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Archive for the ‘shameless self-promotion?’ Category

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!  

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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

it’s all about contexts

It is my pleasure to announce that Rashawn Ray and I will join Contexts as the new editors in Winter 2018. Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social worlds is the ASA’s magazine which brings the cutting edge of sociology to the public. Rashawn and I are humbled by the appointment. A lot of top notch people have edited this journal and we hope to live up to their legacy.

Let me tell you a little bit about Rashawn. I first met Rashawn when he was a graduate student at Indiana University. Immediately, he struck me as a highly intelligent and outgoing person. He begins a conversation with a smile. He is interested in what you have to say and really wants to learn from you. But more than that, he had a real interest in linking sociology to the concerns of everyday life. As time passed, this became clear to me. His research focuses on how social inequality affects health and well being and he is extremely active in getting the sociological vision out there through Facebook, Twitter and public speaking. The right guy for the right job – and associate professors can’t say “no!”

So what do we have in mind? First, we want to build on a decade and a half of excellence. Contexts is a magazine that pleases the mind and the eye. It is also an intellectual magazine that offers the public well-grounded but accessible accounts of academic research. Second, we want to really start engaging with the audiences that might enjoy sociological work, whether it be people in the policy world, business, or the arts. Rashawn and I are excited about the possibilities.

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  

Written by fabiorojas

April 21, 2017 at 12:01 am

talking to your kids about the election

At the Market Watch podcast, I had a nice discussion about how to talk to your kids about election. Discussion with Market Watch’s Catey Hill and Quentin Fottrell and book publicist Helena Brantley.

What do you say your children about politics?

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

Written by fabiorojas

November 11, 2016 at 3:23 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

the university under pressure

A quick post to announce the publication of “The University Under Pressure“, a new volume of Research in the Sociology of Organizations. Edited by Catherine Paradeise and myself, contributors include Mikaila Mariel Lemonik Arthur, Julien Barrier, Sondra Barringer, Manuelito Biag, Amy Binder, George Breslauer, Daniel Davis, Irwin Feller, Joseph Hermanowicz, James Evans, Ghislaine Filliatreau, Otto Hüther, Daniel Kleinman, George Krücken, Séverine Louvel, Christine Musselin, Robert Osley-Thomas, Richard Scott, Abby Stivers, Pedro Teixeira, and Craig Tutterow. A short description:

Universities are under pressure. All over the world, their resource environment is evolving, demands for accountability have increased, and competition has become more intense. At the same time, emerging countries have become more important in the global system, demographic shifts are changing educational needs, and new technologies threaten, or promise, to disrupt higher education. This volume includes cutting-edge research on the causes and consequences of such pressures on universities as organizations, particularly in the U.S. and Europe. It provides an empirical overview of pressures on universities in the Western world, and insight into what globalization means for universities and also looks at specific changes in the university environment and how organizations have responded. The volume examines changes internal to the university that have followed these pressures, from the evolving role of unions to new pathways followed by students and finally, asks about the future of the university as a public good in light of a transformation of student roles and university identities.

I’m sure I’ll write some more substantive posts about the volume and some of the papers in it — as well as why I think developing an organizational sociology of higher ed is important — in the days to come. But in the meanwhile, take a look. And drop me a line for access to pdfs.

Written by epopp

February 18, 2016 at 1:36 pm

the push for diversity

My new book, The Enigma of Diversity: The Language of Race and the Limits of Racial Justice (University of Chicago Press), is officially out today. Yay! The book is about diversity—that word, diversity—the organizational politics that coalesce around it, and the implications for the struggle for racial justice. I’m going to paste some excerpts here that highlight the main (empirical) argument. I’m working on a variation of this for an op-ed. Reactions welcome!

photo of book cover

Talk of “diversity” is ubiquitious in the twenty-first-century United States, from the Oval Office to celebratory neighborhood festivals. A national sociological survey found that nearly all respondents said they valued diversity in their communities and friendships. Popular diversity interventions include affirmative admissions policies, mixed-income housing programs, and corporate training.

I have spent more than a decade answering these questions through ethnographic and historical research. My investigation has taken me to various settings—a university, a neighborhood, and a corporation—that all proactively identify as diversity champions. There, I found that some of the most passionate advocates of diversity are CEOs, university presidents, elected officials, and other leaders with stature and power. This presented a riddle: what, exactly, do decision-makers accomplish when they take on the goal of diversity?

