orgtheory.net

“i like all kinds of music” is usually a wildly misleading untruth

Jack Black

I’m a big time snob. If I enjoyed wine, I would quickly become a giant blowhard who lectures you about how your local supermarket has some exceptionally good bottles at low prices and you’d be unwise to ignore my sage advice. I am that way with music How bad am I? Let’s just say that I side with Jack Black’s character in High Fidelity.

As a complete music snob, though, I enforce an unannounced truce with the rest of humanity. If you don’t have the good sense to listen to what I like, I will leave you alone as long as you leave me alone. Just pull back on the Bieber and I won’t assault your delicate mind with full blast Albert Ayler.

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May 4, 2020 at 2:31 pm

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word crimes (yankovic, 2014)

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May 3, 2020 at 12:08 am

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book podcast: power in modernity by isaac ariail reed

Reed Cover

Come listen to Isaac Reed discuss his new book on power and agency. Required listening for social theory fans and students of culture and politics. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

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May 1, 2020 at 1:52 pm

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reflections on the chicago sociology phd circa 2000

It has been 17 years since I got my PhD at the University of Chicago in sociology. I offer some reflections about the department and my experience in it. First, let me start with a few comments about the department’s overall trajectory. Within the history of the discipline, it is sometimes said that you had two major waves. There was an initial “Chicago school” in the early 1900s and then a second wave in the 1950s. The first was mainly about urban studies and social organizations. The second included some of the major interactionists.

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April 28, 2020 at 12:26 am

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public sociology course podcasts

IU fall pic

The Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Research Experience (ASURE) encourages students to do hands on learning with selected faculty members. My course, Sociology 105, introduces students to sociology and we work on public communication. Our final assignment is to interview a sociologist and understand how their work has public impact. The interview is then streamed via podcast. Originally, these productions were meant to be shown during an end of year poster session for all ASURE students and faculty. But now, I’ve decided to stream them. Enjoy!

Podcast #1 – Paul Gutjahr, professor of English and associate dean: “Associate Dean Paul Gutjahr shares what it’s like being a Dean amid the COVID-19 crisis. He also talks about his early career involving research and religion. He discusses his view on education and what he would like to do in the future: research religion and aliens.” Produced by Brandon King, Claire Slotegraaf, and Hailey Pangburn. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

Podcast #2 – Jane McLeod, professor of sociology and department chair: “Dr. Jane McLeod is the chair of the department of Sociology at IU Bloomington, as well as a professor who does research in the fields of medical sociology and sociology of mental health. Her primary research is on the college experiences of students on the autism spectrum.” Produced by Macy Brammer, Aryan Mishra, Brittney Day, and Ben Peters. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

Podcast #3 – Ethan Michelson, associate professor of sociology: “In this podcast, we invited sociology professor Ethan Michelson to speak with us about his upcoming release of his new book. Ethan Michelson is an accomplished researcher on divorce proceedings in China and domestic abuse. Here you will get a glimpse into the lives of these women and the shocking treatment they receive at the hands of their own justice system. We want to help spread awareness into the public about what is happening in China and the social injustice of women in abusive relationships.” Produced by Ellie Hans, Natalie Frazier, Ashley McCool, and Natalie Winters. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

Podcast #4 – Brian Powell, professor of sociology: “In this podcast, we interviewed Brian Powell, a professor of sociology at Indiana University. Brian Powell’s work looks into attitudes and opinions on denial of service to same sex couples. He surveyed over 2,000 individuals, showing over half supported service refusal to gay couples while two-fifths supported service refusal to interracial couples. Throughout this podcast we explored the moral justification of service denial, American individualism, how this affects the health and image of gay and interracial couples, and the key to social change.” Produced by Kia Heryadi, Sam Stockman, Michael Hunter, and Ellie Strimatis. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.

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April 27, 2020 at 4:16 pm

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you should really check out miho hazama

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April 26, 2020 at 12:00 am

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extended q & a with daniel beunza about taking the floor: models, morals, and management in a wall st. trading room

Following 9/11, Wall St. firms struggled to re-establish routines in temporary offices.  Many financial firms subsequently made contingency plans by building or renting disaster recovery sites.   As we see now,  these contingency plans relied upon certain assumptions that did not anticipate current pandemic conditions:

The coronavirus outbreak threw a wrench into the continuity planning that many Wall Street companies had put in place since at least the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Those plans were largely built around the idea that if trading at a bank headquarters was knocked off-line, groups of traders would decamp to satellite trading floors outside the radius of whatever disaster had befallen New York. But those plans quickly became unworkable, given the dangers of infections from coronavirus for virtually all office work that puts people close to one another.

“This is really not the disaster that they had planned for,” said Daniel Beunza, a business professor at the City University of London, who has studied and recently written a book on bank trading floor culture.

 

Just in time for us to understand the importance of face-to-face proximity in the workplace, Beunza has a new book Taking the Floor: Models, Morals, and Management in a Wall Street Trading Room (2019, Princeton University Press) based on years of ethnographic observation. Beunza kindly agreed to an extended Q&A about his research.

Q: “Chapter 1 of your book describes how you were able to gain access to an organization, after two failed attempts.  Quinn, a classmate, offers to introduce you to a former co-worker of his from finance: Bob, now the head of a derivatives trading floor at International Securities.  You meet with Bob and observe activities, where you realize that the trading floor no longer looks or sounds like prior literature’s depictions.  After this first meeting, you send over “sanitized” field notes about your first visit (p. 32), and you meet again with Bob, who has even read and reflected on these field notes. This second meeting to go over your initial impressions starts a longer relationship between yourself and this unit of International Securities [a pseudonym].  You have your own desk on the floor, where you can write down notes​.  

In subsequent years, after the bulk of your field research ends, you invite Bob to come as a guest speaker in your Columbia Business School classes.  Your book recounts how bringing in Bob not only offers the MBA finance students perspective on their desired field of employment, but might also smooth over student-professor relations, especially since teaching evaluations matter.  Afterwards, Bob comments on the students’ late arrivals to class and how he handled the equivalent in his workplace, helping you to understand divergences in your respective approaches to relationships and organizations. 

