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writing books and articles together

In sociology, it is very common for people to write a mix of books and articles. An ethnographer may do field work, then write two or three articles and also a book for the project. This is essentially the mode I work in.

On Facebook, someone asked how to balance the writing of books and articles. Should you do them at the same time, alternate, or what? This is probably one of those questions whose answer relies on the individual’s work style and personality, but I tend toward articles first and then the book.

For me, the issue is clarity and focus. Many of my research projects explore fairly complex social processes – the formation of academic disciplines, the ebb and flow of activism, the role of social media in politics. Thus, I can’t just run an experiment to isolate a process or download a data set. Rather, I must spend a lot of time collecting data and just understanding the subject of inquiry.

Thus, it makes little sense in my case to start with a new book first. Articles are great ways to make you focus your work, really clarify one finding of your work. Then, in my case at least, you will end up with a series of articles and unpublished papers that you can turn into a larger and more complete argument. Of course, the chronology of publication may not reflect it – an article can take years to work through the system, while books are faster – but using articles as book summaries, or chapter templates, naturally leads to a longer manuscript.

Feel free to add you writing practice thoughts in the comments.

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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!

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Written by fabiorojas

August 1, 2018 at 4:01 am

Posted in books, fabio, workplace

book cover exploration #2: party in the street

Party cover

In this installment of book cover exploration, I wanted to explain the background behind this image. Like I did for “From Black Power,” I spent a fair amount of time searching for the right image. I looked at quite a few artists who painted pictures of protest. Interestingly, few people did antiwar related art. Then, I went to Getty Images and lo and behold, the perfect image appeared.

This was taken by William B. Plowman, a professional photographer. The image is from July 28, 2004 at the Democratic National Convention. I think it is perfect in that it is an “everyday” photo and it combines the theme of antiwar activism and the Democratic party.

obama photo

The book has many incredible images. This one is a picture of Obama giving “the speech” in 2002 that cemented his reputation as an opponent of the Iraq War.  We were lucky to track down people who were present at the speech. Sociologically, we find this image gripping because Obama is a connection between the world of activists and the world of partisan politics.

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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

June 7, 2018 at 4:28 am

book cover exploration #1: from black power to black studies

Black power front_cover

Over the next few weeks, I’ll discuss the covers to my books and Contexts. Today, I’ll start with From Black Power to Black Studies. Two comments:

  • This photograph was taken by Bill Owens. Bill is a highly regarded documentary photographer who is most famous for the book Suburbia. He was sent by Newsweek to cover the Black student protests at San Francisco State in 1968. I chose this photo because it represents the idea that a Black student movement exists inside a White majority institution. It also technically interesting in that he makes the “horizontal” crowd photo vertical. The photo was later republished in Bill Owens, a monograph dedicated to his work.
  • The cover design initially made me unhappy. I complained. But my editor, the amazing Jackie Wehmueller, insisted and pointed out that it alludes to the 1970s and it was funky. I relented and I am glad I did.

BSU fight

Bill also allowed me to reproduce this photograph. It is a rare image of a social movement group engaged in conflict with another group. In this case, the Black Student Union at San Francisco State College got upset that the student newspaper ran articles that were critical of them. The details remain unclear many years later, but the BSU students ended up at the student newspaper offices and a fight broke out. Bill, amazingly, just kept shooting photographs! Later, the student newspaper published some of these photos, which escalated the situation further and eventually led to the Third World Strike and the establishment of Ethnic Studies and Black Studies in America.

++++++++

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

June 1, 2018 at 4:32 am

party in the street: jacobin magazine edition

Branko Marcetic of Jacob Magazine did an interview with me about the main argument of Party in the Street. A quote:

BM: Why did antiwar organizing start to fall away around 2007?

FR: The main argument that Michael and I propose in our book is that support for the antiwar movement overlapped with support for the Democratic Party. So, in other words, when people were coming out to protest, they were protesting the war and using it as an opportunity to protest George Bush and the Republican Party.

So what happens is when the party moves on — when the Democratic Party starts to get victories and they start getting elected to office — there’s less of a motivation. Those identities start diverging from each other.

People have to make the choice, maybe unconsciously, where they could say, “You know, I could keep protesting the war, but does that make Obama look bad? Is that an issue we want to avoid?” And in the case of the antiwar movement, partisan motivations and partisan identities won the day.

Check out the whole thing!!

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

May 3, 2018 at 3:43 pm

book spotlight: freedom from work by daniel fridman

Fridmanbookcover

Daniel Fridman’s Freedom from Work is an ethnographic account of people trying to create economic mobility in Argentina and the United States. The core of the book is a study of people using various “self-help”strategies to improve their economic position. This may include reading self-help books, forming entrepreneur clubs, and, interestingly, playing board games that teach skills that one needs to run a business.

Theoretically, the book is interesting because it is a contribution to a genre that one might call “studies of the self under capitalism.” The phrase comes from Foucault, but it is really a sort of Bourdieusian style habitus study. The idea is that people have a specific set of attitudes and beliefs about the nature of success and mobility. The interesting thing about Freedom from Work is the way these ideas are shaped and reshaped through these self-help activities. Normally, you’d think these activities are uninteresting and frivolous, but they reveal how people understand the nature of success and what individuals can do to affect that.

So what do we learn from the ethnography? A few things. First, from a very basic point of view, is that extracting economic success from a market system requires very specific skills that many (most?) most people do not have. Perhaps a lesson for students of entrepreneurship is that economic actors must be socialized in a specific way. Second, we learn how market logics are applied to individual behavior, which Fridman calls the construction of a neoliberal self.  I normally hate the word “neoliberal,” but I’ll let it slide here. Understanding how market-oriented calculability is applied to daily life and how it transforms the self is a worthwhile topic.

I found the book to be well written and engaging. I think economic sociologists, entrepreneurship scholars, and cultural sociologists will like this book. I also think it is interesting  to those in a Foucauldian tradition, who have a taste for very late Foucault. Recommended!

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

April 11, 2018 at 12:55 pm

how to not suck at teaching social theory

Yesterday, there was a discussion started by Jeff Guhin about how to be better at teaching theory:

My suggestions for better theory teaching:

  1. Drop history of social thought
  2. Minimize jargon
  3. Drop meta-theory

How to do it??

  1. Teach theory as an engine for generating concrete explanations of social phenomena.
  2. Use lots of current examples.
  3. Use lots of empirical examples
  4. BUY MY BOOK!!!!

Seriously, when I switched from “classical sociology” to teaching actual social theory, the students just got it way better and the class made sense, instead of being a long string of disconnected examples (“then we did Marx and then Weber and then intersectionailty and then some rational choice”).

Be brave – drop classical theory and teach the social theory students deserve.

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

April 6, 2018 at 4:09 am

the people have spoken: theory for the working sociologist is a great way to teach social theory

Last week, Dan Morrison posted this very kind tweet about my theory book:

This is heartening. Really, the whole goal of TfTWS is to bring excitement into teaching social theory. I just want people to appreciate the sociological tradition. Thanks for the support!

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

April 3, 2018 at 4:01 am