Eric Klinenberg (Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at NYU) appeared on MSNBC’s Why Is This Happening? The Chris Hayes Podcast and in The New Yorker to discuss his new book 2020: One City, Seven People, and the Year Everything Changed. Klinenberg described learning through examining crises, enduring effects of the pandemic (a “societal version of long COVID”), and various experiences of New York residents in 2020. “You know, as a sociologist, I think of crises as doing for me what a particle accelerator does for a physicist,” Klinenberg stated. “It’s like it speeds up things that are always happening and makes you able to perceive conditions that you otherwise can’t see.”
Elizabeth Wrigley-Field (Associate Professor of Sociology and Associate Director of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota) was quoted in the StarTribune following new research by Wrigley-Field and colleagues that suggests ‘excess deaths’ (the number of deaths over the average expected deaths in a time period) during the pandemic were driven by COVID. “If these excess natural cause deaths had nothing to do with COVID, you would probably see them happening throughout this period, irrespective of when the COVID waves are,” said Wrigley-Field. The research suggests that the death toll from COVID exceeds the official tally. This research was also covered by WebMD, The Guardian, and MPR News.
Emine Fidan Elcioglu (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto) was interviewed by The Trace about her research examining a southwest border militia group that supplied information on migration routes to the U.S. Border Patrol with the goal of decreasing migration. She found that the group’s gun culture bolstered recruitment, morale, and participation. “Guns can become a gateway for people to get involved in other forms — and much more extremist forms — of politics,” Elcioglu stated. “Guns can become sort of a way to pull them in and radicalize them on issues beyond just guns.”
Recent calls for a nationwide caste census to collect caste data (last collected in 1931) have sparked controversy in India. In an interview with IndiaSpend, Surinder S. Jodhka (Professor of Sociology at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems, School of Social Sciences in Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi) emphasized that caste is a crucial indicator of social exclusion. “In order to engage with these issues in a democratic society, we need empirical evidence. Unless there are political mobilizations, systems do not open up. It can also fossilise caste identities,” Jodka stated. “The objective of caste census should not be to reinforce caste-based identity or an identity-based imagination of our future. It should be made a part of a narrative around socioeconomic lives. Eventually, the hope is that once there is a level playing field, we can explore transforming identities into citizenship-based social life where everyone feels that they are equal to others. This requires evidence and data.”
Scott Schieman (Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto) wrote an article for The Conversation on how accurately the ‘unhappy worker’ narrative reflects American workplace satisfaction. Schieman identified “perception glitches” (the difference between how people felt about their own job and how people believe most American workers feel about their jobs) in job satisfaction, stress, compensation, management-employee relationships, and putting in ‘above-and-beyond’ effort. Schieman’s research suggests an “everything is terrible, but I’m fine” mindset, both “ch
Boris Kagarlitsky (prominent Russian sociologist and editor in chief of the Marxist online publication Rabkor) was recently sentenced to five years in prison for criticizing the war in Ukraine. Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s director for Russia, characterized the sentence as an “abuse of vague anti-terrorism legislation,” commenting that “by targeting Boris Kagarlitsky, a distinguished sociologist known for his critical stance against government policies, the Russian authorities are showing, once again, their relentless assault on all forms of dissent.” This story was covered by The Washington Post.
Christina Ciocca Eller (Assistant Professor of Sociology and Social Studies at Harvard) recently published a study modeling a new potential rating system for U.S. higher education institutions. “Essentially, the [current] rankings don’t account for anything that happens after students walk through the college gates,” Eller argues. Eller’s proposed system focuses instead on the equalizing effect of colleges (how much schools are “leveling the playing field” across students). This story was covered by The Harvard Gazette.
Tina Fetner (Professor of Sociology at McMaster University) recently released a new book, Sex in Canada: The Who, Why, When, and How of Getting Down Up North. As the first national survey of sexual behavior of the general population of Canada, Fetner’s work fills a gap in national research. “If we move away from the taboos and shame, we can see that our sexual behaviour is much like any other social behaviour,” Fetner commented. “It is shaped by social norms, regulated by social institutions, and influenced by our cultures.” This story was covered by Brighter World and Vancourver is Awesome.
