This study explores time trends in public trust in science in the United States from 1974 to 2010. More precisely, I test Mooney's (2005) claim that conservatives in the United States have become increasingly distrustful of science. Using data from the 1974 to 2010 General Social Survey, I examine group differences in trust in science and group-specific change in these attitudes over time. Results show that group differences in trust in science are largely stable over the period, except for respondents identifying as conservative. Conservatives began the period with the highest trust in science, relative to liberals and moderates, and ended the period with the lowest. The patterns for science are also unique when compared to public trust in other secular institutions. Results show enduring differences in trust in science by social class, ethnicity, gender, church attendance, and region. I explore the implications of these findings, specifically, the potential for political divisions to emerge over the cultural authority of science and the social role of experts in the formation of public policy.
This article presents culture as a vehicle of labor market sorting. Providing a case study of hiring in elite professional service firms, I investigate the often suggested but heretofore empirically unexamined hypothesis that cultural similarities between employers and job candidates matter for employers' hiring decisions. Drawing from 120 interviews with employers as well as participant observation of a hiring committee, I argue that hiring is more than just a process of skills sorting; it is also a process of cultural matching between candidates, evaluators, and firms. Employers sought candidates who were not only competent but also culturally similar to themselves in terms of leisure pursuits, experiences, and self-presentation styles. Concerns about shared culture were highly salient to employers and often outweighed concerns about absolute productivity. I unpack the interpersonal processes through which cultural similarities affected candidate evaluation in elite firms and provide the first empirical demonstration that shared culture—particularly in the form of lifestyle markers—matters for employer hiring. I conclude by discussing the implications for scholarship on culture, inequality, and labor markets.
This article examines the transition to adulthood among 1.5-generation undocumented Latino young adults. For them, the transition to adulthood involves exiting the legally protected status of K to 12 students and entering into adult roles that require legal status as the basis for participation. This collision among contexts makes for a turbulent transition and has profound implications for identity formation, friendship patterns, aspirations and expectations, and social and economic mobility. Undocumented children move from protected to unprotected, from inclusion to exclusion, from de facto legal to illegal. In the process, they must learn to be illegal, a transformation that involves the almost complete retooling of daily routines, survival skills, aspirations, and social patterns. These findings have important implications for studies of the 1.5- and second-generations and the specific and complex ways in which legal status intervenes in their coming of age. The article draws on 150 interviews with undocumented 1.5-generation young adult Latinos in Southern California.
The growth of precarious work since the 1970s has emerged as a core contemporary concern within politics, in the media, and among researchers. Uncertain and unpredictable work contrasts with the relative security that characterized the three decades following World War II. Precarious work constitutes a global challenge that has a wide range of consequences cutting across many areas of concern to sociologists. Hence, it is increasingly important to understand the new workplace arrangements that generate precarious work and worker insecurity. A focus on employment relations forms the foundation of theories of the institutions and structures that generate precarious work and the cultural and individual factors that influence people's responses to uncertainty. Sociologists are well-positioned to explain, offer insight, and provide input into public policy about such changes and the state of contemporary employment relations.
Generalized trust has become a paramount topic throughout the social sciences, in its own right and as the key civic component of social capital. To date, cross-national research relies on the standard question: "Generally speaking, would you say that most people can be trusted or that you need to be very careful in dealing with people?" Yet the radius problem—that is, how wide a circle of others respondents imagine as "most people"—makes comparisons between individuals and countries problematic. Until now, much about the radius problem has been speculation, but data for 51 countries from the latest World Values Survey make it possible to estimate how wide the trust radius actually is. We do this by relating responses to the standard trust question to a new battery of items that measures in-group and out-group trust. In 41 out of 51 countries, "most people" in the standard question predominantly connotes out-groupes. To this extent, it is a valid measure of general trust in others. Nevertheless, the radius of "most people" varies considerably across countries; it is substantially narrower in Confucian countries and wider in wealthy countries. Some country rankings on trust thus change dramatically when the standard question is replaced by a radius-adjusted trust score. In cross-country regressions, the radius of trust matters for civic attitudes and behaviors because the assumed civic nature of trust depends on a wide radius.
