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Hello and happy Friday everyone! We here at TSP HQ are wrapping up another great semester with research on binge drinking, collective mourning, and ex-felon employment. While we will remain hard at work bringing you all the best in sociological research over the summer, we are going to scale back our Roundups to once a month until September. So, you won’t hear from us again until June but be sure to keep stopping by to check out what we are up to in the interim!

There’s Research on That!:

When Fans Cry: Why We Mourn the Loss of Celebrities” by Amber Joy Powell. “People mourn the death of celebrities who hold connections to emotional events; that is, people do not solely grieve the loss of that celebrity, but also the loss of the memories associated with that celebrity.”

Discoveries:

Binge Drinking on the Bubble,” by Ryan Larson. Peer pressure can create a potent pull to binge drink, but only for those with a medium genetic propensity.

Clippings:

Ex-felon Employment,” by Ryan Larson. NPR talks to Devah Pager about how felons fare when they gain employment.

Give Methods a Chance:

Madison Van Oort on Discourse Analysis & Studying Commercials,” with Kyle Green. Kyle and Madison chat about their collaborative work on the ways commercials employ the crisis of masculinity to sell products.

From Our Partners:

Contexts:

The Converging Gender Wage Gap, 1980-2012,” by Craig Upright.

Council on Contemporary Families:

Why is Pay for Caregiving Work So Low?” by Paula England.

Scholars Strategy Network:

What We Know – And Need to Learn – About Progress Against Sex Discrimination in Education,” by Celene Reynolds.

And a Few From the Community Pages:

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Big things are happening at TSP this week! Our latest volume, Assigned: Life With Gender (edited by Lisa Wade!), is now available along with cutting edge work over on TROT and a new Office Hours podcast to enjoy!

There’s Research on That!:

Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and Sexual Harassment in Law Professions” by Caty Taborda and Sarah Catherine Billups. As HBO premiers “Confirmation,” research traces the legacy of sexual harassment in law firms and beyond.

Cops’ Candid Cameras” by Ryan Larson. Heard about body cams lately? We’ve got the latest looks at whether they work.

Clippings:

Diverse Schools Increase Workplace Diversity” by Amber Joy Powell. A new article in The Atlantic taps research on the lasting effects of racial diversity.

Discoveries:

Smart Whites Less Racist in Principle, Not Necessarily Policy” by Amber Joy Powell. New work from Geoffrey T. Wodtke finds high verbal ability helps people talk the talk, but walking the walk is another story.

Office Hours:

From Our Partners:

Contexts:

Drop-Outs vs. Hold-Outs” by Melissa Brown. New research from Nicole M. Deterding shows how structural barriers to higher education don’t kill the dream.

Council on Contemporary Families:

Optimism about families beyond the way we never were” by Braxton Jones. Good news troubles the myth of the “traditional” family.

Scholars Strategy Network:

Why Marijuana Legalization Is Inevitable—And Wise” by Raymond Hogler. Revenue, regulation, and reduced tax burdens? High five!

And a Few from the Community Pages:

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It is officially spring here in Minneapolis, but the erratic weather has not rained out our research roundup! Be sure to stop by and check out our latest.

There’s Research on That!:

Spring Cleaning,” by Sarah Catherine Billups. On the sociological significance of dust and who is responsible for getting rid of it.

Rural, White Women Getting Sicker, Dying Quicker,” by Sarah Catherine Billups. How stress and timing of childbirth disproportionately affect poor white women.

Clippings:

Why Pay Inequality is So Stubborn,” by Allison Nobles. “Unfortunately, while a small number of women moving into top positions may help those below, when large numbers of women enter traditionally male-dominated fields, the results are not so rosy. Why? Women’s work simply isn’t valued as highly as men’s.”

From Our Partners:

Contexts:

Microscopic Hair Comparison and the Sociology of Science,” by Simon A. Cole and Troy Duster.

Germany Avoids Going Gray,” by Carrie Clarady.