In chapter 8, your book describes your interview with Peter, an executive who had worked with Bob at International Securities.  Peter describes how most Wall Streeters might react to researchers’ requests for access:

“Bob is a curious dude.  He reads a lot.  He befriended you because he was curious. Most guys on Wall Street would say, ‘Oh, another academic from Columbia?  Thank you very much.  Goodbye.  I don’t have time for you.  You’re going to teach me a new algorithm? You’re going to teach me something big?  Okay.  Come in and sit down.  And I’ll pay you, by the way.’  But a sociologist?  ‘Wrong person on my trading floor.  A desk?  No.  You’re crazy.  Go away.’ So Bob has those qualities, and many of the people you see here have those qualities” (p. 168).

Peter’s comment, along with your observations, also offers a colleague’s assessment of Bob’s management style.  Rather than relying on money as an incentive or fear as a motivation, Bob hires people ‘who were a little different,’ and he cultivates relationships by spending time with employees during work hours in supportive and subtle ways, according to Peter.  (Elsewhere, your book notes that this does not extend to colleagues having drinks outside of work – a way that other organizations can cultivate informal relations.)  

 Your book argues that such practices, when coupled with clearly communicated values delineating permissible and impermissible actions, constitute “proximate control.” Such efforts can check potential “model-based moral disengagement” where parties focus on spot transactions over longer-term relationships; this focus can damage banks’ viability and legitimacy.  In other words, your book posits that face-to-face contact can channel decisions and actions, potentially reigning in the damaging unknown unknowns that could be unleashed by complex financial models.

 First, the content question:

These analyses remind me of older discussions about managerial techniques (notably, Chester Barnard, who built upon Mary Parker Follet’s ideas) and mantras (Henri Fayol’s span of control), as well as more recent ones about corporate culture.  Indeed, your book acknowledges that Bob’s “small village” approach may seem “retro” (p. 170).

That said, your book underscores how people and organizations still benefit from face-to-face connection and interdependency.  Some workplaces increasingly de-emphasize these aspects, as work has become virtually mediated, distributed, asynchronous, etc.  Why and how does it matter so much more now?  How are these findings applicable beyond the financial sector​?”

Beunza: “Face-to-face connections are crucial, but I should add that the perspective coming out of the book is not a luddite rejection of technology. The book makes a sharp distinction between valuation and control. The use of models to value securities is in many ways a more advanced and more legitimate way of pursing advantage on Wall Street than alternatives such as privileged information.

However, the use of models for the purpose of control raises very serious concerns about justice in the organization. Employees are quickly offended with a model built into a control tool penalizes them for something they did correctly, or allows for gaming the system. If perceptions of injustice become recurring, there is a danger that employees will morally disengage at work, that is, no longer feel bad when they breach their own moral principles. At that point, employees lose their own internal moral constraints, and become free to pursue their interests, unconstrained. That is a very dangerous situation.

I would argue this is applicable to all attempts at mechanistically controlling employees, including other industries such as the Tech sector, and not-for-profit sectors such as academia. Some of the warmest receptions of my book I have seen are by academics in the UK, who confront a mechanistic Research Assessment Exercise that quantifies the value of their research output.”

Q: “Second, the reflexivity question:

Did you anticipate how Bob’s visit to your Columbia Business School classroom might provide additional insight into your own “management” [facilitation?] style and your research regarding financial models and organizations?  How have research and teaching offered synergistic boosts to respective responsibilities?  How do such cross-over experiences – discussing issues that arise in researcher’s organizations, which probably constitute “extreme” cases in some dimensions – help with developing organizational theory?”

Beunza: “Back in 2007, I had a diffuse sense that I would learn something of significance when inviting Bob to my classroom, but was not sure what. Before I saw him, I suspected that my original view of him as a non-hierarchical, flat-organization type of manager might not quite be entirely accurate, as a former colleague of him said he was a “control freak.” But I had no way of articulating my doubts, or take them forward. His visit proved essential in that regard. As soon as he showed up and established authority with my unruly students, I understood there was something I had missed in my three years of fieldwork. And so I set out to ask him about it.

More generally, my teaching was instrumental in understanding my research. MBA students at Columbia Business School did not take my authority for granted. I had to earn it by probing, questioning, and genuinely illuminating them. So, I develop a gut feeling for what authority is and feels like. This helped me understand that asking middle managers to abdicate their decisions in a model (which is what the introduction of quantitative risk management entailed in the late 90s) is a fundamental challenge to the organization.”

Q: “This, a methods question:

Peter’s comment underscores what Michel Anteby (2016) depicts as “field embrace” – how an organization welcomes a researcher – as opposed to denying or limiting access.  Anteby notes how organizations react to researchers’ requests to access is a form of data.  How did Bob’s welcoming you and continued conversations over the years shed additional insight into your phenomena?”

Beunza: “Anteby is right that the bank’s form of embrace is data. Indeed, I could not quite understand why International Securities embraced my presence in the early 2000s until 2015, when Bob laid out for me the grand tour of his life and career, and allowed me to understand just how much of an experiment the trading floor I had observed was. Bob truly needed someone to witness what he had done, react back to it, accept or challenge the new organization design. And this was the most fundamental observation of the research process – the one that motivates the book. My entire book is an answer to one question, “how did Bob’s experiment perform?” that I could only pose once I understood why he had embraced my presence.”

————– Read more after the jump ———— Read the rest of this entry »

understanding the prevalance of covid

On Twitter, Gabriel Rossman is interested in the issue of selection bias in a recent study of covid. What happens if a study is contaminated by selection bias?

Excellent point. But this is a problem with all surveys – not only do you have to randomly sample people, they have to randomly respond. Fortunately, there are ways to understand how survey participation biases estimation.

Strategy 1: If you have data on responders and non-responders (e.g., SES data on neighborhood, some basic demographic data), you can create a two stage model. This is the intuition behind the Heckman model.

Strategy 2: If you have some intuition on why people do not respond, you can simulate non-response and create bounds on your errors.

Strategy 3: Go full Bayesian. Admit that bias exists in the model but build that into an update on what you think the true parameters are.

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April 22, 2020 at 6:14 pm

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why don’t cinephiles support video stores?

VV video

Vulture Video, Bloomington’s last video store

It’s not a crazy question. We’ve been told that bookstores and record stores are dead. But they aren’t. We’ve seen an upsurge of used and independent bookstores, and many music shops continue. These organizational forms will never return to their 20th century glory, but they do serve vibrant subcultures.

