orgtheory.net

a virginia school approach to racial discrmination

This past March, Public Choice published an article I found to be very interesting. It is called “The anti-discrminatory tradition in Virginia School public choice theory” by Phil Magness. I found this article interesting for two reasons. First, I’ve read a fair amount of public choice and, honestly, I had no idea that racial discrimination was a topic they dealt with in detail. Second, after the really misleading work by Nancy McLean on Buchanan, I wanted to read something written that is more level headed and, to be blunt, truthful.

So what is the article about? Magness examines the published and unpublished writings of scholars associated with the “Virginia School” of public choice theory, which focuses on how incentives affect state actors, the theory of rules and and constitutions, and issues like regulatory capture. He focuses on scholars who visited or were affiliated with the organizational home of public choice theory, the Thomas Jefferson Center at the University of Virginia. History has overlooked some figures, like WH Hutt, who wrote entire books about race, such as The Economics of the Colour Bar, and the African American economist Abraham L. Harris. Second, Magness excavates a theory of racial discrimination from the speeches and unpublished writings of these scholars.

It’s a very strong article that manages to be history of economic thought and theory building at the same time. In Magness’ view, the “Virginia” approach to racial discrimination has four big take home points:

  1. Racism leads to regulatory capture: The dominant racial group in society may take control of government regulatory agencies and use their power to harass others.
  2. Racial discrimination makes markets less efficient: Employers who discriminate produce things at higher cost. The converse argument is that these same employers work at a competitive disadvantage.
  3. Racial discrimination is a constitutional problem: A violent majority, or an empowered minority, can use the democratic process to pass racist laws and regulations.
  4. Racial discrimination is a “historical problem:” Oppressive institutions have negative externalities and massive costs. Slavery, for example, required massive enforcement – a diversion of resources – and thus impoverished everyone.

It’s a very interesting perspective that compliments current theorizing on race in sociology. Many sociologists are now focusing on the interactional aspects of race (e.g., Emirbayer/Desmon on race as interactional order, Ray on race a membership criterion) or how racist attitudes/ideologies yield racist policies. This “Virginia” school approach to race adds a political economy perspective that most sociologists of race may not be aware of. Check it out – a fascinating read in intellectual history and an enriching discussion of how discrimination can screw up states and markets alite.

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The rise of Black Studies:  From Black Power to Black Studies 
Did Obama tank the antiwar movement? Party in the Street
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Written by fabiorojas

June 10, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Posted in uncategorized

orgtheory meets black lives matter

Its been a while since I’ve jumped on this platform (apologies to Fabio for jumping in on “your” stream).  The events of the day are calling me out of blogging retirement because it turns out the most important policy response to the death of George Floyd has to do with OrgTheory: Defunding the Police.  The idea here is basically to do a root reorganization of the concept of policing by breaking it into several constituent elements are creating new organizations that are better aligned with specific missions.  Core competence comes to the rescue.

There also is a minor subplot unfolding that is miles and miles less important, but one I happen to be more connected to which is what seems to be the dramatic potential downfall of CrossFit.   This weekend, CrossFit’s founder—Greg Glassman—unleashed a series of very questionable communications that conflated the twinned crises of Covid-19 and #BLM into a massive fireball; the kind of fireball one sees when a platform falls from the stratosphere straight into the ground.

I wonder if other orgTheorists out there have been writing about either of these topics?  In particular, I’ve been teaching for a few years now in the area of public policy and my research has of course touched on social movements.  I think this is the first time–correct me if I’m wrong–where those two things have really converged.  Has there ever been a real, in the streets, social movement which demanded an organizational response of this kind?  If so, I’d love to read up on it more.  I’d be grateful for pointers towards any serious thinking on topics and I’ll post my own thoughts in due course.

Written by seansafford

June 9, 2020 at 11:27 am

Posted in uncategorized

contexts spring 2020 is online – and free for 30 days!!!

Contexts Spring 2020 is here. Topic – gender and sexuality. I love this cover by Jeff Sheng, which comes from a photo essay about LGBT in the military. The whole issue is free for 30 days.

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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 8, 2020 at 12:42 am

Posted in uncategorized

alt.folk gateway

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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 7, 2020 at 4:37 pm

Posted in uncategorized

open borders: boris johnson edition?

This image is from the Telegraph and show a protest in Hong Kong.

The Chinese government has threatened to pass a series of laws that shifts control of major decision from the Hong Kong city government to China. In response, the Johnson government in the UK has offered to grant visas to 3 million Hong Kongers, essentially offering a path to citizenship and exit from tyranny.

You don’t hear me say this often, but way to go, Boris!

