November 15, 2005

Athiests as 'Other': Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society

Presented by Penny Edgell, Joe Gerteis, and Doug Hartmann

Despite the declining salience of divisions among religious groups, the boundary between believers and non-believers in America remains strong. This paper examines the limits of Americans' acceptance of atheists. Using new, nationally-representative survey data, we show that atheists are less likely to be accepted, in both public and private life, than are any others among a long list of ethnic, religious, and other minority groups. We find that public and private rejection of atheists is driven by religious predictors, but also by social location and broader value orientations, and associated in stable ways with rejection of other specific groups on moral and symbolic, rather than ethnic or economic, grounds. We suggest that understanding how Americans view atheists sheds light on the role of religious belief in providing a moral basis for cultural membership and solidarity in an otherwise highly diverse society.

November 8, 2005

Discrimination in Low Wage Labor Markets

Presented by Devah Pager (Princeton University)

Racial progress over the past four decades has led some researchers and policy makers to proclaim the problem of discrimination solved. But debates about discrimination have been obscured by a lack of reliable evidence. In this study, we adopt an experimental audit approach to formally test patterns of discrimination in the low-wage labor market of New York City. By using matched teams of individuals to apply for real entry-level jobs, it becomes possible to directly measure the extent to which race/ethnicity�in the absence of other disqualifying characteristics�reduce employment opportunities among equally qualified applicants. We find that whites are systematically favored over black and Latino job seekers. Indeed, the effect of discrimination is so large that white job seekers just released from prison do no worse blacks without criminal records. Black job opportunities are also diminished by ethnic niches, in which blacks face additional competition from other minority workers. Relying on both quantitative and qualitative data from our testers� experiences, this study presents striking evidence of the continuing significance of race in shaping the employment opportunities of low-wage workers.

November 1, 2005

Bringing Statistical Power Back In: On the Empirical Support for Statistical Models Estimated by Maximum Likelihood and Related Methods in Sociological Research

Presented by Scott Eliason (University of Minnesota) and Mike Massoglia (The Pennsylvania State University)

As sociologists attempt to understand ever more complex empirical relations, we necessarily place ever more demands on our data, estimate ever more complex models, and become increasingly dependent on statistical models estimated by maximum likelihood (ML) and related methods (including Bayes and Partial/Quasi ML methods). Models that rely on these methods and estimators include, but are not limited to, most all nonlinear models, hierarchical models, growth curve models, random coefficients models, binomial and multinomial logit models, probit models, log-linear models, latent class and latent trait models, event history models, and causal models for survey data. The list should look familiar, as these represent the statistical workhorses in a substantial amount of empirical sociological research over the last two decades. Importantly, knowledge of the statistical behavior of ML and related estimators used in all of these models is based completely, or to a substantial degree, on asymptotic (large sample) statistical theory. Just as much of our empirical sociological knowledge rests on models estimated with ML and related techniques, the statistical soundness of these very estimators depends on the likelihood that the asymptotic properties in fact hold for a given model and dataset. Putting these pieces together reveals that the soundness of what we can know substantively from any one empirical study using these models/estimators depends directly on the degree to which asymptotic statistical properties may be expected to hold for the models/estimators used in those studies. Unfortunately, for the many sociological studies relying on these methods, the amount of knowledge we have on this very question leaves much to be desired. To help address this limitation, we leverage the idea of statistical power to develop an informative, yet simple, diagnostic to assess the probability that large sample properties can be expected to hold for these common estimators of popular statistical models used by social scientists. In operationalizing that probability we place the question of statistical power on par with the Type I error, requiring an acceptable level of statistical power be specified in addition to the Type I error rate in assessing statistical inferences. We highlight the usefulness of our approach using binomial and multinomial logit models estimated on well-known datasets, the Current Population Survey and General Social Survey. Given the emphasis in much current empirical work on the significance and non-significance of interactions in statistical models, we further show how our diagnostic is particularly illuminating in that context.

October 25, 2005

The Rural-Urban Connection in Co-operative Food Movements

Presented by Craig Barton Upright (Princeton University)

The Rural-Urban Connection in Co-operative Food Movements Dramatic changes in the organic food movement in the United States from 1965 to 2002 culminated in the adoption of the first national organic standards by the U.S.D.A. Co-operative grocery stores (food co-ops) supported the budding infrastructure of the organic food industry by providing a vital distribution link between producers and consumers. These U.S. co-operatives were predominantly distributed in urban areas in the Northeast and Upper Midwest and on the West Coast. However, these "new-wave" consumer-owned co-operatives were not original to the counter-cultural groups of the 1960s. Exploring the relationship between rural American food movement organizations of the early 20th century and their urban counterparts of the last 40 years, this paper examines the social, political, and governmental forces that influenced both types of movements, and seeks to explain why certain geographic areas emerged as activist "hot-spots" for issues of agricultural production and consumption.

October 18, 2005

Resonance or Resistance? The Responses of Local Women's Movements in Eastern Germany to Gender Mainstreaming

Presented by Katja Guenther

This paper examines the contrasting cases of acceptance of the European Union's (EU) agenda for gender mainstreaming in two medium-sized cities in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), Rostock and Erfurt. Because gender mainstreaming, a young policy initiative intended to reduce gender inequality, is not legally mandated, its propagation relies on EU pressure and on social movement and policy carriers, especially so-called "femocrats," who mobilize around the issue. I therefore focus on women who are involved with women's organizations and/or in policymaking, examining why they do not unilaterally embrace gender mainstreaming. Drawing on in-depth interviews with sixty-three feminist activists and elected and appointed officials in Rostock and Erfurt, as well as on observations from meetings and archival data collected from women's organizations and city government, I explore why gender mainstreaming has found a stronghold within the women's movement in Rostock and very little support among women activists in Erfurt. I find that the different responses to gender mainstreaming among these two movements may be explained by their different ideologies, which themselves are an outgrowth of local political climates, historic traditions, and geopolitics.

