commentary on social problems (the journal)
I recently reviewed a paper for Social Problems. The decision letter noted that they accept 8% of papers. That is roughly in the ball park of ASR, AJS and other journals. On the Facebook page, I asked if Social Problems is so competitive, then why doesn’t it get the same profile or respect as ASR/AJS in the sociology job market/promotion system? Some answers make sense. For example, there could be self-selection and people send stronger papers to the association’s journals. Another issue is that Social Problems simply accepts different types of papers. For example, Social Problems does not publish “pure theory” as would be found in AJS or Sociological Theory and it rarely publishes methods papers, which can be big citation generators.
Still, it seems like there is quite a bit of overlap between Social Problems and AJS/ASR/SF. See for your self. Can you identify which papers are Social Problems from the following list?*
- Race, Space, and Cumulative Disadvantage: A Case Study of the Subprime Lending Collapse
- Is Love (Color) Blind? The Economy of Race among Gay and Straight Daters
- The Best Laid Plans: Social Capital in the Development of Girls’ Educational and Occupational Plans
- Work-Family Context and the Longevity Disadvantage of US Women
- Executive Compensation, Fat Cats, and Best Athletes
- The Dynamics of Opportunity and Insurgent Practice: How Black Anti-colonialists Compelled Truman to Advocate Civil Rights
- Emergent Ghettos: Black Neighborhoods in New York and Chicago, 1880–1940
- The Paradox of Legitimacy: Resilience, Successes, and the Multiple Identities of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey
My point isn’t to say that all journals are publishing the same stuff, but even a casual perusal of the journals suggests a lot of overlap. I think self-selection and the prestige orders creates different pools that lead to actual differences in quality. My point is more modest: the difference between AJS/ASR and other journals is probably exaggerated. I’d like to see sociology move to a system of top 4 journals (or more), like most other disciplines.
* Answers: SP, SF, SP, SF, ASR, ASR, AJS, SP.