Chicago Magazine interviewed Eric Klinenberg (Professor of Social Science and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University) about his new book, 2020: One City, Seven People, and the Year Everything Changed. The book–a “social autopsy”–focuses on New York City in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and examines how institutions broke down during the crisis. “Societies reveal themselves when they’re under threat,” Klinenberg said. “You can see who we are and what we value, whose lives matter and whose don’t.”
Jonathan Wynn (Professor of Sociology at UMass Amherst) and Daniel Skinner (Associate Professor of Health Policy at Ohio University) recently wrote a piece for The Conversation on the “paradox of medically overserved communities.” For urban, non-profit hospitals, mission statements usually include providing a benefit to the local community; however, people living around these hospitals tend to have worse health in comparison to the broader city population.
Paul Spoonley (Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Massey University) appeared on AM to comment on New Zealand’s aging population and low fertility rates. Spoonley noted that by the 2030s, 1 in 4 people will be over the age of 65 and that care for an older population will place fiscal strain on the government. This story was covered by Newshub.
Lindsey D. Cameron (Assistant Professor of Management, Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania), Curtis K. Chan (Professor of Management and Organization at Boston College), and Michel Anteby (Professor of Management and Organizations, Sociology at Boston University) wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review on how gig workers respond to employers labeling them as “heroes.” They interviewed Instacart workers in 2020, after the company launched a “Household Heroes” marketing campaign. While some workers “readily embraced the hero label and viewed their work as resoundingly worthy,” others rejected the label and viewed the label as exploitative and manipulative. Most workers struggled “to reconcile the banality of grocery shopping with the idea that they were doing moral work.” Cameron, Chan, and Anteby warn companies that “moralizing jobs” to increase motivation can backfire.
(Via ASA)KPBS ran a story about the transformation of how children play over the last three decades from free, unstructured play to organized and supervised activities. Rebecca London (Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz) commented on the benefits of free play in developing social skills (such as working together and resolving disputes): “It’s not just about the play, it’s about the interaction that happens through the play. That interaction is an incredibly important part of child development.”
Susan Brown (Professor of Sociology at Bowling Green State University) was quoted in a USA Today article about the surge of ‘gray divorce.’ Since 1990, the divorce rate has doubled for Americans over 55, and tripled for Americans over 65. Brown explained that “a growing share of aging adults will be aging alone.” Brown noted that women often initiate gray divorces, but tend to be financially worse-off due to childcare costs and time out of the workforce.
Phys.org highlighted Martin Schröder’s (Professor of Economic Sociology at the University of Marburg) work revealing a lack of generational differences in work ethic and attitudes toward work. Despite a persistent “generational myth” in the workplace that characterizes millennials as not wanting to work and baby boomers as constantly on the brink of burnout, Schröder found that once “age effects” (younger people are generally less willing to work) and “period effects” (people of all ages generally see work as less important now than they did in the past) are accounted for, “the differences between the generations are not really that great at all.”
In Copenhagen, Camilla Bank Friis (Sociology Postdoc at the University of Copenhagen) collaborated with BFA Transport on a new campaign aiming to prevent conflicts between public transport passengers, bus drivers, and ticket inspectors. Friis drew from her research to create videos and comic strips to share tools for avoiding conflict. “You put yourself in play as a researcher and enter into dialogue with those who will ultimately use our work,” Friis explained. “I think the project has become a good example of how a collaboration between university research and external actors can make knowledge useful if you are willing to cut off some of the academic edges.” This story was covered by Mirage News.
