orgtheory.net

the contexts 1 million campaign

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Ultimately, Contexts magazine’s only goal is to bring sociology to the public. But it’s not enough to read Contexts or even subscribe to it. You have to tell people about it. This is the journal that your mother or spouse can read. You can give it to high school students. Your elected representative can read it. It is truly accessible in a way that most academic journals are not.

That’s why I’m trying for a new goal this Fall. SAGE told me that Contexts got about 500k in views and downloads in 2017. Then we got over 700k in 2018 – that is fabulous!!! Next goal? 1,000,000!!!!!

But how should we get to 1 million? Of course, the editorial team will still work hard to bring you top notch content. Also, if you are an author at Contexts, and your work appeared in summer 2018 or earlier, you can distribute it for FREE. The paywall is DOWN after 12 months. So link, spread and retweet! That will help boost numbers. Finally, I will donate $100 to charity chosen by the readers of this blog if we reach that 1,000,000 magic number by year’s end.

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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!!!!

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Written by fabiorojas

August 21, 2019 at 12:14 am

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three cheers for hong kong protesters

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Hong-Kong-Protestors-American-Flag-British-Flag-July-27-2019-e1564480210469.jpeg

There is a stand off in Hong Kong right now, between the Chinese state and local residents. The immediate issue is that the Chinese wants to pass a law allowing extradition from Hong Kong to mainland China. This may seem like a minor legal issue, but it’s not. China, simply put, likes to harass, abduct and disappear dissidents. So if you are in Hong Kong, the Chinese state would have the power to simply pick you and whisk you away. No wonder the population is up in arms.

. Their use of the American flag is no accident and it reminds us that our legal system, however flawed, does represent a vast improvement over the past. The US was one of the first nations to even conceive of the idea that the police can’t just pick you up without just cause. I am in awe of protesters who are putting themselves in harm’s way to defend that right. Three cheers for Hong Kong protesters and three cheers for the right to be free from harassment.

++++++++

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

August 20, 2019 at 3:42 pm

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junior faculty jam session #5 – basics of teaching strategy

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Junior faculty jam session #1#2, #3, and #4.

University faculty have three jobs: research, teaching, and service. This installment will cover the second task in the list – teaching. There are a few basic rules that you must understand about the role of teaching in your career and how to do it effectively.

First, there is the “iron rule” of teaching. Every single university instructor, from humble adjunct to endowed chair, must actually teach. You may do it badly. You might have your TA sub for you here and there. But you must show up, even if you do so grudgingly. If you stop showing up, you will get fired, even if you are tenured.

Why? The “frontline” job of the university is to teach, not research. It is literally in your contract. Now, mind you, your contract doesn’t say how you have to do it. Nor does it say that you have to do it particularly well. But you have to do it because that is literally what students have paid for.

Second, I truly believe that you should try to be an effective teacher. Even if research is your passion, you owe it to your students and yourself to be do well in class. The students have paid for it. Or their parents have paid for it, or maybe the taxpayers paid for it. In any case, a lot of people want you to try hard. Also, don’t embarrass yourself and your discipline. Make your class a place where your discipline looks good.

Third, effective teaching isn’t that hard to do. Most of the time, all you need to do is write an outline of what you need to cover for the class and come up with a reasonable set of tests and exercises. And by reasonable, I mean try to teach to the class. E.g., if you are working at an open admissions school, you don’t need your math class to be pitched at aspiring scientists and engineers.

Fourth, don’t “over teach.” In other words, once you figure out the basics, don’t spend a whole lot of extra time on teaching. Why? A few reasons. If you want to move to a new school, or be promoted, research is usually more valued. You get paid to teach, but promoted for research. Another reason is that many students don’t notice and don’t care about all that extra time you spent on teaching. Rather, most people want to get the basics and they want to be treated fairly.

Fifth, good teaching is usually about nuts and bolts. Before you try the fanciest methods, or trendiest topics, start with the basic ideas that motivate your discipline and the skills that students need in that discipline. In class, always put on a smile and be professional. Students also want a good class room environment. That means be nice to all students, even annoying ones, and making sure that assignments are returned in a reasonable amount of time. It also means good class room management – make sure that lots of people participate and that you fill time with meaningful tasks.

A lot of what I’ve written is intuitive. But you’d be surprised at how many unprepared and disorganized instructors you find. You also find a lot of disillusioned teachers as well. You may love the class room, or treat it as a nuisance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be good at your job.

