sunday morning sociology, opinions on shape of earth edition

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Vis 538, as part of their feature on “identity politics” (whatever that means) and specifically comparing the priorities of Presidents Obama and Trump.  

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.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, opinions on shape of earth edition”

sunday morning sociology, anscombe’s dinosaur edition

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“Same Stats, Different Graphs” – a method for generating radically different datasets with similar summary statistics, and thus a strong argument for visualization as a key step in data analysis.

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.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, anscombe’s dinosaur edition”

blame it on pomo

Postmodernism is the first intellectual movement to acknowledge its own historical partiality. From that spring many of its faults and virtues, not to mention its caricatures. Because for a movement in some ways so arrogant — so insistent on its own epistemic correctness — to insist as well that it was always already partial evokes the kind of unease that many pundits (and social and natural scientists) feel when discussing postmodernism. Unfortunately, it also evokes the caricatures (not to say reaction-formations) that are common among those same pundits and scholars. Continue reading “blame it on pomo”

sunday morning sociology, blogging about blogs edition

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In “Getting Educated about Working Class Whites,” Nathan Lauster analyzes ANES data and finds that income now has a very weak relationship to vote preference once you control for education.

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 features many links to other great blogs. Rumors of the death of blogs are greatly exaggerated!

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, blogging about blogs edition”

new adventures in classical theory

Last Fall, I taught graduate classical social theory for the first time. I’m teaching the course again in the coming academic year and I’m trying to decide what, if anything, to change. Last year’s version “worked” on the whole, though there were rough patches. Du Bois, who I had not read before, was a big hit, and I learned a ton from Black Reconstruction especially. This time I’ve upped the Du Bois content to two full weeks. So did the major course themes (“What is the social? How do we make knowledge about it?). My current draft syllabus is here, in case anyone is curious.

Although the course went fine, I remain frustrated with a couple things. First, I can’t figure out how to organically include feminist writing in the syllabus. Last time, I had included some bits of 1980s feminist standpoint theory alongside Du Bois, but the students (rightfully) complained that it felt tacked on, and did justice to neither Du Bois nor feminist thought. The founding fathers remain stubbornly men, and stubbornly not or even anti-feminist.

I’m also never sure how to begin the course – I like starting with a week of what sociology emerged in reaction to/distinction from (classical political thought, political economy), which is how I learned theory, but it’s a very dry, overview week.

For those of you teaching classical social theory, what’s working well for you? Are there particular assignments, readings, etc. that you’ve find surprisingly effective? How much do you incorporate secondary vs. primary texts? Do you include critical commentary alongside the primary texts? For those of you who recently took classical social theory, what worked well for you and what didn’t?

EDIT: I’ve toyed around with the syllabus a bit more. New version here, now including feminist criticism/reinterpretation alongside the major theorists. I’m pretty happy with it, except the absence of obvious readings to include alongside Weber. What are your favorite secondary sources for helping students understand Weber? What are the best feminist readings of Weber?

not on the bernie train

In a discussion about politics with some students this week–outside of structured class activities!–several were surprised to learn that I wasn’t a fan of Bernie Sanders. How could a sociologist not support Bernie, they wondered (I should have pointed out that some great sociologists actually hold conservative convictions; next time, Gabe!).

This came up in the context of Sanders’ ignominious return to the news following his endorsement of anti-choice Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello. He defended his position by saying:

The truth is that in some conservative states there will be candidates that are popular candidates who may not agree with me on every issue. I understand it. That’s what politics is about

And he’s right! But, he then went on to say

If we are going to protect a woman’s right to choose, at the end of the day we’re going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation. And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.

And I get off the Bernie train at this station. The man who can’t take the criticism of purity built his campaign on the idea of purity on economic populism of the kind that would help white, male workers in formerly union-heavy industries. Asking people to accept an anti-choice candidate as a means to an end for pro-choice policies doesn’t ring a note too discordant from finding wealthy supporters to fund support campaigns of politicians elected to upend economic inequality. Talking to Goldman Sachs should disqualify a Democratic candidate from consideration, but actively supporting an anti-choice candidate should not.

Continue reading “not on the bernie train”

sunday morning sociology, march for science(!) edition

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Feminist technoscientists March for Science in Ann Arbor. Signs by Katie Wataha.

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.

Continue reading “sunday morning sociology, march for science(!) edition”