The rise in subprime lending and the ensuing wave of foreclosures was partly a result of market forces that have been well-identified in the literature, but it was also a highly racialized process. We argue that residential segregation created a unique niche of minority clients who were differentially marketed risky subprime loans that were in great demand for use in mortgage-backed securities that could be sold on secondary markets. We test this argument by regressing foreclosure actions in the top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas on measures of black, Hispanic, and Asian segregation while controlling for a variety of housing market conditions, including average creditworthiness, the extent of coverage under the Community Reinvestment Act, the degree of zoning regulation, and the overall rate of subprime lending. We find that black residential dissimilarity and spatial isolation are powerful predictors of foreclosures across U.S. metropolitan areas. To isolate subprime lending as the causal mechanism through which segregation influences foreclosures, we estimate a two-stage least squares model that confirms the causal effect of black segregation on the number and rate of foreclosures across metropolitan areas. We thus conclude that segregation was an important contributing cause of the foreclosure crisis, along with overbuilding, risky lending practices, lax regulation, and the bursting of the housing price bubble.
Although the positive association between religiosity and life satisfaction is well documented, much theoretical and empirical controversy surrounds the question of how religion actually shapes life satisfaction. Using a new panel dataset, this study offers strong evidence for social and participatory mechanisms shaping religion's impact on life satisfaction. Our findings suggest that religious people are more satisfied with their lives because they regularly attend religious services and build social networks in their congregations. The effect of within-congregation friendship is contingent, however, on the presence of a strong religious identity. We find little evidence that other private or subjective aspects of religiosity affect life satisfaction independent of attendance and congregational friendship.
This article explores how the efficiency of Internet search is changing the way Americans find romantic partners. We use a new data source, the How Couples Meet and Stay Together survey. Results show that for 60 years, family and grade school have been steadily declining in their influence over the dating market. In the past 15 years, the rise of the Internet has partly displaced not only family and school, but also neighborhood, friends, and the workplace as venues for meeting partners. The Internet increasingly allows Americans to meet and form relationships with perfect strangers, that is, people with whom they had no previous social tie. Individuals who face a thin market for potential partners, such as gays, lesbians, and middle-aged heterosexuals, are especially likely to meet partners online. One result of the increasing importance of the Internet in meeting partners is that adults with Internet access at home are substantially more likely to have partners, even after controlling for other factors. Partnership rate has increased during the Internet era (consistent with Internet efficiency of search) for same-sex couples, but the heterosexual partnership rate has been flat.
"From 1973 to 2007, private sector union membership in the United States declined from 34 to 8 percent for men and from 16 to 6 percent for women. During this period, inequality in hourly wages increased by over 40 percent. We report a decomposition, relating rising inequality to the union wage distribution's shrinking weight. We argue that unions helped institutionalize norms of equity, reducing the dispersion of nonunion wages in highly unionized regions and industries. Accounting for unions' effect on union and nonunion wages suggests that the decline of organized labor explains a fifth to a third of the growth in inequality - an effect comparable to the growing stratification of wages by education." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku). Die Untersuchung enthält quantitative Daten. Forschungsmethode: empirisch-quantitativ; empirisch; Längsschnitt. Die Untersuchung bezieht sich auf den Zeitraum 1970 bis 2010.
The study of institutional myths has been central to organizational sociology, cultural sociology, and the sociology of education for 30 years. This article examines how the myth concept has been used and develops neglected possibilities by asking: What happens when myths become incarnate, and how does this occur? In other words, what happens when conformity to a rationalized cultural ideal such as "accountability" is no longer symbolic but is given tangible flesh? Data from a two-year ethnography of an urban elementary school provide answers and reveal "recoupling" processes through which institutional myths and organizational practices that were once loosely connected become tightly linked. In the school studied here, recoupling accountability with classroom practices created a phenomenon that teachers labeled "turmoil." The findings advance our understanding of the micro-sociological foundations of institutional theory by "inhabiting" institutionalism with people, their work activities, social interactions, and meaning-making processes.