++++++++

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

August 19, 2019 at 12:48 am

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lonely woman –> (ornette, 2008 + vienna)

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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

August 18, 2019 at 12:04 am

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scholar-activism: a gentle critique

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This week, I was asked to participate in a panel at ASA about scholar-activism. The panel was organized by Juan Pablo Pardo-Guerra with panelists Daniel Laurison, Philip Cohen and ASA’s Margaret Vitullo. The whole panel was fascinating. Before we get to what I said, I just want to affirm the following so that people on don’t misconstrue what I said:

  • I believe that activism is valuable.
  • I believe that many scholars are great activists.
  • I believe that it would be very good if social scientists contribute to the public.
  • There are many excellent sociologists whose work has public impact.

So, then, what’s my beef? I have three points:

Scholar-activism can cheapen activism: This happens in a few ways. For example, some people might say, “everything we do is activism.” Or, people who aren’t activist are implicit activists because they reinforce the status-quo. With respect to scholars of color, some might even say that just being a scholar of color is itself a form of activism.

I think these sorts of statements do a disservice to activism. At the very least, if *everything* is activism, then the concept has no value whatsoever. But there is a deeper point. I value what I do but I certainly don’t equate what I do with the work done by people, say, protecting undocumented migrants or who raise money for the local food pantry. It’s hard work. I respect it and I won’t steal their thunder.

Also, as a scholar of color, and one who certainly does extra-curricular work with political end points, I am weary of the claim that I am a walking beacon of activism. The issue for me is that this attitude betrays a limited imagination. Are people of color only real or authentic if their work is political? Do we really think black and brown scholars are incapable of producing beautiful and powerful work independent of our own political views? I hope not. Our legacy is important, but so is our independence of spirit and intellect.

Scholar-activism might undermine scholarly credibility: This is simple. The core claim of the academic profession is that we actually know things and can produce evidence that would be compelling to others. That is what makes us different than politicians, activists, or business owners.

Thus, when we completely anchor our professional identity in activism, we walk into a trap. When some one asks, “Is your research biased by your views? How do I know that you didn’t pick the answer that suits your opinion?” If the only thing you have is activism, and you openly reject notions of objectivity and reason, then you will hinder your own efforts. You need a strong identity rooted outside of your political trajectory.

Scholar-activism might undermine the position of the academy: Though imperfect, the university is one of the few institutions that permits open debate and that is what allows universities to have a seat at the collective table. However, if the public comes to believe that the department of sociology is really a department of Democratic, or Republican, party activists, then people will trust the university less.

Collectively, we must do what it takes to ensure that our departments and colleges are places where progressives feel comfortable in addition to conservatives, women, and people of color. If people get the feeling that we are running a church, and not an academic program, then the position of higher education will erode in society. Our claim to knowledge, which is grounded in claims that can be critiqued independently of the author’s identity, is a precious thing. If we aren’t careful, we’ll lose it.

++++++++

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

August 16, 2019 at 4:01 am

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asa2019 live tweets

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With ASA and AOM annual meetings simultaneously happening in NYC and Boston respectively, FOMO is in full swing.  In-between spending time with colleagues and helping Fabio pass out Contexts buttons, so far I have live tweeted (with pics!) at my new twitter account @KatherineKChen, a session on “school discipline” and a session on “theoretical perspectives in economic sociology” from ASA.

Sample tweet of the school discipline session, featuring discussant Simone Ispa-Landa‘s comments about where education research should go.

Sample tweet of an economic sociology session summarizes a finding from an analysis of consumer complaints, conducted by Fred Wherry, Parijat Chakrabarti, Isabel Jijon, and Kathleen Donnelly: student debt inflicts “relational damage” on student’s relations with family and employers.  epopp’s tweets and take of the same session starts here.

You can find other tweets about ASA using #asa2019 or #asa19 and AOM using #aom2019.

Written by katherinechen

August 13, 2019 at 10:24 am

book spotlight: beyond technonationalism by kathryn ibata-arens

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At SASE 2019 in the New School, NYC, I served as a critic on an author-meets-critic session for Vincent de Paul Professor of Political Science Kathryn Ibata-Arens‘s latest book, Beyond Technonationalism: Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Asia.  

Beyondtechnonationalismcover

Here, I’ll share my critic’s comments in the hopes that you will consider reading or assigning this book and perhaps bringing the author, an organizations researcher and Asia studies specialist at DePaul, in for an invigorating talk!

“Ibata-Arens’s book demonstrates impressive mastery in its coverage of how 4 countries address a pressing policy question that concerns all nation-states, especially those with shifting markets and labor pools.  With its 4 cases (Japan, China, India, and Singapore),  Beyond Technonationalism: Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Asia covers impressive scope in explicating the organizational dimensions and national governmental policies that promote – or inhibit – innovations and entrepreneurship in markets.

