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state-of-the-field article “School choice’s idealized premises and unfulfilled promises” now available

Just before 2019 ends and we enter 2020, I’ve finally broken the superstition that whatever you do on New Years will be what you will do for the following New Years.  This year, a R&R converted into an accept and page proofs before New Years hit!

My co-authored paper with Megan Moskop is now available under the Organizations & Work section of Sociology Compass!  In this paper, using critical sociology and education research, we overview the variants of school choice systems in the US and their impacts on students, schools, and society.

Here’s the abstract:

School choice’s idealized premises and unfulfilled promises: How school markets simulate options, encourage decoupling and deception, and deepen disadvantages

Abstract

In school choice systems, families choose among publicly funded schools, and schools compete for students and resources. Using neoinstitutionalist and relational inequality theories, our article reinterprets recent critical sociological and education research to show how such markets involve actors’ enacting myths; these beliefs and their associated practices normalized white, privileged consumption as a basis for revamping public education as market exchanges between schools and families. Proponents argue that choice empowers individuals, focuses organizations on improving quality, and benefits society more broadly by reducing inequality and segregation. We argue that such school choice myths’ excessive emphases on individual decision‐making and provider performance obscure the actual impacts of school choice systems upon people, organizations, and society. First, rather than enlarging alternatives that families can easily research, select, and (if needed) exit, school choice systems often simulate options, especially for disadvantaged populations. Second, rather than focusing schools’ efforts on performance, innovation, and accountability, they can encourage organizational decoupling, homogeneity, and deception. Third, rather than reducing societal harms, they can deepen inequalities and alienation. Future research should examine both how markets are animated by bounded relationality—routines that enable them to form, maintain, and complete exchanges with organizations—and how activism can challenge marketization.

Please consider assigning this state-of-the-field article in your sociology of education, inequality, economic sociology, and/or organizations courses!  (If your institution doesn’t have access to Sociology Compass, please contact me directly for a copy.)

This paper began when Megan approached me during a March 2018  Future Initiatives “Publics, Politics, and Pedagogy: Remaking Higher Education for Turbulent Times” event at the Graduate Center.  After hearing me talk on a faculty panel about my research interests, Megan asked whether we could do an informal reading group on school choice readings.  We exchanged emails and agreed to meet in person to discuss readings.

At the time, Megan was working on her masters classes and thesis in urban education at the CUNY MALS program.  She was looking for a way to manage her growing collection of citations as she analyzed her past experiences with teaching 8th graders and their families about how to participate in the mandatory school choice market in NYC .

As a new entrant to research on learning and schools through my on-going ethnography of a democratic school, I had the sense that whatever was happening in the insurance market for older adults seemed to exist in other emerging markets for other age groups.  To understand the education options in NYC, I had attended a few NYC Dept. of Education and other orientations for families on how to select pre-K and higher program.  I found these experiences comparable to my observations of orientations for professionals and older adults about enrolling in Medicare: palpable waves of anxiety and disorientation were evident in the reactions and questions from these two differently aged audiences to workshops about how they were supposed to act as consumers felt similar.  I thus became interested in learning about research on the comparable school choice market for my ethnographic research on how intermediary organizations try to orient consumers to the health insurance market.  (Indeed, a side benefit of this collaboration was that the school choice readings helped amplify my development of the bounded relationality concept that ultimately appeared in Socio-Economic Review.)

Megan and I met regularly discuss readings that Megan had suggested and I had found through literature searches in sociology.  After several of these meetings, I raised the possibility of writing a state-of-the-field overview article.  Working on this draft helped us keep track of what we had learned.  It also helped us understand how to map existing research and to identify a void that our respective expertises and writing could address: synthesizing critical studies emerging from organizations and education.   For Megan, I hoped that this experience would give her a behind-the-scenes look at the academic production of research, so that she could decide whether to head this direction.

As we read more about school choice, I realized that we hadn’t come across a chart mapping the types of school choice systems currently in operation.  Megan thus worked hard at developing a table that describes and compares different types of school choice systems.  (In my opinion, this paper’s table is a handy first step for those trying to understand the school choice landscape.)

Meanwhile, I focused on applying an organizational framework to categorize research from the sociology of education and education fields.  As we worked on the drafts in response to writing group and reviewers’ and Sociology Compass section editor Eric Dahlin’s comments, we also realized that no one had systemically broken down the impacts of using market practices to distribute public goods across levels of individual persons, organizations, and society at large.

Along the way, thanks to Megan’s connections to education and activism, we got to learn directly from people about on-going activism and research.  For instance, youth organization IntegrateNYC sent representative Iman Abdul to talk to my “Future of NYC” honors college students about efforts to racially integrate NYC public schools.  Megan and I also attended Kate Phillippo’s talk about her research on school choice in Chicago from her latest book, A Contest Without Winners: How Students Experience Competitive School Choice (2019, University of Minnesota Press).

In all, writing this paper has been a great journey with a fun and insightful collaborator.  Had you asked me back in spring 2018 what the outcome of presenting at a CUNY event would have been, I could not have predicted this.  I am forever grateful that Megan came to talk with me!