And then there’s the video store. These are truly on the wane and there is no revival in sight. All the major chains, except Family Video, have gone under and even Family Video is slowly in retreat. A few major cities have remaining video libraries. But overall, it’s bad.

On a local Bloomington podcast, David Walter – operator of Vulture Video – made a clever observation. You see a small, but dedicated, audience support record stores. But why don’t you see a similar subculture support video stores? Great question. I have a few hypotheses:

  1. The movie industry does not support video stores: I am always pleased to see bands, local and national, do gigs in record stores. But how many film actors and directors do events at video stores? As far as I can tell, the film industry just doesn’t care.
  2. Video stores did not diversify their services: Modern record stores do CDs, vinyl, cassettes,  posters, books, and even trade in vintage or specialized audio equipment. It’s enough to create an income stream. In contrast, video stores never transitioned to the “one stop shopping model” for film.
  3. Video stores do not explain what they do well: The real competitive advantages of video stores are (a) Once they own a video, they own it forever. Streaming services may not have the film you need. (b) Superior film experience with Blue Rays, directors cuts, and extras that come with better discs/VHS tapes. (c) A deep catalog of hard to find stuff. The average movie watcher does not care, but cinephiles will care and pay.

Feel free to add you own ideas.

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April 20, 2020 at 4:52 pm

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evan parker’s electoacoustic nonet

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April 19, 2020 at 12:16 am

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the sociology of austrian economics

I recently had the pleasure of attending a workshop on Austrian economics at Texas Tech University. The conveners have asked people to reflect on Austrianism and how that tradition addresses sociality. Some of us offered criticisms while others explored and expanded Austrian ideas. In addition to writing my own piece, which uses spontaneous order theory to think about autonomy, I spent a lot of time thinking about the social position of Austrianism within the economics profession.

Classic Austrianism (1800s-1940s): There was a time when Austrianism was a Big Deal in economics. The early figures were extremely influential and their ideas were assimilated into the mainstream. For example, Carl Menger was a big proponent of marginal utility theory, which is now econ 101. Another example is FA Hayek. In polls of economists, his article, The Use of Information in Society, remains one of the most mentioned and it provides the standard account of what prices are all about. In the classic stage, Austrian leaders wrote widely influential books, published in leading venues, had appointments in well regarded departments, and held positions of influence. They were considered central figures in economics.

Enervated Austrianism (1940s-1980s): Then, the floor fell our from underneath Austrians. The Great Depression resulted in many people moving toward more interventionist forms of economics like Keynesianism. The rise of highly mathematical economics, like Debreu’s equilibria theory, and applied statistics meant that verbal and historically informed economics, preferred by Austrians, was out the door. At this point, the “old leaders” – Mises and Hayek – no longer taught in economics programs. Mises was a lecturer at NYU and Hayek ended up at Chicago – but in an interdisciplinary humanities program called the Committee on Social Thought. I also think competition eroded Austrians’ position. If you want a pro-market perspective, you could go with the likes of Milton Friedman. No need for fussy old Austrians.

The new generation of Austrians, like Murray Rothbard, became sectarian. They taught at schools of modest rank and developed theories wildly out of the mainstream (e.g., Rothbard was a market anarchist). They still published in economics journals and participated in the social world of economics, but they were clearly not leaders and they actively promoted the view that they represented an alternative to mainstream neo-classical economics.

The best way to describe Austrianism in this time period is (a) the disappearance of an older generation of intellectual giants, (b) their replacement with a new cohort of niche players, and (c) the bump down in institutional position.

Austrian Revival (1980s-present): Austrians have not recovered their early 20th century glory, but they’ve had quite a bit of revival. In my view, a few things happened. First, the major libertarian think tank (the Cato Institute) was co-founded by Murray Rothbard in 1974 and it became a player on the American Right. Second, various libertarian educational non-profits, like the Institute for Humane Studies and Liberty Fund really expanded, and they support Austrian scholars. Third, the Mises Institute was created in 1982 and their one job is running seminars on Austrian economics. They recently announced an MA program. Fourth, Austrians founded journals and they developed footholds in a handful of departments like GMU and Auburn, where they can churn out students.

The result? Since they eschew mathematical economics, they won’t be populating top research schools, nor will you find Austrian articles  in top journals. But they now have many appointments in teaching intensive institutions.  They are also well represented in a handful of doctoral programs. They are a real community with the academy and they can even get some positions of leadership: Pete Boettke, a leading modern Austrian, won election as president of the Southern Economic Association.

Sociologically, this means that, sooner or later, Austrianism will outgrow its phase as an “opposition” form of economics that fights the mainstream. It’s just too big for that. Yet, they still will not likely be admitted to the mainstream any time soon. This leads a sustained sense of unjustified marginalization. Whether they need to break off or continue growing within the economic professions remains to be seen.

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April 17, 2020 at 12:30 am

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comments about economics online seminars

Last week, Jeff Smith wrote about the situation of economics seminars during the epidemic. Now, they are online and that raises a number of questions. Will these seminars take on gate keeping roles within economics? How will the econ seminar culture translate online? Two brief responses from me:

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less interested in the “econ style” form of seminar. For those who don’t know, the “econ style” simply means constant interruption. My view now is that I’d prefer to hear a complete and flawed presentation than to have the person get caught up in tiny details. Why? I want to assess ideas. Many papers have strengths and weaknesses. How can we get to strengths and repair weaknesses if the speaker can’t even get to the end? Honestly, it’s anti-knowledge.

This is not an excuse for weak thinking. I’m happy to tear a paper up – but at least let’s see the whole story. So if online seminars soften up the econ style presentation, I’m all for it. My one exception is papers given by early graduate students. They literally do need line by line work on papers.

In terms of gate keeping, I’d like to see some forms of academia become decoupled from specific departments.  Like the rest of academia, most institutions within economics are built on social networks (e.g., certain prizes and journals in econ intimately tied with specific programs). Maybe the virus will generate new networks via the construction of new online seminars. Or maybe it will be the same disciplinary elites running the biggest webinars. Anyone want to take a bet?

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April 15, 2020 at 12:29 am

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why biden’s win was (almost) inevitable

Biden pic

If you follow the blog, you know that I prefer to think in terms of fundamentals. In politics, that means that your default prediction is that incumbents have a big advantage. So my default prediction was a Biden win. However, I was relatively soft because Biden has a history of sucking hard in presidential contests. He dropped out in 1988, got about 1% in 2008, and even did badly in both Iowa and New Hampshire.

