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  1. Activism and the Academy

    Cornel West wears many hats: He is a professor (currently Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University), author (of 20 books), film actor (including The Matrix Reloaded), artist (three spoken word albums), and activist (more on this below). And this summer, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of West’s influential book Race Matters. Sociologist Janice McCabe sat down with West in Cambridge to talk about activism and the academy. Here are some highlights from their discussion, edited for length and clarity.

  2. Invisible Inequality Among “Wounded Warriors”

    The term “wounded warriors,” both a socially designated status and an official medical classification, creates divisions among service members.

  3. When the Personal is Political—and Infectious

    Privilege, distrust, individual choice, and parental care all factor into vaccine resistance, but the consequences are anything but personal.

  4. The Struggle to Save Abortion Care

    by Carole Joffe, Summer 2018 Contexts

  5. From the Bookshelf of a Sociologist of Diagnosis: A Review Essay

    The present essay will take readers through the bookshelf of this sociologist of diagnosis. It will demonstrate the wide-reaching topics that I consider relevant to the sociologist who considers diagnosis as a social object and also as a point of convergence where doctor and lay person encounter one another, where authority is exercised, health care is organized, political priorities are established, and conflict is enacted.

  6. Understanding Racial-ethnic Disparities in Health: Sociological Contributions

    This article provides an overview of the contribution of sociologists to the study of racial and ethnic inequalities in health in the United States. It argues that sociologists have made four principal contributions. First, they have challenged and problematized the biological understanding of race. Second, they have emphasized the primacy of social structure and context as determinants of racial differences in disease. Third, they have contributed to our understanding of the multiple ways in which racism affects health.

  7. Mechanisms Linking Social Ties and Support to Physical and Mental Health

    Over the past 30 years investigators have called repeatedly for research on the mechanisms through which social relationships and social support improve physical and psychological well-being, both directly and as stress buffers. I describe seven possible mechanisms: social influence/social comparison, social control, role-based purpose and meaning (mattering), self-esteem, sense of control, belonging and companionship, and perceived support availability. Stress-buffering processes also involve these mechanisms.

  8. Causal Inference with Networked Treatment Diffusion

    Treatment interference (i.e., one unit’s potential outcomes depend on other units’ treatment) is prevalent in social settings. Ignoring treatment interference can lead to biased estimates of treatment effects and incorrect statistical inferences. Some recent studies have started to incorporate treatment interference into causal inference. But treatment interference is often assumed to follow a simple structure (e.g., treatment interference exists only within groups) or measured in a simplistic way (e.g., only based on the number of treated friends).
  9. Integrating Sociological Perspectives into Obesogenic Research: Associations between Air Pollution Exposure and Obesity Prevalence across U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas

    Obesogenic theories suggests that obesity risk can be influenced by exposure to toxic chemicals present in built and natural environments. Although physical scientists have been on the forefront of obesogenic research, social science perspectives have been absent in understanding the relationship between environmental pollution and obesity risk. To address such gaps, the author uses a sociological perspective to explore the way in which exposure to a specific class of obesogens, endocrine disruptors, influences adult obesity prevalence.
  10. BMI Trajectories in Adulthood: The Intersection of Skin Color, Gender, and Age among African Americans

    This study addresses three research questions critical to understanding if and how skin color shapes health among African Americans: (1) Does skin color predict trajectories of body mass index (BMI) among African Americans across ages 32 to 55? (2) To what extent is this relationship contingent on gender? (3) Do sociodemographic, psychosocial, and behavioral factors explain the skin color–BMI relationship?