Happy New Years, readers!  May the new year bring you joy, happiness, and health.

 

new book spotlight: approaches to ethnography

New book alert!  For those prepping a methods course or wanting additional insight into ethnography as a research method, sociologists Colin Jerolmack and Shamus Khan*  have co-edited an anthology Approaches to Ethnography: Analysis and Representation in Participant Observation (2017, Oxford University Press).**

ApproachestoEthnographyCoverPhoto

In Approaches to Ethnography, several ethnographers, including myself, have contributed chapters that delve into our experiences with ethnography across the subfields of urban sociology, poverty and inequality, race and ethnicity, culture, political economies, and organizational research.  For example, in his chapter, Douglas Harper explains how he integrated visual ethnography to get farmers to discuss experiences of farming past and present, capture the itinerant lives and transitory relations among tramps, and document food traditions in Bologna, Italy.

My own chapter “Capturing Organizations as Actors” was particularly difficult to write, with several major chunks jettisoned and sections rewritten several times to incorporate feedback from an ever-patient Khan.  Eventually, I realized I was struggling with how to advocate what is taken-for-granted among organizational researchers.  Normally, organizational researchers write for audiences who readily accept organizations as the unit of analysis and as important and consequential actors worthy of study.  However, for sociologists and social scientists who are not organizational researchers, the organization falls into the background as static, interchangeable scenery.  Given this anthology’s audience, I had to make an explicit argument for studying organizations to readers who might be inclined to ignore organizations.

With this in mind, my chapter focused on explaining how to use ethnography to bring organizations to the foreground.  To illustrate how researchers can approach different aspects of organizations, I drew on my ethnographic data collected on the Burning Man organization.  Most of the vignettes tap never-before-seen data, including discussions from organizers’ meetings and my participant-observations as a volunteer in Playa Info’s Found.  With these examples, I show how organizational ethnography can help us understand:

  • how informal relations animate organizations
  • how organizations channel activities through routines and trainings
  • how organizations and its subcultures communicate and inculcate practices
  • how organizations handle relations with other actors, including the state

Here is Approaches to Ethnography‘s table of contents:

Introduction: An Analytic Approach to Ethnography
Colin Jerolmack and Shamus Khan

1. Microsociology: Beneath the Surface
Jooyoung Lee
2. Capturing Organizations as Actors
Katherine Chen

3. Macro Analysis: Power in the Field
Leslie Salzinger and Teresa Gowan

4. People and Places
Douglas Harper

5. Mechanisms
Iddo Tavory and Stefan Timmermans

6. Embodiment: A Dispositional Approach to Racial and Cultural Analysis
Black Hawk Hancock

7. Situations
Monica McDermott

8. Reflexivity: Introspection, Positionality, and the Self as Research Instrument-Toward a Model of Abductive Reflexivity
Forrest Stuart

* Jerolmack and Khan have also co-authored a Socius article “The Analytic Lenses of Ethnography,” for those interested in an overview.

** I have a flyer for a slight discount that I hope is still good from the publisher; if you need it, send me an email!

Written by katherinechen

January 13, 2018 at 4:55 pm

happy holiday and submit to contexts

I wish you all an excellent holiday. And while I have your attention, you should consider submitting an article to Contexts, which Rashawn Ray and I now edit. Here are the submission guidelines. If you want a 99% acceptance rate, send us a piece for the blog! Orgtheory has the lowest standards in academia. We really do.

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 23, 2017 at 5:10 am

the antitrust equilibrium and three pathways to policy change

Antitrust is one of the classic topics in economic sociology. Fligstein’s The Transformation of Corporate Control and Dobbin’s Forging Industrial Policy both dealt with how the rules that govern economic life are created. But with some exceptions, it hasn’t received a lot of attention in the last decade in econ soc.

In fact, antitrust hasn’t been on the public radar that much at all. After the Microsoft case was settled in 2001, antitrust policy just hasn’t thrown up a lot of issues that have gotten wide public attention, beyond maybe griping about airline mergers.

But in the last year or so, it seems like popular interest in antitrust is starting to bubble up again.

Just in the last few months, there have been several widely circulated pieces on antitrust policy. Washington Monthly, the Atlantic, ProPublica (twice), the American Prospect—all these have criticized existing antitrust policy and argued for strengthening it.

This is timely for me, because I’ve also been studying antitrust. As a policy domain that is both heavily technocratic and heavily influenced by economists, it’s a great place to think about the role of economics in public policy.

Yesterday I put a draft paper up on SocArXiv on the changing role of economics in antitrust policy. The 1970s saw a big reversal in antitrust, when we went from a regime that was highly skeptical of mergers and all sorts of restraints on trade to one that saw them as generally efficiency-promoting and beneficial for consumers. At the same time, the influence of economics in antitrust policy increased dramatically.