But he had some massive advantages – he was the de-facto incumbent in 2020 for the party, his main opponents (Warren and Sanders) were too far left, and other centrists split the vote. Black voters backed the establishment candidate, as they usually do, which led to big Biden wins in South Carolina and the rest of the South.

Now we have lots of polling data. Biden was the *only* candidate to ever poll consistently at 30%. The only exception was a temporary dip during the Iowa-New Hampshire cycle and then he was endorsed by most of the minor candidates. Warren got briefly up to Biden’s numbers – for a day. My hypothesis is that briefly many voters did actually consider Sanders, but the party strongly argued the other direction and voters went with them. The Super Tuesday wins just sealed the deal and almost all remaining voters went Biden very quickly.

Bottom line: Incumbency is a big, big deal.

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April 13, 2020 at 12:07 am

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we all need 45 minutes of jaco pastorius

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April 12, 2020 at 12:34 am

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why stalin needs friends

Over at the Econ Log, Bryan Caplan has been doing a reading club on Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People ( Part 1 is here, for example). Bryan extracts Carnegie’s main points, discusses them, and asks readers to respond. In his first post, Bryan asks:

 How could Carnegie explain the tremendous social success of Stalin or Hitler or John Gotti or even a common criminal with four girlfriends?

This is a great question. We tell each other to be kind but history is filled with villains. What gives? Here’s my answer:

  • Friends are complimentary: In general, friends don’t magically make stuff like jobs and money and houses. However, friends can improve other things. If you are good at your job, friends can help you find a better job. Getting back to the dictators of the world, like Stalin, you will notice that they usually have pretty strong political skills and their friends are “complimentary.” Friends help friends with political favors. For the homicidal dictators of the world, friends help friends kill people.
  • Friends lower the cost of anti-friends: If you have lots of friends, or some very powerful friends, the cost of having people hate you is lowered. Politicians are a great example. They have lots of friends and people excuse all kinds of bad behavior. Stalin like dictators are just the extreme case – have enough people worship you and people will excuse all the killing.
  • Large groups of friends generate more friends and quasi-friends: When you are a politician, or celebrity, people just want to like you. In other cases, people may pretend to like you.  That makes it easier to have anti-friends – people you can screw over or kill.

One thing we’ve learned about Stalin through recent biography is that he actually had a lot of friends early in life. However, they were either criminals or communist revolutionaries. So they were complimentary to the craft of killing. Then, once Bolsheviks seized control he just got more “instant friends” and “fake friends” for being a member of a ruling class. These people overlooked and excused the killing. Others probably became “quasi-friends” – they may have disagreed but were afraid to act.

By the end of life, Stalin almost certainly had no true friends. He even would imprison family members. By that point, he had masses and masses of quasi-friends and “political friends” who would benefit from his reign of terror. When the New York Times tells us it’s all ok, who needs other friends? 

What does Dale Carnegie’s approach miss about dictators like Stalin? Basically, he doesn’t think about how friends operate inside other institutions like politics. Rather, his assessment of the importance of friends relies on the world of business and daily life. Very valuable for most of us, but definitely an incomplete picture.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 10, 2020 at 4:52 pm

Posted in uncategorized

covid-19 has a lower mortality rate than you think and we should take that seriously

A real problem with early reports on COVID-19 and mortality is research design. Specifically, many early reports suffer from reporting bias. Why? They are simply reporting the ratio of people who were tested for COVID and those who died. This is a problem because this inflates the mortality rate. Why? We know that corona virus infections often have mild or no symptoms. A ton of people probably have corona but they don’t know it, don’t get tested, and don’t report it. So, all those early reports are probably over-estimating mortality rates, probably by a high margin.

Finally, we are now starting to randomly sample people for COVID. In Italy, one town has sampled and found that about 1 in 7 have corona anti-bodies. The state of Ohio, thankfully, is reporting that they are now randomly sampling residents.  These random samples, and others, will give us way, way more accurate information. Given the extreme bias of current estimates, I expect more accurate estimates to be substantially lower than those we have now.

What does this mean in real, actionable terms? First, no matter the true number, many people will suffer greatly. Corona is a serious threat. In a population of billions, even a small mortality rate for a common disease will do great harm. Second, we don’t panic but we can still be sensible. For a new disease, cancelling public events and practicing physical distancing is good.  By reducing infections, we will indirectly help health care providers with their work. Third, a smaller mortality rate means that we can resume our activities sooner and we can start identifying people who already have antibodies so they can work.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 8, 2020 at 7:07 pm

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madison > marx

I was reading Federalist Paper #10, authored by James Madison, and I think it is very interesting to think about it from the perspective of social theory. Normally, sociologists don’t look at classic American political thought, but I think there is much to be learned as Madison has a specific vision of people and institutions. For example, let’s compare with Karl Marx.

Structure of government:

  • Marx: Socialist worker’s state followed by communism
  • Madison: A republic of multiple and conflicting governing bodies

Normative evaluation of interests

  • Marx: Labor good, capital bad
  • Madison: Everybody is in it to get their way, we have to watch out for that

Institutional design

  • Marx: He’ll get back to you…
  • Madison: Let’s divide up power via multiple bodies of elected representatives

Why things would work in his system:

  • Marx: real socialists wouldn’t be self-interested
  • Madison: If we pit people against each other, they might balance out.

Fundamental analysis of people/anthropology of man:

  • Marx: All interests are historically contingent. In the right system, we get the right people.
  • Madison: Factionalism is hard wired into people. The best we can do is control its bad effects.

As you can guess from the title of the post, you can guess which one I like better. Even though I am a market liberal, that’s not the main reason. I just think that Madison’s understanding of people as essentially self-interested and partisan seems more on target than Marx’s view that “it’s just capitalism, once we get rid of that, it’ll be good.” Use the comments!

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Written by fabiorojas

April 6, 2020 at 12:21 am

Posted in uncategorized

andres segovia, paris (1954)

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Written by fabiorojas

April 5, 2020 at 12:28 am

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intellectual desegregation

Before the epidemic, I had a short op-ed come out at the James G. Martin Center on the topic of intellectual desegregation and getting out of academic echo chambers. Here is a sample:

The very first step toward a genuinely heterodox mindset is intellectual desegregation. In other words, most academics find themselves in relative “safe spaces” where they encounter people like themselves.

