Archive for the ‘blogs’ Category
Nicolai “The Postmodernist” Foss recently drew my attention to the blog of sociologist Randall Collins. I had never read it before, but I’ve been missing out. My guess is that it documents Collins’ recent thoughts on topics that he’s working on. Examples:
Infrequent, but always good. Recommended.
At orgtheory we’ve tried to develop a loose environment for scholarly discussion. By loose, I mean a place where people can feel comfortable talking about serious ideas in a fun way, without the formality of a colloquium and more open and inclusive than most professional settings. For the most part we’ve been successful I think at facilitating that sort of feeling among contributors. Over the years we’ve had great conversations that have not been constrained by status, rank, or other forms of exclusivity. A community has formed around orgtheory that, while including a lot of sociologists, is fairly interdisciplinary and broad. Personally, that’s why I keep coming back and, even if I’ll go weeks without posting anything, I place a lot of value on this blog and the people who come here to speak their mind.
Our discussions frequently veer from their intended targets and most of the time that is totally okay and within the norms of orgtheory. This place would be boring if people were required to stay on point all the time. It’s consistent with the loose, collegial atmosphere we’ve tried to create. But occasionally (and I mean very infrequently) discussions turn in a sour direction. This wasn’t a problem for the first few years of the blog, perhaps because in those early years we knew almost everyone who came online to connect with us. We had a small community and it was easy to enforce norms with each other. But in the past couple of years, we’ve had a few posts where commenters have become a little snippy with each other. We’ve talked internally about how best to handle those outbursts. As I see it two ideals compete with each other. On the one hand, we value inclusiveness and believe that the best way to encourage real discussion and debate is not to censor. We want people to feel that their input is valued, regardless of status, rank, expertise, etc. On the other hand, we value civility and believe that if people treat each other according to the “golden rule” a greater variety of people will be more likely to participate. And it does seem to be true that when discussions get especially rancorous, many people drop out of the debate and the more impassioned voices surge to the front line. The rules of discussion that Fabio posted a few months ago were a response to the rising tide of incivility that we observed on the blog.
During Festivus, a commenter complained about the gender inequality on this blog. This comes up from time to time. Trust me, I’ve tried to remedy the situation. In the past, I’ve made a conscious effort to invite comparable numbers of guests from all genders. And we’ve had excellent female bloggers. Our permanent crew member Katehrine Chen, Hilary Levy Friedman, Jenn Lena, Leslie Hinkson, Mito Akiyoshi, Brandy Aven, Rhacel Parrenas, Karissa McKelvey, and others. But usually, men are much more likely to accept invitations and post, that’s why the imbalance remains. In Spring 2013, I even put out an open call and I posted *everything* that was sent to me. The result? Two men and one woman.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t try even harder. So here’s the deal: send me something to post. You have a commitment from me. If you send me a post that is social science/management or related to the academic profession (orgtheory’s two main topics), I will post it contingent on light editing and meeting our admittedly low intellectual standards. This helps me by bringing fresh ideas to the blog and it will bring new voices to the soc blogosphere. So if there’s a book you want to comment on, or an article you hate, or a theoretical point that needs to get out there, send it in!!
Administrative Science Quarterly now has a blog – aptly named The ASQ Blog. The purpose of the blog is a bit different than your typical rambling academic blog. Each post contains an interview with the author(s) of a recent article published in the journal. For example, there are interviews with Chad McPherson and Mike Sauder about their article on drug court deliberations, with Michael Dahl, Cristian Dezső, and David Ross on CEO fatherhood and its effect on employee wages, and András Tilcsik and Chris Marquis about their research on natural disasters and corporate philanthropy. The interviews are informal, try to get at the research and thought process behind the article, and allow reader comments. I think its innovative of the ASQ editorial team to come up with this in an effort to make research more open and to draw more eyes to the cutting edge research at ASQ.
