grad skool rulz

Truly: if you are a graduate student and feel this way about it, quit. Now. Also, if you have a blog about exposing classism and have no more perspective than this on the privilege of being in the academy versus the bottom of the labor market, quit. Now.

(Well, except for #1. #1 is a good point. And #14.)

UPDATE: The question arose in the comments of whether this is satire. I think, sure, it’s satire in the sense of “this person is trying to be funny and is likely not claiming that, as a factual matter, working at McDonald’s is a fully superior job than being a grad student.” It would have worked better, though, as a satire-parody of that small proportion of graduate students who take the real difficulties of student life and transform them into delusional levels of self-pity.

a major social experiment in england

Today the UK announced tremendous cuts in its overall government. Check out any UK publication for details. Basically, public welfare has been slashed. The Guardian has a great overview of the key points of the cut. What I find most shocking: a 60% cut in public housing and the elimination of almost 500,000 public sector jobs. Astonishing. This is one of the great social experiments of the century. And I fear it will make Thatcherism look like a pure joy.

ask a scatterbrain: getting your book reviewed

So, the book comes out in January. And I’m thinking, “how do things get reviewed in journals?” Obviously, there is a matter of choice involved (the book reviews editor decides what is review-worthy). But I’m guessing there’s more to it than that. I mean, the editor has to know the book exists before they can send it out for review. So step one might be making sure the journals you want to review the book actually get a copy. And there are, no doubt, things that might encourage said editor to send out vs. throw out a book. So I’m curious, any advice for getting your book reviewed by journals? I know that your press can help. My press has been great. But advice on working with your press on this as well might be helpful too.

my office hours

I’m featured this week on the Contexts Office Hours podcast, talking about genetics and social science. First time on a podcast. It was fun to do, although because of the bad mic on my laptop I essentially had to rest my forehead against the screen and chin on the keyboard and bellow.

Update: I was reminded that Office Hours is not affiliated with Contexts. Speaking of which: hey, want to edit Contexts?

socialization syllabus.

I’m constructing the syllabus for a new upper-level sociology class next semester, “Socialization and the Life Course.” As far as I can tell, there are two ways that I can structure it.

The first is by institutions – the role of the family, schools, religion, media, work and occupations, etc. – in the “nurture” side of our development through the life course. The other, which sounds really cool to me if I can figure out how to make it happen, would explore socialization from (before) birth to death. The latter is more appealing for a number of reasons, including its ability to highlight sociology’s unique approach to socialization as something that occurs throughout the life course and that this framework might allow for more attention to the interplay of biological and social influences at various points in our lives.

Now that I’ve laid out what I want from the course, here’s what I’m looking for from you… readings (books or articles) or topics that you’d include in a similar class.  In thinking about the course I’ve realized that the relevant readings that I’ve used in other classes are predominantly 1) about gender (e.g. Martin, Thorne, Messner, and Kane) and 2) about childhood (e.g. those previously listed, plus Lareau, Van Ausdale & Feagin, and Adler & Adler).  I’d like a little variety.

Does anyone have ideas about “pre-natal socialization” (for lack of a better term), perhaps about particular parents’ proclivities to read to their child in utero or to play them Bach before they’re born, or the influence of widespread sonograms on parents’ construction of children’s worlds before they’re even born. What about the influence of names? Or perhaps someone has tips for moving beyond gender (and race and class, although I can use more in both those areas) to other roles or groups that we’re socialized into and stages beyond childhood and young-adulthood. Maybe Shamus has ideas for class beyond Lareau or Tina for how people learn to understand their own and others’ sexuality? What can other scatterbrains add about political socialization or trust or the role of neighborhoods? I’d also love insight on some readings that address the link between nature and nurture in ways that are accessible to undergrads. And, finally, what about the end of life. What are some good readings on retirement, old age, and death and dying with a socialization bent?

Alternatively, of course, you could just put your favorite socialization or life course reading in the comments.


not a squirt in the eye

The NY Times covers a conference on elites and features Scatterplot’s own Shamus Khan, including a photo with Sudhir Venkatesh and Dorian Warren set in front of the requisite bookcase (are those books arranged by cover colour, or is it just me?). It’s a good, if shallow, article on the idea of studying elites instead of poor, and even pays some attention to how to define elites and how to approach the problem of the role of elites in inequality.

Just as I was feeling impressed that the Times would care about these issues, I began to get uneasy that this article was about to deliver these fine scholars into the clutches of Glenn Beck, who is about to develop a new theory of how the socialists are taking over the country by attacking the elites, featuring in particular that photo of men of color in dashing suits who are going to be in charge after they have taken all your money away with their wealth redistribution schemes.

Shamus, are you worried?

a joyous waste of time

So I started a project with a colleague of mine, Peter Bearman, which has been ramping up recently. Basically, last year I convinced a website,, to give me all their data. That data has information on about 250,000 New Yorkers and the parties they have attended over the last 5 years (think art openings, gala events, fashion week, etc.). It’s who is at the parties, and who is pictured next to whom. So basically network data. Obviously, I’m not doing any of the data analysis. Instead, I’m going to parties. So, provided the data are interesting, it’s part network data, part ethnography on how people construct/negotiate status hierarchies. Over the course of this, I met Tim Schwartz, who has written a really cool program that allows you to gather terms from the NY Times and see how they’ve been used from 1850-2008. It’s totally worth checking out. I’ll warn you (as Tim does), that it’s not totally stable. But it is really cool. You can see when technologies emerge and how they become popular and unpopular (like bikes, or cars). A very cool project could be done here. I’ll also warn you: you can waste a lot of time here. Enjoy!

killing the messenger

UNC football is in the middle of a scandal involving improper contact with athletic agents and potential academic violations. It turns out that one of the main ways the scandal broke was that players were bragging via Twitter about perks paid for by agents, e.g, drinks, entry to fancy parties, and so on. So this morning’s Daily Tar Heel says… wait for it…

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science and morality, harris-style

Sam Harris is back. Since writing The End of Faith, apparently while an undergraduate at Stanford, he wrote Letter to a Christian Nation; he’s also been completing a Ph.D. at UCLA’s interdisciplinary neuroscience program. In his new book, The Moral Landscape, he seeks to bring his new field to bear on one of the thorniest problems in The End of Faith, a book plagued by thorny problems. The issue is whether science alone can provide morality. The End of Faith asserts that we don’t need religion to be moral, but doesn’t actually offer an alternative. The Moral Landscape is an attempt to provide that alternative.

Continue reading “science and morality, harris-style”