sunday morning sociology, 2019 first edition

“Of all stories mentioning Muslims or Islam, 78 percent are negative, compared with only 40 percent of those about Catholics, 46 percent about Jews and 49 percent about Hindus.” More discussion in the Washington Post.

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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how to support a friend writing a dissertation

group hand fist bump
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Currently, I’m one semester into what I anticipate will be two years of data collection for my qualitative dissertation. There is a lot of good advice I got in the first four years of my PhD to prepare me for this moment—memo often, get a writing partner or two, bring your questions and confusions to trusted colleagues (or Twitter), schedule regular massages to stave off repetitive stress injuries and chronic back pain. Still, there is one arena that I wasn’t fully prepared for and that’s just how much spending your days in interviews or participant observation can affect your relationships with the people you love most. I always knew that writing a dissertation could be an isolating experience, but I never understood that one reason why is that qualitative work is so unbelievably emotionally exhausting that you have nothing left to give your loved ones–even though you need them more than ever.

As I move into the new semester of data collection, I have reflected a good deal about how to do better at balancing being a researcher and being a fully-functioning and social human. On the top of the list is communicating more clearly with my friends, family, and partner about how dissertating can impact the relationships we’re trying to build and strategizing about how we can strengthen them anyway. Here’s what I intend to say:

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sunday morning sociology, 2018 in numbers edition

Number of refugees resettled in the U.S. falls below total from the rest of the world for the first time in 2017
Pew reports on 18 trends from 2018, including the depressing fact that “The number of refugees resettled in the U.S. decreased more than in any other country in 2017. That year the U.S. resettled 33,000 refugees, the lowest total since the two years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and a steep drop from 2016.”

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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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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