A couple of years ago I served on an ASQ task force (with Marc-David Seidel and Jean Bartunek) to explore different ways that the journal could better use online media to engage readers. At the time, ASQ was way behind the curve. It was difficult to even find a permanent hyperlink to its articles. Since that time ASQ and most journals have greatly improved their online accessibility . The blog is just one example. ASQ’s editor, Jerry Davis, said in a recent email to the editorial board that they recognize that “younger scholars connect with the literature in ways that rarely involve visits to the library or print subscriptions.” To maintain relevance in today’s academic “attention economy” (for lack of a better term), journals have to be active on multiple platforms. ASQ gets it; Sociological Science’s (hyper)active tweeter (@SociologicalSci) gets it too. In the end, everyone hopes the best research will float to the top and get the attention it deserves, but if the best research is hard to find or is being out-hyped by other journals, it may never get noticed.
It made me wonder, how do people most commonly find out about new research? I know that orgtheory readers are not the most representative sample, but this seems to be the crowd that Jerry referred to in his email. So, below is a poll. You can choose up to three different methods for finding research. But please, beyond adding to the poll results, tell us in comments what your strategy is.
Everybody get on the bench. Yes, that includes you, Ramirez. I know you have to use the bathroom, but you can hold it for a little while I talk – ok?
Alright, this is about the comment policy. Ever since we started in 2006, our policy has been to let people say whatever they want. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. I have always felt that intellectual life should be based on evaluating the merits of argument, not the rank of the person. So I always hate it when one guy hogs up the class discussion, or people pull back just because the speaker is a fancy chair at some big university.* That’s why we generally let most comments stand. High school students and full professors all sit at the same table.
But we occasionally edit comments or delete them. Here are the rules. Follow them and no one gets hurt:
- We delete all spam.
- We will ban commenters who obsessively repeat the same points over and over, regardless of context.
- We delete comments that are personal attacks on individuals.
- We delete comments that use profanity or sexually explicit/offesnive material.
- The Sherkat Exemption: Professor Sherkat of Southern Illinois University is exempt from Rule #4.
- Each orgtheory crew member reserves the right to delete comments as they see fit.
It’s not a hard rule, but I’ve also deleted a few comments that were nothing more than grousing. If you hate this blog, go read another one. Write your own. It’s not a required class.
I don’t censor for political opinions, genuine academic disagreements or anything else that is a real engagement with the topics we cover at orgtheory.
Agree? Good. There’s little cups of Gatorade on the table by the Pepsi machine.
* Yes, IU groupies, I’m referring to the Bobo incident.
Sociologist and blogger Phil Cohen has an op-ed in the NY Times on gender inequality. Here’s a key clip:
The assumption of continuous progress has become so ingrained that critics now write as if the feminist steamroller has already reached its destination. The journalists Hanna Rosin (“The End of Men”) and Liza Mundy (“The Richer Sex”) proclaimed women’s impending dominance. The conservative authors Kay S. Hymowitz (“Manning Up”) and Christina Hoff Sommers (“The War Against Boys”) worried that feminist progress was undermining masculinity and steering men toward ruin.
But in fact, the movement toward equality stopped. The labor force hit 46 percent female in 1994, and it hasn’t changed much since. Women’s full-time annual earnings were 76 percent of men’s in 2001, and 77 percent in 2011. Although women do earn a majority of academic degrees, their specialties pay less, so that earnings even for women with doctorate degrees working full time are 77 percent of men’s. Attitudinal changes also stalled. In two decades there has been little change in the level of agreement with the statement, “It is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and the woman takes care of the home and family.”
After two steps forward, we were unprepared for the abrupt slowdown on the road to gender equality. We can make sense of the current predicament, however — and gain a better sense of how to resume our forward motion — if we can grasp the forces that drove the change in the first place.
Read the whole thing.
1. The group blog Bad Hessian, which focuses on computational issues. Includes guest stars Alex Hanna and up and coming sociologists Dan Wang, Trey Causey, Benjamin Lind, Adam Slez, Matt Moehr, and others.
2. Todd Beer, a former Fabologist, teaches at Lake Forest College in Chicago. He now has a blog called http://sociologytoolbox.com/ that focuses on teaching.
