Janaury 2013 Issue • Volume 41 • Issue 1

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ASA Awards Six Grants for the Advancement of Sociology

The American Sociological Association (ASA) announced six awards from the June 2012 round of the ASA’s Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD). This program, co-funded by ASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and administered by the ASA, provides seed money (up to $7,000) to PhD scholars for innovative research projects and for scientific conferences that advance the discipline through theoretical and methodological breakthroughs. Funding decisions are made by an advisory panel composed of members of ASA’s Council and the ASA Director of Research and Development. Below is a list of the latest FAD Principal Investigators (PIs) and a brief description of their projects.

Rebekah Burroway, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Business Unity and the Collective Action of Large U.S. Corporations Faced with Protests, 2000-2010.

What explains how large corporations in the United States respond to social protest directed against them? This project examines the role of social relations in the formation of firm strategies of response. Although social movement and class theory have developed rich understandings of collective action, current research typically treats corporations as isolated actors responding individually to protest opposition. The project will address this gap by analyzing the influence of social networks formed by Boards of Directors and involvement in policy planning organizations. Drawing on insights from social movement research, class theory, unity theory, organizational sociology, and economics, the research is motivated by several key questions: Do firms develop their response strategies individually or in socially constructed ways with other firms? How do protests gain leverage over firms, and how do firms minimize the costs protests seek to impose? The project uses multi-level models, dyadic network analysis, innovative automated text analysis software, and a variety of archival data sources.

Andy Clarno, University of Illinois-Chicago,The Empire’s New Walls: The Politics of Security in South Africa and Palestine/Israel.

Societies throughout the world have been transformed by the construction of walled enclosures—from gated communities in the United States to fortress enclaves in Brazil. What explains the proliferation of separation walls in the early 21st century? This project attempts to answer this question through an analysis of walled enclosures in Johannesburg and Jerusalem. In Johannesburg, the South African elite surround their homes with brick walls and electric fences and put gates around their neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the State of Israel is building a series of walls and fences to prevent Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip from entering Israel. The project will explain the different forms of enclosure in these two societies. To carry out this research, the PI uses a multi-method approach bringing together the tools of comparative urban ethnography and comparative historical sociology. The data collection focuses on four areas: the relationship between neoliberal restructuring and the political transitions in each state, the growth of marginalized populations, the politics of security, and the production of walled enclosures.

Sarah Damaske, Pennsylvania State University, Gender, Inequality, and Unemployment: Men and Women’s Differing Social and Economic Costs.

This study will investigate differences in how working-class men and women experience job loss, negotiate possible returns to work, and navigate the familial effects of unemployment. Since the 1950s, women and men have experienced similar rates of unemployment, yet there are surprisingly few studies of the differences between men’s and women’s experiences of unemployment or of the effects of their unemployment. The study asks: what are the differences in the ways that men and women experience job loss and its effects?The primary data for this study will come from in-depth qualitative interviews and audio diaries kept by participants. Qualitative interviews will be conducted with 20 men and 20 women who experienced the loss of a full-time job during 2007-11. Participants who are actively seeking a new job will be asked to keep an audio diary detailing their job search for three months. The combination of qualitative interviews and audio diaries will lead to policy suggestions tailored to improve men’s and women’s life chances in the post-industrial economy.

Claire Laurier Decoteau, University of Illinois-Chicago, Opening Pandora’s Box: The Vaccine-Autism Controversy and the Social Construction of American Biomedicine.

A series of congressional hearings and vaccine court hearings has determined there is no causal link between common childhood vaccinations and the development of autism, and yet a recent study in Pediatrics found that 1 in 10 parents of young children refuse or delay vaccination and pertussis has re-emerged as a health crisis in many communities in California. This project seeks to understand the connection between fears of the so-called autism epidemic and the increasing popularity of alternative vaccination scheduling for young children. In so doing, the project seeks to understand peoples’ lay conceptions of science and explore the reasons people disinvest from biomedical hegemony. It hypothesizes that these beliefs and practices differ greatly based on race and class. The PI will utilize multiple qualitative techniques to explore parental decision making amongst a diverse group of new parents.

Steve Lopez, Ohio State University, Downward Mobility in the “Lesser Depression”: Material, Relational and Attitudinal Responses.

According to the PI, the United States is experiencing a wave of downward mobility on a scale not seen since the Great Depression. Statistical data documenting the impact on employment, income, wealth, and housing are readily available. Much less, however, is known about how workers are responding at the level of daily life. In the current context of economic depression and vulnerability, this study will examine workers’ responses along three dimensions: material responses or practical adaptations to the actual or potential loss of income and wealth; attitudinal responses(i.e., changing aspirations, beliefs, and attitudes in the face of a society-wide decline of living standards); and relational responseshow workers may reconfigure their relationships with others, including spouses, partners, children, extended family members, and peers, as they struggle to adapt to or anticipate straitened circumstances. The PI will conduct (with the assistance of six graduate students) extended, semi-structured qualitative interviews with 150 downwardly mobile workers. The multi-method data analysis strategy will use both qualitative immersion and content coding of interview materials for comparative analytic purposes.

Lizabeth Zack, University of South Carolina Upstate, Another Shade of Green: Environmental Activism in Jordan.

In the last 20 years, activists and civil society groups have emerged across the Middle East to address a variety of environmental challenges, from water scarcity and waste disposal to industrial pollution and coastal degradation. Despite evidence of this trend, research on political activism in the Middle East has focused on Islamist movements and other popular campaigns against authoritarian rule. Neither approach accounts very well for the patterns of environmental activism that have emerged in recent years. This project will look closely at grassroots and civil society campaigns around environmental issues in Jordan, drawing on information from newspapers, organizational websites, interviews, and government documents. The analysis focuses on the activists, their complaints and demands, how they mobilize, the role civil society plays in addressing environmental concerns in the region, and the outcomes and impact of movement efforts.

We are asking ASA members to provide the donations needed to keep the FAD program at current funding levels. Individuals can send contributions earmarked to FAD, c/o Business Office, American Sociological Association, 1430 K St. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005. Potential applicants can reach the program director, Roberta Spalter-Roth, at spalter-roth@asanet.org, the co-director Nicole Van Vooren can be reached at vanvooren@asanet.org. For more information, visit www.asanet.org/funding/fad.cfm.

 

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