But while these two development are definitely related—there was a close affinity between the Chicago School and the relaxed antitrust policy of the Reagan administration, for example—there’s no simple relationship here: economists’ influence began to increase at a time when they were more favorable to antitrust intervention, and after the 1980s most economists rejected the strongest Chicago arguments.

I might write about the sociology part of the paper later, but in this post I just want to touch on the question of what this history implies about the present moment and the possibility of change in antitrust policy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by epopp

January 9, 2017 at 6:51 pm

in defense of shameless self-promotion

To be honest, much of this blog is just a shameless exercise in self-promotion. But still, there remains the question – why self-promote at all? Should you be a shameless self-promoter?

First, start with the question – do I need promotion, especially shameless self-promotion? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Some of us are just relaxed Dude-like entities, content to admire our fine Persian carpet and hang out with our bowling buddies. We are happy in a zen like state of being and don’t need the trappings of high society. If you are an academic, you aren’t the Dude. You’re probably an uptight person whose obsesses over the promotion and tenure committee. You want attention. You live and die off of citations.

If you need promotion, why not rely on regular promotion? For most of us, regular promotion doesn’t work terribly well. The number of people who can push your cookie is small and they only focus their efforts on a few select individuals. For every person who earns the graces of the gods, there are five or ten folks who are pretty darn good who get little attention and probably deserve more. And if you do work that is out of fashion, against the winds of the day, or don’t have the right last name, then the gods will help you even less, if not hinder you.

So, what’s left? As Art Stinchcombe once allegedly said to a student, if you want to be famous in the academy, either be a genius or use the photocopier. Since I’m not a genius, I think I’ll need to use that photocopier.*

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

* Super cool self-promotion coming up!! I have news!!

Written by fabiorojas

September 8, 2016 at 12:07 am

free grad skool rulz book….

… if you attend any of the book talks listed below. I’ll send a free copy to a friend if you live tweet the talk w/photo.

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

Written by fabiorojas

March 2, 2015 at 7:08 am

party in the street: new york, chicago and washington, DC!!! come to the talks!

My friend and co-author Michael Heaney will be speaking about Party in the Street this week. Here is the info:

  • On Monday, Michael will be in Washington, will be at Busboys and Poets in Washington, DC. 6:30 pm, catch it if you can.
  • On Tuesday, Michael will be in Chicago at the Seminary Coop bookstore. They will be starting a series called “Fresh Ayers” where Chicago activist Bill Ayers will host a series of book talks. Michael will be is the first guest.
  • On Wednesday, Michael will be in New York (yes, I know, he’s a busy guy) at Books and Culture. He will be hosted by Dan Wang of the Columbia Business School.

Come out and support the book. We’d love to see you there!

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

Written by fabiorojas

March 2, 2015 at 4:33 am

come say hello!!!!

This semester, I’ll be visiting a few places.

  • January 19th (Monday) – I will be giving a talk and leading a discussion on student activism at Bates College. Bonus points: Peniel Joseph will be giving the key note for the MLK Day celebration.
  • February 26th (Thursday) – I will be giving a talk on the lessons of the Civil Rights movement for the modern era at the University of Central Arkansas.
  • March 6th (Tuesday) – Michael Heaney, my co-author on Party in the Street, will be at the Seminary Co-op in Chicago giving a talk on the book.
  • March 27th (Friday) – I will be on the “Author Meets Critics” panel for Jerry Jacobs’ book In Defense of Disciplines at the Southern Sociological Association.

Please come by and say hello!!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($1!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street!! 

Written by fabiorojas

January 16, 2015 at 12:44 am

party in the street: the main idea

For the last eleven years, my friend Michael Heaney and I have conducted a longitudinal study of the American antiwar movement. Starting at the 2004 Republican National Convention protests in New York City, we have been interviewing activists, going to their meetings, and observing their direct actions in order to understand the genesis and evolution of social movements.  We’ve produced a detailed account of our research in a new book called Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11. If the production process goes as planned, it should be available in February or early March.

In our book, we focused on how the antiwar movement is shaped by its larger political environment. The argument is that the fortunes of the Democratic party affect the antiwar movement’s mobilization. The peak of the movement occured when the Democratic party did not control either the White House or Congress. The movement demobilized as Democrats gained more control over the Federal government.

We argue that the the demobilization reflects two political identities that are sometimes in tension: the partisan and the activist. When partisan and activist goals converge, the movement grows as it draws in sympathetic partisans. If activism and partisanship demand different things, partisan identities might trump the goals of activist, leading to a decline of the movement. We track these shifting motivations and identities during the Bush and Obama administrations using data from over 10,000 surveys of street protestors, in depth interviews with activists, elected leaders, and rank and file demonstrators, content analysis of political speeches, legislative analysis, and ethnographic observations.

If you are interested in social movements, political parties and social change, please check it out. Over the next month and a half, I will write posts about the writing of the book and the arguments that are offered.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($1!!!!)/From Black Power/Party in the Street!!

Written by fabiorojas

January 6, 2015 at 12:01 am

socinfo 2014 proceedings – for free!!!

SG pic

That is correct: SocInfo 2014 convened down the street from this building.