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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 3, 2020 at 2:35 pm

Posted in uncategorized

protest and police: a cato institute podcast

Over at the Cato Institute, I did a podcast on the deteriorating relationship between police and protester. Check it out.

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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 2, 2020 at 4:15 pm

Posted in uncategorized

evan parker, more electro acoustic ensemble

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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

May 31, 2020 at 12:10 am

Posted in uncategorized

my response on intersectionality up at cato unbound

What is the link between intersectionality theory and classical liberalism? Cato Unbound has my response essay up. Key quote:

Levy’s relatively uncritical depiction of intersectionality does not confront the fact that the theory, as understood by its practitioners, is simply at odds with classical liberalism because it sees inequality and repression as the natural outgrowth of a liberal social order. Still, dialogue is possible if classical liberals understand that intersectional theory has multiple goals and some of these goals should be rejected. The embrace of Marxism and other theories that view the market economy and limited government as inherently suspect should be critiqued and cast aside. Also, intersectionality theory, like all schools of thought, has its own excesses that should be avoided. For example, the more thoughtful practitioners of intersectionality warn against an “oppression Olympics” where resources are earned by boasting about injustice.[ix] Classical liberals are wise to follow this advice.

Check it out.

+++++++++

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

May 29, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Posted in uncategorized

current social media strategy

Right now, I am active on four different social media platforms. In theory, I am supposed to cross post to all of them to maximize impact. Instead, I choose to use each for separate purposes because I really want “each Fabio” to have different flavors. Here, I will briefly describe each form of social media and what I do on them.

Blog: This blog (orgtheory.net) is all about long form discussion. Even though blogs are no longer trendy, they remain unbeaten for medium length discussion. They are also much easier to control than any other form of social media. For these reasons, I use it to discuss sociology and the academic profession. Just for kicks, every Sunday, I post some music. The only thing I don’t like about blogs is that the sociology audience that used to populate comment sections and provide discussions have now moved to Twitter to engage in rapid fire snark fests.

Facebook: I treat Facebook as a more personal form of communication. I rarely discuss personal matters, but I use it for talking about pop culture and keeping contact with my network of friends, professional colleague, and neo-liberal confederates. During lock down, I’ve done a series of videos just talking about nerdy things (“Nerd Therapy”). You will also see more humor there than on the blog.

Twitter: I’ve come to loathe Twitter even while I recognize its utility. Sure, there can be great discussion, but there are people who trash talk and swear at you. Snark is ok face to face, but I hate it in more public settings. Twitter is uncontrolled not only in who can jump into conversation, but also it shows you people that you might be avoiding. It’s the platform where I have to block and mute people the most. Still, it’s very useful for lightning fast discussion so I maintain a presence there (fabiorojas). I post infrequently on sociology and policy but I try to keep it structured. I respond to few people. I also publicize this blog and Contexts magazine.

Instagram: I have tiny presence on Instagram (@hoosierfab). I only got an account so I could reach out for folks in the visual arts, for social and research purposes. So the account is mainly art photos, street photography, and, during lock down, discussions of art books. It’s a dry and restrained social media account. Still, I’ve me really great people and I’ve made great connections. Also, it’s the complete opposite of Twitter as it almost never ticks me off.

+++++++++

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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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

May 28, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Posted in uncategorized

contra deadwood

deadwood

I am one of the luckiest people in the world. I’m healthy,  I have a great family, and I’ve been successful in my chosen career. Still, there’s one thing that I do worry about – becoming deadwood. It’s part of my self-image – I just don’t want to be seen as someone who is degrading. It’s also about health. Trying to be active does seem to contribute to longevity and actually being healthy. Finally, I don’t want to be pitied. I don’t want graduate students in 2035 so look at me and say, “gee, that’s cute, it’s nice that they still keep him around.”

How does one avoid being deadwood? Well, I was lucky to have role models. At my PhD institution, I saw some really solid faculty remain very active up until retirement and beyond, like Charles Bidwell and Ed Laumann. On the internet, Pamela Oliver, the self described “olderwoman,” keeps writing, posting, and contributing. At my current employer, Indiana sociology, many advanced faculty are amazingly active. For example, our own Bernice Pescolodio remains one of the most actively and influential students of mental health in the world and has done so through a very lengthy career.

What a lot of these folks have in common, I think, is a combination of mission, a rich collection of social ties, and, lack of a better word, “discipline” or “structured practice.” Many of the folks who do avoid deadwood status deeply believe in the mission of their work. They may be concerned with status and income, but that’s by no means the whole picture. There is a deep commitment to some bigger goal that the academic profession supports.

