In this episode, we talk with Christopher Wildeman , Associate Professor of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His research and teaching interests revolve around the consequences of mass imprisonment for inequality, with emphasis on families, health, and children. He is also interested in child welfare, especially as relates to child maltreatment and the foster care system.

We talk about his article on child maltreatment, published in Pediatrics, and discuss how his research team used existing datasets in new ways to reveal better estimates of child maltreatment rates.

“Most of the statistics that we have are based on either annual rates or daily rates of experiencing some specific event. And so the technique that I use, which is called synthetic cohort life tables, is basically just a way to say: based on one year’s data, what proportion of folks could expect to experience an event at some point in their life?”
– Chris Wildeman –

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 talk with Justin Picket of SUNY-Albany about using web-based surveys for public opinion polling and experiments. He provides guidance, tips, and tricks for using services like Amazon Mechanical Turk.

“A lot of people have great ideas, and they just don’t have the resources to go out and go a longitudinal study. Giving people the tools to initially test their idea and get it out there can really benefit science….it opens the theorizing and the research to broader set.”
– Justin Pickett – 


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 –

In this episode, we talk with Devah Pager, Professor of Sociology at Harvard University and Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Pager studies institutions affecting racial stratification, including education, labor markets, and the criminal justice system.  Pager’s recent research has involved a series of field experiments studying discrimination against minorities and ex-offenders in the low-wage labor market. Her book, Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration (University of Chicago, 2007), investigates the racial and economic consequences of large scale imprisonment for contemporary U.S. labor markets. You can read the study we discuss here.

“It’s a nice blend between experimental methods that are heavily controlled and that isolate a causal mechanism, but it’s an experiment that’s taking place in real world settings. The devil is in the details. Keep in mind that it sounds like a very simple approach, but there are a lot of complexities to carry it out effectively.”
– Devah Pager –

On this episode of the Give Methods a Chance podcast , we are joined by Dr. Andrew Billings. Andrew is the Ronald Reagan Endowed Chair in Broadcasting in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. He has authored books on a range of topics including Fantasy Sport and coverage of the Olympic games.  His scholarship has also attracted interest outside academic walls from mainstream outlets ranging from the The Boston Globe to the Los Angeles Times to ESPN.com. We talk to Andrew about his use of quantitative content analysis to study traditional and social media coverage of NBA player Jason Collins’ coming out as gay.

“One barrier, and this is certainly true with more and more social media, is that there is an incredible amount of, it is not really negativity, of course there is negativity out there…Coding for sarcasm can be really tricky. And that is the reason we can’t use, with most of the work I do, I can’t send it through a content analysis software program because inevitably it is going to code things differently than the way they come out.”
Andrew Billings – 

Helen B. Marrow is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tufts University, with affiliations in American Studies, Latino Studies, Latin American Studies and the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. Helen’s research interests include immigration, race and ethnicity, social class, health,and inequality and social policy. She is the author of New Destination Dreaming: Immigration, Race, and Legal Status in the Rural American South and has published in journals including the American Sociological Review, Ethnic and Racial Studies, and Perspectives on Politics. Today we discuss her tripartite methodological design for studying immigrant/native relations as well as her experience conducting collaborative, interdisciplinary research. For more information, visit the project website.


“One of the things we have learned, and we have incorporated into our survey and interview data, is that a lot of the fierce debates about whether more contact between groups reduces prejudice and produces positive outcomes or whether it leads to greater feelings of threat and more negative outcomes, has to do with the fact that the different disciplines are operationalizing and measuring contact differently. Psychologists think about contact as direct, face-to-face contact. But often in sociology and political science, we are thinking about contact at a broader and more macro level.”
– Helen B. Marrow –

Keith N. Hampton is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication, School of Communication and Information, and an affiliate member of the Graduate Faculty in Sociology at Rutgers University. His research interests focus on the relationship between new information and communication technologies, social networks, democratic engagement, and the urban environment. Today we discuss his project, “Social Interaction in Public Spaces: A Longitudinal Study.” The goal of this study is to understand change in the social life of urban public spaces over the past 30 years, using visual content analysis.

“This is truly the only way to do a longitudinal study of public space. We can hang out in a public space for months, or maybe even a year, but doing that for two or three decades is simply impossible. So, for any large scale, longitudinal study of urban public spaces, I think this is probably the only method that is available to us.”
– Keith Hampton – 

In this episode, guest host Sarah Shannon interviews Daniel Sui, Chair of the Department of Geography and Distinguished Professor of Social and Behavioral Science at The Ohio State University. Daniel has published extensively on the use of volunteered geographic information as well as the use of social media as a new data source for geographic and social science research. He joins us to share his thoughts on big data, the methodological challenges, and the methodological advantages.

“In terms of the applications of big data, it is limited by only your imagination. That is why big data has attracted interest by industry, government agencies all over the world, and, of course, academics and scholarly researchers.”
Daniel Sui-

In this episode, we talk with Naomi Sugie on using smartphones to collect data from research participants. Naomi is an Assistant Professor of Law, Criminology & Society at the University of California-Irvine. She shares findings from a study of recently released prisoners as they seek for work in Newark, New Jersey.

“Smartphones are exciting data collection tools. They can collect real time data on peoples’ experiences while they are going about their every day lives. Smartphones have their limitations, but they open up a whole new area of research and the ability to just document peoples experiences. They can expand the realm of empirical investigation for researchers to consider questions and ideas we just weren’t able to think about before, using other methods.”
– Naomi Sugie-