Last week, I was lucky to attend the SocInfo 2014 conference. It drew together scholars at the intersection of social science and computer science. I will write up some notes later, but I wanted you to know that, for a few weeks, Springer will make the Proceedings free: http://www.lajello.com/files/SocInfo_2014.zip.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

November 19, 2014 at 1:01 am

meet me in california!!!

trojan

This Friday, I will be a guest of the department of sociology at the University of Southern California. I’ll be giving a talk called “The Four Histories of Black Power: A Sociological Challenge to Black Power History”  It’s about how social movement theory can be used to critique and re-articulate our understanding of Black Power. Come by and say hello!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

Written by fabiorojas

October 23, 2014 at 12:16 am

book announcement: party in the street – the antiwar movement and the democratic party after 9/11

blue clip2

It is my pleasure to announce the forthcoming publication of a book by Michael Heaney and myself. It is called Party in the Street: The Antiwar Movement and the Democratic Party after 9/11. It will be available from Cambridge University Press starting in early 2015.

The book is an in-depth examination of the relationship between the major social movement of the early 2000s and the Democratic Party. We begin with a puzzle. In 2006, the antiwar movement began to decline, a time when the US government escalated the war and at least five years before US combat troops completely left Iraq. Normally, one would expect that an escalation of war and favorable public opinion would lead to heightened  activism. Instead, we see the reverse.

We answer this question with a theory of movement-party intersections – the “Party in the Street.” Inspired by modern intersectionality scholarship, we argue that people embody multiple identities that can reinforce, or undermine, each other. In American politics, people can approach a policy issue as an activist or a partisan. We argue that the antiwar movement demobilized not because of an abrupt change in policy, but because partisan identities trumped movement identities. The demobilization of the antiwar movement was triggered, and concurrent with, Democratic victories in Congress and the White House. When push comes to shove, party politics trumps movement activism.

The book is the culmination of ten years of field work, starting with a survey of antiwar protesters at the Republican National Convention in August 2004. The book examines street protest, public opinion, antiwar legislation, and Iraq war policy to makes its case. If you are interested in American politics, political parties, peace studies, political organizations, or social movements, please check this book out. During the fall, I’ll write a series of posts that will explain the argument in some more detail.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power

status bias in baseball umpiring

Jerry Kim and I have an op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times about our new paper on status bias in baseball umpiring. We analyzed over 700,000 non-swinging pitches from the 2008-09 season and found that umpires made numerous types of mistakes in calling strikes-balls. Most notably, we expected that umpires would be influenced by the status and reputation of the pitcher, and this is indeed what we found:

One of the sources of bias we identified was that umpires tended to favor All-Star pitchers. An umpire was about 16 percent more likely to erroneously call a pitch outside the zone a strike for a five-time All-Star than for a pitcher who had never appeared in an All-Star Game. An umpire was about 9 percent less likely to mistakenly call a real strike a ball for a five-time All-Star. The strike zone did actually seem to get bigger for All-Star pitchers and it tended to shrink for non-All-Stars.

An umpire’s bias toward All-Star pitchers was even stronger when the pitcher had a reputation for precise control, as measured by the career percentage of batters walked. We found that pitchers with a track record of not walking batters — like Greg Maddux — were much more likely to benefit from their All-Star status than similarly decorated but “wilder” pitchers like Randy Johnson.

Baseball insiders have long suspected what our research confirms: that umpires tend to make errors in ways that favor players who have established themselves at the top of the game’s status hierarchy. But our findings are also suggestive of the way that people in any sort of evaluative role — not just umpires — are unconsciously biased by simple “status characteristics.” Even constant monitoring and incentives can fail to train such biases out of us.

You can can download the paper, which is forthcoming in Management Science, if you’re interested in learning more about the analyses and their implications for theories about status characteristics and the Matthew Effect.

Written by brayden king

March 29, 2014 at 10:17 pm

post doc position on social media and activism

I’m really happy to announce a new post doctoral position here at Northwestern University on social media and activism. If you’re interested, please apply early. The application deadline is March 2nd! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by brayden king

February 4, 2014 at 9:59 pm

blogs, twitter, and finding new research

Administrative Science Quarterly now has a blog – aptly named The ASQ Blog. The purpose of the blog is a bit different than your typical rambling academic blog. Each post contains an interview with the author(s) of a recent article published in the journal. For example, there are interviews with Chad McPherson and Mike Sauder about their article on drug court deliberations, with Michael Dahl, Cristian Dezső, and David Ross on CEO fatherhood and its effect on employee wages, and András Tilcsik and Chris Marquis about their research on natural disasters and corporate philanthropy. The interviews are informal, try to get at the research and thought process behind the article, and allow reader comments. I think its innovative of the ASQ editorial team to come up with this in an effort to make research more open and to draw more eyes to the cutting edge research at ASQ.