The book deftly compares cases with rich contextual details about nation-states’ polices and examples of ventures that have thrived under these policies.  Throughout, the book offers cautionary stories details how innovation policies may be undercut by concurrent forces.  Corruption, in particular, can suppress innovation. Espionage also makes an appearance, with China copying’s Japan’s JR rail-line specs, but according to an anonymous Japanese official source, is considered in ill taste to openly mention in polite company. Openness to immigration and migration policies also impact national capacity to build tacit knowledge needed for entrepreneurial ventures.  Finally, as many of us in the academy are intimately familiar, demonstrating bureaucratic accountability can consume time and resources otherwise spent on productive research activities.

As always, with projects of this breadth, choices must made in what to amplify and highlight in the analysis.  Perhaps because I am a sociologist, what could be developed more – perhaps for another related project – are highlighting the consequences of what happens when nation-states and organizations permit or feed relational inequality mechanisms at the interpersonal, intra-organizational, interorganizational, and transnational levels.  When we allow companies and other organizations to, for example, amplify gender inequalities through practices that favor advantaged groups over other groups, what’s diminished, even for the advantaged groups?

Such points appear throughout the book, as sort of bon mots of surprise, described inequality most explicitly with India’s efforts to rectify its stratifying caste system with quotas and Singapore’s efforts to promote meritocracy based on talent.  The book also alludes to inequality more subtly with references to Japan’s insularity, particularly regarding immigration and migration. To a less obvious degree, inequality mechanisms are apparent in China’s reliance upon guanxi networks, which favors those who are well-connected. Here, we can see the impact of not channeling talent, whether talent is lost to outright exploitation of labor or social closure efforts that advantage some at the expense of others.

But ultimately individuals, organizations, and nations may not particularly care about how they waste individual and collective human potential.  At best, they may signal muted attention to these issues via symbolic statements; at worst, in the pursuit of multiple, competing interests such as consolidating power and resources for a few, they may enshrine and even celebrate practices that deny basic dignities to whole swathes of our communities.

Another area that warrants more highlighting are various nations’ interdependence, transnationally, with various organizations.  These include higher education organizations in the US and Europe that train students and encourage research/entrepreneurial start-ups/partnerships.  Also, nations are also dependent upon receiving countries’ policies on immigration.  This is especially apparent now with the election of publicly elected officials who promote divisions based on national origin and other categorical distinctions, dampening the types and numbers of migrants who can train in the US and elsewhere.

Finally, I wonder what else could be discerned by looking into the state, at a more granular level, as a field of departments and policies that are mostly decoupled and at odds. Particularly in China, we can see regional vs. centralized government struggles.”

During the author-meets-critics session, Ibata-Arens described how nation-states are increasingly concerned about the implications of elected officials upon immigration policy and by extension, transnational relationships necessary to innovation that could be severed if immigration policies become more restrictive.

Several other experts have weighed in on the book’s merits:

Kathryn Ibata-Arens, who has excelled in her work on the development of technology in Japan, has here extended her research to consider the development of techno-nationalism in other Asian countries as well: China, Singapore, Japan, and India. She finds that these countries now pursue techno-nationalism by linking up with international developments to keep up with the latest technology in the United States and elsewhere. The book is a creative and original analysis of the changing nature of techno-nationalism.”
—Ezra F. Vogel, Harvard University
“Ibata-Arens examines how tacit knowledge enables technology development and how business, academic, and kinship networks foster knowledge creation and transfer. The empirically rich cases treat “networked technonationalist” biotech strategies with Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Singaporean characteristics. Essential reading for industry analysts of global bio-pharma and political economists seeking an alternative to tropes of economic liberalism and statist mercantilism.”
—Kenneth A. Oye, Professor of Political Science and Data, Systems, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“In Beyond Technonationalism, Ibata-Arens encourages us to look beyond the Asian developmental state model, noting how the model is increasingly unsuited for first-order innovation in the biomedical sector. She situates state policies and strategies in the technonationalist framework and argues that while all economies are technonationalist to some degree, in China, India, Singapore and Japan, the processes by which the innovation-driven state has emerged differ in important ways. Beyond Technonationalism is comparative analysis at its best. That it examines some of the world’s most important economies makes it a timely and important read.”
—Joseph Wong, Ralph and Roz Halbert Professor of Innovation Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto
Kathryn Ibata-Arens masterfully weaves a comparative story of how ambitious states in Asia are promoting their bio-tech industry by cleverly linking domestic efforts with global forces. Empirically rich and analytically insightful, she reveals by creatively eschewing liberalism and selectively using nationalism, states are both promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in their bio-medical industry and meeting social, health, and economic challenges as well.”
—Anthony P. D’Costa, Eminent Scholar in Global Studies and Professor of Economics, University of Alabama, Huntsville
For book excerpts, download a PDF here.  Follow the author’s twitter feed here.