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answering the “so what?” question: chuck tilly’s 2003 guide

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One of the perennial issues for novice and expert researchers alike is answering the “so what” question of why bother researching a particular phenomena.  In particular, sociologists must justify their places in a big-tent discipline, and orgheads swim in the murky expanse of interdisciplinary waters.  For such researchers, this question must be answered in presentations and publications, particularly in the contributions section.

While it’s easy for expert researchers to melt into a potentially crippling existential sweat about the fathomless unknown unknowns, novice researchers, unburdened by such knowledge, face a broader vista.  According to Chuck Tilly,* researchers need to decide whether to enter existing conversations, bridge two different conversations, initiate a new conversation, or…???**

Since I couldn’t remember Tilly’s exact quote about conversations despite hearing it at least twice during his famous Politics and Protest workshop (before at Columbia, now at the GC), I pinged CCNY colleague John Krinsky.

Krinsky responded to my inquiry by sharing this great questionnaire and chart of low/high risk/reward research: TillyQuestionnaire_2003.  This document offers helpful exercises for discerning possible contributions for research projects at all stages.

*For Krinksy’s (and others) tribute to Tilly’s mentorship and scholarship, go here.

** If anyone remembers Tilly’s exact quote about conversations, please share in the comments.

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Written by katherinechen

October 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm

a ceremony of carols

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

January 14, 2018 at 5:21 am

comparone plays scarlatti

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

December 10, 2017 at 5:01 am

this week’s serving of mexican war metal

Tlillan Calmecac – 1531 Nikan Mopoua

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

 

Written by fabiorojas

November 26, 2017 at 5:13 am

sense8: a damaged masterpiece

Note: This post is rated G, but the show I talk about is rated R. Definitely NSFW!

I want to talk about Sense8, which got cancelled after two seasons, way before its plot lines were resolved. The Netflix original series is about eight people who come to learn they are all linked through psychic powers. They can borrow each other’s skills and memories. Not only does Sense8 have a neat premise, but the execution is superb. The Wachowskis, who direct and write the show, were able to shoot in *eight different cities* and seamlessly integrate the different story lines. They also recruited an amazing cast of actors, many international stars to fill out the series.

Not only is Sense8 a masterpiece of photography and production, the Wachowski’s reach new levels of maturity in their writing. By allowing the eight characters to see through each other’s eyes, they can explore identity and emotions in novel ways. For example, while I have seen many excellent films and television shows with LBGT themes, the show is the first, for this straight male, to effectively communicate the difficulties of LGBT people from a very interior perspective. In other words, when I watch a show with strong LGBT characters, I can appreciate the struggles and challenges they face. However, for me, Sense8 is the first show that provides straight viewers with rich metaphors and an emotional language for thinking about the first person experiences of people who have a non-heterosexual identity. That’s a real testament to the skill of the writers.

Another deep issue is that Sense8 is truly global. It has great American characters, and America is depicted in a great way, but it is not *centered* on America. We can see beautiful people living amazing, but connected, lives all over, from Kenya to Seoul. In another testament to the writers’ skill, the show rarely, if ever, veers into an uncritical multiculturalism. Rather, Sense8 excels when it grounds a story in multiple, simultaneous locations, suggesting that the story plays out in specific ways for each character, but still nods to the fact that people form a true global community, even if it is conflicted and tense.

Sadly Sense8 got cancelled after two seasons, so this uncanny story of eight linked empaths might never get the proper treatment it deserves. The good news is the Netflix allowed the team to do a wrap up movie and, if it proves popular enough, maybe a final  third season. But still, I don’t think it will be enough, given the major issues that were raised in the first two seasons and the format where each of the eight major characters gets a lot of attention. Still, I am glad we have this work and if you are a fan of ambitious art and television, I suggest you check it out.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)/Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street / Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2017 at 5:01 am

powerdove, sunday morning

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

Written by fabiorojas

November 6, 2016 at 12:45 am

w.e.b. dubois’ illustrations of black social science data

duboisdata03-768x965

The website Hyperallergic has a nice article on the drawings that DuBois’ did visualizing some of his data. For a 1900 exhibition, DuBois made, by hand, these interesting visualizations. Tufte, eat yer heart out!

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

Written by fabiorojas

July 11, 2016 at 12:01 am