historical

In this episode, we talk with Vincent Roscigno, sociologist at The Ohio State University, about using multiple methods to research historical inequality. Using the case of the Sioux Massacre at Wounded Knee, he ultimately answers empirical and theoretical questions about how powerful state actors justify inequality. Using archives, correspondence, and qualitative and quantitative analyses, Vinnie and his research team found that officials of the Office of Indian Affairs and federal politicians amplified ethnocentric and threat frames, using the Sioux Ghost Dance as central to this argument. Force against the Sioux was consequently portrayed as justifiable, which increased the likelihood of the massacre. This unique project sheds light on the value in using multiple approaches to answer a sociological question.

“I engage in quantitative work. I engage in qualitative work. But, increasingly my work has taken on a multimethod flavor. I feel more confident when I can pull off this blending of methods… I think in some ways, questions of validity are what pushed me to become more of a multimethod researcher. I think that various types of qualitative approaches [to supplement quantitative analyses] can both give us confidence in the validity of the variables we tend to choose, as well as bolster our confidence in the interpretation of what that relationship is… For me, this type of sociology is poignant. It’s powerful. It puts a human face on some of the processes we talk about in the abstract.
– Vincent Roscigno – 

In this episode, we are joined by co-authors David Scott FitzGerald, Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California at San Diego and David Cook-Martín, an Associate Professor of Sociology at Grinnell College and director of its Center for International Studies. We discuss the historical, comparative approach that the two employed in their book Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas, for which they conducted analysis of legal records of twenty-two countries between 1790 and 2010.

“Getting access to the so-called hidden transcripts, as James Scott would call them, was difficult. That was something that came out of our archival work. We didn’t set out expecting to find the volume of such secret confidentials that we came up with. Some of the more exciting archival research that we did was to uncover some documents that had never been reported before in either the English or Spanish language literature. For example, there are some confidential restrictions on Chinese in Mexico that I found in the archives in Mexico City, where some of the documents were written partially in cypher. Then I found other documents that de-coded that and showed that it referred specifically to Chinese. David found some similar documents that have never been written about before in the archives in Argentina.”
– David Scott FitzGerald & David Cook-Martín –

In this episode, we are joined by Shamus Khan, Professor of Sociology at Columbia University. Professor Khan studies cultural sociology and stratification, with a strong focus on elites. He is the author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School and The Practice of Research. We discuss using historical data for his new research project, in which he uses the New York Philharmonic archives to uncover the character of their subscribers from the 1870s to the present.

“I love very micro-level analyses where you can see what one person is doing or what is happening on the ground…It is super exciting to see where did the Vanderbilts sit, who was sitting around them, and what kind of things they were listening to…The main advantage of this methodological approach to me, is that I find it really exciting. It is not hard for me to get up and go to my office everyday to do something like this because, as time consuming as it is, I get to really know something that happened, and I am able to document it and provide a really clear account of what was going on in what is often a cloudy past.”
– Shamus Khan –