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

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.

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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?

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sunday morning sociology, late edition

The 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances was released, updating our knowledge of the immense Black-White wealth gap, among other wealth inequality statistics. Details 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.

Apologies for the late posting!

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generalist sociology journals, a crowdsourced wiki ranking


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:

generalistsocrankings 9 28.png


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guest post: great men and one exceptional woman

The following is a guest post by Cléo Chassonnery-Zaïgouche.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett will be honored with the first-ever statue of a woman in Parliament Square, Westminster, London. And the first created by a woman artist. Following recent additions—Lloyd George and Mandela in 2007, Gandhi in 2014—the statue will stand among eleven great men in a square that symbolizes British democracy. The announcement follows a heated debate over which women’s rights activist should be honored: suffragist Fawcett, or suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst? The debate over which individual to distinguish echoes the debates over the efficacy of political strategies, opposing the moderate constitutionalist suffragist movement led by Fawcett to Pankhurst’s “militant” strategies of the suffragettes—setting fire to public and private property, chaining themselves to railways, disrupting political events, and destroying paintings at the National Gallery.

Many agree that having a statue of a woman in Parliament Square is a good thing, backed by a long list of studies on the effect of the low representation of women in public space and in history. But the history of women’s fights for their rights, back in the 1880s as now, is crowded with women with different styles, intellectual journeys and political commitments. We definitely need more heroines, but what does the choice of just one tell us?

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