American Sociological Association

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  1. What Does It Mean to Span Cultural Boundaries? Variety and Atypicality in Cultural Consumption

    We propose a synthesis of two lines of sociological research on boundary spanning in cultural production and consumption. One, research on cultural omnivorousness, analyzes choice by heterogeneous audiences facing an array of crisp cultural offerings. The other, research on categories in markets, analyzes reactions by homogeneous audiences to objects that vary in the degree to which they conform to categorical codes. We develop a model of heterogeneous audiences evaluating objects that vary in typicality.

  2. Ripples of Fear: The Diffusion of a Bank Panic

    Community reactions against organizations can be driven by negative information spread through a diffusion process that is distinct from the diffusion of organizational practices. Bank panics offer a classic example of selective diffusion of negative information. Bank panics involve widespread bank runs, although a low proportion of banks experience a run. We develop theory on how organizational similarity, community similarity, and network proximity create selective diffusion paths for resistance against organizations.

  3. Choice, Information, and Constrained Options: School Transfers in a Stratified Educational System

    It is well known that family socioeconomic background influences childhood access to opportunities. Educational reforms that introduce new information about school quality may lead to increased inequality if families with more resources are better able to respond. However, these policies can also level the playing field for choice by equalizing disadvantaged families’ access to information. This study assesses how a novel accountability system affected family enrollment decisions in the Chicago Public Schools by introducing new test performance information and consequences.

  4. The Contingent Value of Embeddedness: Self-affirming Social Environments, Network Density, and Well-being

    Social capital theorists claim that belonging to a densely knit social network creates a shared identity, mutually beneficial exchange, trust, and a sense of belonging in that group. Taken together with the empirical research on the importance of social support and social integration for individuals’ well-being, there is reason to expect that the density of one’s personal social network should be positively related to well-being.

  5. Understanding Educational Policy Formation: The Case of School Violence Policies in Israel

    This study explores mechanisms underlying processes of educational policy formation. Previous studies have given much attention to processes of diffusion when accounting for educational policy formation. Less account has been given to the day-to-day institutional dynamics through which educational policies develop and change. Building on extensive governmental archival data, complemented with interviews and media analysis, I study the development and transformation of school violence policies in Israel.

  6. Symbolic Politics of the State: The Case of In-state Tuition Bills for Undocumented Students

    A symbolic politics approach contends that the meanings policy proposals convey, and the audiences they attract, may matter more than whether they become law. Yet, we know little about the sociopolitical conditions prompting lawmakers to engage in symbolic politics.

  7. What Is Relational Structure? Introducing History to the Debates on the Relation between Fields and Social Networks

    In this article, I argue that the current views on the relation between fields and social networks are based on two false premises: first, that fields and social networks are mutually exclusive forms of relational structure, and second, that the objective form of relational structure is an a priori fact.

  8. The Origins of Race-conscious Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Institutional Change in Higher Education

    What explains the rise of race-conscious affirmative action policies in undergraduate admissions? The dominant theory posits that adoption of such policies was precipitated by urban and campus unrest in the North during the late 1960s. Based on primary research in a sample of 17 selective schools, we find limited support for the dominant theory. Affirmative action arose in two distinct waves during the 1960s. A first wave was launched in the early 1960s by northern college administrators inspired by nonviolent civil rights protests in the South.

  9. Cohorts, ‘‘Siblings,’’ and Mentors: Organizational Structures and the Creation of Social Capital

    How can an organization help participants increase their social capital? Using data from an ethnographic study of Launch, an organization that prepares low-income students of color to attend elite boarding schools, I analyze how the organization’s structures not only generate social ties among students but also stratify those ties horizontally and vertically, thereby connecting students to a set of social contacts who occupy a range of hierarchical positions and who are able to provide access to resources that are beneficial in different contexts and at different times.

  10. Featured Essay: The Contributions of Charles Tilly to the Social Sciences

    Evaluating Charles Tilly’s contributions to the social sciences is not an easy task: “Chuck Tilly was a master of sociological thinking and methodology,” wrote two of his former students when he passed away ten years ago; “But he was sufficiently concerned about getting to the heart and dynamics of questions and topics that he never permitted the blinkers of disciplinary orthodoxy to stand in his way” (Michelson and Wellman 2008).