Council on Contemporary Families:

The Way We Still Never Were,” by Stephanie Coontz. Be sure to check out Coontz’s substantially revised and updated edition of The Way We Never Were.

And a Few from the Community Pages:

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Hello, everyone, and happy NOT Tax Day! With a brief respite from the primary election news cycle this week, we at TSP have been rounding up research on everything from harm reduction to hookup culture. Enjoy!

The Editors’ Desk

Larry Jacobs’ Public Scholarship.” Chris Uggen highlights Jacobs as a model for research and media outreach.

There’s Research on That!:

“Bringing Harm Reduction to America’s Heroin Problem” by Austin Jenkins and Allison Nobles. Research shows how new approaches to drug treatment increase safety and lower stigma.

Clippings:

Corporate Diversity Won’t Solve Income Inequality” by Neeraj Rajasekar. Kevin Leicht explains why in an in The Atlantic.

Tall, Thin, and Raking It In” by Allison Nobles. Amy Blackstone talks to Broadly about pay gaps and personal appearance.

From our Partners:

Scholars Strategy Network:

Can Universities Maintain Diversity without Directly Considering Race in Admissions?” Mark C. Long investigates alternatives to affirmative action and finds a few hazards along the way.

Council on Contemporary Families:

The Date’s Not Dead” by Arielle Kuperberg and Joseph E. Padgett. New research shows hookup culture is popular on college campuses, but so is more traditional dating. Tinder hasn’t trumped it all!

Contexts:

Shallow, Self-Absorbed, and Aggressively Competitive ‘Primates’.” Myra Marx Ferree talks ethnographic methods while reviewing Primates of Park Avenue. 

And a Few from the Community Pages:

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jacobs3After wrapping up a public talk Thursday night, I was delighted to see political scientist Larry Jacobs smiling down from the screen above. On-deck as the next speaker in the series, Professor Jacobs has taught me a great deal about public scholarship. He’s in the news these days for Fed Power: How Finance Wins (with Desmond King), but he’s written powerfully and well on numerous hot-button topics as health care reform (with Theda Skocpol), public deliberation, democratic responsiveness, and US foreign policy.

There are infinite ways to be a public scholar, but Larry Jacobs’ example is instructive. How did he become such a welcome and trusted voice? Well…

(1) He is active and effective in engaging local as well as national and international audiences.

(2) Although he clearly has political views, Larry takes pains to offer a fair-minded perspective.

(3) Similarly, as a center director and leader of our local Scholars Strategy Network chapter, he invites speakers who don’t always agree with him (or with our faculty, or University administration, or each other).

(4) He is a prolific and respected national academic expert in particular specialties, but he has also developed the command and authority to speak to a broad set of public concerns.

(5) After cataloging these attributes, it almost seems redundant to note his boundless energy and willingness to make himself available on short notice.

With regard to the latter point, his advice for me was something of a paradox. When I asked how I could improve in on-camera interviews, he just said, “slow down, don’t rush, and have a nice conversation.”

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Hello and happy Friday! We’ve got a little bit of everything for you this week, from gender segregation in the workplace, to white evangelical Christians and their voting habits, to data activism and the Panama Papers. Enjoy!

There’s Research on That!:

Colorism and Divisions Among Black Women,” by Amber Joy Powell. How casting for the new Nina Simone biopic highlights the consequences of colorism.

Discoveries:

Trickle-Down Gender Parity?” by Allison Nobles. When women are employed in upper level positions, what happens to the women left near the bottom?

Clippings:

A-Ok-Cupid,” by Neeraj Rajasekar. Sociologist Michael Rosenfeld dispels negative assumptions about online dating.

From our Partners:

Scholars Strategy Network:

Why America’s White Evangelical Christians Turn Out at High Rates in Midterm Elections,” by Lydia Bean.

Council on Contemporary Families:

How is Celebrity Intimate Partner Violence Covered? Race and Gender Patterns Abound,” by Molly McNulty.

