In the past two decades, a great deal of energy has been dedicated to improving children's education by increasing parents' involvement in school. However, the evidence on the effectiveness of parental involvement is uneven. Whereas policy makers and theorists have assumed that parental involvement has wide-ranging positive consequences, many studies have shown that it is negatively associated with some children's outcomes. This article uses data from the children of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth in 1979 to estimate time-lagged growth models of the effect of several types of parental involvement on scores on elementary school achievement tests and the Behavioral Problems Index. The findings suggest that parental involvement does not independently improve children's learning, but some involvement activities do prevent behavioral problems. Interaction analyses suggest that the involvement of parents with low socioeconomic status may be more effective than that of parents with high socioeconomic status. (DIPF/Orig.).
In trying to understand the origin of gender differences favoring girls in reading skills, analysts have examined mainly the performance of students who are in the same grade, with samples pooled across socioeconomic status (SES). Using a longitudinal sample in Baltimore, where all students in a randomly selected panel are the same age and are followed from the beginning of the first grade, the authors found that the early reading skills of boys who are receiving meal subsidies - those who are disadvantaged - are lower than those of girls. Among children who are not on meal subsidies, boys do about the same as girls. This gender gap that emerges over the elementary school years is explained in terms of the higher retention rate of disadvantaged boys, which traces back to teachers' low ratings of classroom behavior and reading skills for boys on meal subsidies and to their parents' lower expectations for boys' school performance. The longitudinal design of this study, the early point from which children are followed (age 6), and the attention given to SES differences in how parents and teachers treat boys are key differences between this research and other studies of gender differences in reading comprehension. The discussion points up the critical nature of the first-grade transition in relation to the gender gap and some of its long-term implications. (DIPF/Orig.).
Past studies have noted that black students' classroom behavior is rated more favorably by black teachers than by white teachers. This pattern could be a function of white teachers' bias - rating black students more harshly than they deserve - or black students' misbehavior- acting out more when placed with white teachers versus black teachers. If explanations emphasizing black students' misbehavior (oppositional culture) are accurate, matching effects should be more substantial among adolescents than among young children. To assess this possibility, the authors estimated matching effects among kindergartners in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 and eighth graders from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. They found that the effects of matching are comparable across both kindergartners and adolescents, a pattern that is more readily understood from the position of white teachers' bias than from that of oppositional culture. (DIPF/Orig.).
Amazon Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace designed for crowdsourcing tasks to other people for compensation, is growing in popularity as a platform for gathering research data within the social sciences. Sociology, compared to some other social sciences, has not been as quick to adopt this form of data collection. Therefore, in this paper I overview the basics of Mechanical Turk research and suggest its pros and cons, both in general and in relation to different sociological data-collection methods and research needs. While Mechanical Turk is currently the most popular crowdsourcing website for research, I present general concepts, patterns, and suggestions that can be applied beyond Mechanical Turk to other crowdsourcing and online research.
This article presents the results of an investigation of the following questions: How do low-income African American and Latino youths negotiate the boundaries between school and peer group contexts? Do variable forms of negotiation exist? If so, what are they, and how do they manifest? In addressing these questions, the author posits two arguments that directly challenge the "acting white" thesis. The first is that black and Latino students' academic, cultural, psychological, and social experiences are heterogeneous. This article examines three groups of low-income African American and Latino students who differ in how they believe group members should behave culturally-the cultural mainstreamers, the cultural straddlers, and the noncompliant believers. Second, this article returns to the sociological signification of four dimensions of the phenomenon of (resistance to) acting white and highlights the varied responses of the three groups to the social boundaries that collective identities engender and that status hierarchies in schools produce. Straddlers appear to traverse the boundaries between their ethnic peer groups and school environments best. The analyses are based on a combination of survey and qualitative data that were collected from a series of in-depth individual and group interviews with an interethnic, mixed-gender sample of 68 low-income, African American and Latino youths, aged 13-20. (DIPF/Orig.).
Education is thought to be the pathway to success for disadvantaged groups. Given that young women now match or surpass men's educational achievements on many measures, how do they fare in terms of equal earnings? Would further educational changes matter for closing any existing gap? Analyzing data from the National Educational Longitudinal Survey, the author found that college-educated men in their mid-20s already earn, an average, about $7,000 more per year than do college-educated women. The findings suggest that this gap would still be substantial - about $4,400 per year - if women and men had similar educational credentials, scores on standardized tests, fields of study, and degrees from colleges of similar selectivity. Although women's gains in education may have been central to narrowing the gender gap in income historically, gender differences in fields of study continue to disadvantage women. Moreover, gender differences in work-related factors are more important than are educational differences for understanding contemporary income inequality among young workers. (DIPF/Orig.).
