sunday morning sociology, technology and inequality edition

McMillan Cottom Black Box
Tressie MC on algorithms and racism in a society dominated by black boxes.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

This week’s links include discussions of the replication crisis and new directions in the science war(s), and sexual harassment, along with economic sociology links focused on the intersection of tech and inequality.

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an object lesson in good interviewing and public health

I have recently experienced an example of a persistent and rigorous interview that yielded an unexpected payoff. I somehow contracted a Giardia infection, a parasite usually associated with contaminated water. The first questions anyone knowledgeable asks are “Were you drinking out of streams?” and “Were you drinking well water?” because there is a problem in rural areas with contaminated water and wells can become contaminated, especially when there is a lot of flooding, as there was this summer. But I am a city person and only drink tap water. No, I haven’t been camping, I have not been drinking out of streams. I thought maybe there was a sick food service worker? Maybe contaminated tap water in a rural gas station in our trip to Duluth? Hard to know.

It turns out that Giardia is a reportable public health infection, so I got a call this week from a public health student. Continue reading “an object lesson in good interviewing and public health”

sunday morning sociology, apocalypse not canceled edition

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The NYT covers how rapidly Trump voters have adopted his criticisms of the NFL. Vox.com has more on the same theme here.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

Between wildfires in California, violence in Myanmar and the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, and everything else in the news, things feel a little grim. The following links will probably not make you feel better, but perhaps they will distract you for a spell?

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apparently, economics is a science because men do it

The so-called “demarcation question” – separating science from not-science – is an old and thorny one. Fields (often) want to be labeled as scientific because science is afforded a certain kind of cultural authority along with material resources (read: big grant money). Sometimes this question is about creating boundaries between science and pseudo-science (debating say ESP or homeopathy). Other times, it’s about sectioning off science from the humanities, into  “two cultures” that are understood as distinct and even oppositional. In the classic “two cultures” division of academia though, the social sciences are a bit of an outlier. Are economics, psychology, sociology, anthropology, geography, anthropology, and history sciences? Are some of them sciences and not others? What criteria would we use to demarcate the scientific ones from the not-science, whatever we decide to call it?

Well, apparently the answer is that a field counts as science if men do it.

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guest post: why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

The following is a guest post by Arielle Kuperberg.

In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Mark Regnerus argues that men aren’t getting married because “sex has become rather cheap” (the op-ed is behind a paywall, but you can read excerpts here), and he elaborates the argument in a book he recently published (full disclosure: I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to). You may remember Regnerus from his article “Gay parents are bad, mmmkay?” the now-infamous study in which he used seriously flawed methods to conclude gay parenting has negative effects, by comparing the kids of gay people (many of whom had gotten divorced from the child’s other-sex parent, had never parented with a same-sex partner, or had never even lived with their child), to kids of people in intact heterosexual marriages. Turns out when comparisons are instead made between kids of people in intact heterosexual marriages and kids of those in intact same-sex couples, the kids turn out pretty much the same.

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sunday morning sociology, american violence edition

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Kieran Healy updates his chart showing both the relative decline of US assault deaths, and how much of an outlier we are compared to most other rich nations. Via the Monkey Cage.

A weekly link round-up of sociological work – work by sociologists, referencing sociologists, or just of interest to sociologists. This scatterplot feature is co-produced with Mike Bader.

What a week.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, american violence edition”

is the era of “colorblind racism” over?

Racial politics for the past couple decades have been characterized by “colorblind racism”, defined by Bonilla-Silva as an ideology that rationalizes the subordinated positions of people of color as the outcome of market forces, cultures of poverty, or natural tendencies. As Bonilla-Silva notes, this “new racism” is not the only form of racism that has maintained America’s racial hierarchy since the 1960s, but it has arguably been dominant. Colorblind racism involves ignoring or downplaying structural racism, employing dog whistles in place of explicit racist imagery, and alleging reverse racism whenever a program or policy makes race explicit in order to combat the effects of structural racism.

The 2016 election, the Trump presidency, and a few sets of new survey results make me question if we’re seeing the beginning of another transformation in American racial discourse. This transformation involves the return of explicit racism in right political discourse, the rise of a more explicit White racial identity politics, the rising acceptance of explicit racist discourse in place of dog whistles, and the increasing (albeit still partial) rejection of colorblindness by Democrats/the left (driven perhaps by negative partisanship and the GOP’s embrace of explicit racism). So, what’s the evidence?

Continue reading “is the era of “colorblind racism” over?”