In the post–civil rights period, many decision makers face a new race problem: racial representation and the potential stigma of not representing race properly. They confront a widespread expectation that some people of color, especially African Americans, will be present in a predominantly white context, measured either numerically or by racial minorities’ visibility or authority. Having at least one token person of color on a governing board has become, in many places, crucial for an organization’s legitimacy. Just as racial representation has become an issue—and, in part, because racial representation has become an issue—the representation of other marginalized groups has become important as well, particularly that of women.

The decision makers in this study have responded by advocating diversity. They have constructed identities for their organization or community as distinctive for its diversity—as one of its distilled, essential features and compatible with other fundamental characteristic of that locale. University administrators, for instance, touted the University of Michigan as “excellent and diverse.” At Michigan and elsewhere, leaders have deliberately cultivated a diversity image in hopes of shaping other people’s views and experiences of cross-racial interaction. They may be sincerely trying to improve intergroup relations and increase minority representation or just creating the appearance of such. These leaders certainly hope to create the impression that they, themselves, can manage group differences successfully.

There are both promises and pitfalls in treating race as diversity. The drive for diversity disavows discrimination. It helps to justifies some organizational policies, like affirmative action, that are proven to be effective at moving racial minorities and women up the economic ladder. It also affirms a basis of commonality—a shared, self-reinforcing commitment to social cohesion—across group-based differences that normally divide Americans deeply.

But diversity advocates’ efforts to minimize group divisions and expand the bounds of social membership have focused on symbolism more than on social causes. They have resisted fundamental change in the structures, practices, or cultures that guide day-to-day interactions and shape determinations of merit and value. The push for diversity is, by and large, a mechanism of containing and co-opting equality, as it largely leaves untouched persistent racial inequities and the gulf between rich and poor. This is the taming of the civil rights movement’s provocative demands for racial justice.

Written by ellenberrey

May 19, 2015 at 3:11 pm

can powerful, elite-led organizations lessen inequality?

Hi all, I’m Ellen Berrey. I’ll be guest blogging over the next few weeks about inequality, culture, race, organizations, law, and multi-case ethnography. Thanks for the invite, Katherine, and the warm welcomes! Here’s what I’m all about: I’m an assistant professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo-SUNY and an affiliated scholar of the American Bar Foundation. I received my PhD from Northwestern in 2008. This fall, I jet off from the Midwest to join the faculty of the University of Denver (well, I’m actually going to drive the fading 2003 Toyota I inherited from my mom).  

As a critical cultural sociologist, I study organizational, political, and legal efforts to address inequality. My new book, The Enigma of Diversity: The Language of Race and the Limits of Racial Justice (University of Chicago Press)is officially out next Monday (yay!). I’ll dive into that in future posts, for sure. I’m writing up another book on employment discrimination litigation with Robert Nelson and Laura Beth Nielsen, Rights on Trial: Employment Civil Rights in Work and in Court.  These and my articles and other projects explore organizational symbolic politics, affirmative action in college admissions (also here and here), affirmative action activism (and here), corporate diversity management, fairness in discrimination litigation, discrimination law and inequality (and here), gentrification politics, and benefit corporations.

I’ll kick off today with some thoughts about a theme that I’ve been exploring for many years:

How can powerful, elite-led organizations advance broad progressive causes like social justice or environmental protection? I’m not just referring to self-identified activists but also corporations, universities, community agencies, foundations, churches, and the like. Various arms of the state, too, are supposed to forward social causes by, say, ending discrimination at work or alleviating poverty. To what extent can organizational decision-makers create positive social change through discrete initiatives and policies—or do they mostly just create the appearance of effective action? Time and again, perhaps inevitably, top-down efforts to address social problems end up creating new problems for those they supposedly serve.

To the point: Have you come across great research that examines how organizations can bring about greater equality and engages organizational theory?

I think this topic is especially important for those of us who study organizations and inequality. We typically focus on the harms that organizations cause. We know, for example, that employers perpetuate racial, class, and gender hierarchies within their own ranks through their hiring and promotion strategies. I believe we could move the field forward if we also could point to effective, even inspiring ways in which organizations mitigate inequities. I have in mind here research that goes beyond applied evaluations and that resists the Polly Anna-ish temptation to sing the praises of corporations. Critical research sometimes asks these questions, but it often seems to primarily look for (and find) wrongdoing. Simplistically, I think of this imperative in terms of looking, at once, at the good and bad of what organizations are achieving. Alexandra Kalev, Frank Dobbin, and Erin Kelly’s much-cited American Sociological Review article on diversity management programs is one exemplar. There is room for other approaches, as well, including those that foreground power and meaning making. Together with the relational turn in the study of organizational inequality, this is a promising frontier to explore.

More soon. Looking forward to the conversation.

