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Archive for the ‘awesome’ Category

another semester ending: hitting all the Cs, and everything is normal

This semester’s grades are finally in.  Moreover, graduation ceremonies are done, all jam-packed into a Friday spent in robes sheltering beneath a tree, debating what’s next in field research with a fellow ethnographer then cooling off backstage, fretting with an archeologist about difficult access to field sites and the morality of training graduate students for a shrinking academic job market.  Also, puzzling over which university can claim 1766 on its gown.  (Big congrats to Wenjuan Zheng, Ph.D.!)

What’s next?  Completing assorted bureaucratic paperwork and reviewer responsibilities, corralling contributors, conferencing (new organizing motto: it’s happening), and collaborating in meetings are all on the docket, alongside continuing field research and writing.  Many C, C, and more Cs to hit…

So, everything is back to normal.   Here’s Toast’s conception of normal, through a Western art history lens (other images possibly NSFW?):

normal4.jpg

hello, it’s me: normal things are happening, why don’t you come a little closer and see how normal things can get

Written by katherinechen

June 5, 2019 at 3:39 pm

Posted in art, awesome

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

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.

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

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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!

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Written by fabiorojas

July 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

mary lou williams

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

Written by fabiorojas

May 22, 2016 at 12:01 am

new blog feature: journal article commentary

To celebrate 10 years on the blog, we are introducing a new feature – “article commentary.” The  concept is simple: we choose an article, read it, and comment. However, we’ll add a twist. The article can’t be from one of the core journals (ASR, AJS, SF, SP) and we’ll try to avoid the top field journals. In other words, we want to explore ideas that might be overlooked. They can be old or new, short or long. So please use the comments, the Facebook page, or plain old email to suggest an article. Suggest your own article or someone else’s. It’s all good. We’ll do this once or twice a semester.

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Written by fabiorojas

May 20, 2016 at 1:34 am

hard headed woman

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

Written by fabiorojas

February 28, 2016 at 2:49 am

steve vaisey and fabio go to asa

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Written by fabiorojas

August 19, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in awesome, fabio, the man

ibraham maalouf

I was not familiar with this musician, but I really enjoyed this combination of free and smooth jazz, with Middle eastern harmonies tossed in. He is also involved in hip-hop. Check out his web site.

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

Written by fabiorojas

July 19, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in awesome, fabio

of course you would find sharks living inside a volcano

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

Written by fabiorojas

July 17, 2015 at 12:01 am

book naming contest: round 2

Written by fabiorojas

July 14, 2015 at 12:01 am

summer reading: spotlight on conflict and decision-making by consensus at premium cola

As some of our dear orgtheory readers know, I am always on the look-out for interesting articles about how organizations use collectivist or participatory-democratic practices. One recent publication I would like to highlight involves a collectivist group fueled by a common love of cola, coffee, and beer.

Fans of a caffeinated soft drink, frustrated by Afri-Cola new owner’s refusal to change the recipe back to the original*, became the new owners and producers of the drink. Not only did they band together to revive the original product using what they considered to be more ethical market standards, they organized using the practice of decision-making by consensus.**

Participatory-democracy invariably elicits conflicts that might be avoided or suppressed under more hierarchical organizations. Members have to learn how to manage contention if they wish to stay cohesive. Premium Cola‘s members had to learn how to do this via a discussion email list.

Husemann, Ladstaetter, and Luedicke’s (2015) “Conflict Culture and Conflict Management in Consumption Communities” examines the types of conflicts and actions taken to address these conflicts within Premium Cola. The authors note the generative qualities of routinized conflict, including the reaffirmation of commitment to a collective mission:

When analyzing the Premium community’s conflicts, we found that the community’s conflict culture involved a limited set of routinized and recurring conflict behaviors. Members use behaviors such as inviting conflict, showing respect for otherness, or releasing aggressions to argue different topics, but use them in similar ways. Many of these behaviors are known from normative conflict sociology as conflict cultivation practices, i.e. routinized behaviors that conflict parties use to perform conflicts in civilized and productive, rather than destructive, ways. Through inventing, selecting, abandoning, enacting, or improving such routinized conflict behaviors, Premium community members are able to produce value rather than destroy value through uncontrolled or abusive conduct.

In contrast, transgressive conflict, in which participants break multiple norms, can lead to abusive interactions. These lead to more active interventions, including the eventual expulsion of a member over his repeated sexist comments about the hiring of a female intern and insults of other members. While the exchanges threatened corrosion, the subsequent actions taken reaffirm Premium Cola’s identity and commitment to community.

* The original recipe had less sugar and more caffeine than the newer recipe.

**More about the fascinating history and ethos of Premium Cola is available here, where the Ladstaetter and Luedicke describe Premium Cola as follows:

…the Premium Cola community can be seen as a group of “productive activists,” e.g.,
prodactivists, that combines the roles of producers, consumers, and social activists to promote change in the capitalist market system by demonstrating how market exchange can be both successful and ethical.

Written by katherinechen

June 29, 2015 at 3:39 pm

ornette: he has joined the ages

The last turning point. Oh, what prophecy.

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Written by fabiorojas

June 13, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in awesome, culture, fabio

howard, this is what i listen to when i write this blog

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

Written by fabiorojas

April 26, 2015 at 12:01 am

lessons from the social organization of sexuality

In 1994, The Social Organization of Sexuality was published. The authors, Ed Laumann, John Gagnon, Robert Michael and Stuart Michaels,conducted a large N survey of a random sample of Americans. I use the book in my freshman class to discuss sexual behavior. In today’s post, I will discuss what sociologists should take away from the book.

1. Doing a well crafted large N survey on an important topic is huge service to science. When we think of sociology, we often think of “high theory” as being the most important. But we often overlook the empirical studies that establish a baseline for excellence. American Occupational Structure is just as important as Bourdieu, in my book. Laumann et al is one such study and, I think, has not been surpassed in the field of sex research.

2. The book is extremely important in that good empiricism can abruptly change our views of specific topics. Laumann et al basically shattered the following beliefs: people stop having sex as they age; marriage means sex is less frequent; cultural change leads to massive changes in sexual behavior. Laumann et al showed that older people do keep on having sex; married people have more sex; and cultural moments (like AIDS in the 80s) have modest effects on sexual behavior. Each of these findings has resulted in more research over the last 20 years..

3. An ambitious, but well executed, research project can be the best defense against critics. The first section of Laumann at al. describes how federal funding was dropped due to pressure. Later, the data produced some papers that had politically incorrect results. In both cases, working from the high ground allowed the project to proceed. It’s a model for any researchers who will be working against the mainstream of their discipline or public opinion.

4. Quality empiricism can lead to good theory. Laumann et al’s sections on homophily motivated later theory about the structure of sexual contact networks and prompted papers like Chains of Affection. Also, by discovering that network structure affects STD’s, it lead to the introduction of network theory into biomedical science about a decade before Fowler/Christakis.

When we think of “glory sociology,” we think of succinct theoretical “hits” like DiMaggio and Powell or Swidler. But sociology is also profoundly shaped by these massive empirical undertakings. The lesson is that well crafted empirical research can set the agenda for decades just as much as the 25 page theory article.

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

Written by fabiorojas

April 23, 2015 at 12:01 am

always use some red clay

Great cover by Jack Wilkins.

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

Written by fabiorojas

April 12, 2015 at 12:01 am

Posted in awesome, culture, fabio