The plaintiff: Andrew Gelman – fellow blogger and poli sci pugilist. The defendant: Nicholas Christakis – sociologist, physician, tweeter. The claim: Christakis wrote the following, which made Gelman, like, really mad:
The social sciences have stagnated. They offer essentially the same set of academic departments and disciplines that they have for nearly 100 years: sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology and political science. This is not only boring but also counterproductive, constraining engagement with the scientific cutting edge and stifling the creation of new and useful knowledge. . . .
I’m not suggesting that social scientists stop teaching and investigating classic topics like monopoly power, racial profiling and health inequality. But everyone knows that monopoly power is bad for markets, that people are racially biased and that illness is unequally distributed by social class. There are diminishing returns from the continuing study of many such topics. And repeatedly observing these phenomena does not help us fix them.
Gelman’s complaint? It’s a little hard for me to understand, but he doesn’t like the fact that Christakis said that we have really beat some topics into the ground and that maybe we should expand a little:
Regarding the question of illness being distributed by social class: Is it really true that “everybody knows,” for example, that Finland has higher suicide rates than Sweden, or thatforeign-born Latinos have lower rates of psychiatric disorders. These findings are based on public data so everybody should know them, but in any case the goal of social science is not (just) to educate people on what should be known to them, but also to understand why. Why why why. And also to model the effects of potential interventions.
Christakis is making a point about the maturity of research topics, not public knowledge of specific results. For example, the “SES gradient” is one of the most well established results in all of health research. It appears in every single sociology of health class and it is not easy (though certainly not impossible) to find a health condition where SES (or income or status) doesn’t affect the likelihood of contracting the condition or recovering. In other words, if you know anything about sociology or health, you know this finding and it is very, very, very well established.
Of course, within any field, there are notable puzzles, like the finding that immigrants (in the US) tend to be healthier than second generation people. I’m a bit puzzled by the importance of the suicide fact. Perhaps suicide is an exception, but I believe the SES gradient enough that I’d wager that for many important health conditions that (a) SES within Finland (or Sweden) makes a big difference or (b) that wealthy countries do better on the condition that poor countries (e.g., Finland v. Sweden is probably not as important as Finland v. Gambia or Guatemala).
Gelman raises the issue of causation, and once again, it seems like he’s missing the point. Christakis is not suggesting that people stop investigating causes. Rather, it’s about the relative amount of effort. Hundreds of papers have attempted to explain the SES gradient in one way or another. In fact, it’s come to the point that if I see a talk that is about SES and health, I can nearly always predict the tables and coefficients – and I’m not even a specialist on the topic. This suggests that the marginal benefit of yet another study on the SES gradient is likely to be small. Instead, maybe people should look into new areas of inquiry unless you have a really, really, really amazing way to get at causation.
Judgment: The Court of Orgtheory finds against the plaintiff and in favor of meeting some new people.
I will be on blogcation from July 1 to July 15. If you have ever wanted to write a post for a blog, send me an email. Topics: management, sociology, related social sciences, research methods, current events, jazz/metal/classical/West African or Ethiopian/alt- or psychedelic folk, academia/the profession, Finland.
Here they are, with comments in parentheses:
- Should I teach post-modernism? (140)
- An inconvenient truth about GRE scores (94)
- Investigating Regnerus (74)
- Protect yourself on the Internet – the Eszter and Brayden way* (72)
- How I pick graduate students (63)
- Is academia meritocratic? (58)
- Motivation, markets, and manipulation (58)
- World cup survey (57)
- Gladwell, when he is wrong, creates a tsunami of wrong (54)
- Sociology rankings and the Fabio effect * (54)
Other interesting ones in the top 20: A comparative look at ASA membership costs and benefits ** (53), How feminists killed feminism (50), and Walmart and the ASA (guest post by Chris Winship) (44).
* Graham inflated comment thread.
** This is also known as the “Dues are Too Damn High” post.
The website “Best Sociology Programs” has a list of 30 soc blogs. The list covers some of the usual suspects (like this blog, Kieran’s blog, or Phil Cohen). I also learned about some bloggers that are new to me, like Deborah Lupton (“This Sociological Life“), Zero Anthropology, which focuses on postcolonial communities, and Neuroanthropology, which is self-explanatory and run by PLoS One.
