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New ASA-NSF Grantees to Help Advance the Discipline

The American Sociological Association (ASA) is pleased to announce five new grants from the winter 2003 review cycle of the Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD), a competitive small grants program funded by matching grants provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the ASA and administered by the ASA. These awards provide seed money to PhD scholars for innovative research projects and for scientific conferences that show promise for advancing the discipline through theoretical and methodological breakthroughs. Here’s a list of the latest FAD grantees and their projects.

Angela H. Hattery (Wake Forest University) received $6,000 for Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Exploring the Experiences of African American Men and Women. FAD funds will be used to better understand the meaning and experience of violence within intimate partnerships among African Americans and to understand how and why this violence differs (if it does) from the meaning and experiences of European Americans and Latinos. The Principal Investigator (PI) will interview 10 African American men and 10 African American women engaged in relationships characterized by intimate partner violence. The results of the interviews will be compared to previous interviews with European Americans and Latinos. These additional interviews will allow the PI to test a race, class, and gender model of inter-partner domestic violence. The PI suggests that intimate partner violence among African Americans may be more lethal than among other groups and that the disposition of African men who batter is quite different than among men in the other groups. Project outcomes will include a proposal for additional research for a larger study with more racial and ethnic groups.

Abigail S. Saguy (University of California-Los Angles) received $7,000 for Creating the “Obesity Epidemic”: Science, Social Activism, and the Mass Media. FAD monies will fund a multi-method research study that asks how scientific debates about obesity are shaped by the material interests, social positions, and rhetorical strategies of scientists and activists. Saguy will investigate the framing of the obesity “problem” by crucial players and at various important sites and proposes to study four topic areas: (1) the credibility struggle among those medical professionals who define obesity as a disease and those who advocate “health at every weight”; (2) the influence of the “fat-acceptance activists” on the credibility of medical professionals; (3) the representation of the obesity issue in the media; and (4) the impact of the framing of obesity by the media. To conduct this study, Saguy will examine researchers’ viewpoints on obesity research, ties to funding organizations, company pharmaceutical boards, social movements, journal publications, and demographic characteristics. Finally, Saguy will do a controlled media experiment to measure the framing of obesity. This investigation will shed light on more general theoretical concerns on the intersection of social mobilization, medical expertise, and the mass media.

Mariano Sana (Louisiana State University) received $6,974 for An Experiment on Fieldwork Expert Guesses. FAD monies will be used for an experiment to determine the accuracy of “fieldwork expert guesses” (FEG), a practice among survey fieldworkers that is generally not acknowledged, involving making guesses about “correct” responses in the face of missing or inconsistent data. The reason for this study is that in developing countries, such as Mexico, there are substantial inconsistencies in survey data after completion of the fieldwork and using field experts to guess the true responses often solves these inconsistencies. For the purposes of the experiment, the researcher proposes to alter correctly completed surveys in various ways and ask four categories of volunteers to identify problems and attempt corrections. The volunteers include: those that interact directly with the respondent, those that are fieldwork supervisors, those that are data managers, and those that are data users. The experiment will test whether field workers have more accurate guesses than others who are further removed from the interviews. The PI will then compare the volunteers’ rate of correct responses with those of statistical programs that are currently used to impute missing data. The PI hopes the outcome of this experiment will be some useful guidelines about how best to resolve incomplete or inconsistent data.

Hung-En S. Sung (National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), Columbia University) received $6,400 for Barriers and Facilitators to Successful Rehabilitation of Criminal Offenders: Toward a Multi-Level Understanding. FAD monies will be used to gather administrative and governmental data to determine the contextual, organizational, and individual factors that explain successful rehabilitation of drug offenders. In addition, the researcher will study whether previously successful program models continue to work under new conditions. In other words, how can Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) for drug-involved offenders programs remain effective with rising unemployment, budgetary constraints, and opportunities in drug markets? The PI will review files of almost 5,000 drug-using felons, of whom more than 1,600 were admitted to an ATI between 1990 and 2000, and retest whether earlier evaluations, which found ATI highly effective, are supported. These earlier evaluations are short-term studies of programs that frequently shifted directions as public interest diminished or funding disappeared. Few were institutionalized, and it is not clear if they would work now. The PI will create a multi-level analytical framework that includes contextual factors (e.g., street price of drugs), organizational factors (e.g., drug conviction rates), and individual factors (e.g., age) and investigate facilitators and impediments to recidivism reduction. The study will produce a white paper targeting criminal justice policy makers and practitioners, peer-reviewed journal articles, and findings on CASA’s website.

Melissa W. Wilde (Indiana University) received $7,000 for What Makes a Progressive Religious Leader? Analyzing Votes from the Second Vatican Council. FAD monies will be used for a study of Vatican II (1962-1965) to investigate why it resulted in progressive outcomes on issues from the now-abandoned Latin Mass to the modernizing of nun’s habits but not on issues such as birth control, the admittance of women in the priesthood, and the celibacy of priests. The researcher will use recently released confidential data on the votes of 3,000 bishops during the Second Vatican Council to explain who voted progressively and who voted conservatively. Using this data set, as well as additional archival data, she will examine the factors that influence religious leaders when they are contemplating adapting to social and cultural change. “Supply side” or institutional competition theory will be used to understand the results of the study findings. This theory postulates that religious marketing, which is stimulated by competition among religious organizations to increase membership and member participation, results in a greater availability and a wider variety of religious goods and services. This theory has not, as yet, been applied to many non-U.S. cases. Can the votes by bishops participating in Vatican II be seen as an example of openness to change to increase the competitiveness of Catholicism in dioceses or countries where it does not hold a monopoly? The results of this research should be articles in sociological journals and needed empirical and theoretical additions to the PI’s forthcoming books.

Additional information on the FAD Program is available on the ASA homepage at www.asanet.org/members/fad.html. Program director Roberta Spalter-Roth can be reached at spalter-roth@asanet.org or 202-383-9005, ext. 317.