A couple of years ago I served on an ASQ task force (with Marc-David Seidel and Jean Bartunek) to explore different ways that the journal could better use online media to engage readers. At the time, ASQ was way behind the curve. It was difficult to even find a permanent hyperlink to its articles. Since that time ASQ and most journals have greatly improved their online accessibility . The blog is just one example. ASQ’s editor, Jerry Davis, said in a recent email to the editorial board that they recognize that “younger scholars connect with the literature in ways that rarely involve visits to the library or print subscriptions.” To maintain relevance in today’s academic “attention economy” (for lack of a better term), journals have to be active on multiple platforms. ASQ gets it; Sociological Science’s (hyper)active tweeter (@SociologicalSci) gets it too. In the end, everyone hopes the best research will float to the top and get the attention it deserves, but if the best research is hard to find or is being out-hyped by other journals, it may never get noticed.

It made me wonder, how do people most commonly find out about new research? I know that orgtheory readers are not the most representative sample, but this seems to be the crowd that Jerry referred to in his email. So, below is a poll. You can choose up to three different methods for finding research. But please, beyond adding to the poll results, tell us in comments what your strategy is.

Written by brayden king

January 9, 2014 at 6:59 pm

asian and asian american studies at indiana!!!

Though luck, and the gritty determination of our program leadership, Indiana has become a center for the sociology of Asia and Asian America. We now currently have five (!) faculty to work in this topic:

If you’re interested in Asian or Asian American studies, you should check us out.

Adverts: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

October 19, 2013 at 12:01 am

Posted in fabio, self-promotion?

storytelling in organizations, the state of the field of organizations and values, and a freebie article

I’ve recently published two articles* that might be of interest to orgheads, and Emerald publisher has ungated one of my articles:

1. Chen, Katherine K. 2013. “Storytelling: An Informal Mechanism of Accountability for Voluntary Organizations.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42(5): 902-922.**

Abstract

Using observations, interviews, and archival research of an organization that coordinates the annual Burning Man event, I argue that storytelling is a mechanism by which stakeholders can demand accountability to their needs for recognition and voice. I identify particular frames, or perspectives and guides to action, articulated in members’ stories. Deploying a personalistic frame, storytellers recounted individuals’ contributions toward a collective endeavor. Such storytelling commemorated efforts overlooked by official accounts and fostered bonds among members. Other storytellers identified problems and organizing possibilities for consideration under the civic society or anarchist frames. By familiarizing organizations with members’ perspectives and interests, stories facilitate organizational learning that can better serve stakeholders’ interests. Additional research could explore whether (1) consistent face-to-face relations (2) within a bounded setting, such as an organization, and (3) practices that encourage participation in organizing decisions and activities are necessary conditions under which storytelling can enable accountability to members’ interests.

2. Chen, Katherine K., Howard Lune, and Edward L. Queen, II. 2013. “‘How Values Shape and are Shaped by Nonprofit and Voluntary Organizations:’ The Current State of the Field.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 42(5): 856-885.

Abstract

To advance understanding of the relationship between values and organizations, this review synthesizes classic and recent organizational and sociological research, including this symposium’s articles on voluntary associations. We argue that all organizations reflect, enact, and propagate values. Organizations draw on culture, which offers a tool kit of possible actions supported by institutional logics that delineate appropriate activities and goals. Through institutional work, organizations can secure acceptance for unfamiliar practices and their associated values, often under the logic of democracy. Values may be discerned in any organization’s goals, practices, and forms, including “value-free” bureaucracies and collectivist organizations with participatory practices. We offer suggestions for enhancing understanding of how collectivities advance particular values within their groups or society.

3.  In addition, one of my previously published articles received the “Outstanding Author Contribution Award Winner at the Literati Network Awards for Excellence 2013.”  Because of the award, Emerald publisher has ungated this article (or, as Burners like to say, contributed a gift to the gift economy :) ) to download here (click on the HTML or PDF button to initiate the download):

Chen, Katherine K. 2012. “Laboring for the Man: Augmenting Authority in a Voluntary Association.” Research in the Sociology of Organizations 34: 135-164.

Abstract:

Drawing on Bourdieu’s field, habitus, and capital, I show how disparate experiences and “dispositions” shaped several departments’ development in the organization behind the annual Burning Man event. Observations and interviews with organizers and members indicated that in departments with hierarchical professional norms or total institution-like conditions, members privileged their capital over others’ capital to enhance their authority and departmental solidarity. For another department, the availability of multiple practices in their field fostered disagreement, forcing members to articulate stances. These comparisons uncover conditions that exacerbate conflicts over authority and show how members use different types of capital to augment their authority.

* If you don’t have access to these articles at your institution, please contact me for a PDF.

** Looking for more storytelling articles?  Check out another one here.

Written by katherinechen

October 15, 2013 at 3:15 pm

burning man round table discussion at the society pages

Several sociologists (Matt Wray, Jon Stern, and myself) and an anthropologist (S. Megan Heller) have a round table discussion on Burning Man at the Society Pages. We’ve all done research at Burning Man, an annual temporary community in Nevada that has inspired events and organizations worldwide.