Non-deadwood also tend to have very robust social ties. As a graduate student or colleague, I can only see the professional side of their network. But in almost all cases, I see lots of co-authoring and service work. They pop up all over the place. This is all made possible by “structured practice.” What I have noticed is that non-deadwood are very careful in terms of ordering their lives. I don’t mean that they mastered Microsoft Outlook but that they really work on building daily habits that help them manage these workloads and social ties, which in turn, contributes to longevity. 

A few days ago, I worked on my summer work schedule and I shocked to find that I had 14 projects in various stages of development. Some of these are short things, but others are serious commitments. At first, I was dismayed but then I realized that this is a nourishing life and, hopefully, a life where I will never be deadwood. And that’s a good thing.

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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
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Written by fabiorojas

May 27, 2020 at 12:48 am

Posted in uncategorized

agenes clement/debussy

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50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz ($4.44 – cheap!!!!)
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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

May 24, 2020 at 12:54 am

Posted in uncategorized

do not be an awful dissertation advisor

I realized yesterday that in a relatively short time span (2010-2020), I have hooded more PhDs than many faculty at major research oriented doctoral programs. Why? I am not magic and I don’t spend all my waking hours mentoring people. Yet, I hood and I place, My students have gotten jobs in doctoral programs, teaching programs, and the private sector.

Here are some tips:

  1. Actually take students. No need to take all folks who ask, but actually do your share. My view is that a full professor at an R1 program should have at least one or two people dissertators at a time, more if you are in a lab science. Many faculty shirk.
  2. Create a system for time management. Some folks have a strong scheduling system. Personally, I prefer a flexible drop in system, so I can deal with problems sooner than later.
  3. Be responsive. Seriously. One of my most bitter experiences at Chicago sociology was faculty who went silent, skipped meetings, and refused to talk to me… after they agreed to help with the dissertation. I’m stubborn and got my degree despite that, but AWOL faculty can be fatal.
  4. Be reasonable in expectations. Dissertations do not pass the bar if they get published in your discipline’s flagship journal. They pass if they show mastery of an area and expand knowledge. Big difference.
  5. Be mellow and cool. No crying in office hours and no yelling. Just be calm and tell people what needs to fixed in order to improve.
  6. Tell most students to do short dissertations focusing on incremental research. A PhD means you know a field and contribute, but that can be done in short order. Three papers and you are done.
  7. Short dissertations focusing on incremental research. A PhD means you know a field and contribute, but that can be done in short order. Three papers and you are done.
  8. Finally, do all paper work in a timely manner without complaint. Letters of recommendation, yearly evaluations, foreign student forms – whatever. Smile and just quietly say “yes” and do it.

Editorial: All the things I just wrote are simple and common sense, yet so many faculty just bungle them. No one’s perfect, but there is no excuse to going AWOL on students, or not doing rec letters and so forth. It’s your job. Do it or quit.

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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

May 21, 2020 at 1:41 pm

Posted in uncategorized

gender and prison organization: a theoretical question

Last Fall, I was teaching a module in my social theory graduate class about rational choice and how RCT may be used to explain social order. I discuss Hobbes as a proto-rational choicer and then I discuss how you can explain social order without states or sovereigns. To do that, I used work on order within criminal communities (which are not within the state by definition) by Pete Leeson and David Skarbek.

Then, a student offers a feminist critique of Skarbek’s work. This student suggested that the types of gangs you describe in Skarbek’s work really reflects a masculine form of social organization and the arguments are not really generalizable. I responded that if the feminist hypothesis is true, we’d expect a different form of social order in female prisons, or at least one that is not predicted by your model.

Later, I did a small amount of Google research an discovered that female prison populations are (a) small and low density and (b) do not have many gangs. One of Skarbek’s main arguments is that gangs are a functional response to prison over crowding so a low density population population should have few gangs, and this is consistent with observation. On social media, I mentioned the discussion to David Skarbek and he noted that men’s prison population themselves vary and gangs are not universal. Also, you would have to flesh out the alternative hypothesis about hyper-masculinity.

What do you think?

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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

May 20, 2020 at 12:39 am

Posted in uncategorized

intersectionality and classical liberalism: what’s the link?

unbound_5_20_final

Jacob Levy has an essay exploring the connection between intersectionality theory and classical liberalism at Cato Unbound. Your thoughts? I will write a response next week along with Phil Magness and Melissa Harris-Perry. Self-recommending!

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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

May 19, 2020 at 12:54 am

Posted in uncategorized

i normally don’t post the same person two weeks in a row but brandee younger’s muzik is so incredibly chill and hip and i just love this discussion of the detroit harp scene and alice coltrane’s composition ‘rama rama’ that i had to do it again. if you don’t listen, you only have yourself to blame. seriously.