Decades of racial progress have led some researchers and policymakers to doubt that discrimination remains an important cause of economic inequality. To study contemporary discrimination, we conducted a field experiment in the low-wage labor market of New York City, recruiting white, black, and Latino job applicants who were matched on demographic characteristics and interpersonal skills. These applicants were given equivalent résumés and sent to apply in tandem for hundreds of entry-level jobs. Our results show that black applicants were half as likely as equally qualified whites to receive a callback or job offer. In fact, black and Latino applicants with clean backgrounds fared no better than white applicants just released from prison. Additional qualitative evidence from our applicants' experiences further illustrates the multiple points at which employment trajectories can be deflected by various forms of racial bias. These results point to the subtle yet systematic forms of discrimination that continue to shape employment opportunities for low-wage workers.
"Social psychological research on gendered persistence in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) professions is dominated by two explanations: women leave because they perceive their family plans to be at odds with demands of STEM careers, and women leave due to low self-assessment of their skills in STEM's intellectual tasks, net of their performance. This study uses original panel data to examine behavioral and intentional persistence among students who enter an engineering major in college. Surprisingly, family plans do not contribute to women's attrition during college but are negatively associated with men's intentions to pursue an engineering career. Additionally, math self-assessment does not predict behavioral or intentional persistence once students enroll in a STEM major. This study introduces professional role confidence individuals' confidence in their ability to successfully fulfill the roles, competencies, and identity features of a profession and argues that women's lack of this confidence, compared to men, reduces their likelihood of remaining in engineering majors and careers. We find that professional role confidence predicts behavioral and intentional persistence, and that women's relative lack of this confidence contributes to their attrition." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku). Die Untersuchung enthält quantitative Daten. Forschungsmethode: empirisch-quantitativ; empirisch; Längsschnitt. Die Untersuchung bezieht sich auf den Zeitraum 2003 bis 2007.
Theory suggests that neighborhood effects depend not only on where individuals live today, but also on where they lived in the past. Previous research, however, usually measures neighborhood context only once and does not account for length of residence, thereby understating the detrimental effects of long-term neighborhood disadvantage. This study investigates effects of duration of exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods on high school graduation. It follows 4,154 children in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, measuring neighborhood context once per year from age 1 to 17. The analysis overcomes the problem of dynamic neighborhood selection by adapting novel methods of causal inference for time-varying treatments. In contrast to previous analyses, these methods do not "control away" the effect of neighborhood context operating indirectly through time-varying characteristics of the family; thus, they capture the full impact of a lifetime of neighborhood disadvantage. We find that sustained exposure to disadvantaged neighborhoods has a severe impact on high school graduation that is considerably larger than effects reported in prior research. We estimate that growing up in the most (compared to the least) disadvantaged quintile of neighborhoods reduces the probability of graduation from 96 to 76 percent for black children, and from 95 to 87 percent for nonblack children.
Nearly a century of empirical research examines how neighborhood properties influence a host of phenomena such as crime, poverty, health, civic engagement, immigration, and economic inequality. Theoretically bundled within these neighborhood effects are institutions' and actors' social networks that are the foundation of other neighborhood-level processes such as social control, mobilization, and cultural assimilation. Yet, despite such long-standing theoretical links between neighborhoods and social networks, empirical research rarely considers or measures dimensions of geography and social network mechanisms simultaneously. The present study seeks to fill this gap by analyzing how both geography and social networks influence an important social problem in urban America: gang violence. Using detailed data on fatal and non-fatal shootings, we examine effects of geographic proximity, organizational memory, and additional group processes (e.g., reciprocity, transitivity, and status seeking) on gang violence in Chicago and Boston. Results show adjacency of gang turf and prior conflict between gangs are strong predictors of subsequent gang violence. Furthermore, important network processes, including reciprocity and status seeking, also contribute to observed patterns of gang violence. In fact, we find that these spatial and network processes mediate racial effects, suggesting the primacy of place and the group in generating gang violence.
Quantitative scholarship on civil wars has long debated whether ethnic diversity breeds armed conflict. We go beyond this debate and show that highly diverse societies are not more conflict prone. Rather, states characterized by certain ethnopolitical configurations of power are more likely to experience violent conflict. First, armed rebellions are more likely to challenge states that exclude large portions of the population on the basis of ethnic background. Second, when a large number of competing elites share power in a segmented state, the risk of violent infighting increases. Third, incohesive states with a short history of direct rule are more likely to experience secessionist conflicts. We test these hypotheses for all independent states since 1945 using the new Ethnic Power Relations (EPR) data set. Cross-national analysis demonstrates that ethnic politics is as powerful and robust in predicting civil wars as is a country's level of economic development. Using multinomial logit regression, we show that rebellion, infighting, and secession result from high degrees of exclusion, segmentation, and incohesion, respectively. More diverse states, on the other hand, are not more likely to suffer from violent conflict.