Have a peek at our discussion, which includes ideas for future studies. We discuss answers to questions such as:

Why might the demographics of the Burning Man population be of interest to researchers? For instance, there is a cultural trope that people who go to Burning Man are often marginalized individuals—outsiders in some way. Could the festival’s annual Census be used to measure this rather subjective characteristic of the population? Is there a single “modal demographic” (that is, a specific Burner “type”) or are there many? What else does the Census Lab measure (or not measure)?

and

Burning Man sometimes gets portrayed as little more than a giant rave—a psychedelic party on the playa. It is like a party in many ways, but those of us who go know that the label doesn’t begin to capture the full experience. What larger phenomena does Burning Man represent in your research? In other words, how do you categorize the event and why should we take it seriously?

Going to Burning Man? Check out the un-conference schedule. Looking to volunteer? Start with this post.

A 2003 San Francisco billboard ad for a voluntary association references Burning Man.  As Burning Man's popularity and legitimacy have increased, other organizations and individuals have sought to expropriate the Burning Man name, imagery, and output for their own use.  Photographer unknown.

(Unfortunately, this photo didn’t make it into my book because the image quality wasn’t sufficient for a black and white reprint.) A 2003 San Francisco billboard ad for a voluntary association references Burning Man. As Burning Man’s popularity has increased, other organizations and individuals have sought to expropriate the Burning Man name, imagery, and output for their own use. Photographer unknown.

Written by katherinechen

August 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

protect your self on the internet – the brayden and eszter way

C0-blogger Brayden King and leading Internet scholar Eszter Hargittai wrote a nice post for Kellogg’s Executive Education newsletter. The topic: how to cultivate your reputation in the age of social media. A few choice clips:

Let others in your social network do the talking for you. People see impression management as most genuine when others they already trust and respect do it on your behalf. When third parties say positive things about you, they help cement your reputation and create a halo around your activities.

and

 Engage critiques from legitimate sources directly and alleviate their concerns openly. As anyone who has spent any time online knows, people love to criticize others and sling a little mud. In many cases these attacks can be ignored, especially when they come from “trolls,” or individuals whose sole intent is to pester others, usually from behind a veil of anonymity. In some cases, however, criticism will come from legitimate sources and be a reputational threat.

They are now writing a book on this topic. Recommended.

Adverts: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz 

Written by fabiorojas

June 6, 2013 at 12:39 am

forget the environment, everything is endogenous

Teppo is too humble to let us know that he’s the guest editor of a new special issue of Managerial and Decision Economics.  The issue’s theme is the “emergent nature of organization, market, and wisdom of crowds.” The special issue has an impressive lineup of authors, including Nicolai Foss, Robb Willer, Bruno Frey, Peter Leeson, and Scott Page.  Teppo’s introduction, as you might expect, is provocative, challenging learning theory and behavioral theories of the firm. Here’s a little teaser:

My basic thesis is that capabilities develop from within—they are endogenous and internal. In order to develop a capability, it must  logically be there in latent or dormant form. Capabilities grow endogenously from latent possibility. In some respects, capabilities should be thought about as organs rather than as behavioral and environmental inputs. Experience, external inputs and environments are, in important respects, internal to organisms, individuals and organizations. Although environmental inputs play a triggering and enabling role in the development of capability, the environment is not the cause of capability. Furthermore, the latency of capabilities places a constraint on the set of possible capabilities that are realizable. But these constraintsare scarcely deterministic; rather, they also provide the means and foundation for generating noveltyand heterogeneity (285).

Teppo offers a real challenge to the typical “blank slate” approaches that dominate organizational theory and sociology. Social construction has  limits if you assume that some capabilities are simply latent and waiting to be triggered into action. This reminds me of what my graduate school contemporary theory instructor, Al Bergesen, used to say about the deficiency of  most sociological theory. (In fact, he repeated the whole bit to me again when I ran into him in Denver’s airport Monday evening.) Sociology, he’d say, has never fully come to grips with the cognitive revolution of psychology or linguistics. We still assume that individuals are completely shaped by their social world and ignore cognitive structure  and the limits this imposes on how we communicate and who we can become.  Teppo and Al would have a lot to talk about.

Written by brayden king

August 23, 2012 at 1:46 am

academy of management meeting highlights

Many of us orgheads will be attending the Academy of Management meetings this weekend.  AOM is a great place to dive into org. theory and get a taste of the trends in organizational research (see my past post on why I like AOM).  One negative thing about AOM though is that it is really big and it can be easy to get lost in the vast tunnels of organizations-related research and social events. Like any conference, AOM sessions vary in their quality. I’d love to get tips about what we should be attending. Feel free to post your favorite sessions or social events in the comments.