Contexts:

Talking Happiness, Security, and Counterinsurgency with Laleh Khalili,” by Steven Thrasher.

The Paper Ceiling,” by Brittany Dernberger.

How to End Institutional Racism,” by the Contexts Grad Team.

The Unborn and the Undead.” Viewpoints by Susan Markens, Katrina Kimport, Drew Halfmann, Kimala Price, and Deana A. Rohlinger.

And a Few from the Community Pages:

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No foolin’ from us today, there is just a lot of great new content over on TSP this week! From family policy to freegans, we’ve got you covered.

The Editors’ Desk:

The Politics of Poverty Policy“. Doug Hartmann highlights new work from the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality.

There’s Research on That!:

The Social Ties of Terrorism” by Evan Stewart. In the face of recent tragedies, social science helps us make sense of the motives and methods behind terror.

Discoveries:

Freegan Foragers’ Moral Mission” by Sarah Catherine Billups. New research from Alex Barnard digs into dumpster diving.

Clippings:

The Noble Poverty in Kids’ Movies” by Allison NoblesNew York Magazine features research on how Disney downplays social class.

Half of Americans Will Experience Poverty” by Neeraj RajasekarSalon follows up on this disturbing new social fact.

Criminalizing Black Schoolgirls” by Amber Joy Powell. New reports shed light on how schools disproportionately punish girls of color.

Give Methods a Chance:

This week Kyle Green talks to R. Tyson Smith about ethnography

From Our Partners:

Scholars Strategy Network:

Strict Voter Identification Laws Advantage Whites—And Skew American Democracy to the Right.” The title says it all, and new research from Zoltan Hajnal, Nazita Lajevardi, and Lindsay Nielson breaks it down.

Council on Contemporary Families:

3Q: Family Inequality with Philip Cohen” Quick questions, quick quips. “The culture wars over family politics always return to gender difference itself”

Contexts:

#callmecaitlyn and contemporary trans* visibility” by D’Lane Compton and Tristan Bridges. “The public celebration and recognition of transgender people is a start, but it has not yet been matched by achievements in gender equality and diversity.”

And a Few from the Community Pages:

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Click to visit the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality website.
Click to visit the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality website.

Our friends over at the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality are at it again—this time with a special, election-year issue focused on the positions of the various parties and presidential candidates on the issues of poverty, mobility, and inequality in contemporary American society. While these topics may not be as popular, provocative, or controversial as others which have dominated campaign coverage so far, this attention to social stratification and public policy—especially for those on the bottom end of our socio-economic system—is basic, bread-and-butter stuff for any sociologically-inclined reader or researcher.

Three pieces in particular caught our attention. The first two, written by Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Harry J. Holzer, actually work best as a paired set. Each provides a short synopsis of how Republicans and Democrats, respectively, think about the challenges of poverty reduction in the United States. Holzer’s take on the Democrat approach doesn’t have a lot of surprises, though you can be the judge of how the various points of emphasis he lays out have played out in the Democratic primaries of late, especially considering that Holzer is the former Chief Economist of Bill Clinton’s labor department and advisor to the Hillary Clinton campaign. (“The views expressed,” he writes in a wry footnote, “are strictly my own.”) And while you might not agree with Holtz-Eakin’s reframing of poverty as a problem of “self-sufficiency,” I find it refreshing to hear a conservative both acknowledge the depth of the policy challenge as well as put social scientific research and data at the foundation of a prospective policy agenda.

The other piece I’d really recommend is Jeff Manza and Clem Brooks‘ article “Why Aren’t Americans Angrier about Rising Inequality?” The question comes from the realization that in spite of four decades of rising income and wealth disparities along with “stagnating or even declining real wages,” General Social Survey data suggests that Americans are not nearly so concerned (or at least, are much less outraged) than we might expect. Manza and Brooks believe this disconnect is “an important, yet under-acknowledged, challenge for scholars seeking to understand the politics of risking inequality in the United States.” They go on to suggest that the persistent strength of optimistic beliefs about opportunity and mobility is a key reason explaining why Democratic politicians have such difficulty getting public traction beyond their party base.

