orgtheory.net

contexts 1 million: we hit our goal!!!!

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1_million_contexts

A few months ago, I announced our goal at Contexts: reach 1 million clicks + downloads for 2019. In 2018, we barely missed the goal – 993k clicks and downloads. This year? We made it!!! We just got our data analytics for 2019 and we hit our mark – and then some.

Rahsawn and I only have one goal – to bring the best sociology to the public. And little by little, it’s working. So please – assign Contexts, download Contexts and share Contexts.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

January 22, 2020 at 12:15 am

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book spotlight: you can’t stop the revolution by andrea s. boyles

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boyles bppl

I reviewed Andrea S. Boyles’ You Can’t Stop the Revolution: Community Disorder and Social Ties in Post-Ferguson America for Ethnic and Racial Studies. A few clips:

“Ferguson” is a word that carries too much weight. No person, or town, or community, should shoulder a nation’s sins, but it does. For that reason, many, many people have written about Ferguson and the events that led up to Mike Brown’s murder and the subsequent revolt. When I first received You Can’t Stop the Revolution, I was honestly skeptical. So many people have now talked about police violence, Brown’s homicide, and Black Lives Matter. Creating intellectual value in such a crowded field is a real challenge.

Andrea S. Boyles is a professor of Criminal Justice at Linderwood University, which is near Ferguson, Missouri. On the day after Brown’s death, she responded to calls from community organizers to mobilize. This led Boyles into a multi-year exploration of how Black communities respond to perpetual violence and disruption. It’s less of a discussion of police violence and more of theoretically motivated account of how people respond to a permanent state of disorder. For that reason, You Can’t Stop the Revolution breaks out of the well tread genre of books about police violence and Black Lives Matter and moves into a very provocative discussion of the nature of social order for oppressed communities.

The book then uses a fascinating mix of interviews, ethnography, and visual data to make it’s point about how repressive regimes constantly disrupt communities and how people organize to bring order back into their lives. Check out the book and the review. Highly recommended for urban sociologists, race scholars, and anyone interested in Black America post-Ferguson.

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

January 21, 2020 at 1:57 pm

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my path to abolitionism

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I am a New Abolitionist. I am opposed to imprisonment and servitude. I am against prisons and border controls. I do not believe in military conscription nor to I support mandatory public service.

My belief has many roots. My father came out of the Catholic church of the 1960s. He rejected corporal punishment. He never spanked or hurt me. My father came from a culture of machismo but he told me it was wrong to hit women. Here and there, he’d also refer to his belief that war was wrong.

I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s. The memory of the Civil Rights movement was fresh. I asked my parents about it a few times and they told me about Martin Luther King, Jr. Later, I would read about his philosophy in detail, about his idea that social change is based on a Christian notion of love for all people. He was also the first person I read who said that non-violence could be aggressive and enact change.

Another influence is libertarian political theory. In that tradition, some authors promote the “non-violence axiom.” That’s the idea that violence is inherently wrong and can only be used in self-defense or in other very unusual circumstances. This is one reason that libertarians are opposed to the imprisonment of people for non-violent activities such as sex work, the ingestion or sale of narcotics, and gambling.

The final influence on my abolitionism is Angela Davis and her book Are Prisons Obselete? This short book discusses how prisons do violence to people and especially Black people. I never romanticized prisons, but this is the sort of text that brings their violence into focus. Prisons don’t reform, they deform.

I used the term “New Abolitionist”  because abolitionism is an old term for people who righteously opposed slavery in the 19th century. We need to say “New” because today, we have vast systems of violent confinement. It might be the millions in prison for drug offenses or the vast number of migrants who are detained and forcibly removed from this country. While the media may rant against occasional sensational cases of abuse, they rarely question the need to have so many in prison.

Perhaps you think I am naïve or wildly idealistic. But if you think I may have a small point, or I am partially correct, that means you favor letting a lot of people out of jail. That’s ok. It’s a good start. If enough people think that, then we’ll move in the right direction.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

 

Written by fabiorojas

January 20, 2020 at 3:59 am

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ikue more/painted desert

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

January 19, 2020 at 12:07 am

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yes, let’s pardon all non-violent drug offenders

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Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois recently pardoned 11,000 people in his state who had non-violent narcotics convictions. Three cheers for him! This is the right thing to do, as the country is sensibly moving toward legalization of marijuana. The War on Drugs has damaged lots of people. One form of harm is in saddling hundreds of thousands of people with felony convictions for possession or distribution of narcotics. These people will have the stigma of a criminal conviction and it makes it very hard for them to find stable work after incarceration.