Have the core discussion networks of Americans changed in the past two decades? In 1985, the General Social Survey (GSS) collected the first nationally representative data on the confidants with whom Americans discuss important matters. In the 2004 GSS the authors replicated those questions to assess social change in core network structures. Discussion networks are smaller in 2004 than in 1985. The number of people saying there is no one with whom they discuss important matters nearly tripled. The mean network size decreases by about a third (one confidant), from 2.94 in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. The modal respondent now reports having no confidant; the modal respondent in 1985 had three confidants. Both kin and non-kin confidants were lost in the past two decades, but the greater decrease of non-kin ties leads to more confidant networks centered on spouses and parents, with fewer contacts through voluntary associations and neighborhoods. Most people have densely interconnected confidants similar to them. Some changes reflect the changing demographics of the U.S. population. Educational heterogeneity of social ties has decreased, racial heterogeneity has increased. The data may overestimate the number of social isolates, but these shrinking networks reflect an important social change in America.
The value-in-diversity perspective argues that a diverse workforce, relative to a homogeneous one, is generally beneficial for business, including but not limited to corporate profits and earnings. This is in contrast to other accounts that view diversity as either nonconsequential to business success or actually detrimental by creating conflict, undermining cohesion, and thus decreasing productivity. Using data from the 1996 to 1997 National Organizations Survey, a national sample of for-profit business organizations, this article tests eight hypotheses derived from the value-in-diversity thesis. The results support seven of these hypotheses: racial diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, greater market share, and greater relative profits. Gender diversity is associated with increased sales revenue, more customers, and greater relative profits. I discuss the implications of these findings relative to alternative views of diversity in the workplace.
This article demonstrates the value of Foucault's conception of discipline for understanding organizational responses to rankings. Using a case study of law schools, we explain why rankings have permeated law schools so extensively and why these organizations have been unable to buffer these institutional pressures. Foucault's depiction of two important processes, surveillance and normalization, show how rankings change perceptions of legal education through both coercive and seductive means. This approach advances organizational theory by highlighting conditions that affect the prevalence and effectiveness of buffering. Decoupling is not determined solely by the external enforcement of institutional pressures or the capacity of organizational actors to buffer or hide some activities. Members' tendency to internalize these pressures, to become self-disciplining, is also salient. Internalization is fostered by the anxiety that rankings produce, by their allure for the administrators who try to manipulate them, and by the resistance they provoke. Rankings are just one example of the public measures of performance that are becoming increasingly influential in many institutional environments, and understanding how organizations respond to these measures is a crucial task for scholars.
"Work-family conflicts are common and consequential for employees, their families, and work organizations. Can workplaces be changed to reduce work-family conflict? Previous research has not been able to assess whether workplace policies or initiatives succeed in reducing work-family conflict or increasing work-family fit. Using longitudinal data collected from 608 employees of a white-collar organization before and after a workplace initiative was implemented, we investigate whether the initiative affects work-family conflict and fit, whether schedule control mediates these effects, and whether work demands, including long hours, moderate the initiative's effects on work-family outcomes. Analyses clearly demonstrate that the workplace initiative positively affects the work-family interface, primarily by increasing employees' schedule control. This study points to the importance of schedule control for our understanding of job quality and for management policies and practices." (Author's abstract, IAB-Doku). Die Untersuchung enthält quantitative Daten. Forschungsmethode: empirisch-quantitativ; empirisch; Längsschnitt.
Some sociologists have recently argued that a major aim of sociological inquiry is to identify the mechanisms by which cause and effect relationships in the social world come about. This article argues that existing accounts of social mechanisms are problematic because they rest on either inadequately developed or questionable understandings of social action. Building on an insight increasingly common among sociological theorists—that action should be conceptualized in terms of social practices—I mobilize ideas from the tradition of classical American pragmatism to develop a more adequate theory of mechanisms. I identify three kinds of analytical problems the theory is especially well poised to address and then lay out an agenda for future research.