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Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
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Written by fabiorojas

May 20, 2018 at 4:01 am

the one where fabio stands up at the end of jess calarco’s job talk and yells, “j’accuse!!”

with 9 comments

pacino-court room

I was looking for trouble. I’d been drinking ginger ale all day and reading Andy Gelman blog posts. Then, the department email said some hot shot job candidate was giving a talk.

Jess Calarco strolls in Philly stlye and gives her job talk. A forty five minute talk on, of all things, ethnography. Give me a break! Little kids raising their hands, exercising their fancy-schmancy cultural capital. Don’t believe me? Go read it yourself – it’s in a new Oxford University Press book, called Negotiating Opportunity: How the Middle Class Secures Advantages in School. All the gory messy detail in 272 gripping pages of field work. Don’t buy the hardback for $99. Total rip-off. Get the more affordable paper back edition for $24.95!! Those publishers are total con-artists. You gotta be careful.

For the entire talk, Calarco goes on and on about how children from wealthier families negotiate the classroom in small incremental ways through student-teacher interaction. Asking for time on tests, arguing about assignments. What happens at the end of the talk has now become legend at IU soc. This is how Calarco remembers it:

Here is how I remember it. I straightened out my bow tie, I stood up, and asked: “The motivation for your field work is to understand how class based difference in class room interactional style might be linked to learning outcome or status attainment. What evidence do you have from field work that the association is present or explains the variation in outcome, much in the same way a quantitative researcher might use an R-squared to measure a model’s goodness of fit?

You could hear a pin drop. Children cried. Snowflakes started melting. Then, after taking a few notes, Calarco calmly explains that she was collecting data on the student’s performance to examine the link between classroom behavior and achievement and then she summarized some initial thoughts.

FOILED AGAIN! My plan to undermine the discipline of sociology failed! I went back to my office and vented my frustration on anonymous job rumor websites.

+++++++

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

May 17, 2018 at 4:01 am

fabio’s bill of grad student rights

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Last week, I wrote about my practice of asking stiff questions in job talk Q&A’s. Apparently, my questions are responsible for all manner of ill, from gender inequality in academia to something about Bourdieu and social power. To make it up to y’all, I’ll focus on the positive – what I think all graduate school advisers have an obligation to do.

A little background: I spent the early years of my academic career in departments that were very toxic. Lawsuits. Disappearing funding. Masses of junior faculty fleeing. Bad job market placements. Then, I moved to a graduate program that, while not quite as prestigious, was doing just fine. I clearly saw the difference. People often say that they support grad students, but many don’t. Here’s my summary of what effective advisers should be like.

  1. The right of response: All advisers will promptly respond to emails, dissertation drafts, and other materials. Letters and recommendations will be processed promptly. In academic terms, prompt means a few days, or a week, at most.
  2. The right of the reminder: All advisers will be open to gentle reminders if they violate #1.
  3. The right of socialization: All advisers will tell graduate students about the rules and standards of their discipline and relevant sub-fields.
  4. The right of prompt evaluation: All advisers will write letters of recommendation without complaint and in a prompt fashion, so long as the student gives them sufficient time. In academic terms, sufficient time means about 2-3 weeks.
  5. The right of civility: All advisers will treat graduate as colleagues in training. There will be no screaming, no belittling behavior, and, of course, advisers will respect the personal space of their students.
  6. The right of constructive criticism: All advisers retain the right to criticize the academic and professional work of their students. But advisers will deliver all criticism in a calm and professional manner.
  7. The right of fair warning: If advisers believe that there is a serious issue concerning a student, they shall communicate it early and in a professional manner.
  8. The right of no land mines: If advisers believe that can’t support the student in their doctoral process or job search, they should express their reservations and recuse themselves.
  9.  The right of the supportive letter of recommendation: Advisers shall write constructive letters that reflect the student’s accomplishments and future trajectory. If the adviser can’t do that, they are bound to issue a “fair warning.” (see Right #7)
  10. The right of career respect: Advisers will understand that graduate students pursue many different jobs after graduation. The adviser will not belittle students who do not pursue research intensive academic jobs. All students will receive training and support needed to complete their degree in a timely and constructive fashion.