There is an old joke about Richard Nixon that makes this point. A professor in a very liberal enclave, such as Cambridge, says, “I don’t understand how Nixon could have won—none of my friends voted for him!” Many professors and educators live similar lives. They live politically homogeneous lives. I don’t merely refer to the neighborhoods in which they reside. I also mean their intellectual lives.

Read the whole thing!

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Written by fabiorojas

April 2, 2020 at 12:19 am

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contexts and covid: we have what you need

COVID-680x340-c-center@2x

Sociology is a tool we will need to help us sort out why corona virus struck and how it impacted society. But instead of letting the journal process drag on for years, we at Contexts magazine solicited pieces from a wide range of scholars. These short pieces, written by sociologists who study public and other relevant topics, give you short, digestible approaches to the crisis. No games, no paywall, just relevant information.

Our first batch addresses the response from Asian nation states:

We start with Asia as it is considered ground zero for the global pandemic. The articles in this first wave focus on why Taiwan has such few cases despite its geographic proximity to mainline China, how Asian countries and polities deal with medical supply problems, and how families grapple with physical and social isolation. We will also feature more articles on Asia and the experiences of Asian Americans over the coming weeks.

And we also have pieces on the impact of Corona virus/COVID on the healthcare system:

The articles in this wave of our COVID-19 special issue illuminate the importance of having a formidable healthcare infrastructure that interweaves federal, state, and local governments. They also highlight the benefits of universal and equitable healthcare systems. Factors including efficient testing, accurate reporting, communication, trust, social capital, and community preparedness impact what is occuring at state health offices, hospitals, community clinics, and local neighborhoods.

Please check it out and tell me what you think.

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Written by fabiorojas

April 1, 2020 at 12:12 am

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open borders and covid-19: shut down immigrant detention centers

Things, as you can imagine, got busy for me. I transitioned to online teaching. It wasn’t too bad as I learned how to do an online course last year. My family also adjusted to being at home for the next month or so. But now, it’s back to blogging and I’d like to talk about immigrant detention centers.

As many of you know, I am a defender of migration and I oppose attempts to prevent peaceful people from migrating. I’d like to draw you attention to this Newsweek:

A federal judge ordered the immediate release of 10 detainees, held by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and considered vulnerable to the coronavirus, who are waylaid at three correctional facilities in New Jersey where there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Pause for a moment. If immigration presented a genuine threat, wouldn’t we do with the prisoners what we do for violent offenders? Wouldn’t  we just put them in a prison infirmary? No, instead the judge released them. Why? Most immigrants are non-violent and movement does not pose any real threats.

You may retort – “This is an emergency!” Doesn’t that make my case stronger? If immigrants are really violent people, or they really take jobs, or they strain the public system, then wouldn’t those reasons hold during a crisis?

When you really think about it, it’s simple. Immigration is no crime. If someone is violent, we have laws for that. But otherwise, shut down detention centers – send them all home!

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Written by fabiorojas

March 31, 2020 at 12:02 am

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interstitial bureaucracy: high performing governmental agencies operating in ineffective governments

Back in February (which now seems like an eternity from a fast-disappearing alternate reality), sociologist and organizational researcher Erin Metz McDonnell virtually visited my graduate Organizations, Markets, and the State course to talk about her research on high performing governmental agencies in Ghana.   McDonnell initiated an electrifying and dynamic discussion about the applicability of her research findings.  She also shared her experience with the opaque process of how researchers form projects that contribute to public knowledge.

Many of her observations about organizing practices are particularly timely now that the US and other nation-states face extreme challenges that demand more proactive, rather than retroactive, preparations for pandemic conditions.

Here’s a digest of what we learned:

  • Why Ghana? Prior to graduate school, McDonnell went to Ghana on a Fulbright award.  These experiences helped her question conventional organizational orthodoxy, including generalized statements about “states do this” built on research conducted in North America.  Using such observed disjunctures between the organizational canon and her lived experience, McDonnell refined research questions.  When she returned to Ghana, she identified high performing governmental units and undertook interviews.

 

  • Why did McDonnell include other cases, including 19th century US, early 21st century China, mid-20th century Kenya, and early 21st century Nigeria? McDonnell discussed the importance of using research in other countries and time periods to further flesh out dimensions of interstitial bureaucracy.

 

  • How did McDonnell coin the term interstitial bureaucracy? Reviewers didn’t like McDonnell’s originally proposed term to describe the habits and practices of effective bureaucrats.  “Subcultural bureaucracy” was perceived as too swinging 1960s, according to reviewers.

 

  • What can Ghana reveal about N. American’s abhorrence of organizational slack? McDonnell explained that high performing bureaucracies in Ghana reveal the importance of slack, which has been characterized as wasteful in N. American’s “lean” organizations.  Cross training and “redundancies” help organizations to continue functioning when workers are sick or have difficulties with getting to work.

 

  • Isn’t staff turn-over, where people leave after a few years for better paying jobs in the private sector or elsewhere, a problem? Interestingly, McDonnell considered staff turn-over a small cost to pay – she opined that securing qualified, diligent workers, even for a few years, is better than none.  (Grad students added that some career bureaucrats become less effective over time)

 

  • What can governmental agencies do to protect against having to hire (ineffective) political appointees? McDonnell explained how specifying relevant credentials in field (i.e., a degree in chemistry) can ensure the likelihood of hiring qualified persons to staff agencies.

 

For more, please check out McDonnell’s new book Patchwork Leviathan: Pockets of Bureaucratic Effectiveness in Developing States from Princeton University Press.  Also, congrats to McDonnell on her NSF Career award!

safe movement vs. no movement

When an epidemic breaks out, especially one that has killed as many people as quickly as coronavirus, it makes sense to ban public gatherings and restrict physical contact. But does that mean that borders should be permanently shut down?

It really depends a lot on the danger presented. For example, if we expected the sort of deaths that Europe experienced during the plague era, it might be advisable. However, coronavirus is no where near that level. Some of the scariest numbers come from model estimates where people, literally, do nothing at all to prevent transmission. It will be a while before we have good data and valid inferences about the precise levels of danger, but coronovirus is almost certainly not near plague levels in terms of danger. It is more in the murky intermediate zone of danger.

