Good Advice

So, this week, I heard an interesting piece of advice for writers, and it’s been knocking around in my head. Here’s the thing: it’s great, pithy advice. And it’s obviously sexist. So here’s the adaptation at which I’ve grudgingly arrived: “When writing an essay, think of it like shorts. You want ’em long enough to cover the business, and short enough to keep things interesting.”

No matter how dumb the set up, the point is still well taken, and it’s one we employ rigorously on The Society Pages. This is an independent online publication—theoretically, we have all the room in the world and no one to tell us we have to rein it in. Letting ourselves and our authors ramble too freely would, however, defeat the point. Thus, I’m happy to present a set of well honed, concise articles from this past week. You’ll get a tour of what’s on the minds of social scientists, hopefully stripped of unnecessary jargon and pointless pontificating (my intro aside).


Puerto Rico: 51st State or Harbinger of U.S. Decline?” by José Rámón Sánchez. In which Sánchez takes a closer look at the much-heralded “statehood vote” in Puerto Rico and finds it’s not so much about statehood as economic woes.

Office Hours:

Law Enforcement and Science with David Harris,” by Sarah Lageson. In which law professor David Harris discusses why law enforcement agencies are so reluctant to adopt and refine scientific techniques, and what social scientists can do about it.

Reading List:

How Did We Get So Thirsty?” by Kyle Green. In which a researcher sets out to learn why everyone on campus is hauling around a water bottle.

Citings & Sightings:

Reciprocation Rules,” by Letta Page. In which a behavioral psychologist explains why a sociologist got 200 Christmas cards from people he didn’t know.

Sport—and Self—Performance,” by Letta Page. In which an educational psychologist explains his proposal to let student-athletes study being athletes with a sports performance major.

Food Stamp Challenge,” by Hollie Nyseth Brehm. In which living meme Cory Booker challenges himself to live on food stamps for a week and scholars point out the real challenge is getting others to realize the importance of food stamps and dangers of poverty in the first place.

Savage Love, Social Science,” by Letta Page. In which Eric Klinenberg helps Dan Savage assure an advice-seeker that he’s not alone in going solo.

Teaching TSP:

The Road from Crime (Film),” by Kia Heise. In which Heise recommends a new Scottish documentary for use in criminology and intro to sociology courses as a “compelling and passionate discussion about what offenders need to become ex-offenders.”

A Few from the Community Pages:

  • Sociological Images. Rounding up the month is a big job for this prolific blog, but somebody (hint: Lisa Wade) has to do it—and point out the many illustrious media hits the blog and its brilliant authors got by sharing their sociological imagination with journalists.
  • Cyborgology. Guest author Mary Chayko, author of Superconnected, invites Cyborgology cyborg Nathan Jurgenson to guest-tweet her class, Doug Hill looks at capitalism through Hollywood films, Jenny Davis writes that it might be game over in Syria (if interest convergence theory and an Internet blackout are any indication), and Jurgenson and Whitney Erin Boesel both consider the legacy of high school before Facebook.
  • Thick Culture. Jose Marichal takes up a great Washington Post visualization of U.S. tax rates and wonders if the top income bracket should return to 90% (where it was in those prosperous ’50s).

Scholars Strategy Network:

How the Veterans Administration Became a Leader in American Health Care,” by Colin D. Moore. The nation’s largest health care provider isn’t a private hospital network or an insurance company—it’s the V.A, which serves 8.3 million every year.

Will State and Local Crackdowns Prevent Immigrants from Fitting in to American Society?” by Helen B. Morrow. “Tough” local laws, like those instituted in Arizona and Texas, are meant to take on illegal immigration at the borders. But they also stymie assimilation, increase fear, and let non-citizens feels like non-humans.