As more Americans enter college than ever before, their pathways through the broadly differentiated higher education system are changing. Movement in, out, and among institutions now characterizes students' attendance patterns - half of all undergraduates who begin at a four-year institution go on to attend at least one other college, and over one-third take some time off from college after their initial enrollment. This study investigated whether there is social-class variation in these patterns, with advantaged and disadvantaged students responding to new postsecondary choices by engaging in different pathways. National longitudinal data from postsecondary transcripts were used to follow students across schools and to examine the importance of family background and high school preparation in predicting forms of college attendance. The results demonstrate that students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely than are economically advantaged students (net of prior academic preparation) to follow pathways that are characterized by interrupted movement. Such pathways appear to be less effective routes to the timely completion of degrees. Thus, differences in how students attend college represent an additional layer of stratification in higher education. (DIPF/Orig.).
Obesity is a health condition, but its consequences extend far beyond the realm of health. To illuminate an important route by which the experience of obesity can filter into the status attainment process, this study drew on nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to test a social psychological model of the gendered link between obesity and education. Obese girls were less likely to enter college after high school than were their nonobese peers, especially when they attended schools in which obesity was relatively uncommon. Additional analyses revealed that increasing rates of internalizing symptoms, self-medication, and academic disengagement explained about one-third of the obese girls' lower odds of college enrollment. Obese boys, on the other hand, did not differ from their peers - no matter what their school context - in college enrollment. (DIPF/Orig.).
This article evaluates the "mismatch" hypothesis, advocated by opponents of affirmative action, which predicts lower graduation rates for minority students who attend selective post-secondary institutions than for those who attend colleges and universities where their academic credential are better matched to the institutional average. Using two nationally representative longitudinal surveys and a unique survey of students who were enrolled at selective and highly selective institutions, the authors tested the mismatch hypothesis by implementing a robust methodology that jointly considered enrollment in and graduation from selective institutions as interrelated outcomes. The findings do not support the "mismatch" hypothesis for black and Hispanic (as well as white and Asian) students who attended college during the 1980s and early 1990s. (DIPF/Orig.).
Leaving an academic post by retiring (from teaching, research, academic administration) is to leave in later life a main, wider-community social involvement. Retirement from this occupational heaven can lead to an incongruous lifestyle, however, to a lonely, unsettling existence, even with compatible spouse, family, and close friends near at hand. For they cannot usually offer the values of academia. They fail to generate the feeling of being part of the larger community, of being somebody within it. There are three ways to recover this loss, each realized in leisure time, namely, serious leisure, casual leisure, and project-based leisure. Informal community social involvement refers to informal involvements of a fortnightly or monthly nature. Irregular community social involvement consists of local formal involvements that are pursued from time to time. Regular community social involvement refers to membership and steady member participation in local and extra-local formal organizations. For academic retirees in search of community involvement, becoming immersed in the social world of a serious leisure activity is possibly the most effective way to establish beyond the circle of one’s intimates just who one is.
Thomas Schelling and Erving Goffman: who influenced whom, when and to what effect? Was there “influence” at all or, as Tom Burns suggests, independent discovery and convergence? These are the questions that this paper is meant to answer. Using available archival material and historical and textual analysis, the paper takes a fresh look at Goffman’s interest in and contribution to game theory. It charts the important first meeting in the late 1950s, their subsequent dialogue through publications, and the critical 1964 conference on “Strategic Interaction and Conflict,” where Goffman encountered an assembly of defense and nuclear strategists associated with the RAND Corporation. These include Daniel Ellsberg, who was a sharp critic of Goffman’s conference presentation, Albert Wohlstetter and, of course, Tom Schelling. During the heated discussion that accompanied Goffman’s presentation, the session chairman gave Goffman the sobriquet sorcerer’s “apprentice.” Ever the ally, Schelling said that he was sympathetic to Goffman’s “style of
Despite long-standing prejudices against doing so, it is time for sociology to reconnect with its roots in biological and evolutionary thinking. Sociology emerged as a discipline when the notion of evolution was actively used in biology, geology, and emerging social sciences. Throughout the nineteenth century, many of the most prominent early European sociologists examined the social universe from an evolutionary perspective; and this perspective was borrowed in much of early American sociology in the last decades of the nineteenth century and in the first decades of the twentieth century. By the end of the second decade of the twentieth Century, however, evolutionary analysis was rapidly disappearing in sociology in the United States, and by the 1930s, it was pretty much dead. And for the remainder of the twentieth century, it was viewed with a great suspicion, especially evolutionary approaches that sought to incorporate ideas from biology into the field. Despite the revival of stage models of societal evolution and the emergence of new ecological approaches in the 1960s and 1970s, evolutionary ideas from biology were still rejected by most American sociologists though much of the twentieth century. In this paper, we first present the history of this rejection of evolutionary, with the goal of encouraging sociologists today to recognize the distortions and misrepresentations of Darwinian and Spencerian ideas that fueled intellectual prejudices for so many decades. These prejudices only get in the way of sociology in the twenty-first century, where biological ideas have begun to pervade the social sciences. Thus, American sociologists should now take stock and reconsider how much evolutionary and biological analysis can help sociology and, equally if not more important, how an informed evolutionary sociology can influence those in the other social sciences and even those in the biological sciences.
