Archive for the ‘fabio’ Category
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SASE 2015 Moral Economies, Economic Moralities
June 24-26, 2016 – University of California, Berkeley
Miniconference: Market Morals, Taboo Categories and Redefined Legitimacy
Paper proposals due: January 18th, 2016 – Moved to Feb. 1st
Organizers: Barbara Brents, Erica Coslor, Brett Crawford, Martin Parker
We’ve often discussed the ideological profile of the academy on this blog. My own view is that there is massive self-selection. Gross’ book on conservative academics finds systematic evidence that conservative ideology correlates with a stronger preference for highly paid careers. That means that conservative undergraduates, as a group, would be going strongly against their preferences for higher lifetime income by enrolling in graduate programs. The self-selection explanation has one property that other explanations don’t: it can explain why physical science academics might be liberal.
There is other research that makes the case that anti-conservative prejudice it at play. Haidt and his collaborators, for example, surveyed their own field of social psychology to show that many academics admit that would likely be prejudiced against conservative academics. Freese and Fosse conducted an experiment showing that graduate program directors were less likely to respond to students if they included conservative credentials in their emails.
To this literature, there is a new article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy by James Phillips. Roughly speaking, Phillips gathers data on the publication histories of about one thousand law professors. Using voting registration, campaign donations, and other data, the author estimates the political orientation of each professor. The article has a lot of analysis in it, but he is trying to show that conservative professors have similar/better qualifications and publication records than liberals or unknowns. He finds that conservative professors, in many ways, have better qualifications (e.g., has a J.D.), publish more, and are more cited.
For those interested in academic politics, I suggest that they read the whole article. On a first read, at least, it seems thorough. So here are a few responses: (a) legal academia is very, very hierarchical and network driven. One of the results is that conservative legal academics clerk more, but for less prestigious courts. And one of the unwritten rules of the legal academy is that the best jobs go to those who clerk “higher.” That, by itself, could weed out a lot conservative law profs. So there may be plenty of conservatives getting clerking jobs, but if relatively few are in the appeal and Supreme courts, that by itself could wipe out entire generations of conservative law profs, even if hiring committees weren’t prejudiced.
(b) The higher rate of publication and citation could be due to two factors – survivor bias (only the “toughest” conservative profs survive, while lots of average liberal profs get jobs) or conservative profs might publish in different fields. For example, the publication rate and citation patterns in medical sociology is wildly different than in historical sociology. In law, I could imagine liberal profs publishing in less popular areas like Eskimo rights, while conservatives stick to criminal justice or taxation, which is way more popular. I would have to reread to see if this possibility is addressed.
(c) Self-selection can also play a big factor. If law students are similar to the overall population, then there would be a correlation between conservative beliefs and a desire for income. Thus, an average liberal legal academic is more likely to “settle” for lower paying law school jobs. In contrast, average conservative legal academics leave and only the best remain.
A number of outlets have jumped to the conclusion that this paper proved discrimination. It doesn’t. Rather, it thoroughly discredits an important hypothesis – that the low number of conservative profs reflect substandard work. When you read the detail, you see lots of different processes playing out in the data.
So thumbs up, let the debate continue.
The most recent DuBois Review has a really interesting article about how social movements push for legal change and how that fights changes the field of advocacy groups. Ellen Berrey’s “Making a Civil Rights Claim for Affirmative Action” is a historical review of how one University of Michigan student group fought for affirmative action and how that changed the other organizations at Michigan that were involved in racial student politics:
The politics of affirmative action are currently structured as a litigious conflict among elites taking polarized stances. Opponents call for colorblindness, and defenders champion diversity. How can marginalized activists subvert the dominant terms of legal debate? To what extent can they establish their legitimacy? This paper advances legal mobilization theory by analytically foregrounding the field of contention and the relational production of meaning among social movement organizations. The case for study is two landmark United States Supreme Court cases that contested the University of Michigan’s race-conscious admissions policies. Using ethnographic data, the paper analyzes BAMN, an activist organization, and its reception by other affirmative action supporters. BAMN had a marginalized allied-outsider status in the legal cases, as it made a radical civil rights claim for a moderate, elite-supported policy: that affirmative action corrects systemic racial discrimination. BAMN activists pursued their agenda by passionately defending and, at once, critiquing the university’s policies. However, the organization’s militancy remained a liability among university leaders, who prioritized the consistency of their diversity claims. The analysis forwards a scholarly understanding of the legacy of race-conscious policies.
Great addition to the literature on student mobilization.
Education scholars document notable racial differences in teachers’ perceptions of students’ academic skills. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort, this study advances research on teacher perceptions by investigating whether racial differences in teachers’ evaluations of first grade students’ overall literacy skills vary for high, average, and low performing students. Results highlight both the overall accuracy of teachers’ perceptions, and the extent and nature of possible inaccuracies, as demonstrated by remaining racial gaps net literacy test performance. Racial differences in teachers’ perceptions of Black, non-White Latino, and Asian students (compared to White students) exist net teacher and school characteristics and vary considerably across literacy skill levels. Skill specific literacy assessments appear to explain the remaining racial gap for Asian students, but not for Black and non-White Latino students. Implications of these findings for education scholarship, gifted education, and the achievement gap are discussed.
Check it out.
I have yet to read Aldon Morris’ The Scholar Denied, but Julian Go has written an extensive review of the book at the Berkeley sociology blog. In this post, I’ll offer some comments on how I view DuBois and then discuss Go’s opinions. Also, if someone (ahem) were to send a review copy of A Scholar Denied, I’d like to do a book forum on it later this semester.