 

Written by ellenberrey

May 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm

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

meet me in arkansas!!!!

ACRE-logo-300x295

I’ve been overwhelmed by snow, children, work, Mario Kart, exercise, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I’ll post new stuff in about a week or so. But, for now, I wanted to tell you about my upcoming talk at the University of Central Arkansas. The Arkansas Center for Research in Economics is hosting a series of events relating to Black History month. This Thursday evening, I will give a talk on the topic of what modern activism can learn from the civil rights movement. Click here for details. Later this week, we’ll have another guest post by Raj Ghoshal and an announcement of two talks about Party in the Street. And, as usual, if you want the “mic” while I am on blogcation, send us a guest post.

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

 

Written by fabiorojas

February 22, 2015 at 4:15 am

party in the street: show me the money!

At the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog, Andrew Gelman wrote a very gracious review of Party in the Street, but he had one criticism:

The only place it seemed weak–and this weakness occurs in many treatments of politics, including much of my own work–is in its glancing treatment of money in politics. It is perhaps no surprise that the Tea Party found ample funding from some rich people, given that one of its central goals is to keep down taxes on the rich. Raising funds for an antiwar or anti-corporate movement proved to be more of a challenge (in the words of Heaney and Rojas, “the antiwar movement had few financial resources and ran on a shoestring budget”). Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has needed to keep an eye on wealthy individuals and corporations (not just labor unions) to keep itself going. These financial imperatives formed much of the background to the individual choices that are detailed in this book.

Here are a few comments on money and social movement politics. First, unlike electoral politics, money is a bit harder to track in social movements because so many groups are informal and do not register as 501(c) groups. So there is no paper trail for us to work with, although a few groups have IRS forms you can examine. Second, compared to other types of political action, protest is relatively cheap. In my personal judgment, one only needs about one or two million dollars per year to run a nation wide movement of this sort. This is about what a single prominent lobbying group or political consulting firm might charge to a prominent client. It is also an amount that a single “angel” could donate if they really wanted to.

This leads me to believe that money is only a partial explanation for the movement’s decline. It is true that donors stopped giving to the antiwar movement, but that’s not the ultimate explanation. Protesting Obama certainly would turn off some well heeled donors, but the fact that there was not an angel, or a swell of grass roots fund raising for a relatively modest sum, indicates to me that the drop in support was wide spread and not just a function of a few party elites.

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

 

Written by fabiorojas

February 11, 2015 at 12:01 am

asian american privilege? a skeptical, but nuanced, view, and a call for more research – a guest post by raj ghoshal and diana pan

Raj Andrew Ghoshal is an assistant professor of sociology at Goucher College and Yung-yi Diana Pan is an assistant professor of sociology at Brooklyn College. This guest post is a discussion of Asian Americans and their status in American society.

As a guest post last month noted, Asian Americans enjoy higher average incomes than whites in the United States. We were critical of much in that post, but believe it raises an under-examined question: Where do Asian Americans stand in the US racial system? In this post, we argue that claims of Asian American privilege are premature, and that Asian Americans’ standing raises interesting questions about the nature of race systems.

We distinguish two dimensions of racial stratification: (1) a more formal, mainly economic hierarchy, and (2) a system of social inclusion/exclusion. This is a line of argument developed by various scholars under different names, and in some ways parallels claims that racial sterotypes concern both warmth and competence. We see Asian Americans as still behind in the more informal system of inclusion/exclusion, while close (but not equal) to whites in the formal hierarchy. Here’s why.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by fabiorojas

February 4, 2015 at 12:01 am

grad skool rulz is free… but there’s a catch

If you buy a copy of Party in the Street and email proof this semester, I will send you a free copy of Grad Skool Rulz. The kindle edition is already out! While you are getting up to date on the hottest social movement research, why not get a free copy of the best grad skool advice book on the market?

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

Written by fabiorojas

February 3, 2015 at 12:28 am

blogging is like exercise

Blogging is like exercise. It feels great as long as you stay in the habit. But once you stray, for whatever reason, boy is it hard to get back in the saddle.

Not only have I been a bad blogger, I’ve been cheating on you with another blog. But I swear it was just a one-time thing. Dan Hirschman and I wrote a piece on “The Influence of Economists on Public Policy” for the Oxford University Press economics blog.

Although we wrote it last week, it ended up being pretty timely given the chatter over Justin Wolfer’s recent Upshot piece about how economists came to dominate the conversation. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, Philip Cohen’s piece over at Contexts does an excellent job at contextualizing the Wolfers article, particularly with regard to ways sociologists might have somewhat more voice than the NYT chart gives them credit for.

