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the 2nd annual open borders conference

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immigraiton pic

Would you like to see an end of camps for immigrants? An end to the deportations and broken families? If so, please check out the 2nd Open Borders conference, to be held at the New School in New York City on October 19th. We also need help – so please donate, any amount helps!

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
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Written by fabiorojas

July 5, 2019 at 6:14 pm

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the soros-koch test of political hackery

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soroskoch

Are you dedicated to principles? Or, are you a hack that just roots for your team no matter what they do? Well, I have a new test to help you decide. I call it the Soros-Koch test. They just announced that they are starting a non-profit dedicated to ending the “forever” war that the U.S. is waging. From the Boston Globe:

In one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history, Soros and Charles Koch, the more active of the two brothers, are joining to finance a new foreign-policy think tank in Washington. It will promote an approach to the world based on diplomacy and restraint rather than threats, sanctions, and bombing. This is a radical notion in Washington, where every major think tank promotes some variant of neocon militarism or liberal interventionism. Soros and Koch are uniting to revive the fading vision of a peaceable United States. The street cred they bring from both ends of the political spectrum — along with the money they are providing — will make this new think tank an off-pitch voice for statesmanship amid a Washington chorus that promotes brinksmanship.

So here is the test. Choose which philanthropist is closer to you and think about your gut reaction to this partnership. If you focused on the fact that your favorite guy teamed up with the enemy, then you may be a hack. If you are happy that someone from the other side moved toward your position, you are interested in issues. If you are dismayed that the other side pulled your guy away from your position, you are interested in issues. Try it out!

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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

July 3, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Posted in uncategorized

in memory of ken nordine, the one and only king of word jazz (1920-2019)

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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

June 30, 2019 at 12:01 am

Posted in uncategorized

you gotta give it up for qualitative researchers

I have always been in admiration of successful qualitative researchers. One reason is that qualitative research requires a sort of grit and persistence that is not always needed for many types of qualitative research. Of course, all research requires grit. Every researcher has set backs, failed papers, and plenty of journal rejection.

But qualitative researchers have a pile of barriers that many quantitative researchers do not have. For example, many quantitative researchers are “data down loaders.” They write paper after paper on existing data that someone else made. In contrast, an ethnographer, for example, may not get access to a field site. When they do, they have to generate hundreds of pages of field notes before they can even start. So compare: You can start looking at the GSS in about two minutes, but an ethnographer may take a year before they can really settle in on their issue.

Another big difference is that many quantitative projects have a normal and clearly defined end point. Once the experiment is over, you compare the mean effects. Or, you know the answer once the regression is done. In contrast, many qualitative projects have many, many angles, even those that may have had a clear motivation at the start. The method doesn’t strongly guide you to a conclusion.

Finally, peer review is often bizarre and chaotic for qualitative papers. For quantitative papers using standardized data sets, the main issue is whether the reviewer really believes the result, a judgment about how interesting it is, nit picking over model estimation, and making sure that the results actually match the argument. In contrast, qualitative reviewers may not even accept your data at all and you may never even get to the substance.

So whenever I see some type of qualitative paper make it into a big journal or book form, I’m impressed. It wasn’t easy!

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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

June 28, 2019 at 12:40 am

Posted in uncategorized

heterodox comments on the heterodox academy meeting

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd meeting of the Heterodox Academy. I went to many sessions and I also participated in the panel session on teaching and mentoring. In no particular order, I present some thoughts:

Atmosphere and Crowd: The conference seemed to have a real mellow vibe. There were definitely some sharp and critical questions, but the tone was very middle of the road. What was more interesting was the occupational diversity of the attendees. One might expect this to be a sort of meeting of oddball professors, but it was very mixed. I met professors, deans, graduate students, film makers, journalists, philanthropists, NGO workers, legal professionals, and more. Apparently, there was even a 7th grader in attendance. This signals to me that the public at large may really be interested in a more ideologically mixed version of academia.

Content: Content came in a few flavors. First, many of the headline speakers – the NY Times’ David Brooks, Harvard’s Steven Pinker, and the AACU’s Lynn Pasqueralla – offered some version of the defense of the university and/or liberal education. Second, there were many discussions of detecting or working with intellectual intolerance and making intellectual diversity possible in actual classroom settings.

Mentoring: In my panel, I focused on doctoral education. I talked about professionalization, actually “walking the walk” on diversity (e.g., actually publishing or helping people who are ideologically dissimilar to you), and “pay off” (i.e., when you mentor students, tie it to concrete outcomes like publication). I also had the pleasure of hearing from April Kelly-Woessner on intellectual diversity in a liberal arts college and Jonathan Zimmerman on the same topic in K-12 education.

