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  1. Ramen Noodles Supplanting Cigarettes as Currency Among Prisoners

    Ramen noodles are supplanting the once popular cigarettes as a form of currency among state prisoners, but not in response to bans on tobacco products within prison systems, finds a new study. 

    Instead, study author Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona School of Sociology, found that inmates are trying to figure out ways to better feed themselves as certain prison services are being defunded. 

  2. Study Finds Changes to Retirement Savings System May Exacerbate Economic Inequality

    A shift to defined-contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, has led to an income and education gap in pension savings that could exacerbate future economic inequality, according to a study that was presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

  3. Comment: On the Association between Sequences in GIMSA

    We can think of three basic principles of classificatory judgment for comparing things and people. I call these judgments nominal (oriented to essence), cardinal (oriented to quantities), and ordinal (oriented to relative positions). Most social orders throughout history are organized around the intersection of these different types. In line with the ideals of political liberalism, however, democratic societies have developed an arsenal of institutions to untangle nominal and ordinal judgments in various domains of social life.

  4. Soldiers of the Cross: Calvinism, Humanitarianism, and the Genesis of Social Fields

    Field theory largely treats the cultural dimensions of social fields as an emergent property of their objective structures. In this article, I reconsider the role of culture in fields by studying how the logics that govern their emergence develop. As a study case, I examine the rise of the field of transnational humanitarianism by focusing on the early endeavors of the International Committee of the Red Cross (established 1863).

  5. On the Sociology of Occasions

    This article fills a long-standing gap, proposing a framework for what Goffman called for in 1967’s Interaction Ritual: a sociology of occasions. Occasions are omnipresent throughout the sociological literature yet are often only casually analyzed. The author proposes a perspective that solidifies occasions as a basic unit of sociological analysis. This proposal offers a framework based on (1) four resources, (2) three patterns, and (3) five properties. These simple and interlocking tools situate the occasion as a valuable and adaptable sociological focus.

  6. Dignity and Dreams: What the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Means to Low-Income Families

    Money has meaning that shapes its uses and social significance, including the monies low-income families draw on for survival: wages, welfare, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). This study, based on in-depth interviews with 115 low-wage EITC recipients, reveals the EITC is an unusual type of government transfer. Recipients of the EITC say they value the debt relief this government benefit brings. However, they also perceive it as a just reward for work, which legitimizes a temporary increase in consumption.

  7. Ordinalization: Lewis A. Coser Memorial Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting 2014

    We can think of three basic principles of classificatory judgment for comparing things and people. I call these judgments nominal (oriented to essence), cardinal (oriented to quantities), and ordinal (oriented to relative positions). Most social orders throughout history are organized around the intersection of these different types. In line with the ideals of political liberalism, however, democratic societies have developed an arsenal of institutions to untangle nominal and ordinal judgments in various domains of social life.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. A Dynamic Process Model of Private Politics

    This project explores whether and how corporations become more receptive to social activist challenges over time. Drawing from social movement theory, we suggest a dynamic process through which contentious interactions lead to increased receptivity. We argue that when firms are chronically targeted by social activists, they respond defensively by adopting strategic management devices that help them better manage social issues and demonstrate their normative appropriateness.