With the benefit of observing the last few months of presidential campaigning on both the Right and the Left, I’m wondering if perhaps these discontents aren’t quite as absent or one-sided as it once might have seemed, expressing themselves in the political arena more than public opinion polling. In a topsy-turvy political era, where anger is becoming all the rage, this possibility makes me think that we will need to be careful what we wish for when it comes to public attention to and partisan packaging of public policies affecting our economic systems and social hierarchies.

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Hello from Chicago! The TSP crew is in the Windy City this weekend for the Midwest Sociological Association’s 2016 meeting, but not to worry, we took a quick break from the panels and presentations to round up our latest coverage for you.

The Editors’ Desk:

Race, Resentment, Rage,” by Doug Hartmann. Doug reflects on some of the larger racial contexts surrounding the rise of Trump.

There’s Research on That!:

FBiPhone and Coders’ Free Speech,” by Jacqui Frost. On whether or not code is speech and the very real consequences of what it can say.

Clippings:

A Decade of Housing Occupation in Turin’s Olympic Village,” by Allison NoblesSergio Scamuzzi talks to The Guardian about what becomes of Olympic villages once the games ends.

From Our Partners:

Scholars Strategy Network:

Measuring The Social Impact of Mass Imprisonment on America’s Black and White Families and Communities,” by Hedwig Lee, Tyler McCormick, Margaret T. Hicken, and Christopher Wildeman.

Winning Public Arguments About Renewable Energy,” by Johannes Urpelainen.

Council on Contemporary Families:

This is for All the Single People,” by Braxton Jones.

Contexts:

How to Do Ethnography Right.” Syed Ali and Phil Cohen organize a special forum on best practices and important debates among ethnographers.

And a Few from the Community Pages:

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The study of racial inequalities and identities has been one of my main areas ever since I started graduate school in the 1990s. In fact, persistent racial injustice is one of the main reasons I went to graduate school and became a sociologist. But for the most part my emphasis has been on the subtler forms of racism and racial ideologies that emerged and have taken hold in the post-Civil Rights era—the seemingly positive, yet deeply racialized representations of African-American athletes, for example. Racial coding, symbolic racism, whiteness, and colorblindness are all part and parcel of the more covert racism I’ve studied, but my primary interest has been about how these various racialized images and ideologies serve to perpetuate and even legitimate the social and institutional structures that constitute institutional discrimination, systemic racism, and white privilege in contemporary America.

On the whole, I have been less interested in the more blatant, old-fashioned forms of prejudice and bigotry. This wasn’t because I believed such old-fashioned forms of racism were gone—I grew up in Southeast Missouri, Rush Limbaugh territory and I’ve got cousins in the Ozarks. Rather, it is/was because I believed that these forms of prejudice and intolerance were fading away, in retreat.

But now, as these most blatant and overt forms seem to be re-emerging, especially in conjunction with the extreme rhetoric and acts of violence provoked by the Trump campaign, I am beginning to rethink my rather comfortable orientation and set of assumptions. More specifically, I’m beginning to realize that however repugnant and upsetting, we need to try to understand where these sentiments—so at odds with our highest ideals, our better angels—come from and what they mean. What may be most important from a social science perspective is to engage these sentiments empirically, gathering real data on who holds these sentiments and why.

It was with this all in mind that I appreciated the story based upon interviews with Trump supporters our local paper The Star Tribune ran a week ago Sunday. Here’s a sampling of quotes from Trump’s backers:

“Do I like Trump as a person? Probably not. Would I hang out with him? Probably not. Would I like to see him beat Hillary Clinton? Absolutely.”

“Every time the [Republican] party attacks Trump, it reminds people again what they don’t like about the party… There was a decision to go for strong, strong leadership.”