Elephant in the Room: In the spirit of heterodoxy, let me point out the elephant in the room. In one session, an audience member asked a panelist, I believe it was Judith Shapiro, about if they had actually ever hired a political conservative. I think she gave a professional answer – as president of Barnard, she did not directly make hire decisions – but she did dodge. Keith Whittington noted that his institution, Princeton, hired conservative social theorist Robbie George. Reasonable answers, but it does elide the issue of hiring and intellectual heterogeneity. No honest professor could promise that an institution will hire exactly X professors of type Y, but they could discuss the conditions in hiring practices that make diversity – of all types – possible. This should have been brought up more directly.

Overall, I enjoyed the conference. If you are in New York next year in June and you have an interest in higher education, you should definitely check out the conference.

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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

June 26, 2019 at 12:41 am

Posted in uncategorized

junior faculty jam session #4 – basics of academic strategy

Junior faculty jam session #1#2, and #3.

The previous three chapters of junior faculty jam session focused on developing a “proper state of mind.” Now, I turn to the core of the academic career strategy. The assumption of this post, and those that follow, is that you intend to work as an academic rather than exiting. I also assume that people can make their own value judgments. For example, I will not assume that research jobs are more preferable than, say, community college jobs. Instead, I will talk about trade offs to each type of job and you can decide for yourself what is best. Finally, this advice is not aimed at prodigies or “favorite sons and daughters of academia” who have achieved nearly every reward in the profession since the start.

The first lesson of academic strategy is that academia, for most people, is a “rare event” sort of career. In other words, rewards do happen, but they are rare. For example, a flagship journal in sociology does accept a few dozen papers a year … out of hundreds. So, unless you are a “favorite son” or “daughter,” you will likely need to send in papers multiple times before a flagship journals takes it. Similarly for jobs. Yes, a department may hire one or two people a year, but hundreds will apply.

The conclusion is that you can win the game, but it will require a “large N,” to use statistical language. What does that mean? Failure is common, but you can increase the odds of success merely through raw numbers. Want that big fellowship? Be prepared to apply many years in a row. Want a big publisher for your book? Be prepared to shop it around. If you hit the jackpot on the first try, good, but be ready for long roads as the normal outcome.

The second lesson of academic strategy is that it is very contextual. What you will need is very dependent on your discipline, your own status, the rank of your department, and the rank of the department you may want to move to. The gist of things is that sometimes you need to focus on status generating actions and at other times, any form of publication will do. Here are some hypothetical examples:

  1. Top 5 program assistant professor: The most elite programs hire people like pro-sports team hire athletes. They only want Olympic level caliber people. In that case, you really need to relentlessly focus on a handful of journals or book publishers. You might also want to butter up disciplinary elites who edit top journals. In fact, publishing in lower status places, or any place except the top, may be seen as liability.
  2. Associate professor at a master’s program who wants a promotion: Most MA programs expect faculty to continue publishing, but not at the most competitive places. Thus, you can get promoted through sheer volume or by focusing on less selective places.
  3. Assistant professor at a teaching institution with a very heavy load (5/5): Here, the college may only require completion of the dissertation, perhaps one or two modest publications, and research contributions via conferences. These institutions may award credit for research on pedagogy, which most research programs would place little weight on.

A corollary of this idea is that time is an important context. Here is an example of how one person’s strategy may depend a lot on time:

  1. Assistant professor at top 20 program, year 1: The professor may have about six years to produce one or two top journal hits. Then, the strategy is simple. Just take your dissertation, chop it up, and send it out to many, many places. If you get rejected a lot, that’s ok.
  2. Same professor, same place, year 3: Maybe the professor got 1 top hit, but not much else. The issue is that they really need some more publication, but it can take years. Then, the strategy would be to shift to specialty or regional journals. Still selective, but not as bad as flagships.
  3. Same professor, sample place, year 5: Tenure is next year and you have just 1 big hit and not much else. However, the senior faculty have indicated that they may promote you on progress as indicated in lower tier journals, even niche journals. Then the strategy is “just get lines on the CV.” Long as it is peer reviewed, it counts.
  4. Same professor, same place, year 7, successful tenure case: The pressure is off, but this person has decided they want to move “up” in the academic system. Then, you may return to the strategy of the first year – slow down, but work on “big hits” that generate status and mobility.

The underlying features of academic career are simple. Most people need to generate a lot of material to get a result and that they way you shape an target this material is very dependent on goals, department culture, and time left to tenure.

++++++++

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

June 24, 2019 at 12:43 am

Posted in uncategorized

segovia/capricho arabe

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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

June 23, 2019 at 12:04 am

Posted in uncategorized