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blogcation summer 2018

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On break till August. Be excellent!

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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!

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Written by fabiorojas

July 16, 2018 at 4:01 am

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gloriosa

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++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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

July 15, 2018 at 4:01 am

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book cover explorations 1-4

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Reruns:

  1. From Black Power to Black Studies (cover by Bill Owens)
  2. Party in the Street (cover by William B. Plowman)
  3. Grad Skool Rulz (cover by Kirby D. Schroeder)
  4. Theory for the Working Sociologist (cover by Elijah Burgher)

In August: the first year of Contexts covers!

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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

July 13, 2018 at 4:01 am

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book cover exploration #4: theory for the working sociologist

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Theory book cover

How do you illustrate “theory?” That was my issue circa 2016. The answer was not entirely clear, but some really great social theory books used abstract art on the cover. For example, I have always loved the cover to Bourdieu and Wacquant’s Introduction to Reflexive Sociology – a work by master Paul Klee. I also liked the quiet elegance of books that used color field paintings, such as Jeffrey Alexander’s Neofunctionalism and After.

So I went that route – abstract. Instead of choosing classic art, I wanted living art, because, after all, the book is about linking central themes of social theory to modern research. I went with a drawing by Chicago super-artist Elijah Burgher.

Elijah’s work has long appealed to me for many reasons. First, the craftsmanship is superb. Whether it’s on the impressionistic side of things or very realistic, every work he makes bears the mark of quality. I’ve seen art students stand in front of his work, in awe at the fine drawing. Secondly, his work is about method and theory. He’s a guy who believes in ritual and using ideas to guide the creation of work. Third, his work is mystical. He actively draws on occult traditions in his work. Much of his work is about sigials, symbols that incorporate messages in the way of chopped up and re-assembled letters. Finally, Elijah’s work is highly sub-cultural. His work touches gay subculture, the Chicago art scene, mysticism, and Greek and medieval belief systems.

Thus, Elijah is an artist who works with submerged traditions, but he also cares about quality, technique, and clarity. That’s what I like. Thankfully, he agreed to let me reprint one work – Excremental Philosophy Illustrated, Vol. 1 (2013).  It’s a drawing that is rich with color, shows guided complexity, and says, so softly, “there are secrets here.”

Jhon Balance

“Jhon Balance.”

burgher prints

Showing of prints at Ivan Gallery in Budapest.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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

July 12, 2018 at 4:01 am

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upcoming book: policing black bodies by angela j. hattery and earl smith

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hattery smith book cover

I recently got to see a draft of Policing Black Bodies by Angela J. Hattery and Earl Smith. It’s coming out soon from Rowman and Littlefield. It’s a historical approach to the issue of how law enforcement is used to monitor and control African Americans. It’s organized around the development of specific institutions (e.g., modern mass incarceration or the school to prison pipeline debate) and is a really thoughtful overview of this topic.

For me, I thought one interesting chapter was about the policing of trans people. Though I knew about the topic, it was helpful to read an extended discussion. Trans people are subject to policing in distinctive ways. Since many are ejected from their homes as youth, they may be homeless and thus have a lot of contact with police. Also, in prison, they may subject to physical abuse dues to the fact that they are gender non-conforming.

Overall, books like Policing Black Bodies remind us that police and prisons aren’t just about arrests and courts. Rather, the criminal justice system is one that interacts with people all through their lives and continues to extract a toll as people spend years of their life in prison.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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

July 11, 2018 at 5:18 pm

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homo economicus, homo oppressus

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The discipline of economics has often been derided by other academics for endorsing a limited view of humanity called “homo economicus.” In most economic models, you describe people as “utility maximizers” – people who try to increase, or maximize, well being, broadly defined. There are things like costs, incentives, and budgets, and humans try to find the best action given these constraints.

Like all academic models, it has its advantages. Homo economicus is actually a great way to help you think about why, say, Trump’s trade tariffs might hurt consumers. It is also a nice way to think about situations that are obviously about choice, even if it is not about commerce, such as some types of crime or how government agencies choose policy. At the same time, the model is inherently limiting. Fitting everything into a model of choice often misses the point or is highly misleading. Some critics will even go further and say that the homo economicus model teaches people to be selfish and not care about others.

Sociology has its own version of homo economicus, a theory that simplifies the world but has some real limitations. I call it “homo oppressus.” In this model of the world, human beings are driven by two psychological impulses:

  1. Homo oppressus sees that world in terms of in groups and out groups.
  2. Homo oppressus actively seeks to defend the status and privilege of their group.

There is an important normative side to “Homo oppressus” theory – the actions of lower status groups are usually seen in a better light than actions of higher status groups, which might be called “the underdog bias.” There is also a second bias concerning policy – policies that try to minimize in-group/out-group differences are preferred to those that increase baseline levels of well being but maintain inter-group inequalities.

Like homo economicus, homo oppressus has many intellectual advantages. It is simple to state and understand. It is very relevant to the social world and it is fairly easy to apply in research. There is a lot of truth in the model.

What are the disadvantages? It has the same disadvantages that any simplification of the social world will have. Too much research on homo oppressus may lead you to ignore other important aspects of the social world. Homo oppressus also has some unique disadvantages.

First, homo oppressus encourages people to see the world as a zero sum conflict. Marx is the classic example. There may be some short term economic growth, but ultimately social classes come into conflict. We also see versions of homo oppressus in feminist/masculinist theories, religious orthodoxy, and critical race theories. It is incredibly hard for someone committed to homo oppressus to understand that life is not zero sum and that many activities can enhance global well being yet still maintain inequality in various ways.

Second, on the level of ethics, homo oppressus encourages the view that the value of individuals lies in their ability to wage wars against oppression waged by the outgroup. If you aren’t fighting inequality, you are suspect. There is little in homo oppressus theory that identifies the value of individuals beyond the front lines of this battle.

What is the alternative? It is not obvious, but perhaps sociologists could work on a more expansive view of humanity, one that is about community. In such a view, conflict would be present, and perhaps an important feature, but it wouldn’t be the overwhelming feature. It’s worth thinking about.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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

July 10, 2018 at 2:46 pm

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the organizational sociology of art stinchcombe

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News came that the eminent and well loved Art Stinchcombe passed on. Here, I want to briefly reflect on two of Stinchcombe’s most important contributions to organizational sociology – the 1965 article in the Handbook of Organizations and his 1990 book, Information and Organizations.

The 1965 Handbook of Organizations chapter – “Social Structure and Organizations” – proves that you never know what will become your trademark article. This edited volume chapter was a foundational text for neo-institutionalists and has gathered about 8,000 (!) citations in Google Scholar. It’s big contribution is to argue that organizations don’t respond exclusively to internal deliberations over costs and benefits. Rather, they exists in a larger “environment” and that you must conform to survive. Further, Stinchcombe argued for an early version of path dependence theory – once the environment “imprints” your organization, it’s hard to change, thus leading to a lot of inertia.

Organizational theorists also know Stinchcombe as the author of Information and Organizations, a book that expands on the view that organizational structure reflects a never ending attempt to manage uncertainty. It’s a book with numerous interesting arguments, some of which I don’t buy, but always engaging. There are numerous commentaries on classic case studies of org theory, the theory of routines, university life, and occupational structures.

This is only a small window into Stinchcombe’s work and we just take a moment to celebrate his work by looking back on a career full of great work.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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

July 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm

Posted in uncategorized