Anyway, I have a growing list of things to blog about, not all of them involving economists, I promise, but an incredibly busy schedule at the moment — thank you, graduate admissions season. But I’m not planning on checking out just yet. This post is just me reminding myself that blogging isn’t really all that hard. More to come soon.

Written by epopp

January 29, 2015 at 2:50 am

party in the street: by the numbers

328 pages

196 research assistants

11 years

3 children born

8,638 street surveys

66 debate transcripts

20 protest waves

150 proposed pieces of legislation

29 diagrams

11 pictures

2 authors

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

Written by fabiorojas

January 29, 2015 at 12:10 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

see you in toronto

Okay, so probably most of you probably aren’t at the Social Science History Association meetings in Toronto over the next few days. But some of you will be. And those lucky folks are in for four days of interdisciplinary historical social science (program here).

SSHA is my favorite conference. I’ve only been going for four or five years, but it’s quickly become the one I can’t stand to miss.

My understanding — I feel like this story used to be on the SSHA website, but I can’t find it there now — is that the organization was started in the 1970s, when quantitative history was becoming a thing. It brought together interested historians, historical demographers and economic historians, and comparative-historical sociologists into one place — basically, anyone who was interested in historical social science, or the social scientific study of history.

Over the years it’s grown and evolved, as trends have come and gone in its component disciplines. I’ve often heard SSHA described as three separate conferences that happen to meet in the same place at the same time — one of comparative-historical folks, one of historical demographers, and…I’m not sure what the third is. Economic historians? This may be true, but they all seem to get along pretty well, so far as I can tell. Maybe we’re just grateful to be somewhere where historical research doesn’t have to be justified.

However, my impression is that in the few years I’ve been going, SSHA has been attracting more and more sociologists, including a surprising number who don’t do historical work. (For example: Alice Goffman is doing an author-meets-critics panel this year. But that’s just one instance of many.)

On the one hand, it’s basically the people I like hanging out with, so awesome. On the other, I’m not sure what it means for the future of SSHA, if it becomes “Berkeley-Michigan sociology” rather than “interdisciplinary history.”

I organized a couple of panels on experts and policy (see after the jump), which I think have shaped up really well, and am presenting a paper on how the (brief) government craze for systems analysis helped spread economists throughout the federal bureaucracy in the 1960s.

I’d say drop me a line if you want to grab coffee, but you know, I’ll probably run into you.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by epopp

November 6, 2014 at 4:54 pm

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

road trip – fall 2014 meet ups!!

Orgheads, I will be travelling a bit in late October and early November. If you want to hang and talk sociology, organizations, or whatever, just drop by! We’ll make some time:

  • October 17: Mississippi State University – “More Tweets, More Votes.” New results + a Grad Skool Rulz bonus round.
  • October 24: The University of Southern California – “The Four Histories of Black Power: A Sociological Challenge to Black Power Historical Scholarship.” ’nuff said.
  • November 10-13: SocInfo 2014!! The conference that bridges computer  science and social science. This conference will be held at Yahoo Headquarters in Barcelona.

See you then!

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

Written by fabiorojas

October 6, 2014 at 12:01 am

dial F for fabio

Need a workshop speaker? I’m here to help out! I work for free if it’s local, and I work cheap if you pitch in for travel costs. Topics:

  • Black Power/Black Studies – Student protest and the rise of ethnic studies
  • The Antiwar movement after 9/11 – How did the peace movement fight war in the Bush and Obama eras?
  • More Tweets/More Votes – how to use social media to study politics!
  • Organizational behavior and infection control – new research on how organizational behavior plays a role in patient safety
  • Grad Skool pep talk!

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

Written by fabiorojas

August 30, 2014 at 12:01 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

#AOM2014

Some of you are attending the Academy of Management meetings this weekend in Philadelphia. As always, AOM is chock-full of parties, receptions, business meetings, and a few interesting panels as well. Here are a few of the panels that I think are worth seeing:

Habitus: Theoretical Foundations and Operationalization for Organization and Management Theory (including talks by John Mohr, Klaus Weber, & Marc Ventresca), Saturday at 11:45

Symbolic Management in the 21st Century (w/ Mike Pfarrer, Mae McDonnell, Jonathan Bundy, and myself), Monday at 9:45

Affinities of Language, Cultural Tool Kits, Institutional Logics: Advancing Strategies of Action (w/ Pat Thornton, Mary Ann Glynn, Steve Vaisey, Omar Lizardo, and Willie Ocasio), Monday at 11:30

The More the Merrier: Integrating Civil Society and the State in Innovation Research (including Huggy Rao, Bogdan Vasi, Sarah Soule, Jeff York, Chuck Eesley, and Shon Hiatt), Monday at 3

Where Do Capabilities Come From? (w/ Teppo Felin, Jay Barney, Michael Jacobides, and Todd Zenger), Monday at 4:45

The Manifestations of Social Class in Organizational Life (including a talk by my colleague Lauren Rivera), Tuesday at 9:45

And if you missed the OMT party last night, don’t worry, there’s another one Monday at 7:30 in room 204 of the Convention Center. There will be free drinks!

Written by brayden king

August 2, 2014 at 12:48 pm

how field theory can inform strategy research

The field of strategy research could learn something from field theory. Ed Walker and I make this point in a forthcoming paper, “Winning hearts and minds: Field theory and the three dimensions of strategy,” now published online at the journal Strategic Organization.  We argue that strategy researchers too narrowly conceptualizes strategy, focusing almost exclusively on financial performance and ignoring firms’ (or elites’) motivations to attain status and power. When strategy scholars pay attention to status they usually only do so as an independent variable – a precursor to financial performance. Field theory forces us, we think, to consider the broader struggles for control and dominance that propel firms, elites, and other actors to take action. Shaping public perceptions is one of the main ways in which social actors improve their status and attain more power, and so an important component of strategy involves actively managing impressions – i.e., what people think and how they feel about key issues and actors.

Strategy research—and to some degree social movement theory as well—portrays organizations as resource-accumulating machines. The ultimate measure of success is financial performance. Another way to conceptualize organizations is as social actors whose primary function is to manage the impressions and perceptions of their various audiences. Their ultimate goal is to maintain positions of dominance. Resource accumulation depends on the ability of an organization to gain favorability and esteem. Shaping public perceptions about why one organization deserves favor is key, then, to long-term survival. But there exists an alternative and more long-term rationale for shaping public perceptions: for organizations to gain positions of prominence and power in society, they must be able to influence the rules of the game and the cultural norms and belief systems that shape who wins and who does not…

What role does strategy have in this conflict-ridden view of the world? In our estimation, strategy can be conceptualized as having three dimensions. We take inspiration from the ideas of Max Weber (1922 [1978]) in his classic essay on “Class, Status, and Party” in order to understand the features of strategy. We argue that strategy research has focused almost exclusively on financial performance (“class,” in Weber’s resource-based view of economic positions) and management’s role in shaping it. However, Weber’s conceptualization suggests that firms ought to be at least as concerned with prestige or esteem (“status”) or on the relative leverage of various stakeholders and policymakers upon firms’ actions (“party”). ..

[W]e find three major limitations in strategy research. First, it is far too focused upon firm performance at the expense of understanding strategic elements of relative status and sources of power/vulnerability. Second, its perspective is often far too short term and does not pay enough attention to all three of the aforementioned aspects of strategy, especially in the context of the “long game” of business maneuvering. Third, it downplays the extent to which businesses’ capacities for accumulating resources, maintaining reputations, and obtaining political leverage are all subject to conflict with other actors whose own relative position depends on their ability to convince the public of their alternative ideologies and worldviews.

In the paper we talk more about research focused on political influence, in particular, ought to shift away from the specialty areas of “nonmarket strategy” or “political strategy” and move to the forefront of strategy research.

Written by brayden king

April 14, 2014 at 2:22 pm

meet me in kentucky!!!!

PAN African

This Wednesday, I will be a guest of the Department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville. Along with Ibram  X. Kendi, we will discuss the struggle for legitimacy in Africana Studies. The talk will be this coming Wednesday, March 26 at the Chao Auditorium at the University of Louisville at 5:30pm. I will be hanging out all day at Pan-African Studies, so if you want to meet, just email me.

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

Written by fabiorojas

March 24, 2014 at 12:52 am

twitter publics

The first “tweets/votes” paper established the basic correlation between tweet share and vote share in a a large sample of elections. Now, we’re working on papers that try to get a sense of who is driving the correlation. A new paper in Information, Communication, and Society reports on some progress. Authored by Karissa McKelvey, Joe DiGrazia and myself, “Twitter publics: how online political communities signaled electoral outcomes in the 2010 US house election” argues that the tweet-votes correlation is strongest when people compose syntactically simple messages. In other words, the people online who use social media in a very quotidian way are a sort of “issue public,” to use a political science term. They tend to follow politics and the talk correlates with the voting, especially if it is simple talk. We call this online audience for politics a “twitter public.” Thus, one goals of sociological research on social media is to assess when online “publics” act as a barometer or leading indicator of collective behavior.

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

Written by fabiorojas

March 18, 2014 at 12:01 am

orgtheory 2014

Welcome the New Year! In 2014, I plan to discuss the following topics on the blog:

  1. Fligstein and McAdam’s Theory of Fields – there’s been some subterranean conversation that needs to see the light of day.
  2. Institutionalism – where are we now?
  3. More installments of the Grad Skool Rulz .
  4. Damon Phillip’s book on the structure of jazz music production.
  5. Some more K-street action.
  6. A discussion of Karl Popper and whether “positivism” deserves the scorn it gets in sociology.

And 1. There is an Orgtheory Facebook page. It is now much more active than it used to be. 2. Support the writing of this blog with a purchase of the Grad Skool Rulz book. It’s cheap ($3), available on nearly any device you have, and a lot of people have found the book to be helpful.

Books, books, books, books: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz  

Written by fabiorojas

January 1, 2014 at 12:01 am

research outside the academy part III: jobs and such

Katherine asked me also to say a little about what the skills, training, etc. we use on the job at DMV R&D. Also, she asked me to write something about the application process (since, as it happens, we have an opening at the moment).

In terms of the skills we use for most of our work, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having a strong quantitative background.  Being able to create, and interpret the results of, various kinds of statistical modeling (particularly, but not only, regression modeling) is a rare and valuable thing.  In addition to using this basic understanding of statistics, we routinely design and implement original research studies.  This requires practical knowledge of basically all aspects of methodology from start to finish: preparing an analysis plan, understanding sampling procedures, thinking critically about effect sizes and statistical power considerations, developing data collection instruments, recruiting subjects, creating databases from raw inputs, preparing (and revising) statistical analyses, writing up results and preparing a publication.  Of secondary importance – at least in our unit – are qualitative methods.  We do sometimes engage in studies using interviews or focus groups; however, these are only rarely a part of what we do here at DMV R&D.  Finally, I should emphasize that we regularly present our research findings to both technical audiences (i.e., professional conferences) and to non-technical groups (e.g., DMV management and staff).  Being able to translate research findings for different types of audiences is not so easy to do – but we are called upon to do precisely that as part of our work.

Now, in terms of what we look for in strong candidates who are looking to work in government research, I would say that as with an academic posting, we certainly appreciate a publication record of some sort.  We do not necessarily expect that applicants will have published in traffic safety journals.  However, where applicable, peer-reviewed publications serve to demonstrate a candidate’s familiarity with social science research methods and quantitative statistical techniques.  We also look for job experience that involves direct planning, implementation, and/or analysis and write-up of social science research projects.  While it is helpful for candidates to have specific experience with certain statistical packages (e.g., SAS, SPSS), we have also found that candidates with experience using other statistical packages (e.g., STATA) may be prepared to transfer that knowledge without too much trouble.

But what about the nitty-gritty of actually finding openings and applying?  California has a very straightforward civil service process.  All job openings are posted on a central website (www.CalHR.ca.gov).  In addition to this, many agencies post their job openings in supplementary fora, such as at professional conference (for example, the Transportation Research Board).  We do not use headhunters.  I should state here that the hiring process varies somewhat from agency to agency; different departments may be looking for slightly different skill sets.  Our hiring process involves several steps.  First, we review all applications to ensure that they meet certain minimum qualifications.  These minimum qualifications differ by job title, but are a matter of public record at the California State Personnel Board’s website (http://jobs.ca.gov.  Please note: this website also posts salary scales, which are surely also useful information).  Depending on the results of this review, we may then bring in a candidate for a formal interview (if the candidate is physically located out of state, this may occur by phone).  This interview includes a discussion of the candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities in relation to standard statistical techniques and social science research methods.  Depending on the results of this interview, we may then bring in a candidate to give a presentation to all of the staff members of our branch.  This provides the candidate an opportunity to discuss a recent research project of their own; it also provides them the opportunity to meet the staff and find out more about the work that we do here.  If we make an offer to a candidate, it would typically be for a full-time permanent civil service position.  Our branch is currently accepting applications at the Research Program Specialist I and II level.  If you’re interested in finding out more, please e-mail me directly (Bayliss.Camp@dmv.ca.gov) with any questions about the application process.

That’s it for my series of posts.  Oh, one more thing: if anyone is interested in hearing about the ethical considerations associated with using administratively-collected data for research purposes, please look for a panel on that subject at next year’s (2014) ASA meetings in San Francisco.

Written by A garrett renter on Welbeck St.