My views on DuBois: Unlike a lot of sociologists, I’ve always been of the opinion that DuBois was a major figure in American intellectual history. As an undergraduate, I saw that many classes assigned The Souls of Black Folk, which is a seminal discussion of the psychology of race. In grad school, I read The Philadelphia Negro, which is also a seminal work in urban studies. I also discovered that he was a founder of the NAACP, consulted with the Federal government on educational matters, and founded an important research group at Atlanta University. After graduation, I learned tidbits about his biography such as being the first Black Harvard PhD and also being a well regarded historian of the Atlantic slave trade. Clearly, DuBois’ is a major intellectual figure, activist, and writer. This isn’t to say that DuBois is beyond reproach (e.g., check out his late career Stalinism – ugly, ugly, ugly) but he’s clearly earned his place in the intellectual hall of fame.
DuBois’ intellectual importance was so obvious to me that I always include him in my undergrad theory course and I never thought of it as odd. However, what surprised me is that for sociologists outside of critical race studies, DuBois is a non-entity. This struck me as bizarre. One time, Tukufu Zuberi gave a talk at IU about DuBois and one my junior colleagues even said afterward, “I still don’t see why DuBois is important for theory.” Later, I learned that there was a discussion among specialists about how much White sociologists of his era had hindered DuBois’ career. Honestly, I didn’t delve into it much further. I was neither a specialist in the history of social thought, and I trusted my own opinion of DuBois’ importance.
Julian Go’s essay: The Scholar Denied is a book by Aldon Morris that makes the case that DuBois was a (the?) founder of American sociology, that he was actively and indirectly hampered by other White academics, and that the history of the sociology needs serious revision. I am sympathetic, but I will address the book more directly once I have read it. Here, I want to explore Julian Go’s essay. In his essay, Go reminisces on his education at Chicago and how we should rethink the discipline given Morris’ new account of DuBois’ career:
If Aldon Morris in The Scholar Denied is right, then everything I learned as a sociology PhD student at the University of Chicago is wrong. Or at least everything that I learned about the history of sociology. At Chicago, my cohort and I were inculcated with the ideology and ideals of Chicago School. We were taught that American sociology originated with the Chicago School… The Scholar Denied suggests that Park plagiarized Du Bois, and that venerated sociologists like Max Weber were perhaps more influenced by Du Bois rather than the other way around.
It would be comforting to think that Du Bois was marginalized because of the narrow racism of the white establishment – the result of white racists who suppressed Du Bois out of their own deep prejudices against African-Americans… Still, there is another explanatory current amidst the flow. It is not only that Du Bois was black and other sociologists were white, or that Du Bois suffered from lack of capital, it is also that he had dangerous ideas. To be sure, Du Bois innovated by his empirical orientation and methodology. But Du Bois also innovated substantively, birthing a sociology of race that aimed to wrestle discourse on race away from the Darwinistic, biological and frankly racist sociological episteme of the day.
Here, what I find interesting is that collective memory, of which intellectual history is a part, is recognized as having individual components (quality of DuBois’ scholarship), structural components (DuBois’ location in the academic field), and larger context (DuBois’ non-biological and non-paternalistic approach to race conflicted with the rest of society). If you need an introduction to the debate that The Scholar Denied engages in, you can’t do better than Go’s essay.
My only criticism of Go’s essay is that he directly engages with rumor websites. If he is truly interested in the writings of anonymous cowards, he should go to the University of Chicago’s bathroom stalls where the griffiti has wit and substance.
Last we discussed how to say no. But there remains the question, what should you say no to? It helps to start with a baseline – what should ALL academics do?
- Say yes to teaching at least one service course a year. Why? Most programs survive on enrollments. Unless you are a star faculty who can opt out, most people will like you if you reliably do some basic teaching.
- Say yes to serving on one “heavy” committee per year. In most programs, this includes grad admissions, recruitment/evaluation, and the governing committee of your program. In teaching intensive, there are various undergrad affairs that require attention.
- The tenured should say “yes” to one committee outside your program. For example, for multiple years, I served on our seed grant committee at IU. For two years, I did NSF reviews.
If you say yes to these requests, then you have earned the right to turn down other requests. But these are minimal. Here are the requests that you should say to *occassionally*:
- Journal/book manuscript reviews. My rule is simple, I say “yes” until I have three in the hopper. Then people have to wait or go elsewhere. By saying yes, you ensure that you are giving back, you help with quality control, and you learn new research.
- Requests for research collaboration. You only have so many hours a day, but you can say yes to really strong projects or people who have a good track record.
- Dissertation committees. Most people can handle a few students and to be honest, being a third or fourth reader requires little work.
- Fancy committees outside the university for non-profits or the profession.
Notice that each of these recommendations isn’t about the activity itself. It’s simply a time budget. In my experience, for example, I simply can’t do a good job reviewing if I have more than one or two papers on my desk. Either I write bad reviews or I slow down a lot. Either way, it doesn’t help anyone.
So what should you avoid in most cases?
- Remedial work with students. Most colleges have basic support for writing and math. It is your job to teach college level material. Unless your job is in the writing program, it is not your job to teach basic writing, though you can certainly offer your opinions.
- Personal therapy. This is really tough. But once again, in many cases, you probably aren’t qualified to give advice on issues like drug problems or sexual assault. Be compassionate but get them to the person who is qualified to help.
- Fluff committees. These are hard to define in the abstract. But there are committees people set up just so they can sound off, not to accomplish anything of substance. In general, the core of the university is teaching, research, and fund raising. If it isn’t one of those, you should be careful.
- Pre-tenure consulting: Unless they are paying serious cash, you should probably say no. If they pay, make sure the time commitment is limited.
- Toxic people. Even if the activity has merit, toxic people can make the experience miserable and pull you down. Avoid at all costs.
To summarize: You should always be a good citizen. Beyond that, budget for things that are central for academic work. Beyond that, just say no.