The Boston Globe featured Ruha Benjamin’s (Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University) new book Imagination: A Manifesto. Benjamin’s work focuses on how science and technology shape the social world. In her new book, she argues that “imagination itself isn’t neutral or objective,” but reflects our hierarchical society. “I want us to question the imagination that says we can go to space, we can colonize Mars — and at the same time say, ‘Housing for all? Healthcare for all? That’s outlandish, that will never happen,’” Benjamin says. “It’s that sort of lopsided, deadly imagination that I want us to grow our critical antennae to hear when it’s coming.”
The Miami Times highlighted Out of Hiding: Extremist White Supremacy and How it Can Be Stopped, a new book by Kathleen Blee (Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh), Robert Futrell (Professor of Sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas), and Pete Simi (Professor of Sociology at Chapman University), which details how white supremacist ideas become mainstream. “As history shows,“ the authors wrote, “extreme white supremacist culture resonates over time as people seek scapegoats to explain threats they perceive to their power and privileges, or to explain their failings.”
The New York Times recently interviewed Christopher Bader, Professor of Sociology at Chapman University and principal investigator on the Chapman Survey of American Fears. Bader described that the leading fear among Americans is government corruption, with 60% of Americans–both progressives and conservatives–fearing corrupt government officials.
French farmers are currently mobilizing to resist increasing diesel prices and environmental constraints. However, unlike recent protests in France, the efforts have so far been met with tolerance from politicians and law enforcement. Sociologist Bertrand Hervieu noted that there is a high degree of goodwill between the government and farmers; they have a close daily working relationship and agriculture is a part of the French identity. This story was covered by Actual News Magazine.
CNBC recently interviewed Alexandrea Ravenelle (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), who discussed how the gig economy emerged from the sharing economy, how workers “get stuck” in the gig economy, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gig economy. Ravenelle’s new book, Side Hustle Safety Net, discusses the precarious nature of the gig economy.
Jacqui Frost (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Purdue University) wrote a story for The Conversation on the growth of “atheist churches.” These secular organizations adopt some traditions of religious organizations (such as Sunday meetings, collective singing, meditation and reflection, reading inspirational texts, and shared testimonies from members), but do not reference God or any supernatural elements. Amid arguments that religious decline will lead to a decline in community engagement and well-being, “atheist churches are an example of how nonreligious Americans are finding new ways to meet those needs.”
Newsweek featured a new study by Mark Whiting (Senior Computational Social Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania) and Duncan Watts (Professor and Computational Social Scientist at the University of Pennsylvania) that examines how “common sense” may not be so common. “People didn’t seem to have predictably consistent ideas of what is common sense,” Whiting said, “The number of items that a larger group all agree on is vanishingly small…so as a consequence, common sense is not all that common.”
The Emancipator recently featured excerpts from Hajar Yazdiha’s (Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Southern California) book The Struggle for the People’s King, addressing the widespread sanitization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. “The danger of a sanitized reading of the past is that this selective memory evades social reality and enables the maintenance of White supremacy,” Yazdiha writes.
(Via ASA) John Skrentny (Professor of Sociology at UC San Diego) wrote an opinion piece for the Los Angeles Times on how a shortage of STEM workers persists despite investment in STEM education. Skrentny argues that “employers, and the investors who drive their behavior, depress the national returns on STEM education investments” by driving recent STEM graduates out of the market through: 1) low wage levels, 2) “burn-and-churn” management styles, 3) frequent layoffs, and 4) unwelcoming environments for women, minorities, and older workers.
Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. has proposed a plan to remove “Principles of Sociology” as an option to fulfill the social science course requirement at public universities. Sociology department heads at 10 universities signed a letter objecting to the plan. Alison Cares (Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Central Florida) commented: “It’s really important for students to understand that human behavior is not just a factor of individual level characteristics, right? That there are larger social structures at play.” The final vote on the plan will take place in January. This story was covered by Tampa Bay TimesandInside Higher Education.