If you’re needing new orgtheory related content and we’re too slow to provide it (I keep telling Fabio he needs to post more!!), then I have a couple of suggestions for you. Over at Charisma – a new-to-me blog about consumer studies – David Stark has a post about how people’s unique standpoint relative to the market influences their reactions to and valuation of market assets. He points to three papers, two of which he coauthored and another by Elena Esposito, that focus on different aspects of people’s observation of markets. In the last paper, he and Matteo Prato refer to the “viewpoints effect” as the tendency for people’s attention to certain salient attributes to determine how they’ll react to other assets.
One’s assessment of an issue is shaped by one’s viewpoint, given by one’s contingent portfolio of attention. We hypothesize, specifically, that two actors who assess a given situation vis-à-vis a similarly (differently) composed portfolio of other situations are more likely to autonomously converge (diverge) in their interpretations of the given situation.
Over at the very new Organizations and Social Change blog, my coauthor Ed Carberry writes about the relationship between executive compensation and corporate tax deductions, noting that Facebook received a tax refund by simply deducting executive stock options as an expense. He notices that this is a standard accounting practice that allows companies to get a big tax break. He also, rightly I think, observes the unfairness of this particular tax deduction.
Interestingly, three leading scholars of compensation, in conjunction with the Center for American Progress, have put forward a very simple proposal relating to taxes and stock-based compensation practices like stock options. They call it “inclusive capitalism.” Essentially, the idea is that if a company does not provide stock-based compensation for most of its employees, it cannot deduct any gains that any of its employees receive from this type of compensation, including executives. Sounds like a socialist plot to intervene in the free market? Think again. Health care and retirement benefits currently operate according to the same rules. If a company wants to grant health care to only its executives, that is completely legal. However, if it does so, it cannot deduct that cost from the company’s taxable income. We can do the same exact thing with stock-based compensation. This will either dramatically increase federal tax revenues or propel a more equitable distribution of stock-based pay.
Both posts are worth reading.
Posting will be light until January 2, 2013. If you want to write a post or two, send me an email with a short description. Long as it is is academic and fun, I’ll seriously consider it. In the Winter, we’ll have posts on the following:
- a new book forum will be annnounced
- digital natives vs. computer literacy
- my endless anxiety about neo-institutionalism
- progress in network analysis
- The Hobbit was no Phantom Menace, but I’m still disappointed
- a possibly cool research result
- historians and the antiwar movement
- the tragedy of the Fabios
Have a happy Christmas/Hannukah/Kwanzaa/Festivus/Winter Solstice/Hibernation.
Q. You are interested in factors that determine whether particular musical styles, genres, etc., will gain mass appeal — or remain circumscribed to a small niche. Have you discovered something about the process of “influence” or “contagion” that the social network scholars have ignored or underemphasized? What does your work tell us about the role of networks in shaping popular tastes?
A.The most common way for music to blow up from a small scene into global pop is for a controversy to erupt. Music history is littered with examples of “moral panics”: be-bop jazz was blamed for white-on-black race riots in the mid-1940s, just as rap music was blamed when riots erupted in Los Angeles following the Rodney King trial. In both cases, sensationalized news reports and especially a focus on the “dangerous” elements in the music attracted young people in droves. Moral panics, like magnets, repel and attract. This is also true when disputes involve dueling scenes, like the fights between “mods” and “rockers” in the U.K. in the early 1960s or the battles between fans of heavy metal and punk that played out on the pages of Creem magazine in the early 1980s. It is equally true when outsiders attack: the Parents’ Music Resource Center’s efforts to ban heavy metal and rap music resulted in those Parental Advisory stickers. When rock fans staged the infamous Disco Demolition at Comiskey Park they may have kept disco in the limelight for an extra year.
The interview is filled with lots of other insights. Self-recommending!
We are thrilled to announce that there is a new member of the Orgtheory Crew – Katherine K. Chen. Katherine is well known to loyal readers as a guest blogger who writes on ethnography and professional issues. Katherine is a leading organizational ethnographer. Her book, Enabling Creative Chaos, is an award winning analysis of the Burning Man organization. She has also published in Qualitative Sociology, American Behavioral Scientist, and Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Katherine has taught at Harvard and William Patterson University and is now on the faculty at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. I’ve known of Katherine and her work for over a decade, so it’s a real pleasure to have her join the Crew. So let’s give a hearty welcome to Katherine!!!
