is cultural sociology doomed?

The generally quite good culture miniconference today at the HBS (by the way, that is one heck of a facility) was marred by far too much hand-wringing about how cultural sociology is not taken seriously, not paid attention to, the “ugly stepsister” (someone else’s words, pregnant as they are with sexism) of sociology, and so on. This is not my experience, and seems at odds with the sheer size of the section (second only to sex and gender, and who can compete with sex?).  Bob Wuthnow asked in 1997 whether cultural sociology is doomed. I offer an alternative hypothesis, only partially ironically: marginality is so much a part of cultural sociologists’ self-image that the hand-wringing is actually a form of self-congratulation. (This might make prestige an “inferior good”?) Comments?


1. I bought new shoes. They look a lot like the two right shoes I already brought to Boston.
2. I have the Scatterplot ribbons. They sparkle.
3. I’ve set aside my bitterness at being thwarted in my efforts to get people to mass twittercast ASA last year, and I am all set up to be twittering it now. Thanks to Contexts, you can follow the action here.
4. Scatterplot party at City Bar tonight at 7. Meanwhile, the time and location of The Soc Shrine High Tea remains shrouded in secrecy.

be your favorite sociologist!

I haven’t looked at the ASA messaging service yet. But, in my inbox yesterday already:

You have received an Electronic Postcard.

To: jeremyfreese[at]gmail
From: jfreese[at]northwestern
Subject: ASA 2009: Thanks to ASA, I am You

So, yeah, change your password.

I’m looking forward to seeing you.


The postcard did have a nice photo of the USS Constitution and the Bunker Hill Monument.

public sociology in farmtown (4): white supremacy

It is important to place this discussion in the context of the whole conference, so it you are new to this series, please check out the previous post.  For a quick recap, I’m writing about a two-day conference on racial disparities in incarceration and education at a university in a rural area I call Farmtown.  The previous post focused the first half of the first day and the ways information was brought into the group.  This post focuses on the second part of the first day, which ran from 3:15 – 9pm.

Two Farmtown professors do the short version of a workshop they’ve done often before for white faculty at their institution on the ideology of white supremacy.  The black social science professor goes first, and it is relevant to note that he is older, in his sixties.  His title is “isms and schisms.”  The point is about how demographic differences become structures of inequality.  He talks about how people respond to experiences of discrimination and then asks people what they see when the imagine pictures of powerful groups (i.e. Congress, Supreme Court).   We are supposed to say “white male.”  I hear one of the officers next to me say something like “mostly white males with some women and a few blacks and latinos” to Congress, and for the Supreme Court says “mostly white men and a woman and a black man.”   At the end of this exercise, he requires the white man to answer his “what do you see?” question, and the answer is “mostly white men.”  I’m glad I’m not put on the spot like that.  I learn later that the speaker always forces a white person to answer this question.  Continue reading “public sociology in farmtown (4): white supremacy”

all right

As I was getting ready for the dinner for the miniconference I’m attending tonight, I took my dress shoes out of my suitcase and put them on. My left foot was uncomfortable. I looked down and saw that I had put my right shoe on my left foot. Except my right shoe was also on my right foot. It took me a few moments before I remembered that the reason that I bought the dress shoes that I did a few months ago is that they looked like this older pair that I liked. A trip to a shoe store in Boston will be made tomorrow, although it was my Converse All-Stars at the dinner tonight.

oh, don’t forget

I just had a panic, thinking that I had forgotten to order the awards plaques for sexualities section awards. It turns out that I hadn’t forgotten that. I had forgotten that we agreed that a different section officer would do it, starting this year. Whew! Tonight, I’ll probably have that dream where I’ve forgotten my presentation, realizing that only after I’m introduced and everyone is looking at me. Thursday, I’ll probably really forget to pack that doohickey that Mac users need to fit into that ridiculously huge projector cable.

If you’re forgetful like me, you might find the oh, don’t forget site useful. For free (or I guess for the cost of one text message), you can send yourself a text message at a time in the future. Like I’m about to set one for tomorrow that says “put that Mac doohickey in your briefcase.”

(h/t Academic Lifehacker)

AIDS is a black disease

Or at least so suggests a new report. Some things I didn’t know:

  • About half of the just over 1 million Americans living with HIV or AIDS are Black
  • AIDS is the leading cause of death among Black women between ages 25 and 34
  • It’s the second-leading cause of death in Black men 35-44.
  • In Washington, more than 80 percent of HIV cases are among Black people
  • Five percent of the entire population (in DC) is infected

A new report was released today on the color of the AIDS epidemic. CNN reported it here.

are we blogging asa?

If so, how? I’m just curious if we’re going to have teams of bloggers out there, reporting back nightly. And if so, is anything off the record? You know, what happens at ASA stays at ASA. Are people going to be afraid of talking to us? We’ll have ribbons (RIBBONS!) that could serve as an indicator to others: stay away… I prefer a laissez-faire attitude. But I’m happy to be disciplined.

join my university!

I’m already in Boston (or, at least, Cambridge). When I arrived last night, I saw they already have the banner for the American Sociological Association meetings hanging over the luggage claim. Speaking of which:

Eszter asked me to pass along that the Communication Studies Department of the School of Communication at Northwestern is likely to be hiring for several positions this Fall in the area of Media, Technology and Society. These may be of interest to some ASA attendees. Eszter will be at ASA and would be happy to talk to people about the program. Contact Eszter by sending her an email.

(I could include her e-mail here, but if you’re not able to find it online on your own, perhaps a job in Media, Technology, and Society is not for you.)

public sociology in farmtown (3): getting information

My in-house editorial advisor says he likes the longer posts better, that the shorter posts seem like wind-up and no pitch, so I’m going to do this in somewhat bigger lumps.  To recap posts 1 and 2, I’m writing about a conference of 35-45 participants on racial disparities in incarceration and education being put on at a university in a rural area (Farmtown) that is organized by faculty and staff of color whose attendees are predominantly people of color, roughly half from the hosting university and the others from the metropolitan areas in the state, which include the state capital with the  main university campus I call Unitown, the big city I call Segtown, and other urban areas in the swath between Segtown and BigCity in the next state over.  I wanted to write about partly because interactions in a conference that is mostly people of color are different from those in a white-dominated setting and are different from what many whites think they would be.  And partly just to give the flavor of a real conference in all its complexity.

This is an ambitious and even exhausting conference.  Continue reading “public sociology in farmtown (3): getting information”

religion and science

My chair keeps trying to get me to read stuff that demonstrates that religion is Wrong with a big W. Most recently he asked me to read Evans and Evans’ piece in the Annual Review on the religion-science “conflict” which is rather friendly to religion. He asked me to do so because he thought it was “disingenuous” and wanted to talk to me about it. I haven’t yet talked to him about it, but just read it, and will report back on my conversation with him when it happens. Meanwhile, after the break, an old-ish think piece I wrote on some prior books he wanted me to read: Dawkins’ The God Delusion and Harris’ The End of Faith. Continue reading “religion and science”

pivotality and performativity

OrgTheory is at it again with their “I’m really not an economist, really I’m not” theme. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading up on the voting literature for a forthcoming article I’m preparing for Contexts on the sociology of voting. I came across Duffy and and Tavits’ new article in AJPS on “pivotality”: more on my reading and thoughts on it after the break. Continue reading “pivotality and performativity”

digital asa program

I know about the ASA’s online program, and I know that the ASA publishes its program as .pdf files on its website, but what I don’t know is whether any of these digital sources of program info will at some point include room numbers, as the Giant Printed Program that we will receive upon registration will. It sure would be great to have that info in one digital form or another. Anyone know anything about this?