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:

1. The election, mostly regarding my growing dismay about (1) Bill Clinton and (2) how a Clinton(s)-McCain general election is such a bad scenario for Democrats when otherwise Democrats would win easily (see a couple especially interesting takes here and here). But I don’t really feel like writing a political post and can never do so without throwing myself into even more of a snit than whatever snit inspired the post. Besides, it’s not like Internet marketplace for ideas about politics is not already hyperoversaturated.

2. My participation on the graduate admissions committee here. This is already involved a lot of both tension pitting My Inner Meritocrat versus My Inner Diversitarian, and with graduate admissions the issue is not “diversity” merely as polite-academic code for “racial/ethnic minority” but encompasses intellectual and biographical diversity of all conceivable sorts.* Sometimes I’ve had to catch myself and say, “Jeremy, you are not casting a reality TV show here.” But, I definitely do not feel like I’m now at liberty to write more about that. Maybe sometime.**

* At Northwestern, all applicants have an opportunity to write a “Diversity Statement,” about how they would contribute to the diversity of a program, and it seems like there could be a absolutely fascinating paper using as data the diversity statements of white applicants. Does anyone know if something has been done on this?

** Almost always, when I think I might post about something “sometime,” I never do. I think this is because it’s not like I have some preordained block of time for blogging where I think, “What’s next in my queue of post topics?” Instead, ideas for posts come to me more like itches, where they nag and writing the post is like scratching that itch. A “someday” post usually has to independently re-manifest itself as an itch for me to write about it. I don’t know how well this accords with the experience of other bloggers.

Author: jeremy

I am the Ethel and John Lindgren Professor of Sociology and a Faculty Fellow in the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University.

11 thoughts on “jeremy’s sure been quiet lately”

  1. When I first started my blog, I kept a word document of ‘bloggable things’, intending to use it as a back-up when I couldn’t come up with good ideas. I don’t think I ever actually used any of those things. This is mostly because I am a very lazy blogger, I think.


  2. Re white diversity statements, I’ve been counseling my son & his girlfriend about these. My son is White, his girlfriend is of mixed White & Asian ancestry; they are both going male dominated fields with a high representation of Asians as well as Whites. In both cases, they were totally confused about what to write. In both cases, I suggested that they begin by saying: I don’t know what your students are like so I don’t know how I will add to diversity, but let me tell you about me and my background. Our dept does not ask for these statements, so I don’t have a sense of how people in general deal with them in sociology. There is a kind of illogic about asking somebody how they will fit into a distribution they are not already part of and may not have direct knowledge about. I do ask my undergrads to say, on their first-day survey, how they will be able to “add to the diversity of opinion and experience in class discussions.” These are only 1-2 sentences and I’ve been throwing away the forms each semester so I don’t have a stockpile for data. Some students do have the wit to say that their experiences in all-White small towns provide one touchpoint for diversity, but most don’t.


  3. Carly: If it’s purely a hobby, can one ever actually be a lazy blogger?

    OW: Excellent point about the distributional issue. The NU diversity statement was implemented fairly recently, is my understanding. My presumption is that it’s at least partly responsive to court rulings about the use of diversity criteria in admissions, although that’s speculative on my part. So its substantive rationality– in terms of the problems of applicants assessing how they would be actually distinct from the existing student body–may not be the overriding concern.


  4. The NU diversity statement was implemented fairly recently, is my understanding.

    Yes. This is my fourth year on our admissions committee (I’ve been on it every year since coming here except for last year when I was away) and this is the first time I’ve noticed it. I have found it interesting, both sociologically speaking, as you note, but also as a way to learn more about applicants.


  5. Bastard!! Damn, I’ve been meaning to update that stupid statement for five years. It was from an old tenure document from 1995, and was barely revised when a secretary wanted something within 10 minute. Then it was hacked by our ESL web person when overflow didn’t fit…So, today, I did it. I revised my statement. Thanks!! Huh? you mean it wasn’t me? I’m shocked!


  6. Sherkat: I’ve had a couple people wonder if I was talking about them.

    (Note to all who are known readers of this blog, I would not passively-agressively-non-call-out-call-out a known reader like that.)


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