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?
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.
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.
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?
In my long running quest to make xkcd’s parody real, yesterday on Twitter and Facebook I asked, sociologists to rank the generalist journals from best to worst. Practically, I circulated a wiki survey via AllOurIdeas (you can still take it here, but I won’t update these rankings right away) to that effect, stating the question as “Which generalist sociology journal is better? [Imagine evaluating a CV for a job.]” So far, users have cast 5870 votes across 189 unique sessions (though I haven’t dug into the details beyond that, so it’s possible that Fabio cast most of the votes). My goal here, as the prompt indicates, was to cue the context of glancing at someone’s CV and seeing one of the listed journals, though who knows how it was actually interpreted. Here are the rankings as of Thursday, 9/28, 8:40am: