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open borders conference this weekend + blogcation

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I have a lot of stuff to do soon. I will be at the Open Borders conference in DC. So come to conference! Or, make a donation. It’s all good. I am also presenting at the American politics workshop at Indiana. And, of course, I am working on Fall Contexts which will be super A+ terrific.

So I will take a two week blog break. Peace out and enjoy the video.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

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Written by fabiorojas

October 16, 2018 at 8:47 pm

Posted in uncategorized

cymande

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++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 14, 2018 at 4:01 am

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certification vs. personal growth as teaching goals

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What should the goal of teaching be? From the teacher’s perspective, I see two major goals:

  • Certification: The goal is to assess what the student knows and signal it to an external audience (e.g., pass or “A”).
  • Personal growth: To help an individual improve in terms of acquiring knowledge or a skill.

The problem is that these goals are often in conflict. Let’s take a simple example. Let’s assume that I want to take a French class in college. Let’s assume that I am learning a fair amount of French. I can ask for the bathroom. I can say hello, I can even follow real world conversations. But then I don’t do so well on tests. My spelling is off and I can’t quite conjugate my verbs right. I have real problems memorizing vocabulary.

What grade should I get? There’s a real argument that I deserve an F. I haven’t met the standards of the class. But on the other hand, I’ve actually become sort of functional in French and I’ve genuinely improved myself. So maybe I should really get a B or C. There is no intrinsic right answer because it’s ultimately about values. Are college classes about self improvement or signalling expertise?

In my own teaching, I decided to vary the standard by class. If a class is needed to send strong signals, I tend to assign stricter grades. My introduction to sociology course is like this. Grades need to be tough because a lot of students don’t do the work and even among those that work, not everybody is getting the material. If a class is an elective or terminal (e.g., the end of a student’s educational career), I am really more focused on just helping the student become better in some skill set, like writing and public speaking, and the actual letter grade is more mellow, even if my assignments and tests are tough.

Share your teaching philosophy in the comments.

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BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 12, 2018 at 4:20 am

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what would happy sociology look like?

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Sociology is in large part a “grievance discipline.” Open up our journals and you will find article after article on exclusion, racism, sexism, and inequality. It’s even to the point that some scholars are like, “Stop! We need to talk about other stuff!” And, I’ll be up front, I am part of the problem: I’m the author of work on AIDS, Black nationalism and the Iraq War.

Then, my good friend Victor Ray, sent out this tweet yesterday:

Yes, what would people read? Here is my response, we need a movement within sociology to become more balanced. As I’ve noted before, there are lots of great developments in modern society, but they get much less attention than negative events. What would “happy” sociology look like?

  • There would be a cultural sociology that asks about the cultural preconditions of the industrial revolution, the single event in human history that lifted the most people out of poverty.
  • There would be a similar cultural sociology examining the massive decline in inter-personal violence and war that has occurred over the last two or three hundred years.
  • There would be a cultural sociology examining the liberation of minorities, women, and LGBT people in many nations.
  • There would be an economic sociology that examines how modern economies support an insane level of cultural diversity.
  • There would be a sociology that explains how societies produce things that essentially wipe out many forms of infectious disease and drastically reduce child mortality.
  • There would be a cultural sociology that explains why individual freedom remains strong in a world with fascism, national socialism, communism, radical religious groups, and populist nationalism.

In other words, the typical sociology 100 class gives you a massive toolbox for describing inequality and oppression, but how can these tools be used to describe all the good parts of modern life?

Of course, some of this exists as research literature, but not as the staple of undergraduate, or even graduate, education. Show me that I’m wrong! Who is teaching this course? Inquiring minds want to know!

++++++++

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!

Written by fabiorojas

October 10, 2018 at 4:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

reflection on sociology and the sokal 2.0 hoax

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Last week, a trio of scholars perpetrated what people are now calling the “Sokal 2.0” hoax. They wrote 20 (!) papers on obviously bizarre and bogus topics and tried to get them published in various journals in the humanities and the “softer” social sciences. There are many commentaries you can read but I want to focus on two points:

First, if a scholarly community wants respect and financial support, they need to show that they can weed out garbage in their journals. That includes kooks, cranks, impostors, incompetents, and provocateurs. If editors can’t spot obvious trash, then they get what they deserve. The only people who deserve our sympathy are the peer reviewers, whose time was wasted.

Second, sociological journals rejected all the bogus manuscripts sent to them. On Twitter, Will Wilkinson had a good summary. The issue is that sociology is at its core a positivist discipline. That’s just a fancy way of saying “evidence based.” The typical sociology doctoral program has required courses in applied statistics and research design. Many will take additional courses in topics like interview techniques, historical research, and ethnography. Thus, the typical sociologist is exposed to issues like correlation vs. causation, basic regression analysis, experimental design, and so forth. In a discipline where this is common, one should expect that the fake papers wouldn’t fare so well.

Let me wrap up with an observation. Last semester, I taught a graduate course in historical research for sociologists. Just for kicks, I tossed in a desconstructionist reading (Derrida’s Archive Fever). The reaction? Universal revulsion. Disgust. “I think he’s just playing a joke on me.” This semester, six months later, a student raises her hand in a different class and says, “Fabio, will you promise that you will never do what you did to the historical research class ever again? It was cruel.” Lesson? Vaccination works!

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 8, 2018 at 4:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

zappa/ponty

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++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!

Written by fabiorojas

October 7, 2018 at 4:08 am

Posted in uncategorized

three cheers for sociology!

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It was a real pleasure to hear that Rebecca Sandefur was awarded a Macarthur award today. Aside from being a terrific scholar, it’s good see someone recognized for work done at the intersection of policy and the academy. Check out this write up for more info on her work about access to civil justice.

++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!
50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
A theory book you can understand!!! Theory for the Working Sociologist (discount code: ROJAS – 30% off!!)
The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
Read Contexts Magazine– It’s Awesome!!!

 

Written by fabiorojas

October 5, 2018 at 4:10 am

Posted in uncategorized