If you are faced with a very serious problem, but not one of existential threat, why might you allow travel and migration? There are some very sensible reasons:

  • Jobs – food will still need to produced and distributed. And migrant labor is often the way we do that.
  • Safety – A lot of people in this world live in incredibly dangerous places. The danger may be from dysfunctional health services or repressive governments. We should try to see if we can make it possible for people to safely move.
  • Helping the elderly – if the coronavirus sheltering and lock down continue, a lot of elderly people in this world will need help. They need to stay at home. Relatives and paid helpers will need to be hired so they can live.

What I propose is a policy of “safe movement” vs. no movement. We should ask, what policies can be proposed to allow safe movement? For example, we may require that people from other nations quarantine for 14 days before we let them in.  We can also increase monitoring and screening at entry points. This is what was done in the US during the Ellis Island era of migration. We can also ask about innovation – how can transportation be improved so it reduces risk?

Bottom line: When disaster strikes, we need to respond, but that doesn’t mean we have to impose policies that will have counter intuitive effects. Innovation is the key, not panic.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 18, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders and coronavirus

I am an advocate of open borders. During the current epidemic, a number of people have asked me if I am changing my mind. In general, open borders help reduce transmission in a number of ways:

  •  Nations and regions vary in their ability to treat illness. Let people move to the place where they need to be to get treatment.
  •  It is better to have some movement and screen people at borders, then to have people be unmonitored and travel unobserved. People with symptoms or people from hard hit areas can be quarantined. As one person said on my Facebook feed, “do you really want to have people bring the disease via underground tunnels?”
  •  People will need all kinds of help getting through this. It may be help from a health care providers, or an elderly person hiring people to bring them food to their house, or an elderly person bringing a relative to live with them, or a supermarket that needs extra workers to keep the shelves stocked.
  •  In general, we need to let people decide which businesses and organizations need to shut down and which can remain open.
  • And of course, diseases diffuse through a population within a specific time period. That means travel and migration can resume normally once that has happened and the contagion is on the wane.

In theory, I can imagine a disease so incredibly deadly that we need to shut down travel and close the borders. But coronavirus doesn’t seem to be that. It’s dangerous and we can perform reasonabe actions, like shutting down mass gatherings and social distancing, that will make the disease more manageable and save lives. So let people move to where they need to go and let’s battle this disease the smart way – not by cracking down on immigrants.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 16, 2020 at 2:43 pm

Posted in uncategorized

black studies discussion group

To help keep your mind off things, I’ve started a Twitter thread on the history of Black Studies. Day 1 is an overview of the social position of Black Students pre-1960s and Day 2 is a discussion of Black Student organizations:

And

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Written by fabiorojas

March 12, 2020 at 6:22 pm

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the sociology of infections and infection control: the basics

OHIO

The emergence of the corona virus draws attention to the very interesting topic of the sociology of infections and infection control.  When I teach sociology of health, I often use infectious disease as way to think about how social structure affects health. Some basic points:

  1. Transportation = Infections. A very simple link between social structure and infection is that many contagions are transmitted via social contacts. This is why cities, and transportation hubs specifically, are crucial for the spread of disease.
  2. Public resources. The ability of a government to spot infections, track them, and then act varies from nation to nation. Already, we’ve seen how some countries cracked down fast while others languished. Critics have already claimed that the Trump administration has been slow to distribute testing kits. If true, this would have serious negative consequences.
  3. Demography. Every contagion affects some demographics more than others. Right now, corona virus has a high mortality rate – much higher than influenza – among the elderly. For young people, the virus appears to be essentially non-lethal.
  4. Culture. People’s beliefs about who can get infected can influence how they interact. Already, some Asians are claiming they are treated poorly because people think all Asians are vectors for the virus.
  5. Wealth is good. Wealthier nations tend to have better health and more resources. For example, a few years ago, while Sierra Leone was devastated by ebola, neighboring Nigeria, a bigger more prosperous nation, was very effective in containing the bacteria. Ebola is easy to prevent – as long as you are meticulous in making sure that all healthcare providers have adequate protection and you have places to quarantine people. During our current crisis, wealthier countries can more easily stop economic production and have services where people can obtains goods and services without getting into contact with others (e.g., food delivery, Amazon prime). And of course, more wealth means it is easier to muster up resources on short notice for the sick.

So stay home and be careful out there.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 11, 2020 at 12:33 am

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is 2020 the “drop your tools” and “do-ocracy” epoch?

In Karl Weick’s (1996) analysis of the Mann Gulch disaster and a similar fire at South Canyon, he differentiates the organizational conditions under which some smoke jumpers survived, while others died when wildfires suddenly turned.  According to Weick, the key turning point between survival and death was the moment when one firefighter ordered others in his team to “drop your tools.”  Among other organizing challenges, this order to leave expensive equipment violated smoke jumpers’ routines, even their central identities as smoke jumpers.  Indeed, some did not comply with this unusual order to abandon their tools, until others took their shovels and saws away.  Post-mortem reports revealed how smoke jumpers who perished were still wearing their heavy packs, with their equipment still at their sides.  Those who shed their tools, often at the urging of others, were able to outrun or take shelter from the wildfires in time.  Weick’s introduction states,

“Dropping one’s tools is a proxy for unlearning, for adaptation, for flexibility…It is the very unwillingness of people to drop their tools that turns some of these dramas into tragedies” (301-302).

 

Around the world, some organizations, particularly those in the tech and finance industries, were among the first to enact contingency plans such as telecommuting and spreading workers out among sites.  Such steps prompted consternation among some about the possible meaning and aims of such actions – is the situation that serious?  Is this just an opportune moment for surveilling more content and testing outsourcing and worker replaceability?  What does all this mean?

 

Meanwhile, other organizations are investing great efforts to continue regular topdown, operations, sprinkled in with the occasional fantasy planning directives.  (Anyone who has watched a class of undergraduates and then a class of kindergarteners try not to touch their faces will quickly realize the limits of such measures.)  Without the cooperation of organizations and individual persons, critics and health professionals fear that certain organizations – namely hospitals and the medical care system – can collapse, as their operations and practices are designed for conditions of stability rather than large, sustained crises.