October 11, 2005

A Contextual Analysis of Women Prisoners' Mental Health

Presented by Candace Kruttschnitt and Mike Vuolo

A rise in governmentality, the development of the risk society,
and shifts in cultural sensibilities have all been used to explain recent
shifts in crime control and penal policies most notably in the US and the
UK. Despite the importance of this discourse, we see it as flawed in two
respects: (1) it has left the experiences of those who are living out these
transformations on the sidelines; and, (2) when these experiences are
addressed, attention is directed primarily to the experiences of male
offenders and their families. We examine indicators of the mental health of
2,911 women incarcerated in California and the UK to determine both whether
and how different aspects of prison life and prisoners' experiences affect
their well-being and whether generalities about transnational changes in
penal life are warranted.

September 27, 2005

"They're Our Children, Not Yours!": Group Identity Claims and Resource Demands in Jewish and Black Protest against New York City Public Schools

Presented by Melissa Weiner

Sociologists consistently utilize two different theories of identity formation to describe Blacks and white ethnics; racial theories focus on Blacks and emphasize constraint and oppression while ethnicity theory focuses on assimilation and freedom to express cultural identities. This study challenges this theoretical binary by engaging in a direct comparison of identity formation by two different racial groups, Jews and Blacks, during protest against the New York City public schools during the 1910s and 1950s, respectively, using a variety of archival sources. This research finds that activists from both communities exhibited strikingly similar narratives in expressing hybrid identities. In challenging the racialized identities ascribed to them, both groups utilized both a politics of difference and a politics of similarity which reflected both their cultural past and American citizenship, respectively. I attribute the use of similar identities to the similar structural and economic conditions encountered by each group in NYC during these eras. The mobilization of demands reflective of each groups� unique cultural histories suggests the powerful role of culture in shaping social movements. Finally, activists� efforts to ensure that their groups� culture was respected and preserved by the schools signals an early effort of multiculturalism.

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September 20, 2005

Current Tendencies in Critical Pedagogy

Presented by Juha Suoranta (University of Joensuu, Finland)

Critical pedagogy cannot manage without the theory of social recognition, but it also needs a critical theory aiming at political and economic justice and recognition. In the debate there has been a conception of �perspective dualism�. In my view, it comes close to an integrative theory that is needed in the theory of critical pedagogy that I am supporting. In this evolving theoretical view, the goals of social recognition on the one hand and critical recognition and equal distribution on the other hand, must be seen as separate and autonomous yet equally important issues (Honneth & Fraser 2003, 2-3; Fraser 2001). This approach keeps the big political themes of oppression and class struggle in picture, and at the same time gives space for diversity of radical social movements, resistance, and acts of hope. Both sides are needed in making another world possible.

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September 13, 2005

Diversity in Everyday Discourse: The Cultural Ambiguities and Consequences of �Happy Talk�

Presented by Joyce Bell and Doug Hartmann

Few words in contemporary American public life and political culture are as ubiquitous and ostensibly uplifting as diversity. Despite its prominence and positivity (or perhaps precisely because of it), actual meanings and uses of the term can be difficult to pinpoint. In this paper we use in-depth interviews conducted in four major metropolitan areas as part of the American Mosaic Project to explore conceptions of diversity in everyday American discourse. While most Americans respond optimistically to initial questions about �diversity,� our interviews reveal underlying ambiguities and tensions in the discourse. These include the contradiction between idealized visions of cultural diversity and actual experiences with social difference as well as the challenge of balancing the recognition of group-based differences against traditional commitments to individual freedom and choice. We also find that although our respondents define diversity in general, apparently universal terms, most of their actual references and experiences tend to involve interactions with racial others. Finally, we find that it is very difficult for our respondents�even those who are otherwise articulate about diversity or have clear political commitments to equality�to talk coherently about issues of social inequality in the context of a conversation focused on diversity. These findings will be illustrated and expanded, and their significance discussed.

Fall 2005 Complete Schedule

September 13
Joyce Bell and Doug Hartmann
�Diversity in Everyday Discourse: The Cultural Ambiguities and Consequences of �Happy Talk� (Full Abstract)

September 20
Juha Suoranta (University of Joensuu, Finland)
�Current Tendencies in Critical Pedagogy� (Full Abstract)

September 27
Melissa Weiner
��They�re Our Children, Not Yours!�: Group Identity Claims and Resource Demands in Jewish and Black Protest against New York City Public Schools� (Full Abstract)

October 4

October 11
Candace Kruttschnitt and Mike Vuolo
�A Contextual Analysis of Women Prisoners' Mental Health� (Full Abstract)

October 18
Katja Guenther
�Localizing Women�s Welfare: A Comparative Analysis of the Women�s Movements in Two Cities in Eastern Germany� (Full Abstract)

October 25
Craig Barton Upright (Princeton University)
�The Rural-Urban Connection in Co-operative Food Movements� (Full Abstract)

November 1
Scott Eliason (University of Minnesota) and Mike Massoglia (The Pennsylvania State University)
�Bringing Statistical Power Back In: On the Empirical Support for Statistical Models Estimated by Maximum Likelihood and Related Methods in Sociological Research� (Full Abstract)

November 8
Devah Pager (Princeton University)
�Discrimination in Low Wage Labor Markets� (Full Abstract)

November 15
Penny Edgell, Joe Gerteis, and Doug Hartmann
�Athiests as 'Other': Moral Boundaries and Cultural Membership in American Society� (Full Abstract)

UPDATE: Workshops scheduled for November 22 - December 13 have been cancelled due to job candidate interviews.