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this is museum week on orgtheory

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This week, we’ll have a series of posts dedicated to museums. Some will be personal, others academic. Here’s the line up:

  • Tuesday: The trials of the George Lucas museum.
  • Wednesday: Why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could be better.
  • Thursday: The limits of institutional theory as applied to museums.
  • Friday: What the Creationism Museum in Kentucky tells us about social movements.

For some, it’ll be better than shark week.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power 

Written by fabiorojas

July 28, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in culture, fabio, nonprofit

get asa 2014 events into your calendar more easily

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I got sick of navigating the ASA Meeting Calendar thing, so I threw together something some of you might find useful. You can see what’s happening on various days, but also—and this is the potentially useful part—every event has an associated .ics file for you to download and import into your preferred calendar application such as iCal, Outlook, Google Calendar, and so on. Dates, times, summary information, and locations included. Enjoy.

Written by Kieran

July 27, 2014 at 4:04 am

Posted in sociology

jazz(game of thrones)

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

July 27, 2014 at 12:04 am

explanation of jeff koons

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Warning: Some of Koons’ work is NSFW! Not for kids.

Except for the cheesy intro music, I like this review of Jeff Koons’ recent show. I’ve always had this love/hate approach to his work and I think this discussion by art critic Rodrigo Canete helps out. #puppies

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

July 26, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in culture, fabio

data bleg: categorical data

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Please put in the comments, or link to, a data set that has the following properties:

  1. A few hundred cases, but not too many ( 300 < N < 1000).
  2. Longitudinal categorical variable X with the following properties
  3. Categorical variable should NOT be ordered. States should be like {chocolate,vanilla, strawberry}, not {strong agree, neutral, strong disagree}.
  4. About 4-7 time periods.
  5. About 4-7 states that X can be in (e.g., five political parties, five ice cream flavors).
  6. “Legitimate data” – no one will bug me about using this data set. Decent response rate, nice set of covariates for X, data collected for a legitimate research project, etc.

This is for a methods project I’ve been working on. So I don’t need something fancy, just something that that has these specific properties to highlight the strengths of the method. Feel free to email me as well.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

July 25, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, mere empirics

how social movement theory and org theory became friends

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Klaus Weber and I have a chapter in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Sociology, Social Theory, and Organization Studies, in which we discuss the history of the connection (or lack thereof) between social movement theory and organizational theory. In writing the chapter we wanted to go back to the roots of each theory and talk about missed opportunities for intellectual cross-fertilization. Both literatures are, after all, primarily concerned with group behavior, problems of collective action and coordination, and dynamics of stability and change. Why did it take so long for the two theoretical areas to engage one another? (I should note that social movement theory has for some time borrowed ideas from org. theory, but this doesn’t really amount to full engagement in my mind.)

We argue that in the early years of American sociology, social movements and formal organizations were viewed as very distinct phenomena – social movements are irrational and disruptive and formal organizations are rational and stability-inducing – and that this characterization prevented scholars from seeing potential empirical overlap.

Research on both social movements and formal organizations was thus sparked by an interest in how individual behaviour—embedded in traditional family and societal structures as well as self-interests—is transformed in collective contexts. However, the two emerging fields focused on rather different forms of transformation. Social movement theory evolved from a subfield that saw collective action as irrational, spontaneous, emotional, and emergent (Blumer, 1957; Smelser, 1963; Turner & Killian, 1957); whereas organizational theory was largely focused on the rational pursuit of collective goals within the walls of bureaucracy (Crozier, 1964; Gouldner, 1954; Weber, 1947). Moreover, early collective action research saw spontaneous crowd behaviour as disruptive of social order, while organization theorists saw formal organizations as sources of social domination and stability. To the eyes of sociologists at the time, social movements were typically ephemeral, deviant, and potentially destructive (Couch, 1968). Formal organizations, in contrast, were purposefully organized, stability-inducing, and functional. It is no surprise that collective behaviour and organizational scholars in the 1950s and 1960s saw few commonalities.

In doing research for the paper we uncovered a really fascinating quote from a 1959 Social Problems article by Lewis Yablonsky, a sociologist studying gangs as a form of social organization. (Interestingly, before becoming a sociologist, Yablonsky claimed to have grown up on the streets and became a proficient dice and card hustler. Naturally, once he became an academic he gravitated to the study of deviant behavior.) In the article, Yablonsky explicitly compares collective behavior, like crowds and mobs, and formal organizations.

At one extreme, we have a highly organized, cohesive, functioning collection of individuals as members of a sociological group. At the other extreme, we have a mob of individuals characterized by anonymity, disturbed leadership, motivated by emotion, and in some cases representing a destructive collectivity within the inclusive social system. (Yablonsky, 1959: 108)

Yablonsky, a keen observer of social life, came to the conclusion that there are many types of organizations that exist in the middle of this continuum. Yablonsky’s insight, although he meant it to apply specifically to gangs, has since become widely shared by both social movement and organizational scholars. Social movements are much more organized, routinized, and rational than previously thought, but they are still frequently characterized by intense emotions and contagion-like processes. Formal organizations are much less permanent and stable and more emotional than a previous generation of scholars believed, but it is the  existence of routines and collective identity that allow them to resist environmental threats. The more we understand both phenomena, the more we recognize similarities. Pioneers in the field like Mayer Zald and John McCarthy realized this early on and helped make those connections. In more recent years, the bridge between the two fields has been developed more fully as organizational scholars have gone to social movement theory to re-conceptualize the organization as a political actor that is shaped by various ongoing kinds of collective action.

Our paper talks about how the two fields became friends and offers a few insights about where we think the fields are heading and what might be gained from further merging. Check it out if you’re interested.

Written by brayden king

July 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

computer science “brain drain”

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has an interesting post on the perceived “brain drain” in computer science. From a recent post at the Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing blog:

But what do scientists think of big data? Last year, in a widely circulated blog post titled “The Big Data Brain Drain: Why Science is in Trouble,” physicist Jake VanderPlas made the argument that the real reason big data is dangerous is because it moves scientists from the academy to corporations.

“…But where scientific research is concerned, this recently accelerated shift to data-centric science has a dark side, which boils down to this: the skills required to be a successful scientific researcher are increasingly indistinguishable from the skills required to be successful in industry. While academia, with typical inertia, gradually shifts to accommodate this, the rest of the world has already begun to embrace and reward these skills to a much greater degree. The unfortunate result is that some of the most promising upcoming researchers are finding no place for themselves in the academic community, while the for-profit world of industry stands by with deep pockets and open arms.  [all emphasis in the original]“

His argument proceeds in four steps: first, he argues that yes, new data is indeed being produced, and in stupendously large quantities. Second, processing this data (whether it’s biology or physics) requires a certain kind of scientist who is skilled at both statistics and software-building. Third, that because of this shift, “scientific software” to clean, process, and visualize data has become a key part of the research process. And finally, because this scientific software needs to be built and maintained, and because the academy evaluates its scientists not for the software they build but for the papers they publish,  all of these talented scientists who would have spent a lot of their time building software are now moving to corporate research jobs, where this work is better rewarded and appreciated. All of this, he argues, does not bode well for science.

We’ve discussed this point on the blog before. We aren’t keeping good people in the academy. Aside from the financial incentives, we are really bad in terms of career development, job security, and gender equity. No wonder why we can’t keep people. We have to seriously reconsider the model where the only people who get good rewards are those who spend a decade getting their PhD dissertation published.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

July 24, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, mere empirics

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