Henrich Greve has a blog!! We’re happy to welcome Henrich, an ASQ editor and prolific organizational scholar, to the blogosphere. Henrich’s posts discuss the practical implications of papers recently published in organization theory journals. In this post he discusses an ASQ paper by Matthew Bidwell about the performance and pay of external hires versus internal hires. Here he draws on a paper by Elizabeth Boyle and Zur Shapira to assess how organizations manage risks through incentives and monitoring. And in this post he talks about the implications of his own research on corporate deviance and legitimacy loss to assess how Carnival’s CEO handled the recent shipwreck of the Costa Concordia.
If you’re an organizational scholar this is a must-read blog.
The orgtheory staff tries to keep it fresh with a mix of sociology, management, economics, and poli sci. We toss in book discussions, current events, and guest bloggers. We’ll even do requests. What do you think we should do more of? What social science trends need discussion? Professional issues? Feel free to use the comments section.
My good friend, Charlie Bertsch, has an excellent web site called Souciant. It’s high quality essay writing – personal observations, politics, and modern culture. The site has a great crew of writers. A few recent examples:
- Death of a Promise Keeper by Charlie Bertsch- a tasteful reflection on having a neighbor who is very different than you.
- Withering Away of the State(s) by Mitchell Plitnick – what happened to the two state solution?
- The Supreme Leader’s Muzak by Cameron McDonald – what tyrants listen to.
Check it out – I know you’ll find something that you like.
I’ve recently enjoyed Thought Catalog, a website that runs short pieces on various topics. Run by young Brooklynites, the focus is definitely sex and dating, but there’s lot of good stuff in other genres:
- A nice feature on digital artist Jon Rafman, who Teppo mentioned.
- Breaking up with your Blackberry.
- The Chuck Klosterman Fan Club.
- Classical music conundrum.
- Two North Korea documentaries.
- On being a trombone player: ” Pulling out a trombone at a social gathering generates zero enthusiasm.”
Pieces range from introverted to funny to angry to horny to clever. Recommended!
Thanks to Michael Ryall for guest blogging here at orgtheory. Mike’s guest stint was short but provocative. Well, he enjoyed blogging enough to get involved with strategyprofs.net – so you can continue to follow him there.
OK, and while I’m advertising – here are a few posts that orgtheory folks might be interested in:
- Mike Ryall on whether strategy is a social science or a debate club.
- Freek Vermeulen got some hate mail and posted about the “deifiction of Steve Jobs.”
- Here’s Russ Coff on whether corporate strategy still matters.
- Steve Postrel wrote a response to Russ’ post, “corporate strategist agonistes.”
- Here’s a post about Sid Winter’s excellent talk on the cult of the lightbulb, and a post about strategic management on crack (or wikipedia).
A quick plug. I’m involved with a new blog project, strategyprofs.net. The co-conspirators there are Russ Coff (University of Wisconsin, Madison), Karim Lakhani (Harvard), Steve Postrel (UC Irvine), Mike Ryall (University of Toronto), and Freek Vermeulen (London Business School).
The goal of the blog is to bring a whole whole new set of strategy scholars, practitioners and conversations onto the web. Obviously, orgtheory has featured plenty of strategy conversations and posts (to say nothing of the evil twin, O&M) – so we’ll be linking to orgtheory very frequently.
[And, as for me, orgtheory.net will always be my home. I'll be as active as usual around here - for better or worse.]
Here’s a post by Steve Postrel on “John Sculley, path-dependence and the great man theory.”
The ‘Organizations, Occupations and Work’ (OOW) section of the American Sociological Association now has a blog. Be sure to check it out: oowsection.org.
It’s my pleasure to announce that Hilary Levey Friedman will be guest blogging with us. Hilary is a sociologist who focuses on childhood, health, and education. In addition to writing academic articles in Childhood and Qualitative Sociology, Hilary is also an accomplished public intellectual whose work appears in the Huffington Post, USA Today, and Education Next. Welcome!