I’ll start off by offering a few suggestions, some of which I’m participating in:

  • Cultural (Ac)counting: The rise of formal organization in cultural and social domains. Tuesday, August 7, 1:15-2:45. Organized by Amanda Sharkey and Tricia Bromley. The session is about “a dramatic, but poorly understood, shift in the purposes and standing of formal organization in society, from technical structures for facilitating mainly economic transactions to corporate citizens endowed with a broadened scope of actorhood.” Some of the authors include our friend Beth Duckles, Frank Dobbin and Sandra Kalev, and Woody Powell. I’m the discussant.
  • From confrontation to influence: How social movements drive the corporate sustainability agenda. Tuesday, August 7, 3-4:30. Organized by Daniel Beunza, Fabrizio Ferraro, and me. The papers in this session look at how social movements have begun adopting nonconfrontational, more collaborative tactics as means of influence over their corporate targets, leading to sometimes unexpected results. Presenters include Shon Hiatt, Ioannis Ioannou, Fabrizio and Daniel, and Mae McDonnell. Huggy Rao is the discussant.
  • Occupy, economic inequality, and business: Setting the agenda. Saturday, August 4, 2:30-4:30. Come talk about the Occupy movement and the effects of economic inequality on management! Participants on the panel include Jerry Davis, Adam Cobb, and AnaMaria Peredo.

The big social events are the department receptions. Teppo’s post links to a list of those receptions (brave the Harvard reception chaos if you dare!).  I’d like to encourage everyone to attend the OMT events. This is where all the cool orgheads are. In particular,

  • OMT Social Hour, Monday, Aug 6 2012 7:30PM – 9:00PM, at Sheraton Boston Hotel in Back Bay Ballroom D
  • OMT After Party,  Monday, Aug 6 2012 9:00PM – 1:00AM, at Back Bay Social Club in the downstairs bar, 867 Boylston St.

I’ll be at the OMT parties if you want to hang out. If we’ve never met, please introduce yourself.

Written by brayden king

July 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm

is there a global conservative movement network?

A few days ago, I was on the Ben Merens show discussing Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party (click here for the archive). A caller made an interesting point. Occupy Wall Street is a progressive movement that has many ties to activists around the globe who are interested in economic inequality. In contrast, the Tea Party seems distinctly American.

Here’s what I said: Yes, to the best of my knowledge, there aren’t many ties between the Tea Party activists and conservatives in other countries. But still, there is a version of right wing populism in other nations. Tea Party like movements exist in other nations, but they don’t share the same level of connectedness as their liberal counterparts.

Questions: 1. What would you have answered? Was I right? 2. If you agree with what I said, why isn’t there a global conservative activism network?

Adverts: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

March 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

free dinner @ ASA?

The Kickstarter project for the antiwar movie has almost completed its goal, but we’re about $400 short. Free dinner @ ASA on me to the first person who provides that sum. Just send me the receipt. Here’s the URL:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/melofilms/the-activists-war-peace-and-politics-in-the-street

Adverts: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

January 10, 2012 at 7:31 pm

will workshop for food

I’ve got some new material in the pipeline and I’m looking to workshop it. If your campus is a day’s drive or less from Bloomington and you need to fill up your seminar schedule, drop me an email. All I ask that you buy me lunch. Topics: a new social theory manuscript; antiwar movement research; how organizations produce scientific knowledge.

Written by fabiorojas

August 26, 2011 at 4:22 am

interview about the antiwar and black power movements

WFHB has archived my interview with David Stewart from the Interchange show. Click here for the complete podcast. The description:

Host Dave Stewart welcomes Professor Fabio Rojas of the I.U. Department of Sociology for a wide ranging discussion on the anti-war movement, and how the Black Power movement caused Black Studies to be an field of academic study.  Beginning with a discussion on how the election of President Obama resulted in a reduction of Democrats who attend anti-war protests, we segue into the study of the relationship between social movements and mainstream politics with the result of those social movement ideas getting a foothold in the mainstream which then develop.

Check it out.

Written by fabiorojas

June 10, 2011 at 12:16 am

Easy way to Erdös #

MathSciNet now has a simple tool to compute your Erdös number.  You go here, put an author’s name and first initial followed by an asterisk and then click on the “Collaboration Distance” link and click on the “use Erdös” button. In Sociology, one of the few open paths to Erdös is via Stan Wasserman (E=6; you can check for yourself here).  Thus, all co-authors of Stan have a finite Erdös number.  One of them is Joe Galaskiewicz (E=7).  Since Jeff Larson is a co-author of Joe G’s, and I’m a co-author of Jeff’s, then that puts my Erdös number in the finite camp (E=9).

Written by Omar

May 13, 2011 at 12:55 pm

fund raising

Hi, everyone. After paying my new ASA fees, I don’t have much left in the research fund and Indiana cut my travel budget. For real. Since I desperately need to go to Vegas, I’m raising money by selling merchandise. Scroll through this post and buy one of our new orgtheory hats or t-shirts from Cafe Press. All proceeds will go to making sure that orgtheory is well represented at the “round tables” in Vegas. All items $19.95 . Buy ’em all for a 20% discount. Click on the link at the bottom to purchase. Thanks.

“The basic”

“The Kieran”

“The Brayden”

“The Omar”

“The Teppo”

“The Sean”

“The Fabio”

Purchase your hat and t-shirt today!