Via ASA) Christopher P. Scheitle (Associate Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University) wrote an article for The Conversation about religious diversity in science, focusing on the experiences of religious graduate students in scientific fields. Many religious students describe their academic programs as having a culture of “assumed atheism” and feel the need to conceal their beliefs. Religious students also tend to place more importance on family lives and children, and are less likely to pursue demanding research-focused tenure track positions.
Smithsonian Magazine ran an article featuring new research showing that life expectancy across the U.S. fell from 2019 to 2021 and that women now live 5.8 years longer than men. The report notes that gender disparities in Covid-19 deaths and fatal opioid overdoses contribute to this gap. “These trends should be a wake-up call that we can’t coast along toward better and longer lives,” commented Philip Cohen (Professor of Sociology at the University of Maryland). “We need real, substantial and sustained attention to public health and health care in this country–and we need it yesterday.” NBC News reported that the U.S. has begun to rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic, but is lagging behind other wealthy nations. Ryan Masters (Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Colorado) commented: “To see an increase now in 2022 is great…but it’s coming a year later than what other comparable countries experienced and it’s only marginally scratching the surface of improving mortality conditions for Americans.”
Meduza ran a story on political repression, featuring the expertise of Jennifer Earl (Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware). Earl uses a broad definition of repression that includes actions by both governments and private entities that “raise the costs” of organizing or “actually constrain or influence the ability to act.” Earl also notes the importance of looking at a government’s administrative capacity to understand repression: “The more administrative capacity you have, the [more] quickly that can turn into repressive capacity, whether you’re a democracy or an authoritarian state.”
El País ran a story highlighting the Wall Evidence Project, which has been documenting the graffiti and inscriptions left by the Russian military in occupied areas of Ukraine since February of 2022. Analyzing the graffiti as a reflection of the author’s state of mind, Anna Samchuck (Sociologist in the Methodology and Methods of Sociological Research Department at Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv) described three common themes: 1) assumptions that Russia and Ukraine are separate nations; 2) fears of death; and 3) a desire to dominate Ukraine.
Chalkbeat interviewed Casey Stockstill (Assistant Professor of Sociology at Dartmouth College) about her new book, False Starts: The Segregated Lives of Preschoolers. In the U.S. two-thirds of preschool classrooms have either predominantly affluent white students or students of color from low-income families. Stockstill discusses the ways in which segregation affects preschoolers’ experiences, including differences in playtime structure, discussions of family life at school, the ability to bring items from home, and enrollment stability.
Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai recently announced raise increases for their U.S. factory workers. A.J. Jacobs (Professor of Sociology at East Carolina University) commented to CNN that these raises are likely a preemptive move to block union organizing in the wake of the United Automobile Workers strike: “All are raising wages to inhibit unions, prevent strikes, and in general limit labor power.” Jacobs notes that foreign automakers also tend to open plants in Southern states with weaker labor laws and less political support for unions.
Fortune published an excerpt from Kevin Woodson’s (Sociologist and Professor of Law at the University of Richmond) new book The Black Ceiling: How Race Still Matters in the Elite Workplace. Studying the experiences of Black professionals in prestigious workplaces, Woodson describes how stigma anxiety (“the unease that people with socially devalued traits—such as Black racial identity—feel about the possibility that others will treat them unfairly”) causes some Black professionals to refrain from speaking out in meetings or sharing personal information. Woodson argues that stigma anxiety disadvantages Black professionals by “undermining their emotional well-being and limiting their access to career capital.”
As Argentina faces high levels of poverty (with 40% of people living below the poverty line) and rapid inflation, many Argentines are relying on community bartering. Mariana Luzzi (Professor of Sociology and Conicet Research Fellow at the University of General Sarmiento) describes how bartering systems have historically been common in Argentina during periods of economic crisis: “Poverty in Argentina is really dramatic but a very large part of what stops this situation becoming really unbearable is the vast network of support groups that exists.” This story was reported by Agence France-Presse and re-published in Barron’s.
