Before we get to the heart of the matter, let’s just put it out there: SocImages’ annual Christmas Roundup is ready and ripe for the readin’! Get it!
Now, rather than our usual Roundup, it’s time to announce this year’s fully unscientific, but fully entertaining TSP Awards! Hopefully these excellent pieces from our original content, our blogs, and beyond will keep you in reading material in the days of travel and food comas ahead. We wish you a wonderful New Year full of health, productivity, and ridiculousness, because every good year is a little ridiculous. (more…)
The Care and Feeding of Co-Authors:
As Chris Uggen pointed out on the Twitters, it’s easy to disappoint your coworkers. Whether it’s producing actual Swedish Fish when a candy-mergency arises in a late-night writing session or dropping the ball when it’s your turn to write the lit review, there are just so many opportunities to co-write badly. Here’s my very quick editorial advice should you decide to undertake a co-authored project: (more…)
Missing the Point
I was so struck last night to hear a little piece about the sociologist Clifford Nass on NPR (in a fun side note, I’d like to point out that Nass was also a computer scientist and professional magician… which is pertinent to the next sentence). Yes, he was known for his warning that multitasking was dangerous to real thought and real learning, but what caught my ear was how his colleagues spoke of his relationship with expanding technologies. Nass didn’t seem to have any antipathy for the tech—he saw its utility, of course—but he realized that all those blinky things were going to be attention sucks. Multiple distractions tend to be bad when you aren’t a good multitasker (to be fair, he didn’t think anyone was a good multitasker), but worse, he seemed to believe, the divided attention meant that his students paid attention to too much noise. Over time, he felt his students were getting worse and worse at understanding an argument and repeating it clearly. They weren’t good at finding the point or pulling out a specific nugget of information from a whole article. They had trained themselves (or been trained by their technologies) to see the forest, not the trees. I’m not wholly convinced, but I am intrigued—and I’m sad that the world has lost another great sociologist in the meantime. (more…)
A Digression on Writerly Fitness:
I’ve been reading and writing a bit about fitness lately, and I’ve noticed two trends come up again and again: High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) and “body confusion.” What does this have to do with TSP and writing you ask? Excellent question. (more…)
I’ve long believed a graduate degree in the social sciences provides excellent preparation for elective office. We learn to critically analyze data, to abstract from individual cases to broader social processes, and to understand how both powerful institutions and grass-roots movements shape the social world. Though few U.S. sociologists have entered the fray since Pat Moynihan left the Senate, our training and experience should prepare us well for many aspects of the political arena.
Consider today’s Star-Tribune profile of Betsy Hodges, who is making a strong run to become mayor of Minneapolis. Ms. Hodges, who did her graduate work in sociology at Wisconsin, is characterized in the following terms:
- “numbers-oriented and careful with her words”
- “adept at untangling complicated financial matters”
- “a theme of activism around social justice”
- a concern with “people being separated from one another by things that don’t matter”
- showing “leadership above and beyond her own stated personal views and keeping people together”
Ms. Hodges certainly possessed many of these skills and orientations before entering graduate school (though I believe that Wisconsin implanted a “numbers-oriented and careful with words” chip in all graduate students throughout the 1990s). So why don’t more of us pursue politics as a vocation? I got a glimpse of the answer when I chided a legislator for not “demonstrating courage” on a crime policy. He said, “its a helluva lot easier to be courageous when you’re not running for reelection. Give me your university tenure and I’d demonstrate courage up the [wazoo].” Good point, that — and all the more reason to appreciate courageous sociologist-politicians like Betsy Hodges.
What Does the Letta Say?
EEP! There was no Friday Roundup. Guess who’s fault that is? Mine-oh-mine. But to make it up to you, here’s some fresh Monday morning reading!
In Case You Missed It:
“The Fascination and Frustration with Native American Mascots,” by Jennifer Guiliano. A look at the history and fight over mascots, as the Redskins go 1-4 in the NFC East.
“Sketch #4: TSP @ White House,” by Chris Uggen. Dr. Uggen goes to Washington. (more…)
I was surprised to receive an invitation to speak at the White House this August, as part of a parental incarceration workshop sponsored by the American Bar Foundation and National Science Foundation. Though I’d written a bit on the subject and had followed the research closely for a decade, I could not claim any great expertise. Fortunately, they didn’t need me for that. They’d already assembled an impressive roster of experts to speak on topics such as demography and family dynamics, behavioral and health problems, education and exclusion, justice policy, and caring for children. My job, according to the draft agenda, was to offer “concluding comments” in the final half-hour session. Or, as John Hagan put it, “Just do what you do.”
Riiiiight. Do what I do.
Well, I couldn’t just come out and ask what I do, so I decided to do TSP. (more…)
Double Your Fun
Time to play catch-up!
In Case You Missed It:
“Thinking About Trayvon: Privileged Response and Media Discourse,” by Stephen Suh. A roundtable discussion from just months after Trayvon Martin’s death, this piece looks at media framing and public responses.
The Editors’ Desk:
“The Home Stretch (Or: Introducing Our Third Book),” by Doug Hartmann. In which Doug details some of the coming content for Color Lines and Racial Angles, TSP’s third reader from W.W. Norton (the first two volumes are due out by the end of the year).
Citings & Sightings:
“Economics, Sentimentality, and the Safe Baby,” by Letta Page. An economist walks into a baby expo… and calls on some classic social science.
“The People’s Art,” by Letta Page. If a society is enriched by its art, is it impoverished by keeping that art in museums?
“A Gender Gap and the German Model,” by John Ziegler. An emerging education gap shows women outstripping men in the race for diplomas in the U.S. Does Germany offer a solution?
“‘Spiritual’ Scofflaws,” by Evan Stewart. What happens when there’s neither an angel nor a devil on your shoulder.
“A New South Africa?” by Erin Hoekstra. In post-Apartheid South Africa, Somali refugees are everyone’s target.
A Few from the Community Pages:
Scholars Strategy Network:
“Why Immigration Reform with a Path to Citizenship Faces an Uphill Climb in Congress,” by Tom K. Wong.
“What Happens if [Now that] the Supreme Court Weakens [Has Weakened] Voting Rights?” by Gary May.
“How Conservative Women’s Organizations Challenge Feminists in U.S. Politics,” by Renee Schreiber.
Politics aren’t always scintillating, even if they are important. The AP famously caught even the Vice President dozing off at a public event.
I think I am. Part of the reason involves the usual, nearing-the-finish line fatigue of our once-every-four-years Presidential elections. Another reason for my weariness is that we’ve featured so much political content on the site in recent weeks that it seems like TSP has become the social scientific equivalent of Fox News or MSNBC! “All politics, all the time.” It’s all great stuff, mind you (see for yourself!), and in fact we are in the process of compiling the best of it into a special volume to be published with W.W. Norton, replete with website tie-ins and supplementary teaching and learning content. Nevertheless, I just don’t like to get pigeon-holed or hemmed in—and politics is still far from the only thing we do, or aspire to do.
Still, I think my ennui might go deeper. I guess I’m feeling kind of stuck, moored by a perverse culture of and attitudes about politics in the United States. On the one hand, I’ve got all of these intellectual colleagues, collaborators, and contributors—those I hang out with on campus, meet with at conferences, and work with as contributors to TSP—who are so interested and passionate about politics. On the other, there are many other people in my life—from students and neighborhood friends to parents I see at youth sporting events, those I go to church with, family members, and even my own kids—who have no interest in politics. In this political season, they are kind of fed up with the topic and process altogether, and maybe they’re starting to take me with them! (more…)