FlattenthecurveScreen Shot 2020-03-09 at 11.27.45 AM

 

For organizational researchers like myself, these weeks have been a moment of ascertaining whether organizations and people can adapt, or whether they need some nudging to acknowledge that all is not normal and to adjust.  At an individual level, we’re all facing situations with our employers, voluntary organizations, schools and universities, and health care for the most vulnerable.

 

For the everyday person, the realization that organizations such as the state can be slow to react, and perhaps has various interests and constraints that inhibit proactive instead of reactive actions, may be imminent.  So, what can compensate for these organizational inabilities to act?  In my classes, I’ve turned towards amplifying more nimble and adaptive organizational forms and practices.  Earlier in the semester, I’ve had students discuss readings such as the Combahee River Collective in How We Get Free (2017, AK Press), to teach about non- and less- bureaucratic options for organizing that incorporate a wider range stakeholders’ interests, including ones that challenge conventional capitalist exchanges.

 

To help my undergraduates think through immediately applicable possibilities, I recently assigned a chapter from my Enabling Creative Chaos book on “do-ocracy” at Burning Man to show how people can initiate and carry out both simple and complex projects to meet civic needs.  Then, I tasked them with thinking through possible activities that exemplify do-ocracy.  So far, students have responded with suggestions about pooling together information, supplies, and support for the more vulnerable.  One even recommended undertaking complex projects like developing screening tests and vaccines – something, that if I’ve read between the lines correctly, well-resourced organizations have been able to do as part of their research, bypassing what appears to be a badly-hampered response CDC in the US.

 

(For those looking for mutual aid-type readings that are in a similar vein, Daniel Aldrich’s Black Wave (2019, University of Chicago Press) examines how decentralized efforts enabled towns in Japan to recover more quickly from disasters.)

 

Taking a step back, this period could be one of where many challenges, including climate change and growing inequality, can awaken some of us to our individual and collective potential.  Will be this be the epoch where we engage in emergent, interdependent activities that promote collective survival?  Or will we instead suffer and die as individuals, with packs on our backs, laden down with expensive but ultimately useless tools?

Written by katherinechen

March 9, 2020 at 3:29 pm

social movements without romance

People who study movements often identity with them. Many of our most eminent Civil Rights scholars were themselves in the Civil Rights movement and many scholars of LGBT politics are themselves queer. Furthermore, many study movements they sympathize with.

This has many strengths. If you are part of a movement, or if you know about its issues from personal experience, or you sympathize with it, you may have access that other scholars don’t. But there are weaknesses as well. You might romanticize the movement. The movement looks like a band of heroes who battle great villains and overcome great obstacles. Flaws and drawbacks are minimized and under-studied.

In my field of research, the study of Black power and nationalism, we often see that. I think that many Black power groups, like the Panthers, did genuinely great things. Pride in Black culture is important. Many groups ran important social programs, like the Panther’s health care program. At the same time, the scholarship overlooks the less than stellar aspects of a movement. For example, many of the leaders of the Panthers were extremely violent people. Also, the Panthers advocated a form of revolutionary socialism. Unless you want to convert the US’ economy into Cuba’s, that’s a huge drawback.

When people ask me, “What do you think about the Panthers?” – I always say, “it’s complicated.” That is a genuine response. The move to radicalism was understandable in the late 1960s. I also strongly sympathize with the Panther’s response to their immediate problems – rampant poverty and police brutality. And it is not hard to point to concrete activities that Panthers did, like the health programs, that were clearly positive.

But it had a cost – radicalization drew Civil Rights away from a broad coalition to a much narrower one. It also undermined the main point of Civil Rights, which was to reform American society, not a plan to radicalize it along Marxist or Maoist lines. Also, radicalization and the rejection of non-violence allowed people with violent tendencies to emerge as leaders and undermined the unusually successful politics of respectability that the Civil Rights movement had cultivated.

The broader lesson for me is that we need “movements without romance.” Of course, a lot of research is rather a-political. We have tons of research on, say, whether social ties enable recruitment, but we also have a bit of research that implicitly, or explicitly, casts movements as the hero of a story, rather than an actor to be interrogated.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 9, 2020 at 12:03 am

Posted in uncategorized

the bar-kays (1979)

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March 8, 2020 at 12:22 am

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the big super tuesday winner is … the party decides guys???

The Party Decides, by Marty Cohen, David Karol, Hans Noel and John Zaller, is a well known book in political science with a simple argument: in presidential party nominations, voters follow elites. Once you get the endorsements, you get votes.

When Trump won in 2016, some political scientists thought that the model was dead. But basic statistics tell you to calm down. The Party Decides was based on data going back to 1980 and the model fits the Democratic nomination of 2016. My view is that Trump is sui generis and an extreme outlier. The GOP will revert to an elite driven nomination model once Trump leaves office.

With a strong Sanders candidacy in 2016 and 2020, my confidence weakened a bit, but I still predicted that the most likely winner was Biden, though I thought the odds were lower than normal for a (quasi) incumbent VP. I softened on Biden given his really bad performance in Nevada and Sanders polling strength in Texas and California. Briefly, I thought that Biden had tanked because a blow out Sanders win in California would dwarf Biden’s strength in the South.

But then the Party Decided: we saw two high profile candidates drop out and endorse Biden and prominent Black political leaders endorsed Biden. And then the Biden turn around happened. The Black vote, which has predicted every single winner except 1988, stayed with Biden and Biden saw a resurgence. Biden also regained some of his lost White votes.

The deepest lesson may be that party elites learned a lesson from the 2016 GOP debacle. If you don’t swallow your pride and back an establishment candidate, you can be saddled with  a loony for years.

Bottom line: Trump is an outlier and Biden is politics as normal. Advantage – the Party Decides.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 4, 2020 at 3:04 pm

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website focus: black historical aesthetics

I recently learned of an interesting website/online project called “Radical Black Aesthetics” when they tagged me in a tweet. They compiled a list of readings on Black aesthetics and were kind enough to include From Black Power. The list also includes literary critics, like Fred Moten, and writer Tiffany Lethabo King. A lot to learn from.

The RBA group says: “We are a group of students committed to thinking through black historical aesthetics, working toward a radical epistemic disobedience.” So check it out!

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March 4, 2020 at 12:17 am

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super tuesday 2020 chat

Super Tuesday 2020 snap shot

This weekend, the Democratic primary race slightly changed – Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar dropped out. Overall, I don’t see a huge change. Together, Mayor Pete and Klobuchar had a total of 15% combined. Not trivial, but to change the race significantly, a very, very large majority of their voters would all have to go, at once, to either Warren, Sanders, or Biden. I just don’t see the tidal wave to Biden.

