American Sociological Association



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  1. Elements of Professional Expertise: Understanding Relational and Substantive Expertise through Lawyers' Impact

    Lawyers keep the gates of public justice institutions, particularly through their roles in formal procedures like hearings and trials. Yet, it is not clear what lawyers do in such quintessentially legal settings: conclusions from past research are bedeviled by a lack of clear theory and inconsistencies in research design. Conceptualizing litigation work in terms of professional expertise, I conduct a theoretically grounded synthesis of the findings of extant studies of lawyers’ impact on civil case outcomes.

  2. 2012 Presidential Address: Transforming Capitalism through Real Utopias

    This address explores a broad framework for thinking sociologically about emancipatory alternatives to dominant institutions and social structures, especially capitalism. The framework is grounded in two foundational propositions: (1) Many forms of human suffering and many deficits in human flourishing are the result of existing institutions and social structures. (2) Transforming existing institutions and social structures in the right way has the potential to substantially reduce human suffering and expand the possibilities for human flourishing.

  3. The Bourgeoisie Dream Factory

    Effectively teaching sociological theories to undergraduate students is challenging. Students often enroll in theory courses due to major requirements, not personal interest. Consequently, many students approach the study of theory with anxiety. This study examined the effectiveness of an experiential learning activity designed to teach Karl Marx’s theory of alienation. Based on pretest/posttest surveys, responses to open-ended questions, and observational data, students reported that the activity helped them gain a clearer understanding of Marx.

  4. What Is the Relation between Theory and Practice, and Did Marx Discuss Engineering Society?

    My impression of Marx’s understanding of theory and praxis is that the transition from capitalism to socialism is contingent on the historical circumstances at any given point in time. The logic of capital creates certain preconditions that set the stage for the transition, but the transition is by no means guaranteed to unfold, or unfold in a clearly predictable manner. One of the preconditions is the concentration of capital into the hands of few and the general tendency toward increasing relative poverty of workers.

  5. The Emergence of Statistical Objectivity: Changing Ideas of Epistemic Vice and Virtue in Science

    The meaning of objectivity in any specific setting reflects historically situated understandings of both science and self. Recently, various scientific fields have confronted growing mistrust about the replicability of findings, and statistical techniques have been deployed to articulate a “crisis of false positives.” In response, epistemic activists have invoked a decidedly economic understanding of scientists’ selves. This has prompted a scientific social movement of proposed reforms, including regulating disclosure of “backstage” research details and enhancing incentives for replication.
  6. Estimating Income Statistics from Grouped Data: Mean-constrained Integration over Brackets

    Researchers studying income inequality, economic segregation, and other subjects must often rely on grouped data—that is, data in which thousands or millions of observations have been reduced to counts of units by specified income brackets.
  7. Comment: The Inferential Information Criterion from a Bayesian Point of View

    As Michael Schultz notes in his very interesting paper (this volume, pp. 52–87), standard model selection criteria, such as the Akaike information criterion (AIC; Akaike 1974), the Bayesian information criterion (BIC; Schwarz 1978), and the minimum description length principle (MDL; Rissanen 1978), are purely empirical criteria in the sense that the score a model receives does not depend on how well the model coheres with background theory. This is unsatisfying because we would like our models to be theoretically plausible, not just empirically successful.
  8. The Problem of Underdetermination in Model Selection

    Conventional model selection evaluates models on their ability to represent data accurately, ignoring their dependence on theoretical and methodological assumptions. Drawing on the concept of underdetermination from the philosophy of science, the author argues that uncritical use of methodological assumptions can pose a problem for effective inference. By ignoring the plausibility of assumptions, existing techniques select models that are poor representations of theory and are thus suboptimal for inference.
  9. What’s Taking You So Long? Examining the Effects of Social Class on Completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Four Years

    Despite improved access in expanded postsecondary systems, the great majority of bachelor’s degree graduates are taking considerably longer than the allotted four years to complete their four-year degrees. Taking longer to finish one’s BA has become so pervasive in the United States that it has become the norm for official statistics released by the Department of Education to report graduation rates across a six-year window.
  10. Income Inequality and Population Health: A Global Gradient?

    Cross-national empirical research about the link between income inequality and population health produces conflicting conclusions. We address these mixed findings by examining the degree to which the income inequality and health relationship varies with economic development. We estimate fixed-effects models with different measures of income inequality and population health. Results suggest that development moderates the association between inequality and two measures of population health. Our findings produce two generalizations.