Today, 33 states, and the District of Columbia, have legalized some form marijuana. Hopefully, in the near future, that number should be higher. We can’t go back in time and fix all the lives that have been broken by mass incarceration but we can do one more thing: as each state legalizes marijuana, governors and state legislators can void or reverse all non-violent convictions. It’s the right thing to do.

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

January 17, 2020 at 12:04 am

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developing scholars of color ain’t that hard

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When people point out that many departments have few scholars of color, the response is often, “look, we only hire people with the right publication records and there aren’t that many.” True on the surface, but it evades a key issue – scholars of color are often hideously under-represented in top journals and university presses and these institutions are the de facto credentialing agencies of elite academia. It’s not as bad as it used to be when I started the academic track in the 1990s, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

To be blunt, the situation will only change when the predominantly White faculty at leading research programs start mentoring students of color, and women as well, so that they have the “right” publications upon graduation. If you have ever worked at a research academic program, you notice that the most common profile for a junior faculty hire is a doctoral candidate who has an unpublished dissertation but who is also a co-author on a senior professor’s “A journal” article. So one way to bolster the pipe line is to bring in graduate students onto projects – and early.

IU does not have a huge graduate student cohort and, frankly, it is not diverse as it reflects Indiana’s demographics. Still, progress can be made and it isn’t *that* hard. In my own case, I’ve been able to chair two dissertations of minority students who’ve gone on to academic careers and I’ve been able to have a third co-author on two articles. I’ll also include my friend Rashawn Ray, who was in one of my grad courses. When someone nominated me to edit Contexts and I needed a co-editor, I remembered that Rashawn was an intelligent and thoughtful guy, so I reached out to him. He was already tenured at that point, but I do hope that co-editing a journal will be a career enhancing activity for him. My reach out efforts don’t always succeed, but you have to at least try and sometimes it works.

In general, I am not impressed with diversity initiatives, fellowships, tough talk on diversity, and what not. Sure, they’re nice but that’s not where the hard work happens. The real challenge is taking the time and effort to say, “sure, I’ll chair your dissertation,” or, “hey, do you want to co-author this piece?” Unless you try to do that, it’s just cheap talk.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

January 16, 2020 at 1:53 am

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rational choice theory, jess calarco edition

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One of the things that my graduate students truly hate about my teaching is my insistence on learning classical Becker-era rational choice and its variants. For most of the profession, RCT is simply something to be avoided and wished away. But I teach it for a few reasons. First, most sociologists actually believe in some version of RCT when you get down to it. For example, I asked my graduate theory seminar, “do you believe school shootings would decrease if the state penalized gun possession?” All hands went up. Then I said, “well, you believe in some form of RCT.” People were not happy. I also teach RCT in depth because, frankly, a lot of other theory professors teach straw man versions of the theory and I need to undo some of that.*

But the *real* reason that I teach RCT is that it is a theoretically rich tradition of social thought. If you really understand it, you can use it to formulate interesting questions, even if you don’t buy the most rarefied versions. And like all well articulated theories, once you write down the premises, you can use specific data to test the limits of the theory.

For example, a few days ago, my colleague and office neighbor, Jess Calarco posted this fun/frustrating tweet. Question: Are small children rational? RCT provides a lot of interesting answers. The options:

  1. Children are not rational actors in the Becker sense. They don’t have time intransitive preferences. RCT doesn’t apply to them and is an incorrect description of small children.
  2.  Children are “irrational rational” actors in the Becker sense. They have goofy preferences but they are still subject to time and budget constraints and this induces RCT behavior.
  3. Children are rational actors in the Becker sense but they have imperfect information. For example, maybe the child really wanted a red cup but once they saw what it was like, they found out it sucked.
  4. Children are rational actors but they have hyperbolic preferences. In other words, they want immediate satisfaction and utility drops exponentially over time.
  5. Children are “muddle through” rational actors, which means that they don’t have clearly defined utility function. “I don’t know what I want but I know it when I see it.” He thought he wanted the red cup but once he found a real one, he knew that it was all hype.
  6. Children are rational actors but they have low skills. Maybe he didn’t want that red cup but couldn’t properly express himself. So he just insisted on the red cup.
  7. Children combine elements of the RCT model and the biological model of behavior. When adrenaline is low, they are closer to RCT. But if their emotions get high, it inhibits RCT and they have intransitive preferences.

The truth? I’d probably gravitate toward #6 and #7. But there is a bigger point. RCT is a very useful way to investigate the social world – even a world filled toddler melt-downs.

*For example, some students are taught that RCT predicts that people choose to be poor or victims of crime. They are also taught that RCT is about financial incentives, a mistake that I even found repeated Bourdieu’s Intro to Reflexive Sociology. I spend a lot of class time every year reversing this.

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

 

Written by fabiorojas

January 14, 2020 at 12:01 am

Posted in uncategorized