American Sociological Association

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  1. Bringing the Global Home: Students Research Local Areas through Postcolonial Perspectives

    This article describes a class that draws on postcolonial insights to create a global sociological imagination. Postcolonial approaches can make visible how global connections have shaped our local environments even if these relations are not always immediately visible. Specifically, students in this class highlight how global relations, such as the slave trade, settler colonialism, racial formations, or migrations, constitute the local. If we start to reconnect global ties, how do we interpret local inequalities differently?
  2. The Structure of Comparison in the Study of Revolution

    The social scientific study of revolution has been deviled by a lack of progress in recent years, divided between competing views on the universality of patterns in revolution. This study examines the origins of these epistemologies. Drawing on an insight that different modes of comparison yield different types of knowledge, I argue that the network structure of how cases are compared constrains or enables the development of a field’s theoretical sensibilities.
  3. How to Read The Wealth of Nations (or Why the Division of Labor Is More Important Than Competition in Adam Smith)

    This article challenges the idea that competition was central to Adam Smith’s thinking by scrutinizing the concept’s role in Smith’s work, particularly The Wealth of Nations. We will understand Smith’s perspective better if we avoid reading later developments of the concept, particularly in economics, back into Smith’s times and writings. Conversely, I argue that the division of labor is the governing idea providing the basic organizational structure of Wealth of Nations.
  4. The Anti-oppressive Value of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality in Social Movement Study

    Social movements can be important mechanisms of social change for vulnerable populations as the formal mechanisms of policy and legislation tend to be in the hands of the powerful in society. Academic scholarship can play an important role in challenging or reinforcing social power dynamics. This reality makes it important to critically interrogate social movement knowledge production and use anti-oppressive frameworks for social movement scholarship.
  5. Education, Smoking, and Cohort Change: Forwarding a Multidimensional Theory of the Environmental Moderation of Genetic Effects

    Sociologists interested in the effects of genes on complex social outcomes claim environmental conditions structure when and how genes matter, but they have only studied environmental moderation of genetic effects on single traits at a time (gene-by-environment interactions). In this article, we propose that the social environment can also transform the genetic link between two traits.
  6. Featured Essay: The Contributions of Charles Tilly to the Social Sciences

    Evaluating Charles Tilly’s contributions to the social sciences is not an easy task: “Chuck Tilly was a master of sociological thinking and methodology,” wrote two of his former students when he passed away ten years ago; “But he was sufficiently concerned about getting to the heart and dynamics of questions and topics that he never permitted the blinkers of disciplinary orthodoxy to stand in his way” (Michelson and Wellman 2008).
  7. Villains, Victims, and Heroes in Character Theory and Affect Control Theory

    We examine three basic tropes—villain, victim, and hero—that emerge in images, claims, and narratives. We compare recent research on characters with the predictions of an established tradition, affect control theory (ACT). Combined, the theories describe core traits of the villain-victim-hero triad and predict audiences’ reactions. Character theory (CT) can help us understand the cultural roots of evaluation, potency, and activity profiles and the robustness of profile ratings.
  8. 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.
  9. Social Conditions as Fundamental Causes of Health Inequalities: Theory, Evidence, and Policy Implications

    Link and Phelan (1995) developed the theory of fundamental causes to explain why the association between socioeconomic status (SES) and mortality has persisted despite radical changes in the diseases and risk factors that are presumed to explain it. They proposed that the enduring association results because SES embodies an array of resources, such as money, knowledge, prestige, power, and beneficial social connections that protect health no matter what mechanisms are relevant at any given time.

  10. Fuck Nuance

    Nuance is not a virtue of good sociological theory. Although often demanded and superficially attractive, nuance inhibits the abstraction on which good theory depends. I describe three “nuance traps” common in sociology and show why they should be avoided on grounds of principle, aesthetics, and strategy. The argument is made without prejudice to the substantive heterogeneity of the discipline.