canadian meeting review

Back from the Canadian Soc meetings, and it was much better than I expected. The Author Meets Critics session I participated in was a unique opportunity to discuss ideas about the role of political institutions in social change and their relationship to social movements. The reception was a nice chance to meet a few new people and say hello to some others I hadn’t seen in a while. It also reminded me just how small the Canadian sociology world is, as the reception for all of sociology was smaller than the receptions for the ASA section receptions I have attended.

In the past, the Canadian meetings left me feeling like I had shown up to the prom without a date, but this time I had plenty of socializing to do. It probably was not the fault of the meetings; I think it just takes a while to build up networks in a new place. But the best part of all is that I heard that in the business meeting, the association voted to raise our membership fees to hire a web designer. Though I had nothing to do with it, I will count it as yet another Scatterplot victory.

social critic?

I’m on an extended vacation in Italy with my spouse, so not posting much. But this part of my travel journal seems pertinent to sociology. In Venice, we visited the Church of the Frari. There is a lot of important and wonderful renaissance art here (the Titian and Bellini works were gorgeous), and we listened to an informative audio tape that described the art. But what blew me away the most was a piece that was not described in the audio and had no English (or Italian for that matter) interpretative material. Lots of Latin on the signs. Intricately carved statues of Black slaves in tattered clothes holding bags of flour? rice? on their shoulders and thereby supporting the edifice above — a rich Doge surrounded by angels and dragons. The slaves are very human and wear unhappy expressions. There are also two black skeletons holding scrolls that tell about his life. I thought that the artists were perhaps making a statement about the source of power and wealth. I spent a lot of time looking at it. To me, the “message” of the piece was unmistakable: this wealthy give lived by exploiting the labor of suffering Black people. It seems to me that the artist had to intend some critique. But as the monument was meant to honor someone, maybe not. I bought a postcard so I could look this up later. It is the monument to Doge Giovanni Pesaro, designed by Baldassarre Longhena; the giant statues  are by Melchior Barthel from Dresden. You can see a lot of good-quality slides showing the details of this monument beginning here. Continue reading “social critic?”

reviewing and grad students

I  have a quick ethical question: I get lots of reviews these days. This is a common complaint among our readers. I would have liked if someone spent time with me in graduate school going over how to review a paper. I am by no means an expert, but I have enough experience that I feel I can convey some lessons to my grad students about it. The best way to do this, I think, is actually to review a paper with a student (give them a paper you’ve been asked to review, both review it, and then go over how you both did it). My concern: is this ethical? Is it a violation of some part of the review process? I know you’re not supposed to share papers you’ve been asked to review. But if it’s a teaching tool that doesn’t go beyond a grad student or two, is it cool? Input from editors or former editors would be particularly welcome.

us unemployment may soon be higher than europe

The NYTimes has this article on our unemployment rate. It argues that the conventional wisdom that the flexibility of the American economy means lower unemployment than the rigidness of Europe is being challenged. And it shows a graph (below) that supports the claim that the US unemployment rate may soon go above Europe’s. I find this interesting, with one caveat: I think the US economy is in a later phase of dealing with the global downturn than the Europeans. And that peak unemployment rates will still be higher in Europe overall. This is not an indictment of Europe or a defense of the US (indeed, there are reasons why I might prefer having fewer good jobs and strong social services to lots of bad jobs). But still… Continue reading “us unemployment may soon be higher than europe”

whoa, sociologists get paid less than anthropologists?

(from an ASA report on salaries in the social sciences)

Anthropology is dying and has been for twenty years. Even when it is spelled correctly. I guess it could be that because they are dying they have relatively fewer assistant professors and so the average anthropologist is more senior than the average sociologist.

dude, why are you so cranky?

1. It is not summer here at Northwestern yet.

2. It is not even especially close to being summer here yet.

This quarter has been a perverse celebration of the benefit to faculty of the quarter system. I had a bunch of professional obligations coincide with the beginning of the quarter, such that I started out feeling very behind. And, just like students who start graduate school with consumer debt don’t get out of it while in graduate school, faculty who start their busiest teaching quarter/semester behind don’t catch-up while it is going on. So I’ve had seven weeks of feelings alternative between ohmygodIamsofarbehind and ohmygodhowdidIgetthisfarbehind. This situation is not going to improve in the 2 1/2 weeks of teaching I have left.

But, on semesters, I would have this same feeling and still not be halfway done.

ask a scatterbrain: parental leave

A reader asks:

“To all you tenured and tenure-track Scatterplotters, how does your university handle the issue of leaves of absence for male faculty members who become parents during the academic year? Do you have paternity leave? If yes, does the policy differ from the maternity leave policy? At my university, only female faculty members who physically give birth are entitled to paid leave (by deploying accumulated sick days). This doesn’t cover a whole semester, but departments generally step-up and release female faculty members from teaching for a semester, in exchange for some increased administrative duties. Males are only entitled to 12 weeks of unpaid leave (per Federal law).”

I’m perhaps a little embarrassed to admit that I have no idea what the paternal leave policy is Northwestern (or what it was at Madison when I was there).