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  1. Preventing Violence: Insights from Micro-Sociology

    Micro-sociology of violence looks at what happens in situations where people directly threaten violence, but only sometimes carry it out. This process and its turning points have become easier to see in the current era of visual data: cell-phone videos, long-distance telephoto lenses, CCTV cameras. New cues and instruments are on the horizon as we look at emotional signals, body rhythms, and monitors for body signs such as heart rate (a proxy for adrenaline level).
  2. Variable Selection and Parameter Tuning for BART Modeling in the Fragile Families Challenge

    Our goal for the Fragile Families Challenge was to develop a hands-off approach that could be applied in many settings to identify relationships that theory-based models might miss. Data processing was our first and most time-consuming task, particularly handling missing values. Our second task was to reduce the number of variables for modeling, and we compared several techniques for variable selection: least absolute selection and shrinkage operator, regression with a horseshoe prior, Bayesian generalized linear models, and Bayesian additive regression trees (BART).
  3. Data-Specific Functions: A Comment on Kindel et al.

    In this issue, Kindel et al. describe a new approach to managing survey data in service of the Fragile Families Challenge, which they call “treating metadata as data.” Although the approach they present is a good first step, a more ambitious proposal could improve survey data analysis even more substantially. The author recommends that data collection efforts distribute an open-source set of tools for working with a particular data set the author calls data-specific functions.
  4. Successes and Struggles with Computational Reproducibility: Lessons from the Fragile Families Challenge

    Reproducibility is fundamental to science, and an important component of reproducibility is computational reproducibility: the ability of a researcher to recreate the results of a published study using the original author’s raw data and code. Although most people agree that computational reproducibility is important, it is still difficult to achieve in practice. In this article, the authors describe their approach to enabling computational reproducibility for the 12 articles in this special issue of Socius about the Fragile Families Challenge.
  5. Introduction to the Special Collection on the Fragile Families Challenge

    The Fragile Families Challenge is a scientific mass collaboration designed to measure and understand the predictability of life trajectories. Participants in the Challenge created predictive models of six life outcomes using data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a high-quality birth cohort study. This Special Collection includes 12 articles describing participants’ approaches to predicting these six outcomes as well as 3 articles describing methodological and procedural insights from running the Challenge.
  6. When Interest Doesn’t Turn into Action: Discrimination, Group Identification, and Muslim Political Engagement in the Post-9/11 Era

    This article examines the effect of exposure to post-9/11 stigmatization on various types of Muslim political engagement, using a mixed-methods approach that combines propensity score matching analysis of data from the Muslims in the American Public Square (MAPS) survey administered immediately after 9/11 with experimental data of the U.S. Muslim population. I find that increased discrimination results in increased political interest but has a neutral or dampening effect on political participation.
  7. Equifinality and Pathways to Environmental Concern: A Fuzzy-Set Analysis

    Studying how people understand and develop concern for environmental problems is a key area of research within environmental sociology. Previous research shows that numerous social factors have measurable effects on environmental concern. However, results tend to be somewhat inconsistent across studies on this topic. One possible explanation for this is because these social factors are typically examined as independent from one another. However, these factors are interrelated in complex ways, as shown by research on the moderating effects of race and political ideology on education.
  8. Residuality and Inconsistency in the Interpretation of Socio-Theoretical Systems

    This article addresses the interpretation and criticism of theoretical systems. Its particular focus is on how to assess the success of theories in dealing with some specific phenomenon. We are interested in how to differentiate between cases where a theory offers an unsatisfactory acknowledgment of a specified phenomenon and those where a theory offers a deeper, more systematic understanding.
  9. What’s Alter Got to Do with It? A Consideration of Network Content and the Social Ties That Provide It

    The strength of weak ties is among the most important theories in the social sciences. One paradoxical element of the theory has been widely understood and valued—that weak ties connect disparate regions of social structure. Less appreciated, however, is the arguably more paradoxical implication that someone only weakly connected to another would provide value beyond that which is provided by the recipient’s (ego’s) strong ties. Once this paradoxical feature of the theory and associated empirical literatures is acknowledged, the interests of the resource provider (alter) demand consideration.
  10. Meaning and Modularity: The Multivalence of “Mechanism” in Sociological Explanation

    Mechanisms are ubiquitous in sociological explanation. Recent theoretical work has sought to extend mechanistic explanation further still: into cultural and interpretative analysis. Yet it is not clear that the concept of mechanism can coherently unify interpretation and causal explanation within a single explanatory framework. We note that sociological mechanistic explanation is marked by a crucial disjuncture.