for most people, sociology is just as authoritative as economics

Sociologists engage in a lot of hang-wringing about the perception of the field. One theory goes that sociology is not perceived as scientific enough and, as a result, sociologists are not taken as seriously. The usual comparison is to economics, which is seen as both incredibly influential in policymaking and as being endowed with more scientificity by various actors.

In contrast, Beth Popp Berman and I, along with other scholars who study economists’ influence, have argued that the political power of economics (vis-a-vis sociology) does not run primarily through general public opinion about scientificity. Rather, we argue that economists are influential because of their role in particular policymaking institutions (like the Federal Reserve) and through shaping the mindset of policymaking elites (in law schools and public policy schools, say).

A new paper by sociologists Scheitle and Guthrie (S&G) provides evidence in support of this claim through a clever survey experiment (pdf here). Continue reading “for most people, sociology is just as authoritative as economics”

holiday office party: soc theory edition

It’s that time of year again – time for colleagues to gather in office conference rooms, drink a little punch, and maybe swap tactfully dull gifts. And that got me thinking – what would sociology’s theorists bring to a holiday gift exchange?

Here’s what I’d guess:

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the new digital divide on college campuses

It’s easy to look around a college campus and think – there’s no digital divide here. While waiting for class (or even walking to class) students pass the time by scrolling through Instagram or checking email on their phones. After class, students retreat to the library or to their dorm rooms to do homework on their laptops. These devices are ubiquitous to the point where some college professors have opted to ban them or relegate them to certain corners of the classroom.

And yet, despite that ubiquity, today’s college students are still very much divided along digital lines. In a new article published in the journal Communication Research, my co-authors—University of California Santa Barbara Communications Professor Amy Gonzales and Ohio State Communications Professor Teresa Lynch—and I argue that the digital divide on college campuses has shifted from one of technology access to one of technology maintenance. In a survey of college students at a large, midwestern university, we find near-universal ownership of cell phones and laptops. That said, we also find big gaps in the quality and reliability of the technology students own. Specifically, we find that students of color and students from low-income families typically rely on older, lower-quality devices that are more likely to break down over time.

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sunday morning sociology, monopoly edition

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Big companies are getting bigger, as David Leonhardt discusses in the NYT.

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.

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it’s not you–it’s your committee

design desk display eyewear
Photo by energepic.com on Pexels.com

Yesterday, I passed my publishable paper requirement. It’s a triumph and a milestone worth celebrating, particularly because I failed my first defense.

I was really, really surprised that I had failed. I had done everything students in my program were supposed to do to pass the publishable paper requirement. I developed the paper in my methods classes, brought the paper to a workshop, took a class on academic writing to edit it, presented it at a conference, and I received positive feedback every step of the way. A lot of that positive feedback came from members of my committee. Two members had even recommended an earlier draft for publication at the top journal in my subfield. Just before my defense, the chair of my committee had talked about how she expected the paper would pass easily, leaving time for my committee to discuss expectations for my dissertation. Walking into my defense, the requirement felt like a formality and an opportunity for some additional feedback before I sent the paper out to the next journal on its long road to finding the right home for academic publication.

That’s not at all what happened.

Continue reading “it’s not you–it’s your committee”

go the f* to sleep

Travel with kids is rarely a vacation. But the trip we took last week left me utterly exhausted. And that exhaustion left me angry and on-edge. Which in turn sent me down a late-night rabbit hole into the research on parenting and sleep.

To give you the bleary-eyed backstory, we were visiting my in-laws in Florida for Thanksgiving. And my one-and-a-half-year-old went on a sleep strike. He’d go to bed fine around 7:30pm. But sometime between 10pm and 1am, he’d wake up screaming. And refuse to go back to sleep. My partner would try his best to soothe him, but kiddo would just scream and scream. And with a condo full of people (including a sleeping four-year-old down the hall), we couldn’t risk letting him get too loud. So I’d scoop him up and try my best to get him back to sleep. Sometimes I’d nurse him. Sometimes I’d walk in circles and sing to him softly. That almost always stopped the screaming. And most of the time I eventually got him back to sleep. But, inevitably, thirty minutes or so later, he’d be awake again. One night, he woke up more than ten times.

When I couldn’t take it anymore, usually sometime between 3am and 5am, I’d bring kiddo in bed with me. I’d tuck him into the crook of my arm, his head resting softly on my shoulder. And, almost immediately, he’d settle into a quiet sleep.

Now, that might sound like a sweet solution (and it’s not an uncommon one), but it was far from slumber-full. Because babies don’t actually sleep like babies. They sleep like wriggling worms. Kiddo would start off all curled up beside me. But then, thirty minutes later, he’d want to be on my other side. Then on my chest. Then, his favorite, with his face pressed up against mine. So even when he slept, I rarely did.

And the less sleep I got, the more the normal frustrations of parenting grated on my nerves.

Continue reading “go the f* to sleep”