orgtheory.net

mo’ mando, mo’ mando, bach

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“Wait, that’s not a violin. What the…I don’t even…how is that possible?”

Bach’s Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, performed by Thile on mandolin, via guest DJ M&M.

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

Written by fabiorojas

October 5, 2014 at 12:01 am

nussbaum on GDP alternatives

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Written by fabiorojas

October 4, 2014 at 12:01 am

race agnosticism: commentary on ann morning’s research

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Earlier this week, Ann Morning of NYU sociology gave a talk at the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society. Her talk summarized her work on the meaning of race in varying scientific and educational contexts. In other words, rather than study what people think about other races (attitudes), she studies what people think race is.  This is the topic of her book, The Nature of Race.

What she finds is that educated people hold widely varying views of race. Scientists, textbook writers, and college students seem to have completely independent views of what constitutes race. That by itself is a key finding, and raises numerous other questions. Here, I’ll focus on one aspect of the talk. Morning finds that experts do not agree on what race is. And by experts, she means Ph.D. holding faculty in the biological and social sciences that study human variation (biology, sociology, and anthropology). This finding shouldn’t be too surprising given the controversy of the subject.

What is interesting is the epistemic implication. Most educated people, including sociologists, have rather rigid views. Race is *obviously* a social convention, or race is *obviously* a well defined population of people. Morning’s finding suggests a third alternative: race agnosticism. In other words, if experts in human biology, genetics, and cultural studies themselves can’t agree and these disagreements are random (e.g., biologists themselves disagree quite a bit), then maybe other people should just back off and admit they don’t know.

This is not a comfortable position since fights over the nature of human diversity are usually proxies for political fights. Admitting race agnosticism is an admission that you don’t know what you’re talking about. Your entire side in the argument doesn’t know what it’s talking about. However, it should be natural for a committed sociologist. Social groups are messy and ill defined things. Statistical measures of clustering may suggest that the differences among people are clustered and nonrandom, but jumping from that observation to clearly defined groups is very hard in many cases. Even then, it doesn’t yield the racial categories that people use to construct their social worlds based on visual traits, social norms, and learned behaviors. In such a situation, “vulgar” constructionism and essentialism aren’t up to the task. When the world is that complicated and messy, a measure of epistemic humility is in order.

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

Written by fabiorojas

October 3, 2014 at 12:01 am

laser cats and mary parker follett

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When I teach my sociology of organizations courses, I always include an underrecognized org theorist, Mary Parker Follett,* who advocated for “power-with” instead of “power over.”  Follett argued that voting and other more conventional decision-making approaches generate dissatisfactory outcomes, in which one or more parties lose.  She suggested that groups engage in a consensus-oriented decision-making process to identify what parties really want and thus generate novel solutions.  However, providing real-life examples of this process is not easy, particularly since many decisions are made hierarchically or when one party tires of the decision-making process.

But, thanks to the Internet, here is one light-hearted example, starring an improbable combination of lasers, Mr. Bigglesworth the cat, and a Chihuahua:

Party A: High school student Draven Rodriguez wanted a memorable photo for the school yearbook.  His desired portrait is definitely awesome:

Awesome portrait taken by Vincent Giodano/Trinactia Photography

Awesome portrait taken by Vincent Giodano/Trinactia Photography

Party B: However, the school wanted uniformity in its yearbook’s senior student photos, so the school said no to Rodriguez’s request.

However, both parties continued to talk.  What’s the outcome?  Click here for the answer.

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Written by katherinechen

October 2, 2014 at 12:01 pm

marijuana legalization as social movement

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Vox ran an article asking how marijuana legalization came to have so much support. In speaking to German Lopez, I offered a tipping point theory and some thoughts about the low cost of information:

Rojas of Indiana University suggested the advancements of the movement could be a self-perpetuating cycle: As more states legalized medical marijuana, Americans saw that the risks of allowing medicinal use didn’t come to fruition as opponents warned. That reinforced support for medical marijuana, which then made politicians more comfortable with their own support for reform.

A similar cycle could be playing out with full legalization, Rojas explained. As voters see medical marijuana and legalization can happen without major hitches, they might be more likely to start supporting full legalization.

“People said, ‘Okay, now that someone else is throwing this out in public, it’s okay for me to vote for it or approve it,'” Rojas said. “That’s probably the main driving force: using the electoral system to push ideas that people may be afraid to think about or consider because they’re illegitimate — or at least they were.”

The rapid change in public opinion could have been helped along by the internet, which allows people to share stories about their own pot use, research about the issue, and states’ experiences with relaxed marijuana laws much more quickly.

“When I was a college student around 1990, other than hardcore political wonky types, … nobody really talk about drug legalization,” Rojas said. “Now, you can go on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, and people can share a news story. You get exposed to it constantly.”

Check it out.

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

Written by fabiorojas

October 2, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, social movements

t-t assistant professor opening at CCNY

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My dept. is hiring for a t-t assistant prof line – please download this: (Job_Announcement_2014 final) or see below.  Best wishes to everyone on the job market.

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Written by katherinechen

October 1, 2014 at 12:41 pm

Posted in academia, sociology

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if granovetter wins the nobel, remember that orgtheory called it back in 2007

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Thomson Reuters has released a press announcement about their predictions for the 2014 Nobel prizes. They project it based on citation patterns. Check out the section on economics:

Mark S. Granovetter
Joan Butler Ford Professor and Chair of Sociology, and Joan Butler Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University
Stanford, CA USA

For his pioneering research in economic sociology

Kewl!!! Even if Granovetter never wins, he’ll always be recognized as a leader in sociological approaches to markets. And remember, if he does win – WE CALLED IT IN 2007. And yes, we just based it on citation patterns.

H/T: Umut Koc, who posted this on the Facebook orgtheory group.

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

Written by fabiorojas

October 1, 2014 at 12:01 am

Posted in economics, fabio, sociology

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