why i don’t study latino sociology

I am often asked: why don’t I study Latinos? Answer: I don’t have any good ideas. That’s it. If I had a great research idea, I would do it. Let me tell you, I would definitely do it and it would be YUGE.

Still, the question is worth thinking about in more detail. One might say that the question is racist, but I don’t think so. Normally, people like doing academic research about themselves. White people usually study white people and Black people like to study black people. Not a hard and fast rule, but we shouldn’t be surprised that American high schools teach American history instead of Albanian history. Thus, it’s ok to ask why I am focused on out groups.

Another way to think about the question is why I haven’t spent the time and effort working on Latino communities in search of research questions. For example, I have been asked a few times why I wrote on Black Studies instead of Latino Studies. There, the answer is simple. For the book, I preferred a “large N” data set. There are hundreds of Black Studies programs, but only a few dozen Latino or Hispanic American Studies programs. No systematic reasons. It’s just that I haven’t found the right case to make the right argument.

The lesson here is that what you study can be an idiosyncratic mix of personal identity and opportunity. If I weren’t interested in disciplines and higher education, I might have well arrived at a dissertation project that focused on Latinos. If my friend hadn’t asked me to help out with an antiwar studies project, I might have chosen a different post-dissertation topic. Who knows? If someone has a great idea on Latinos and approaches me, I’d probably try to help them.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($2!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street

Written by fabiorojas

August 4, 2016 at 12:36 am

5 Responses

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  1. In my experience, it takes a lot of effort to convince American sociologists that studying their Latino population is relevant (especially in top departments). Your reason why is an interesting one, but there are others (lack of appropriate data, underrepresentation of Latinos among Sociology faculty and graduate students, general lack of interest, etc.).



    August 4, 2016 at 6:22 pm

  2. I think there is a lag effect. I see more studies of Latinos that in the past, especially by younger scholars. Despite sometimes being seen as trendy, we are usually about 10 years behind what is actually happening.



    August 4, 2016 at 7:49 pm

  3. In this case, i would say about 150 years behind.

    Liked by 1 person


    August 4, 2016 at 9:28 pm

  4. Also: probably another issue is that for most American social scientists, studying Latinos means studying migration. A valid issue, surely, but if you aren’t a migration scholar, it makes you think that there is nothing interesting. Clearly not true, but it could draw away grad students.



    August 5, 2016 at 2:44 am

  5. It may be too hot to touch. If we really want to investigate all the various ideas that Latinos bring to the Anglo Saxon American system, we may find that the Latino views and habits and methods are lacking in comparison. How to word things so that no one is outraged?

    The machismo issue is one really worth researching, especially the MSM issue. Males screwing males as I translate that phrase! Machos screwing mariscos…. But these males are NOT gay! It is all in the. Mind. Something like in the Kite runner about Afghanistan’s minorities.



    August 9, 2016 at 5:24 am

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