school colors

College football season began yesterday. Northwestern has billboards up around the city about how we are “Chicago’s Big Ten Team,” which is geographically correct but undermined a bit by the issue that, because we are much smaller than any other Big Ten school and we attract and send students far and wide, we actually have fewer alumni who live in the Chicago area than nearly every other Big Ten school. Nevertheless, despite our trifecta of handicaps–small fanbase, nationally-leading graduation rates, and squeaky-clean rules-compliance record–we won yesterday and may well wind up in the top half of the conference.

The big off-field news for the past year in college football has been conference realignment, responsible for such quirks as the Big Ten Conference having 12 members and the Big 12 Conference having 10. Realignment includes Colorado and Utah joining the Pac-12. Fox Sports online decided to run a feature in which they had students from one of the traditional Pac-12 powers give an “All-American welcome” to Colorado and Utah. Only who did they choose? Asian students at USC. Get it? As perhaps anyone apart from whatever dozens of people worked on this segment could predict, the attempt at hilarity has been followed by retractions, web purgings, and promises to review editorial processes.

‘who are the most ruthless capitalists in the world?’

According to this article, it’s academic journal publishers.  They describe a system that looks suspiciously like free labor and monopoly pricing:

[A]cademic publishers get their articles, their peer reviewing (vetting by other researchers) and even much of their editing for free. The material they publish was commissioned and funded not by them but by us, through government research grants and academic stipends. But to see it, we must pay again, and through the nose…

[U]niversities are locked into buying their products. Academic papers are published in only one place, and they have to be read by researchers trying to keep up with their subject. Demand is inelastic and competition non-existent, because different journals can’t publish the same material. In many cases the publishers oblige the libraries to buy a large package of journals, whether or not they want them all.

Dot-connecting to sociology will be left as an exercise for the reader.

tea party research and the public sphere

Warning at the outset: this is going to be a LONG post!

Early last year, my friend Steven Tepper and I were talking about the Tea Party Movement (TPM) and how best to understand its rise and appeal. We were genuinely curious about it: to what extent it was a new phenomenon as opposed to a recapitulation of familiar political formations; the relationship between cultural and political dispositions and practices; the extent to which it reflected a focus for members to identify with as opposed to a cluster of political preferences. Based on our curiosity, we invited two terrific colleagues–Neal Caren and graduate student Sally Morris–to join us in a research project.

Continue reading “tea party research and the public sphere”

sweet child o’ shrine

Tina’s last post had various commenters getting nostalgic for special moments from the Golden Age Of Social Blogging.  Here’s another: remember when we were reluctant to link to the Sociology Shrine blog because every time we did, they would respond by deleting their blog entirely?

Anyway, we’re all older now, and the Shriners appear to have found a sufficiently stable identity that only occasionally involves referencing sociology blogs.  So hopefully I will not send them down another self-erasing rabbit hole by mentioning them now. They have offered an opinion on the recent thread regarding tweeting-talks: Continue reading “sweet child o’ shrine”

you kids, get off my lawn

Okay, pipsqueaks. Enough is enough. You can borrow a bingo card idea. You can suggest that we are mean or out of touch for laughing at the quirks of the ASA meetings. But you cannot, under any circumstances, suggest that we don’t understand Twitter because we are old.

the “chronically hip grad student” square was not just, as Nathan Jurgenson asserted, a mainstream culture-embedded dig at hipsters, but also an indication of a general discomfort among less technologically savvy sociologists at the increasing use of technology to augment professional scholarly activities, often though not always by colleagues younger than themselves. Continue reading “you kids, get off my lawn”

booing david brooks

[Discussed here by Doug Hartmann and here by Brayden King.]

David Brooks received the ASA award for “Excellence in the Reporting of Social Issues”–an award begun as part of the recent desire for more public sociology. Apparently some people booed and such when the award was announced. I wasn’t there; neither was Brooks. Question: Are we talking a lot of jeering or a little? I know some people were worried there was going to be full-throated nasty insurrection and that appears not to have come to pass.

Given that Brooks was selected for an award through a clearly defined and ostensibly reasonable ASA process, is it okay for folks to boo the announcement? Continue reading “booing david brooks”


Today starts my second year as department chair here at Northwestern. Year 1 overall verdict: Not bad. I would even go so far as to say I have mostly enjoyed it, and that it’s certainly been a good occasion for personal growth.

Fact of the matter, though, I feel like I’ve had it easy so far. Everyone, please, find some wood and knock on it. Good staff and good resources certainly help here–and are greatly appreciated–but the biggest boon has been:

Continue reading “chairversary!”