While conversations on gun violence often focus on the need for federal policy changes, new research from Patrick Sharkey (Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton) and Megan Kang (PhD Student in Sociology at Princeton) estimates that stricter state gun laws passed from 1991 to 2016 prevented about 4,300 gun deaths in 2016 (approximately 11% of the nationwide total). Laws requiring background checks and waiting periods reduce access to guns. “The challenge of gun violence is not intractable,” Sharkey commented. “In fact we have just lived through a period of enormous progress that was driven by public policy.” This story was covered by The New York Times. In Maine, Michael Rocque, Associate Professor of Sociology at Bates College, recently wrote on gun laws in the state in a recent article in the Boston Globe. He highlighted the importance of balancing gun laws and rights with safety.
Adia Harvey Wingfield (Professor of Sociology at Washington University in St. Louis) wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review on how organizational culture – a “critical part of how companies set norms, values, and expectations” – affects Black employees. She highlights elements of organizational culture that can make the workplace more inclusive for Black employees, including: 1) encouraging collaboration and teamwork, 2) recognizing distinct experiences, and 3) engaging in conversations about race and inequality.
An article in The Washington Post examined the record-low U.S. birth rates, quoting multiple sociologists. Karen Benjamin Guzzo (Director of the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina) noted that millennials have faced significant economic hurdles that put them behind on perceived “prerequisites” to having kids. Alison Gemmill (Demographer at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) discussed how access to birth control options allows millennials to delay or avoid pregnancy. Sarah Hayford (Director of Ohio State’s Institute for Population Research) noted that “a big part of the uptick in childlessness is delay rather than permanent childlessness. Even among women in their thirties, a lot will go on to have a child.”
Pete Simi (Professor of Sociology at Chapman University) recently testified in a trial seeking to bar Former President Trump from appearing on the 2024 Colorado ballot. Simi studies extremist groups, and testified that repeated references by Trump supporters to “1776” were “a violent call for revolution” and an example of doublespeak (a tactic used to “urge violence while maintaining deniability”). This story was covered by the Ohio Capital Journal.
In a new survey funded by ArtTable, Gillian Gualtieri (the project lead and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Barnard College) examined worker experiences in the U.S. arts and culture industry. She found widespread low compensation and high employment-related costs. Overall, women were paid less than men and invested more money in employment expenses, particularly expenses related to personal appearance. One participant reported spending thousands on work clothes because “you can’t show up in a Zara dress when meeting with major clients.” This story was covered by Hyperallergic.
A recent opinion piece in The Washington Post argued that the Speaker of the House Mike Johnson will ignore calls to ban assault weapons because he is a Christian nationalist. The piece cites multiple studies by Samuel L. Perry (Professor of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma) and colleagues that show that Christian nationalists tend to oppose federal gun control and favor “righteous violence” (specifically the idea that “the best way to stop bad guys with guns is to have good guys with guns”).
El País ran a story on sexualized social media content. The article quotes Carolina Are (Research Fellow at Northumbria University Newcastle; PhD in Criminology) on how social media shows or hides women’s bodies: “The most artificial and more mainstream form of involuntary sexualization is represented by celebrities and pushed by the algorithm. But more personal content and content from people who come from more marginal contexts are censored. So, in the end, we see that sexualized content reflects power dynamics.
The Washington Postran a story on the increasing number (an 85% increase over the past decade) of Americans claiming Indigenous heritage in the U.S. Census. Carolyn Liebler (Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota) is quoted, as attributing the increase to “very important changes in the race question and especially in the way they coded the responses that they received.” In 2020, the Census included a free-response line for each racial category checkbox. Individuals who noted indigenous heritage in the free-response lines were counted, even if they did not check the “American Indians and Alaska Natives” box.
A recent study by Amin Ghaziani (Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia) and Andy Holmes (PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto) examined recent coming-out experiences of LGBTQ adults in Vancouver. They found that “neither a narrative of struggle and success nor emancipation fully captures what it’s like to come out today. Instead, we found that people are deeply ambivalent.” The study was covered by SciTechDaily.
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