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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

May 17, 2020 at 12:11 am

Posted in uncategorized

theory for the working sociologist: the podcast

images_V8TrQbyanU_1581809521704

Isaac Reed and I talk theory: why I wrote this book, how I differ in my teaching of theory; the pluralism of sociological theory, and much much more.

CLICK HERE AND HIT THE PLAY BUTTON.

Bonus round: The coupon code “CUP20” gets you 20% off all Columbia University Press books.

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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

May 15, 2020 at 12:08 am

Posted in uncategorized

open borders at the ratio institute

Sadly, I was not able to visit the Ratio Institute to give this talk on open borders, but they were nice enough to broadcast it. Check it out!

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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

May 13, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Posted in uncategorized

sociology blogs that you should read

Need something to read? Here are some sociology blogs to check out:

  • Scatterplot– one of the oldest group blogs in sociology and updates a few times a month
  • American Resistance by Dana Fisher – political sociology posts by one of the best in the field
  • Mobilizing Ideas by Notre Dame sociology – all the best in social movements research
  • Culture, Cognition, and Action by Omar Lizardo and Michael Strand – new blog on culture and social psychology
  • Politics Outside by David Meyer – social activism research posts by one of the masters
  • Contexts – blog of Contexts Magazine. We bring you great pubic sociology.
  • The Sociological Eye by Randall Collins – one of sociology’s leading thinkers writing solid essays
  • Kieran Healy Blog – our old friend still blogs away with A+ data visualization
  • Code and Culture – Gabriel Rossman on culture, data analysis, and programming
  • Family Inequality by Philip N. Cohen – the latest on family, demography and more

Let’s celebrate great sociological writing – what other blogs are out there?

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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

May 11, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Posted in uncategorized

seriously, you people should check out brandee younger, especially if post-bop jazz and groove music is your bag

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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

May 10, 2020 at 12:21 am

Posted in uncategorized

yes, we need sociology blogs and other blogs as well

Wired magazine has a nice article by Cal Newport explaining why blogs need to exist along Twitter and journal. A few key clips:

This distributed expertise triage is not just useful but also a relatively new capability. If this pandemic had struck even as recently as 10 years ago, we would have been stuck listening to whichever experts an overwhelmed media corps happened to have in their Rolodex. Today we can be significantly more informed, but this vision of an information-rich pandemic response is not flawless. Twitter was optimized for links and short musings. It’s not well suited for complex discussions or nuanced analyses. As a result, the feeds of these newly emerged pandemic experts are often a messy jumble of re-ups, unrolled threads, and screenshot excerpts of articles. We can do better.

And

We need to augment social platforms with a surge in capacity of the original Web 2.0 technology that these upstarts so effectively displaced: blogs. We need WordPress-style sites featuring both easy-to-update static pages and chronological posts. These sites could be hosted by institutions with some degree of public trust and a reasonable technology infrastructure, such as universities, medical centers, and think tanks. Some mild gatekeeping could be performed on the experts granted blogs by these institutions, and critically, IT support could be provided so that the experts could start publishing with minimal overhead. If possible, there would be a similar look and feel to these sites hosted at various institutions, providing the sense that they all belong to the same cohesive extended information network.

Here, here! Sure, Twitter is great, but if you want more in depth and complex arguments, please just drop by the blog.

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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

May 8, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Posted in uncategorized

political parties and sociology

Political parties don’t get a lot of attention in sociology. The main reason is that a closely related field, political science, sees them as a integral part of the empirical phenomena they study. Still, I think political parties offer lots to think about for sociologists. Here, I’ll lay out a few questions about parties for the sociologically minded.

First, what is the role of ideology in social organization? Some political parties are highly ideological (e.g., the Greens or Libertarians) while others are pragmatic coalitions of actors where ideology often fades when there is a need to exert power or win elections. If you study the Democrats or Republicans over a long enough span, ideology seems to be a secondary element of their party.

Second, how are parties organized as networks? One of the most fascinating developments from political scientists who study parties is the recognition that parties are not just identities or labels, and they go beyond beyond formal organizations. Rather, they are networks of loosely coupled people and organizations. Sociologically, we can ask if the mechanisms that describe the growth and structure of other networks also describe parties as networks.

Third, contingency and agency within parties is important to understand. Long time readers know that I don’t throw out my theories of political behavior because of exceptional cases (e.g., Obama vs. Hillary 2008 or Trump overall). Rather, I ask about the limits of standard explanations. It is now clear that Trump 2016 was a bizarre exception to the general rule of elites within nominations (e.g., Biden and Hilary won their nominations, Trump has no opposition). Why?

Feel free to elaborate in the comments and pose your own sociological questions about parties.

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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!!!!!
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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

May 6, 2020 at 5:31 pm

Posted in uncategorized

“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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