December 6, 2013 at 5:01 am

research outside the academy part II: some background and reflections on institutional logics.

Since defending my dissertation (in 2003), I’ve worked in both academia and for the DMV.  Prior to moving back to California, I was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Texas Christian University (TCU).  I’ve continued to teach as an adjunct in the Department of Sociology at CSU-Sacramento while working full-time for DMV. 

There are a number of differences between the two types of organization.  Some of these differences are obvious, some not.  Some of these differences tend to be in favor of the academy, and others tend to be in favor of state service.  First, and most obviously, there is the matter of pay and benefits.  The salary range of our research program specialist series (the main job titles that are associated with research work in California state service) are roughly equivalent to the salary range of tenure-track faculty in the CSU system.  In addition, we have a defined-benefit pension in retirement.  On the other hand – and this point will surely hit home for this audience – working for state government involves a non-trivial step down in occupational prestige.  Not a season goes by but what I have to answer some version of the question “you have a PhD and you work where?!?”  Usually these questions come from persons outside the academy, and probably reflect some inherent sense of the disjuncture between having a high-status degree and working for one of the most “common” government departments (as opposed to a more “rarified” shop like the Demographic Research Unit at the state’s Department of Finance – an outfit which, I should note, does truly outstanding work).  Academics may be puzzled by my position, but they are often quickly curious as to the kinds of data we have access to, the kinds of methodologies we use, the publication possibilities, etc.  Those working in government are, if anything, impressed by the fact that California DMV has an R&D unit (most states don’t); they are also respectful of the fact that our agency (and the legislature) takes empirical research into account when setting policy. 

In a less tangible manner, working for a government agency is stressful in different ways than teaching.  While students expect professors to be available 24/7, this is not true of state service.  Once the work day is done, I can go home and not worry about checking my e-mail until the next day.  That said, the implications of a mistake are very different.  In teaching, if we say something that isn’t quite right in lecture we can usually address it in a subsequent class session.  If we make an error in a publication, we can issue an erratum.  It’s embarrassing, but usually not grossly consequential.  In state service, on the other hand, a mistaken statement – or worse, a faulty set of analyses and recommendations – can have real, dramatic, and long-lasting effects on policy and revenues, and ultimately on people’s lives.  For that reason (among others), we have multiple layers of review for our studies and publications. 

Finally, I would note that when considering a career in government service, it is useful to think about the implications of the grand logics of different types of organizations (cf. Weber 1922; Dobbin 1994; Meyer and Rowan 1977; Meyer and Scott 1983; DiMaggio and Powell 1991).  We all know, for instance, that those working in for-profit businesses generally judge a given person’s performance through monetary means.  It is only more rarely that we reflect on the fact that those working in government agencies tend to judge personal performance through metrics of power.  In my experience, it is rarer yet that we admit the truth about academic institutions: that people are judged almost entirely in terms of reputation (and not just one’s own, but more broadly that of one’s advisor as well as one’s institutions, both past and present – see Etzkowitz, Kemelgor and Uzzi 2000).  Switching from one field to another usually necessitates that one be prepared to operate under a different set of institutional rules and expectations.  In the case of moving from the academy to the state, this means (among other things) caring much less about what people think about one’s work, and caring much more about making things happen.

Written by A garrett renter on Welbeck St.

December 2, 2013 at 1:26 am

Research outside the academy. Or, “Wait, what? You have a PhD and you work where?!?”

First, I’d like to thank Katherine and Teppo for allowing me to guest-blog on this site.  I’ve put together three pieces: (1) what does doing research for a state agency involve, (2) how does working in the public sector compare to working in the academy, and (3) are we hiring (yes) and what do we look for in candidates?

We have two units within our branch here at DMV Research and Development (R&D).  I work in the Driver Competency and Safety Projects Unit; there is also the Alcohol and Impaired Driving Unit.  The distinction between the units is not substantial – many projects involve collaboration between researchers, and in many cases we use very similar types of data and methods to conduct our projects.

In general, I’ve worked on projects that involve the screening, testing, and assessment of physical, visual, and mental functions that may affect driving.  If you’ve ever read a newspaper article about some tragic incident where someone pressed on the accelerator instead of the brake, and drove into a fast-food restaurant, you may have wondered “gee, I wonder if anyone’s doing research on this problem?”  The answer is “yes,” and I’m one of the people that works on that type of question (if you’re curious, such incidents often involve some element of cognitive impairment – such as occurs in early-stage dementia).  The kinds of projects that I’ve worked on as a researcher include: (1) evaluating the results of a pilot project that used novel screening and education tools to identify drivers that may be at risk of unsafe driving due to a physical, visual, or cognitive impairment; (2) calculating projections about the number of cases DMV may see in the next few years of drivers who are referred for evaluation due to a medical problem of one type or another; (3) developing a method by which we can determine the reliability and validity of a drive test that we use (rarely) for persons who drive in extremely limited circumstances, on defined routes or in bounded areas.