Signed,

Your adviser

+++++++

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

May 15, 2018 at 4:01 am

not bad for a college town free jazz mini-orchestra (black acid arkestra)

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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

May 13, 2018 at 5:10 am

why i will continue to be annoying at job talks

with 29 comments

A couple of days ago, I wrote a blog post about why I think that one should be tough on job candidates during job talks. My argument boils down to a simple point – it’s my chance to push a little and see how they respond in a tough spot.

At first, I was going going to write a blog post defending this view, but then Pamela Oliver retweeted the following, which makes my point very clear:

Bingo. This is exactly right. In your job as a professor, you will be put under pressure. You will be asked uncomfortable questions. They will not care about  your feelings or how it conflicts with your sense of egalitarianism. If you read through Professor Michener’s thread, you will see that she handled it in a very thoughtful and professional way. The thread raises many good points, but the starting point is this: this job has moments of pressure and you need to be able to handle it well.

Just to give you a sense of how the “tough Q&A” might be helpful in assessing a person, here are examples of where “thinking on your feet” and “dealing with pressure” made a difference in my own life:

  1. Around 2000, an audience member at an ASA round table said my work was offensive to all LGBT people. She then stood up and stormed out.
  2. Around 2008, an audience member at an ASA panel stood up and said that my work was completely wrong. He was referring to a draft of this paper.
  3. During my midterm review, the current chair indicated that I may be in trouble. It’s ok. I pulled through – we’re still friends!!!
  4. My work on the More Tweets, More Votes paper was openly criticized by leading political professionals, including this Huffington Post piece.
  5. I have argued with people in public about open borders. Including the spokesman of the Hungarian national government, Zoltan Kovacs. Let’s just say he doesn’t share my opinion!
  6. Students will raise potentially inflammatory questions in the middle class. Last year, for example, a student claimed in class that Catholicism is the only true religion. Needed to be real careful about that one.
  7. The blog generates a surprising amount of hate mail – from other scholars!
  8. As a journal editor, people question my rejection letters all the time. Oddly, they never question my acceptance letters!
  9. And of course, the piles and piles of journal and book editor rejections that every professor must deal with.

Of course, the typical day is not that stressful, but scholars are often called to defend themselves and they must do so in the face of tough opposition. I don’t advocate a lack of courtesy or civility. But asking about things like research design, relation to research done by scholars in adjacent fields, and inference is totally acceptable and there is nothing wrong with a courteous, but blunt, question. Heck, IU grads have told me that my questions during practice job talks were excellent prep for job talks elsewhere. Thus, if you have had years to work on a dissertation and you can’t answer a mildly assertive question about your own work, I will not be impressed.

+++++++

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

May 10, 2018 at 4:24 am

why i am annoying at job talks

with 12 comments

At my dept, I am the guy who asks the tough questions at the end of the job talks. This strikes people as aggressive or obnoxious and they are right. But I think there is good reason to be extra tough for a job talk.

  1. Teaching: Can you think on your feet? Most of the time, your students will be asleep. But once in a while, they wake up and they can ask tough questions. You have to be ready for it.
  2. Actual Contribution: Honestly, PhD program prestige and CVs drive most hiring. Thus, if your adviser makes you author #5 on an AJS or ASR article, you have a massive job market advantage. In that case, I have to see if you actually know what you are talking about, or if you got credit for doing the footnotes.
  3. Cultishness and Rigor: I want to see if you “drank the kool-aid” or if you really have given serious thought to what you are doing. For example, I love asking qualitative researchers about causal inference. Do they really believe that ethnography is a magic land where inference doesn’t matter? Or have they really thought about what can and can’t be done within a given methodological framework?
  4. Broad mindedness: Does the person only care about the writings of the two or three most famous people in their sub-area? Or have they thought deeply about what the sub area has accomplished overall? Similarly, are they going off what was the most recent top journal article? Or do they read widely and know they history of their area?
  5. Disciplinary Parochialism: Does the person only care about what sociologists have written about their topic? Or do they understand the value that other academics might bring to a topic? For example, I routinely ask people doing work/occupations and economic sociology about relevant research in economics.

Of course, no Q&A session can dig into all of these issues. But one or two well placed questions can tell me quite a bit.

+++++++

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

May 8, 2018 at 4:01 am

deafhaven

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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

May 6, 2018 at 4:11 am