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three questions for activist-scholars

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I am not opposed to scholars being politically active, nor using their scholarly skills to tackle public issues. Still, I am a proponent of the compartmentalization of scholarship and activism. Values are important, but so is science and that has to be done in a way that does not bias your research or undermine your claims to truth.

When you mix the two – activism and scholarship – you get some real problems. To illustrate, a series of questions:

  1. Let’s say you are an activist-scholar and you are on a job search committee. Someone applies, has a strong CV, and says they are an activist-scholar… for the other side. Do you seriously consider them or toss the application?
  2. Let’s say that you are on television defending your research and a critical journalist says, “Why should I believe what you say? Don’t ‘activist-scholars’ just dress up their opinions in data? They say in public that politics and science can’t be separated so whatever they say is under suspicion.” What do you say? This is McCabe’s Query.
  3. Do you think activism should be part of consideration for tenure and promotion? If so, how would you vote for someone who does work for the other side? Should a progressive scholar-activist vote down someone who, say, works at the American Enterprise Institute? Why doesn’t that count for tenure for this person?

I think there is righteous joy in saying that everything is political and making your political preferences coincide with your work. That should be resisted. If we blur the boundary, we invite all manner of problem. If you care about promoting your values, professional integrity is your friend and we should do all that we can to cultivate it.

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Written by fabiorojas

December 4, 2019 at 12:35 am

Posted in uncategorized

sign-up to predict/discover the replication rate for social science claims!

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This guest post is by Michael Bishop

If your favorite (or least favorite) study was replicated by independent researchers, would they get “the same” result?

We may find out soon because the largest-ever replication effort is under way… but first we need your best research judgment.

Please consider signing up for our project before you miss the chance to evaluate articles from your favorite journals and win prizes for accuracy. Starting this week we are considering studies from: American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Criminology, and 17 other journals.

Read our recruitment letter below and if you have questions hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. Thanks,

Mike

@ReplicationMkts for lots of chatter about the project

@thatMikeBishop will tweet the project at lower volume

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Written by fabiorojas

December 3, 2019 at 3:28 pm

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fox news and open borders: fabio v. lawrence jones

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I was recently invited to talk about open borders with Fox journalist Lawrence Jones. The discussion is the Nov 25, 2019 episode of “Keeping up w Lawrence Jones.” It’s a show on “Fox Nation,” which is like Netflix for Fox. Download the app, you get a 1 week free trial, and you can check it out. He was friendly – and skeptical – but I thought we had a good discussion.

When I speak on open borders, I try to develop intuitions. For example, I try to get people to appreciate that people cross borders all the time and it’s ok. We cross borders within the US and, historically, the US had open borders. Still, we’re ok. In the show, we touched on other topics. For example, Lawrence was worried about jobs and I pointed out that immigrants usually go for less desirable, low skilled jobs.

I’ll conclude on a very important point that Lawrence raised. He focused, as you will see in the clip above, on respecting the law and the system. In general, my goal is to push back against cruel and ineffective laws. The goal isn’t to make people obey harmful rules. Instead, we should democratically promote free migration and offer amnesty for people who’ve crossed migration restrictions. And as a self-identified libertarian, shouldn’t Lawrence be focused on enhancing liberty and not on enforcing heavy government regulations? That’s what I would do!

Overall, I had a good time and Lawrence was a pleasure to work with. I hope we can talk about this more. Tell me what you think.

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Written by fabiorojas

December 2, 2019 at 4:05 pm

Posted in uncategorized

the cell phone hawk

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Cellphone Hawk

I ban all electronic devices from my classes, save for those with special needs. If I see you text or tweet in class, I will flap my arms and yell, “Ca-caw!!! The cell phone hawk has arrived. I spy with my eyes a student who tweets and defies!! Ca-caw!!!” Then, the hawk will hover over the student until the device is put back in the backpack. The rendition of the “cellphone hawk” was made by my student, Xavier Pullam.

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
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

November 26, 2019 at 12:32 am

Posted in uncategorized

organic policy sociology

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Diana Graizbord has a really fascinating article in Sociology Compass about sociology and policy. Here is the abstract:

According to many, sociology is facing a crisis of relevance. Of particular concern is sociology’s inability to impact policy. Sociologists, who should be the go‐to on major policy issues have been sidelined as other social scientists take up roles as policy advisors. Recent efforts aimed at encouraging public engagement have focused on disseminating research and producing more policy‐relevant knowledge. These are welcome resources, but they reflect a deep ambivalence toward policy sociology and a tendency to conflate participation in public discussions with policy impact. In contrast, this essay draws on recent findings about the power of policy experts to develop an organic policy sociology. Organic policy sociology depends on co‐designing and carrying out research with policymakers with whom we share critical and professional commitments. By working collaboratively with policymakers, sociologists can foster equity‐promoting policy, change how policymakers understand social problems, and improve how citizens experience policy on the ground. To that end, I offer six orienting strategies for developing and maintaining organic policy sociology projects, from finding the right partner to assessing the impact of our work.

This article completely nails a major point: sociologists don’t have a “place” for their work. In other words, peer reviewers may demand endless “policy implications” in papers but there are not that many actual policy makers who care about or want sociology. Of course, this can be fixed, but it will require a lot of work on our part. We need to put in the work to make this happen.

Earlier this year, I complained that sociologists don’t put enough effort into building bridges to the policy world. This article is a step in the right direction. So what are the next steps? 1. Curriculum – sociology programs should have some built in training for policy work. 2. Bridges – create organizations that routinely link sociology and the policy world. 3. Outreach – Waiting for the NY Times to pick your op ed is nice, but certainly not a reliable way to do things. 4. Hiring – allow people who have fewer pubs but more applied experience back into soc programs.

++++++++

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
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

November 25, 2019 at 12:25 am

Posted in uncategorized

caroline shaw, partita

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++++++++

BUY THESE BOOKS!!

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
Intro to sociology for just $1 per chapter – INSANE BARGAIN!!!!!
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

November 24, 2019 at 12:18 am

Posted in uncategorized

book spotlight: open borders, the science and ethics of immigration by bryan caplan and zach weinersmith

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cover3 (1)

It is rare that you pick up a book and just say, ” wow, this is an achievement.” For the last five years or so, Bryan Caplan has immersed himself in the extremely large social science literature on immigration and its impacts. You would expect a 300 page academic monograph. But that’s not what you get. Instead, he teamed up with Zach Weinersmith of SMBC fame to write a graphic novel. Open Borders: The Science and Ethnics of Immigration is truly something else. It’s a slim tome that lays out the argument for unrestricted migration. It’s joyful , it’s beautiful, and most importantly, it’s right.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2019 at 5:55 pm

Posted in uncategorized