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.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
Abigail Brooks, Providence College
Aging, Beauty, and the Medicalization of Difference in an Era of Direct-to-Consumer Pharmaceutical Advertising
In this talk, Abigail T. Brooks will discuss several key findings and conclusions drawn from her book, The Ways Women Age: Using and Refusing Cosmetic Intervention (2017, New York University Press). From there, she will share some preliminary data and analysis from her current research stream, informed by a feminist, age-studies, and intersectional framework, on contemporary and recent pharmaceutical advertising campaigns that target women’s age-driven changes in appearance and in bio-chemistry (menopause).
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Justin Farrell, Yale University
Billionaire Wilderness: Ultra-wealth, Environment, and Inequality
Billionaire Wilderness is a book that offers an unprecedented look inside the world of the ultra-wealthy, focused on their increasingly significant relationship to the natural world. More specifically, it shows how the ultra-wealthy use nature to resolve key predicaments in their lives. Along the way, it reveals the surprising ways in which nature and wealth intersect in America, and the far-reaching impact of these relationships on the nation’s social and environmental landscape.
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Amada Armenta, University of Pennsylvania
Immigrants and the Law: Crafting Moral Selves in the Face of Immigration Control
U.S. immigration laws criminalize unauthorized immigrants and render many of immigrants’ daily activities “illegal.” How does this affect immigrants' attitudes and practices toward the law? Drawing on interviews with unauthorized Mexican immigrants in Philadelphia, I show how time spent in the United States transforms migrants’ legal attitudes from one of “getting by” to one of “doing things the right way.” I highlight the implications of this legal transformation for the moral economy of immigration policy, for immigrant claims-making, and for Latino immigrants’ place in the racial hierarchy.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Dana Fisher, University of Maryland
Since Donald Trump won the presidential election without winning the popular vote, there has been substantial and continuous protest against the Administration's plans for the United States. Street demonstrations are some of the most visible forms of opposition to the new Administration and its policies. At the same time, the Resistance has extended into Congressional districts. Constituents have flooded the town hall meetings of their Congressional members to voice their concerns. In other words, the election of Donald Trump has revitalized democracy in America. People are no longer bowling alone, they are marching and yelling together. This presentation provides an overview of my book-in-progress: America Resistance. It documents the Resistance, focusing on the issues that are mobilizing participants and the tactics they are employing. It concentrates on three specific components of the Resistance: Resistance in the Streets, Resistance in the Districts, and Resistance from Within. My presentation will focus on the findings regarding Resistance in the Streets and Resistance in the Districts and discuss the implications of these findings for the mid-term elections, as well as for democracy in America.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Patrick Heller, Brown University
Urban Governance in Brazil, India and South Africa: Explaining Variation in Trajectories of Development
In the age of globalization, megacities in the developing world have emerged as the most contested sites of the socio-spatial contradictions of capitalism. In contrast to deterministic accounts that have dominated the literature, I combine insights from the developmental state and the urban governance literatures so show that political and institutional factors at the national and local level can shape divergent trajectories of urban transformation. Comparing the modal megacity in three democratic, highly unequal, globally integrated and rapidly transforming countries, I focus on service delivery and slum-rehabilitation to show that there is significant variation in the capacity of cities to coordinate growth and inclusion. These varied outcomes are explained on the one hand by center-local state relations that configure the degree of city capacity and governance autonomy, and on the other hand by the degree to which the local state is embedded in civil society.