“The guy we’ll see get elected is going to be much different from the guy who is currently resonating with voters.”

“Trump’s idea isn’t nutty, but he certainly sounds like an inflammatory guy who hates Muslims, and I wouldn’t support him if I thought that was true.”

“I’m tired of being pushed around by other countries. I’m tired of looking weak in the world.”

“He wants to …make sure people are not coming here to hurt Americans. He wants to put Americans first.”

“I’d like to see our country for once take care of ourselves. And then if we’ve got the extra money and time and energy, we help who we can.”

“People are scared. They know this country needs a change, bad.”

“I’m really tired of people thinking that Trump supporters are uneducated and that they’re not smart. We are probably some of the savviest, most politically motivated people there are. Sure, he isn’t perfect with his language, but I don’t even care at this point.”

I’m not sure just how representative these quotes are. Trump, after all, didn’t carry Minnesota’s caucuses (that was Rubio’s only victory), and my sense is that those who were willing to go on record (or those that the newspaper was willing to quote) are not the kinds of Trump supporters who chant about building a wall, punch protesters, or throw up Nazi salutes. And I would really have liked to see the story (or interviews themselves) dig a little deeper into who is the “we” implied in “our country,” the “ourselves” who need to be “taken care of” before we help “others,” or the “people” who are scared. This is the kind of rhetoric where race’s dark underbelly reveals itself. But still this piece gives us a bit richer, more concrete sense of what motivates or drives some of these kinds of sentiments: the sense of having fallen behind or being completely left out; the lack of faith and outright anger with the Republican Party; the cynicism about government and deep-seated belief that playing by the rules doesn’t work; completely left out; the belief in the need for strong leadership (“strong, strong leadership”).

In terms of exploring the larger racial context of all this, I’ve found two pieces most enlightening over the last week or so. One is Jamelle Bouie’s Slate cover story arguing—based upon a wealth of recent social scientific analysis—that one of the major driving forces of Donald Trump’s support is anger and resentment—rage, really—at the fact that our sitting President is an African-American man. The other is Phil Cohen’s recent analysis on the Family Inequality blog (of all places) about the distinctive demographic features of Trump supporters. One teaser: they aren’t any poorer than other whites, but they are poorer than most white Republicans.

I have also (re)-turned to Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab’s classic study of right-wing extremism in American history The Politics of Unreason (1970). I haven’t gotten through it all yet, much less been able to think through the implications for today, but several points from the first chapter alone are worth recounting:

  1. Extremist, racially charged rhetoric and politics are nothing new in American history. Lipset and Raab’s book reminds us that the same sentiments and even coalition informed George Wallace’s campaign in the late 1960s and the John Birch Society earlier in the decade; McCarthyism in the 1950s; Father Charles Coughlin in the 1930, the Ku Klux Klan before that, and the Know Nothing party of the previous century. While I’m not sure this is exactly reassuring, it is important to remember that what we are seeing is just the latest manifestation of a long-established American pattern.
  2. This resentment, anger, and rage is often very much the result of racial progress and change. “As disadvantaged racial groups [and others] developed new and higher levels of aspirations, the commitments of the privileged to practices which sustained their special advantages would increasingly confront…the functioning as an effective social order.”…the “continual efforts of the old ‘in-groups’…to protect their values and status…[through] new social movements.” “In almost every generation, ‘old American’ groups which saw themselves as ‘displaced,’ relatively demoted in status or power by processes rooted in social change, have sought to reverse these processes through the activities of moralistic movements or political action groups.”
  3. Lipset’s notion of “working-class authoritarianism:” that “the less sophisticated and more economically insecure a group is, the more likely its members are to accept the more simplistic ideology or program offered to them” (on the Left or the Right).
  4. And one final, somewhat more pragmatic and sociological point: it is institutional structures—unions, parties, regional cultures, religious organizations—that help moderate and contain resentments.