which I found insightful (though the narrative voice annoyed me). Bittman’s piece makes me realize at a full sociological study can (and should!) be done on this relationship. Continue reading “why i’m pro “animals and society” and think “the sociology of food” should be more central to the discipline”

comes in threes

Back when I was an undergrad, one would hear references to the “Holy Trinity” of sociology, meaning “Weber, Marx, Durkheim” (with the order perhaps switched around in ways that might or might not be telling about the speaker). Sometime between then and my first years as a faculty member, this changed so that when somebody referred to the “Holy Trinity,” they were at least as likely to be making a reference to “Race, Gender, and Class” (with the order perhaps switched around in ways that might be telling about the speaker). The graduate applications I’ve been reading–in addition to other indicators, such as the tagline here–lead me to think this may be changing again, with the new trinity being “Race, Gender, and Sexuality” (perhaps reflecting its new entrant status, I’ve not yet heard ‘sexuality’ said before race or gender). For those applicants who are interested in issues of “class,” it seems very closely bound up with an interest in either race or gender, whereas numerous applicants are interested in sexuality (mostly, sexual orientation) as a thing in and of itself, as something that “intersects” with gender and race.

I wonder if the “Race, Gender, and Class” section will eventually change its name to include sexuality.  Or if a whole new “Race, Gender, and Sexuality” section will form.

Complete non sequitur: Continue reading “comes in threes”

jeremy’s sure been quiet lately

What’s with me? Don’t I have any ideas for posts? Actually, I have a great idea! Yesterday I read something by a sociologist that included this passage about her/his research process that I thought was so implausible and conveniently self-serving that the post calling it out practically writes itself. But, for political/niceness reasons, I’m not going to post it. What’s more, I’ve a great idea for a post about whether it’s really more about political reasons or niceness reasons that I’m not posting it, but I can’t post that without worrying that I’m giving away who and what I’m talking about, and if I was going to do that I might as well post the original post that I’m definitely not going to post. So, here I am, mum. Mum!

Problem is, when you have an idea for a post that you can’t write, it has this strange capacity to cognitively crowd out other post ideas. It’s like a brainstone that needs to pass in order for you to blog again.

Besides two other subjects of major recent preoccupation for me have been: Continue reading “jeremy’s sure been quiet lately”

solve for x

Overheard:  “It’s a weird coincidence.  If you put all my positions on major political issues together, I’d say that I am farther to the left than x% of the American population, which means that I’m to the right of x% of the population of American sociologists.”