do student interests reveal the future of sociology?

Below the jump are the ASA sections ranked by the proportion of their members that are student members. I would have made it into a graph if I had sophomore-level Excel skills; as it is, you are lucky I managed to sort and round the numbers.

Is this a good measure of the areas of sociology we’d expect to get bigger or smaller in the years ahead? Main limitations I see to considering the numbers as a predictor of growth would be whatever extent the different areas have different probabilities of students transitioning to the professoriate and/or different probabilities of switching interest areas along the way. Plus areas may differ in the extent to which they recruit student members, especially those sections that tend to hover around the lines that determine how many sessions each section gets at the meetings.

Probably the biggest surprise for me on the high side is how student-dominated Race/Gender/Class still is (what happened to all the folks interested in this when I was a student?) and probably the biggest surprise on the low side is only 20% of Sociology of Population (do demography students mostly ignore ASA in favor of PAA?).
Continue reading “do student interests reveal the future of sociology?”

if harry hay could see them now

In the news today, trouble in gay softball leagues: what to do with all the straights who want to play, too. Leagues have limits, either everyone who plays must be gay, or there might be a 2-hetero limit on each team. The question becomes how to tell who has too many straights. The blurry and fluid boundaries of sexuality that scholars have been loving to talk and write about for decades comes into stark relief as the shortstop married to a woman says he is bisexual, or the best slugger in the league claims to be both straight and gay. Continue reading “if harry hay could see them now”

free kittens or social measurement ideas

I was reviewing something yesterday that had a sentence of the form “Recent work, however, indicates that… (Smith 1997).” About which my first thought was, “That’s not recent.” And my second thought was, “Well, this paper is in a slow-moving specialty area, so maybe that does count as recent.” I wonder if somebody handy with text scraping could take instances of “recent work”, “recent study”, “recent paper”, etc., and the accompanying citation date and use it as a measure of how quickly different areas or fields develop.

al gore invents something and all republicans want to do is tear it down

I looked through the Coburn report (hipsters pronounce it co-BURN re-PURN)  that recommends eliminating the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences directorate of NSF. The report contains a section that gives examples of smart funding by NSF. First on the list: the Internet. Second: cloud computing (i.e., the Internet). The latter half of it are studies that Coburn uses to illustrate what sorts of things taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for. And what does it focus on? The Internet–studies of its use and social impact. I was too lazy to keep precise count, but social implications of the Internet seemed like over a third of the projects listed, on these topics: Continue reading “al gore invents something and all republicans want to do is tear it down”

stata 12!

Stata 12 has been announced. The three biggest additions for sociologists are probably:

1. Structural equation modeling, including (sigh) a path-diagram drawing module for folks who cannot figure out what their diagram implies in terms of a set of linear equations. Includes FIML estimation for missing data, which is the SEM counterpart to multiple imputation in terms of missing-data techniques that some folks wishfully believe have mystical powers to surmount fundamental data limitations on inference.

2. The -margins- command added in Stata 11 will be accompanied now by a graphing program, so between the two of those commands one should be able to do just about anything one wants post-estimation with predicted values. -Margins- already is a mighty command, with the caveat is that it is extremely easy to use it to generate results that are not quite what you thought you were getting.

3. A -contrast- command that allows you to easily generate the significance tests for various kinds of implied contrasts in a model, so you don’t have to re-estimate models with different dummy variable or interaction specifications in order to get all the significance tests of interest.

The analogy in my mind is that Stata is to the iPhone as R is to Android, as far as social science data analysis goes. I guess SAS would be BlackBerry, insofar as it’s dated and propped up by a strong lock-in among government employees. And SPSS is a Nokia phone that has a slick interface for dialing your friends but requires you to push dozens of extra buttons in a non-intuitive sequence if you want to call anyone new.

[Update: Gabriel beat me to posting about this. He’s also enthusiastic about the addition to contour plots and the ability to export graphs as PDF.]

parents of the reading class: the backlash against your little ‘joke’ has begun

From CNN.com, regarding the best-selling book Go the F*** to Sleep:

“Crass in concept and execution, this is an expletive-filled bedtime story intended solely for the amusement of parents. […]

Imagine if this were written about Jews, blacks, Muslims or Latinos,” says Dr. David Arredondo. He is an expert on child development and founder of The Children’s Program, in the San Francisco metropolitan area, which provides consultation and training for those working with troubled youths.

It is hard to imagine this kind of humor being tolerated by any of the marginalized groups Arredondo cited. Consider the lines on page 3:

“The eagles who soar thru the sky are at rest
And the creatures who crawl, run and creep.
I know you are not thirsty. That’s bulls**t.
Stop lying.
Lie the f*** down, my darling, and sleep.”

The irony, says Arredondo, is that the people buying the book are probably good parents.

I wonder how much contemporary satire would pass the test of “Imagine if a paunchy white Southern sheriff was screaming this at an [insert disadvantaged group] person they had just pulled over for speeding. Stop lying. I know you are not thirsty. Is it so funny now?”

welcome, dissidents!

So, just in case Scatterplot and Orgtheory end up squaring off in a race to get banned in China, I looked up a list of phrases that will supposedly put you on the golden road to getting blocked. Phrases of potential relevance to handicapping the contest:

1. A power law [advantage, Orgtheory, which occasionally discussions about mathematical models]
2. PubMed [advantage, Scatterplot, with more connections to health research]
3. Sale of organs [advantage, Orgtheory (Kieran)]
4. Pseudo-large [advantage, Scatterplot, given the wild ideas some people seem to have about the extent of our readership]
5. Fake diploma [advantage… wait, I think that’s supposed to be a secret.]
6. Miss Independent [advantage, Scatterplot. You do not want to take me on at Kelly Clarkson karaoke.]
7. Young woman [disadvantage, Scatterplot (Olderwoman)]
8. Electric Chicken [advantage, Scatterplot (Have you seen Shamus dance?)]
9. Boycott [advantage, Orgtheory (Brayden)]
10. Gambling [advantage, Scatterplot. Seriously, as some will have the privilege to see at ASA Vegas, Freese has a mortgage now and a system for roulette that works.]