Tuesday, April 9, 2018
Javier Auyero, University of Texas-Austin
The Ambivalent State: Unpacking Police-Trafficker Collusion
The various ways in which police forces intervene in low-income areas in the Americas have been the object of much recent scholarly attention. However, neither in the United States nor in Latin America has much theoretical or empirical consideration been given to a mode of police intervention that engages with illegal actors and commits illicit actions as part of its daily operation in poor areas. Much of the literature on the topic agrees that those living in what Loïc Wacquant calls “territories of urban relegation” – ghettos, inner cities, favelas, villas, comunas, barriadas – are oftentimes over-policed (and brutalized) by the state. But they are also subjected to what Desmond Arias describes as a police-criminal collusion: an active political arrangement between state and illicit actors that not only erodes the rule of law, but also institutes a particular type of political order. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and documentary evidence from several court cases involving drug trafficking groups in Argentina – evidence that includes hundreds of pages of highly revealing wiretapped conversations between drug dealers and members of the state security forces – this presentation unpacks the actual content of police-traffickers collusion. An in-depth examination of the material and informational resources exchanged, the behaviors enacted, and the processes at work when police and drug-traffickers collude allows for a better understanding of the type of state that the poor face on a daily basis and the shape of the violence they are confronted with in the places where they live.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Laura Nelson, Northeastern University
Cycles of conflict, a century of continuity: Using computational methods to measure why some ideas succeed and others fail
Why are some ideas and organizations influential, and others insignificant? As movements such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo dominate the public scene, this question is receiving renewed attention from both social scientists and the general public. In this talk I take a comparative historical perspective on this question, identifying influential and peripheral ideas and organizations within the women’s movements in Chicago and New York City during both the first and second feminist waves, from 1860 to 1975. Established accounts maintain that the predominant ideas of second wave feminism came out of the civil rights and New Left movements. Finding more similarities than differences between the waves, I instead show that second wave ideas were rooted in place-based political logics established during the first wave. In both waves, influential organizations in Chicago sought change by addressing the immediate needs of women, while influential organizations in New York City sought to change individual consciousness. Using a novel combination of network statistics to measure social structure and computational and qualitative text analysis techniques to measure ideas, I show that collective beliefs become influential when they are aligned with these persistent place-based political logics, or, secondly, when they match local social structures. These findings demonstrate how computational methods can provide empirical access to concepts that have historically been difficult to directly measure. New sources of rich, digitized data, I claim, when combined with methodological advances in analyzing unstructured data, enables scholars to measure social complexity and cultural beliefs in new – and increasingly reproducible – ways.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Gretchen Purser, Syracuse University
Disciples and Dreamers: Job Readiness and the Making of the U.S. Working Class
Job readiness programs are a propitious site for investigating the literal making of the U.S. working class. With the imposition of workfarist policies, these programs have become a mainstay of social service provision to, and paternalist management of, the poor. This talk—part of a larger project—draws upon ethnographic fieldwork carried out in two different job readiness programs to illustrate variations in the ideological frameworks for this project of working class formation. The first case, a prominent faith-based program targeted to the homeless, draws upon scripture to produce “disciples” who treat work as a biblical mandate and way of serving the Lord. The second case, a local nonprofit program serving welfare recipients and other poor job seekers, draws upon motivational discourse and practices to produce “dreamers” who cling to the promise that work delivers both upward mobility and personal fulfillment. Despite their differing languages and logics, both programs aim to accommodate participants to the world of low-wage work, instill within them the moral value of labor, and develop worker subjectivities premised on the obfuscation of class and the optimization of employability.
Wednesday January 24, 2018
Jayanti Owens, Brown University
Differential Punishment: Unpacking Racial Disparities in School Suspension and Expulsion in the U.S.
The use of suspension and expulsion in U.S. schools has increased by 50% over the past four decades. Suspensions increasingly occur in elementary school – potentially disrupting children’s learning of foundational skills and triggering negative reputational labels that set the stage for cumulative disadvantage. Black boys are nearly three times more likely to be suspended than White boys. Three explanations have been offered to account for the racial gap in suspension: the sorting of minority students into schools with more punitive policies and practices, race differences in problem behaviors, and differential treatment of, or harsher disciplinary responses to, the behaviors of minority students. Using data from the Fragile Families Study, we provide the first simultaneous test of all three competing explanations. Results using decomposition techniques and measuring behavior problems at school entry indicate that the differential treatment of Black boys for the same behavior explains at least 35% of the Black/White gap in elementary school suspension and expulsion, even when comparing boys from similar social class backgrounds who attend similar schools. As a robustness check, we also measure boys’ behavior at age 9, which may be endogenous to suspension and therefore provides an upper bound estimate of differences due to boys’ behavior. Using this measure, we still find substantial evidence for the differential treatment explanation. Together, findings indicate that differential treatment explains at least two times more of the racial gap in suspension than both alternate explanations combined. These results suggest that institutional practices and educator mindsets in disciplinary decision-making (i.e., the assignment of sanctions) are likely to be fruitful places for future school discipline interventions.
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Lawrence Hamilton, University of New Hampshire
What people ‘know’: Self-assessed understanding vs. tested knowledge on climate change
The US public, unlike scientists, exhibits wide and pervasive party-line divisions on the reality of human-caused climate change. Moreover, partisans with the highest education stand the farthest apart. Information elites at both ends of the political spectrum report understanding a moderate amount or even a great deal about climate change, but what do they actually know? Two 2016 US surveys carried questions testing knowledge about some neutral and very basic climate-relevant facts, such as location of the North Pole. These questions provide a rough indicator for elementary knowledge. Among some political groups, self-assessed understanding and tested knowledge are correlated as one might expect; but among others they prove unrelated. A quick replication finds similar, although weaker, interaction effects in 2014–2015 surveys that asked a subset of the same knowledge questions. These findings outline a contemporary political variant of the well-known Dunning-Kruger effect.