In terms of publication opportunities, we mainly publish monographs ourselves (after a rigorous process of internal review).  We also submit articles to peer-reviewed journals in the field of traffic safety.  Finally, we present our findings at national and regional conferences (Transportation Research Board, LifeSavers, California Office of Traffic Safety Summit, etc.).

I was recently promoted, and my current duties include overseeing the research of others.  Some of these projects include: (1) assessing the reliability of machines used to screen people for problems with visual acuity, (2) determining at a descriptive level the incidence of distracted driving incidents, particularly those that involve crashes where there is some indication that usage of a cell phone contributed to the crash, (3) calculating the effect of a particular novice driver training and education program on subsequent risk for crashes and violations.  Finally, and perhaps most exciting, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in reviewing research (conducted by others) on automated vehicles; this review has been for the purpose of assisting our policy and legal staff in developing regulations that will govern the testing by manufacturers, and use by the general public, of automated vehicle technology on public roads.

Oh, and since I know at least one person might wonder: my dissertation had absolutely zippo to do with any of these topics.  We will address this area (what do we actually look for in job candidates for our research shop) in post #3.

Written by A garrett renter on Welbeck St.

November 27, 2013 at 5:07 am

more tweets, more votes – media summary

If you are interested in reading the media coverage of More Tweets, More Votes, here are the links to selected coverage:

Thanks for checking in.

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Written by fabiorojas

August 19, 2013 at 12:03 am

no sentiment needed – comment on the tweets-vote curve

When people read our More Tweets, More Votes paper, they often wonder – where is the “sentiment analysis?” In other words, why don’t we try to measure whether a tweet is positive or negative? Joe DiGrazia, the lead author, addressed this in a recent interview with techpresident.com:

DiGrazia said the researchers were “kind of surprised” that they saw a correlation without doing sentiment analysis of the Tweets. “We thought we were going to have to look at the sentiment,” he said. He speculated that one reason for the correlation could be a so-called Pollyanna Hypothesis, “that people are more likely to gravitate toward subjects that they are positive about and are more likely to talk about candidates that they support.”

The idea is simply this: the frequency of speech is often a relatively decent approximation of how imporant people think that topic is relative to salient alternatives. If people say “Obama” a little more often than the competition, then it’s not unreasonable to believe that he is more favored. And you don’t need content analysis to suss that out.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 29, 2013 at 3:16 am

more tweets, more votes: social media as a quantitative indicator of political behavior

bigtweet20102012

Unit of analysis: US House elections in 2010 and 2012. X-Axis: (# of tweets mentioning the GOP candidate)/(# of tweets mentioning either major party candidate). Y-axis: GOP margin of victory.

I have a new working paper with Joe DiGrazia*, Karissa McKelvey and Johan Bollen asking if social media data actually forecasts offline behavior. The abstract:

Is social media a valid indicator of political behavior? We answer this question using a random sample of 537,231,508 tweets from August 1 to November 1, 2010 and data from 406 competitive U.S. congressional elections provided by the Federal Election Commission. Our results show that the percentage of Republican-candidate name mentions correlates with the Republican vote margin in the subsequent election. This finding persists even when controlling for incumbency, district partisanship, media coverage of the race, time, and demographic variables such as the district’s racial and gender composition. With over 500 million active users in 2012, Twitter now represents a new frontier for the study of human behavior. This research provides a framework for incorporating this emerging medium into the computational social science toolkit.

The working paper (short!) is here. I’d appreciate your comments.

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* Yes, he’ll be in the market in the Fall.

Written by fabiorojas

April 23, 2013 at 2:41 am

meet me in mississippi!!! + blog break

millsaps

This Friday, I will be giving a talk at Millsaps College. This will be part of their “Friday Forum.” It will be at the Gertrude Ford Academic Complex, Room 215, Millsaps College from 12:30 to 1:30pm.

I will speaking on my research about the anti-Iraq War movement and its abatement during the Obama administration. Please email me if you want to meet personally on Thursday or Friday.

Since I’ll be travelling this week, I will take a break from the blog. Next Monday, I will resume blogging with Part 2 of our discussion of Reinventing Evidence. (Part 1, book review at Scatterplot.)

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Written by fabiorojas

April 8, 2013 at 3:03 am