The question, then, in a Sanders/Warren/Biden/Bloomberg race, does Sanders have enough to hit 50% in pledged delegates? What long shot events need to happen for Biden to prevent that? For Sanders to win, he needs to merely stay on course – do well in California, Texas and the Midwest and actually get a nice delegate lead and then hope that people fall in line. For Biden to win, he needs to minimize losses in California and Texas and blow out in the deep South and in caucus states that Sanders may not have the resources to compete in. 538 currently projects Sanders to get the plurality of pledged delegates, but only about a 30% chance to get a majority. 538 assumes Warren and Bloomberg stay way beyond Super Tuesday, which may or may not happen.

From a social science perspective, the interesting question is whether the late forming anti-Sanders coalition is enough to stop Sanders. They probably learned the lesson from the RNC’s failure to stop Trump in 2016, but they can’t control wild cards like Bloomberg. Advantage: Sanders.

What do you think will happen?

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Written by fabiorojas

March 3, 2020 at 12:06 am

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cut the cake with the average white band

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Written by fabiorojas

March 1, 2020 at 4:46 am

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contexts winter 2020 is out!

Winter2020

Want to read about paying college athletes? Or an interview with Chris Winship, the sociologist who chairs Congress’ committee on economic affairs? Or Lisa Keister discussing gender and the 1%? It’s all here – and more – and it’s FREE FOR 30 DAYS!!!! So check it out!

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Written by fabiorojas

February 28, 2020 at 12:42 am

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watercooler democracy: how rumors can democratize information at work – guest post by Katie Sobering

I’m posting this guest post about rumors and workplace democracy on behalf of UNT organizational ethnographer Katie Sobering.  Sobering recently virtually visited my “Organizations, Markets, and the State” grad course to answer questions about her ethnographic research on Hotel BAUEN, a worker recuperated cooperative located in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In response to student questions about her published research, Sobering explained how she decided to focus on Hotel BAUEN over other collectivist-democratic forms.  By studying Hotel BAUEN’s trainings, meetings, everyday activities, and involvement in social movement activities, Sobering shows how we can use this case to understand how organizations pursue equality through practices such as job rotation and decision-making by consensus.  Sobering also depicted the challenges confronting the cooperative: securing ownership of the hotel, expensive, specialized maintenance of the facilities, and recruitment and retention of members. During the Q&A, Sobering traced her intellectual lineage and inspirations back to Joyce Rothschild’s seminal work on collectivist-democratic organizations and Rachel Sherman’s research on service work in hotels.  She currently is revising a book manuscript on her research.

Here’s Sobering’s take on rumors’ roles in workplace transparency, based on her research published in Work and Occupations:

“We’ve all heard rumors. Odds are, most of us have spread rumors every now and again. From the family dinner table to anonymous corners of the internet, people share unverified pieces of information to make sense of their social worlds. Rumors are especially common in the workplace, spurring the now well-known idea of the “watercooler effect.”

Managers, consultants, and academics alike have paid close attention to the role and repercussions of such informal communication at work. Much of this assumes that firms keep secrets. Thus, in lieu of access to information, workers pass rumors among themselves.

In the 21st century, transparency has become a buzzword, as work organizations like tech firms and startups flatten hierarchies, embrace informality, and remove barriers that traditionally limited access to information. Some organizations are experimenting with “radical transparency” while others warn that too much transparency can be counterproductive. Worker cooperatives and other participatory organizations often practice democratic transparency, recognizing that information-sharing is key to democratizing power. All this begs the question: in contexts of increased transparency, what is the role of rumors?

In my recent article published in Work and Occupations, I draw on long term ethnographic research in a worker-run hotel in Argentina to go behind the scenes in an organization in which workers enjoy a far more egalitarian environment than most U.S. employees experience on the job: extensive access to information, voice in the organization, and power over their jobs. I find that transparency does not quell the rumor mill. But rumors do have an important impact on the culture and practice of information-sharing.

Democratic transparency in Hotel Bauen

I conducted my research in Hotel Bauen, a twenty-story conference hotel located in the bustling center of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Built in the 1970s, the private owners declared bankruptcy in 2001 and shut down the property, leaving longtime employees out of work. In 2003, thirty former employees joined the growing movement of worker-recuperated businesses by occupying the abandoned hotel and forming a worker cooperative. Since 2004, Hotel Bauen has been open around-the-clock, hosting events, lodging overnight guests, and offering a meeting place and street-side café for passersby. Despite workers’ ongoing efforts to legalize their use of the hotel, the BAUEN Cooperative has grown from thirty founding members to 130 members in 2015. Today, it is one of the most iconic worker-recuperated business in Argentina.

Hotel Bauen is run by a worker cooperative: an organization in which all members are equal owners and govern through direct and representative forms of democracy. Since its inception, the cooperative has adopted formal policies and practices designed to make information widely available to the group. They have sought to create what Archeon Fung calls “democratic transparency,” an informational environment that allows people to collectively control the organizations that affect their lives.

First, in the BAUEN Cooperative, information is formally accessible to all members. Organizational records are kept in open book system that is available not only for managers or decision-makers, but also for members.

Second, the cooperative makes information proportional by sharing details about that which directly impacts the business and its members. While cooperatives in Argentina must hold as least one assembly each year by law, the BAUEN Cooperative organizes quarterly meetings to provide regular financial snapshots and open forums for discussion.

Finally, information is actionable through formal mechanisms that allow members to question and even overturn managerial decisions. With signatures of ten percent of the membership, members can convene an assembly of all workers to address and evaluate any decision or scenario in the cooperative.

Despite the transparency that the workers enjoyed in Hotel Bauen, rumors were part and parcel of daily working life. These whispers were often interpersonal in nature, passing hearsay about coworkers’ personal lives. But other rumors ventured into the inner workings of the organization itself.

I found that these rumors democratized information in two interrelated ways. First, rumors encouraged workers to participate in decisions, moving decision-making out of formal spaces and into the hallways where members of the cooperative could informally deliberate on the issue at hand. Second, rumors allowed members to oversee the managerial authority and empowered them to exercise their ability to hold the organization accountable.

[Check out more about worker influence after the jump]

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