The paper explains the important role played by Harriet Martineau in the scientization of British politics and consequently in the development of Victorian Social Science. I suggest that there is much we can learn about the scientificity of social knowledge from the relationship between Martineau’s deafness, her career as a social investigator and a reporter, and her reflections about the practice of social science. Because Martineau was a pioneer who entered into a field that was not yet institutionalized, her knowledge making practices inevitably reflects the particular dispositions that guided her innovations. Martineau’s exposure, early in her career, to the modus operandi of governmental social investigations by royal commissions and her experience with popularizing the products of these investigations via wide public opinion campaigns, coupled with Martineau’s specific dispositions as a deaf woman, facilitated her interest in mediating credible knowledge about society and helped her to develop an innovative methodological skill-set as a social investigator, which later on in her career made her a pioneer figure in the field of social science.
While great improvements have been made in women’s professional advancement in sociology, it is contended that enormous sexism remains in sociological theory books, and the courses (often compulsory) associated with them. This has a broad effect in all fields within sociology, giving students the impression that men are the sources (the only in earlier times). Women are included only late, in contemporary sociology and gender studies. Classical theory textbooks in use over the last 25 years were examined, some in many editions. The trend has been for women to be added in later editions, but with scant or no discussion of their views or comparison with those of men theorists. Well-known women may be included (Rosa Parks, Hilary Clinton) who are not theorists at all! Yet an adequate literature has been available for many years-books by women theorists and analyses of them by reputable scholars. Two tables are provided: one, a chronological list of these works (to dispel the excuse of lack of material), the second (alphabetical), of sexist classical theory textbooks. Finally, it is argued that this is a challenge for the profession itself, authors, publishers, and peer reviewers. Inclusion and competence are both called for.
In this paper I describe the gradual monetization of the university and its implications for the discipline of sociology. I suggest that not only is money a guiding force for the decisions that university administrators, faculty and students make but that it is also a metaphor for the changes and challenges faced by sociologists today. The second part of the paper identifies strategies for grant success based on approaches that are common in the natural sciences.
Christopher Lasch’s most influential book The Culture of Narcissism was first published in 1979 but many of the issues he raised still have relevance, including for sociologists who wish to use ideas on psychology to create a firm basis for understanding principles and practices in society that can underlie a Sociology of Morality, something that is now only developed in a very preliminary way. Though this book was well-received by the public at large this book had much less influence in academic circles, both in liberal arts curricula and in business schools. I discuss some of the reasons for this, and then go on to details of this book and in particular how Lasch was influenced by rather dour psychoanalysts such as Melanie Klein and Otto Kernberg who emphasized the seriousness of narcissism-inducing ego weakness dating back to the conditions of early childhood. Even if one discounts the prevalence of the pathologies Lasch feels are the norm, since it can be argued that less serious narcissism is prevalent also, the discussion of cultural changes in modern society that stimulate and condone narcissism make this book a useful reference on this subject. I also refer to the work of such sociologists as Eva Illouz, Richard Sennett, and Michael Mann, and the earlier work of Pitirim Sorokin. I end by recounting that in the 40 years since this book was published, the cultural environment that is conducive for encouraging narcissism has remained in place, and in terms of the use of technology as a substitute for direct communication between people, the cultural environment that encourages fantasies has become even more pervasive.
Even though Howard S. Becker has consistently declined to be labeled in any other way but as a sociologist, he has made numerous statements that evidence his methodological and epistemological proximity to Symbolic Interactionism. Participant observation is Becker’s research method of choice. Becker’s insistence that sociologists should interpret and confer meaning to situations, accords with some basic principles of Symbolic Interactionism. So does his recommendation to avoid generalizations that are not context-bound. On the other hand, Becker’s Symbolic Interactionism departs both from standard accounts of Symbolic Interactionism, and Stryker’s version of it, in that it makes use of notions of its own, such as social world, structures of interaction, conventions, and interpretive communities. Becker’s appreciation of Blumer, finally, is explicitly stated. It is limited, however, by some fundamental reservations that concern Blumer’s conceptual and theoretical system, and his research method.
This paper identifies two contrasting approaches to the quantitative measurement of scholarly output, emphasizing the distinction between contribution studies and productivity studies. Contribution studies are those in which the investigator starts with a well-defined list of publication outlets, recording all contributions to that literature by all authors, whomever they might be. In contrast, productivity studies are those in which the investigator starts with a well-defined list of contributors, recording all their scholarly output, wherever it might have appeared. We apply this conceptual model to sociology by examining the key characteristics of 25 relevant studies published since 1970. Nine are contribution studies, twelve are productivity studies, and four are too limited in scope to fall into either category. We conclude by discussing the implications of the contribution/productivity distinction for sociology and other disciplines—in particular, the problems that may arise when contribution studies are used to evaluate scholarly productivity.