White Trash: The Social Origins of a Stigmatype

White trash. For many, the name evokes images of trailer parks, meth labs, beat-up Camaros on cinder blocks, and poor rural folks with too many kids and not enough government cheese. It’s a put-down, the name given to those whites … Read More

Repercussions of Incarceration on Close Relationships

When an arrest is made, all eyes are on the person in handcuffs. At a trial, the jury focuses intently upon the defendant. And when the prison door slams shut, we envision the solitary individual “doing time” far from the … Read More

Discovering Desistance

Shadd Maruna and Fergus McNeill have spent the better part of their careers asking questions about “desistance”: why and how people transition out of crime. As their work has shown, desistance is a tricky concept to define and measure. While … Read More

Juvenile Lifers, Learning to Lead

It is quite extraordinary to sit in a Lifers Club meeting at the Oregon State Penitentiary. First, the facts: individuals who identify as “lifers” have been convicted of taking a life and have made a commitment to change their own. Read More

Social Fact: The Great Depressions?

During the Great Depression of the late 1920s, suicide rates in the United States reached an all-time high, topping 22 suicides per 100,000 persons. Images of once-wealthy business moguls and industrialists throwing themselves from Manhattan skyscrapers may seem a tragic … Read More

What’s So Funny about Disability?

In 2008, the release of the action-comedy film Tropic Thunder, written, produced, and directed by Ben Stiller, brought forth condemnation from more than a dozen disability advocacy groups, including the Special Olympics and the National Down Syndrome … Read More

The Crime of Genocide

Rain pelted the side of the empty school building, drowning out all other sounds. In the distance I could see lightning strike across the rolling green hills. The weather couldn’t have fit the situation better. For even though the classrooms … Read More

Puerto Rico: 51st State or Harbinger of U.S. Decline?

On November 6, 2012, the people of Puerto Rico voted to join the U.S. as its 51st state. Or did they? The referendum was non-binding and was conducted in a two-step process. The first question asked whether Puerto Ricans were … Read More

Power, Sociologically Speaking

At the close of another hotly contested campaign season, politics seems to me like a sport. We have been inundated with commercials, bumper stickers, debates, and speeches. Fans have flaunted their allegiances while those at the top tried to carve … Read More

The Social Significance of Barack Obama, Revisited

Back in the fall of 2008, Doug Hartmann was editing Contexts magazine. To gain some perspective on what was clearly a historic election, he and the Contexts graduate student editorial board reached out to a number of scholars to get their … Read More