We’ve discussed before Revolutionology, a blog written by Berkeley soc grad student Ryan M. Calder. Since we’re near the end of the Gaddafi regime, it’s worth checking in:
- Remembering Anton Hammerl, journalist
- Would people accept a Gaddafi immunity deal?
- Social solidarity in the midst of revolution.
Good work – and stay safe!
Random fact: Here’s the list of the top ten web sites that refer people to orgtheory. I’ve removed portals, like Google or Twitter, and self-referrals, people clicking around inside orgtheory:
- Marginal Revolution
- Scatter Plot
- Jeremy Freese
- Organizations and Markets
- Crooked Timber
- Chris Uggen
- The Sociological Imagination
- Andrew Sullivan
- Econ Job Rumors
- Inside Higher Education
I should remove Crooked Timber, because that’s mainly Kieran. #11 is The Grad Cafe, which links to grad skool rulz. The break down: Sociology (5/10), economists (3/10), general academia (1/10), mass media (1/10). I counted Crooked as sociology because it’s Kieran. Interesting that even though the blog is run by 3 b-school profs and 2 org sociologists and a dude named Omar, the only management related blog is Orgs and Markets. Going down to the top twenty or thirty referrers, you get some more sociology (A Budding Sociologist/Dan Hirschman), economics (Econjeff, Econlog), and political science/theory (Jacob Levy/Monkey Cage).
Shamus, I accept your challenge. We shall race to see who gets banned from China first. The rules:
- Goal: The winner is to be the first website that, according to The Great Firewall of China, cannot be reached from servers in the five areas of Beijing, Shenzen, Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, and Yunnan. We’ll use these url’s: “orgtheory.wordpress.com” and “scatter.wordpress.com.” At present, the orgtheory URL is still accessible from all monitoring stations.
- Rules: You can’t directly ask to be banned or have a friend alert the censors. You can’t just rename your site “facebook.com” or otherwise pretend to be an already banned website. The spirit of the game is to be banned for the ideas found on orgtheory and scatterplot.
- Starting time: We start at midnight (EST) on a day that we agree on. We’ll be on the honor code We’ll take the word of the first blogger or commenter who finds that the site can’t be reached via The Great Firewall website.
- The stakes: If orgtheory wins, Shamus Khan donates $50 to the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. I will make a similar donation to a charity of his (or Scatterplot’s) choice.
We attracted the Iranian propaganda people yesterday. So today, I have a new project: get orgtheory banned from China. According to the Great Firewall of China, the billion people of China still have access to orgtheory. That suggests that we aren’t edgy enough at this blog. To correct that:
- Ai Weiwei was unjustly persecuted. Free him and his friends.
- Falun Gong is nothing to worry about.
- Indigenous Tibetan culture should be preserved and celebrated.
- If Taiwan wants to be independent, that’s ok.
- Maybe the government should have been nicer to the Tiananmen protesters.
Let’s see how long this takes.
This summer, the Grad Skool Rulz will reach its conclusion. I don’t have much else to add after five years of writing on various aspects of graduate training. I will collect all the Rulz into a document that will be available for download. The original Rulz will be left on the orgtheory website for those who prefer the blog format.
The Grad Skool Rulz book will be an edited collection of the blog posts plus an introductory column. As I begin assembling the document (28,000 words right now), I’d like your opinion on what I have not discussed. I will also add a few sections on post-docs and the tenure track. If you have truly internalized what was important in the Grad Skool Rulz – being professional, publishing, etc. – then you’ll likely be ok on the tenure track.
But there are some specific things, like how to assemble a tenure dossier and so forth, that I can now write about and that aren’t covered in the Rulz. If there is any topic that you think should be included in Grad Skool Rulz: Blunt Advice for Graduate Students with Special Bonus Rounds for Post-Docs and Junior Faculty, please send me email or put it in the comments. Thanks for reading!
I’ve decided to start twittering again. It’ll mostly be orgtheory links, but also occasional links & commentary on social science research, with a few more fun links. @fabiorojas
So, orgtheory.net turns five years old today. Thanks, all, for contributing (guest blogging, commenting, reading etc)!
Here’s what contributors, friends, commenters and readers had to say about the blog.