Written by fabiorojas

April 1, 2011 at 12:30 am

the outcaste elite

Yesterday I was on Radio-Canada’s “Dispatches” to talk about outsourcing to India. Below is the description and a link to the segment. (Last radio plug I promise!)

India’s out-caste achievers take your calls

Outsourcing call centres and tech support shops to India has created an affluent new generation of young Indians.  But other disturbing truths are beginning to emerge.

And they’re in a new book: Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing Is Changing The Way Indians Understand Themselves (Princeton University Press).

The author is sociologist Shehzad Nadeem, an American, from City University of New York

Shehzad spoke with Rick from New York

For the full program: http://www.cbc.ca/video/news/audioplayer.html?clipid=1846190801

Written by shehzadnadeem

March 18, 2011 at 3:42 am

thinking allowed: outsourced cultures

I was on BBC radio 4’s program ‘Thinking Allowed’ this morning to discuss outsourcing and my new book. It really is a nice show and I’m quite impressed with the care and thought they put into each broadcast. Prof. Henrietta Moore, a social anthropologist at Cambridge and the LSE, also joined the discussion. Here’s a link to the program:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00z6dxg

Written by shehzadnadeem

March 9, 2011 at 6:16 pm

‘women, wine, and water’

On Fabio’s claim that sociology “needs more…” As a qualitative sociologist, I think the discipline stands to gain from a closer engagement with forms of literary non-fiction. At times, it seems we lose a lot of rich detail by cramming things into the stylistic straightjacket of academic journals.  (And also by converting narratives into “anecdotes” and “data”). What’s more, sociology can actually go beyond journalism in that it methods allow for a more sustained treatment of subject matter. So, here’s my best attempt. The following is an edited passage from Dead Ringers in which I describe some of the more bizarre ways that corporations are fostering cultural change in India.

***

South Delhi is a dense settlement of middle-class homes and shopping markets, pitted with occasional slums, gardens, and Mughal landmarks. Its ethos is largely consumerist. The banner headline of a community newspaper during the Hindu festival of Diwali asks, “Want to Get Wealthy?” The question is material but the speculations are airily religious. “What pleases Goddess Lakshmi [the goddess of wealth]? When does she bless us with all the riches and comforts of the world? Different people have different answers: some say, it is the gem that you wear, the goddess that you worship, the colour that you paint your walls in or how big is your wealth vase [sic].”

The dance floor of an area night club is occupied by tight clusters of young men and women in designer clothes, all of whom, one presumes, have rather large wealth vases. Rita, a twenty-two-year-old call center worker, has drunk five cocktails priced at 250 rupees a piece, approximately $25 in total—a large sum in a country where 35 percent of the people live on less than $1 a day. Although city regulations require bars to stop serving alcohol at midnight, the club simply locks the front door and allows the intoxicating flow to continue. After a night of dancing, Rita’s head is beginning to spin. Her growing dizziness and fatigue are amplified by the kaleidoscopic whirl of strobe lights and a dance floor that undulates “boombonically” to a Bhangra remix of rapper 50 Cent’s “In Da Club.

Rita is out with her team of six call center workers—the excursion is sponsored by their company to foster camaraderie within the group. Her long swaying hair cannot hide her pale face, which is a knot of exhaustion and sickness. Noticing her obvious discomfort, Deepak, her junior manager, gathers the rest of the team that is gyrating to the hybrid beats. They board a black Toyota Qualis with tinted windows, one of hundreds hired by the company to transport workers to and from work. When they arrive at Rita’s house, Deepak steps out of the vehicle, walks confidently up the dimly lit driveway, and rings the doorbell. He is followed by Rita, who is being assisted clumsily by another inebriated worker. Rita’s mother answers the door.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by shehzadnadeem

March 2, 2011 at 5:35 am

reservoir sociologists, again

From left to right: Nathan Dollar, Bob Childs, Michell Lueck, Matt Parker, Casey Davidson, Laura Davidson, Fabio, Amanda Shigihara, Colleen Hackett. Photographer: Lara Ridenour.

Two years ago, Laura Ridenour snapped this wonderful photo as she helped me field surveys at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. After explaining how to do the survey to our team members, I said something like, “Ok, let’s see where the protesters are.” As we began to walk, Laura just ran out and snapped one photo of our group. She put it in her flickr account and I then reposted to orgtheory. Two years later, the staff at Contexts wanted a sociological photo with movement in it, remembered the post, and asked Laura if they could reprint her snapshot. Once again, thanks to everyone who did a great job collecting surveys and thank you to Laura for taking the photo.  To the folks who’ve been asking: yes, that’s the notorious fanny pack.

Written by fabiorojas

February 21, 2011 at 12:01 am

accent neutralization in indian call centers

(Warning: shameless self-promotion). The Guardian just posted a short piece I wrote on accent neutralization in Indian call centers:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/09/india-call-centres-accent-neutralisation

Some of the comments are rather funny. Speaking of which, does anyone know of a scholarly treatment of discussion boards? They’re a bizarre phenomenon…

Written by shehzadnadeem

February 9, 2011 at 6:51 pm