Scholarly Events

Department Seminars

Wednesday, April 22, 2019

Jim Elliott, Rice University

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Claire Renzetti, University of Kentucky

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Sarah Sobieraj, Tufts University
Hostile Speaking Environment: Attacks Against Women Online and Democratic Discourse

Resistance to women’s public voice and visibility via street harassment and workplace sexual harassment have long constrained women’s use of and comfort in physical public spaces; this gender-based resistance now extends into digital arenas. This talk pulls readers into the lives of a diverse set of women (n= 52) who have faced online attacks, to make the burden of their experiences visible and to begin to help us understand the way fear, intense self-scrutiny, vigilance, and anxiety constrain women’s participation in digital publics. This talk offers a framework to think through the phenomenon of identity-based attacks against women online. Rather than being a dystopic byproduct of technology run amok, this abuse is consistent with the history of resistance to women’s public presence. The attackers attempt to humiliate and discredit the women in this study through tried and true forms of resistance to women’s presence in spaces men would prefer to control. Like street harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace, digital attacks against female voice and visibility reject women’s implicit claims to be taken seriously as interlocutors, colleagues, or peers, by reinforcing a gender system in which women exist solely as bodies for male evaluation. As such, women online – particularly women of color online - find themselves launched against their will into an uncomfortably familiar public game of degradation as sport, in which competitors vie to assert dominance (and impress their cronies) by making the target as uneasy as possible through public conjecture about her physical attributes, presumed sexual behavior, and sexual desirability. I close by considering the democratic costs of gender-based harassment, in addition to the personal ones.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

René D. Flores, University of Chicago
Symbolic Ethnicity? The Unexpected Re-emergence of Indigeneity in Mexico

For decades, scholars and policy makers have expected indigenous ethnicity in Mexico to gradually fade away due to cultural assimilation. Nevertheless, in 2010, the percentage of Mexicans who identified as indigenous in the Census more than doubled going from 6% to 15% between 2000 and 2010, a net gain of more than 11 million new indigenous people. This rise in indigenous identification seemingly challenges long-held views that indigenous ethnicity in Mexico was destined to fade away. Though the reasons behind this unexpected demographic phenomenon have been widely debated, no satisfactory explanation has been produced. We conduct the first systematic analysis to help explain it. We rely on census data and two original nationally representative survey experiments. We identify three processes that could explain this unexpected “ethnic explosion.” We find that natural demographic processes are insufficient to explain it. Instead, changes in the phrasing of the identity question used by the Mexican Census in 2010 were largely responsible for such dramatic increase. These wording changes redefined indigenous identity in a more symbolic way, which made it more appealing to more Mexicans. This involved two mechanisms: (1) avoidance of essentialist language (essentialism) and (2) not treating indigeneity as a collective condition (groupness).

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Deborah Carr, Boston University
Golden Years?: Social Inequalities in Later Life

Golden Years? Social Inequality in Later Life, I investigate the complex, surprising, and even heartbreaking ways that social inequalities affect nearly all aspects of older adults’ lives. I argue that the indignities of poverty are amplified for older adults, just as the indignities of aging and ageism are intensified for those living lives of economic disadvantage. Cracked sidewalks and shoddy housing in low-income neighborhoods are a challenge for anyone, but can be lethal for older adults with an unsteady gait. Ageism is particularly common among poorer adults who show physical signs of aging at much younger ages, yet lack the resources to pay for youth-enhancing treatments. This talk provides an overview of the myriad ways cumulative disadvantage undermines the capacity of older adults to experience quality of life, including mental and physical health, supportive relationships, safe living environments, and ultimately a “good” death. Medicare and Social Security are insufficient to eradicate these persistent inequities, heightening the need for innovative policies and practices.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Emily Rauscher, Brown University
Why Who Marries Whom Matters: Effects of Educational Assortative Mating on Infant Health in the U.S. 1969-1994

Educational assortative mating patterns in the U.S. have changed since the 1960s, but we know little about the effects of these patterns on children, particularly on infant health. Rising educational homogamy may alter prenatal contexts through parental stress, behaviors, and resources, with implications for inequality. Using 1969-1994 NVSS birth data and aggregate cohort-state census measures of spousal similarity of education and labor force participation as instrumental variables (IV), this study estimates effects of parental educational similarity on infant health. Controlling for both maternal and paternal education, results support family systems theory and suggest that parental educational homogamy is beneficial for infant health while hypergamy is detrimental. These effects are stronger in later cohorts and are generally limited to mothers with more education. Null IV estimates of hypogamy and stable estimates by cohort suggest that rising female hypogamy may have limited effect on infant health. In contrast, rising educational homogamy could have increasing implications for infant health. Effects of parental homogamy on infant health could help explain racial inequality of infant health and may offer a potential mechanism through which inequality is transmitted between generations.