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  1. Mechanisms Linking Social Ties and Support to Physical and Mental Health

    Over the past 30 years investigators have called repeatedly for research on the mechanisms through which social relationships and social support improve physical and psychological well-being, both directly and as stress buffers. I describe seven possible mechanisms: social influence/social comparison, social control, role-based purpose and meaning (mattering), self-esteem, sense of control, belonging and companionship, and perceived support availability. Stress-buffering processes also involve these mechanisms.

  2. Causal Inference with Networked Treatment Diffusion

    Treatment interference (i.e., one unit’s potential outcomes depend on other units’ treatment) is prevalent in social settings. Ignoring treatment interference can lead to biased estimates of treatment effects and incorrect statistical inferences. Some recent studies have started to incorporate treatment interference into causal inference. But treatment interference is often assumed to follow a simple structure (e.g., treatment interference exists only within groups) or measured in a simplistic way (e.g., only based on the number of treated friends).
  3. Limitations of Design-based Causal Inference and A/B Testing under Arbitrary and Network Interference

    Randomized experiments on a network often involve interference between connected units, namely, a situation in which an individual’s treatment can affect the response of another individual. Current approaches to deal with interference, in theory and in practice, often make restrictive assumptions on its structure—for instance, assuming that interference is local—even when using otherwise nonparametric inference strategies.
  4. Comment: Evidence, Plausibility, and Model Selection

    In his article, Michael Schultz examines the practice of model selection in sociological research. Model selection is often carried out by means of classical hypothesis tests. A fundamental problem with this practice is that these tests do not give a measure of evidence. For example, if we test the null hypothesis β = 0 against the alternative hypothesis β ≠ 0, what is the largest p value that can be regarded as strong evidence against the null hypothesis? What is the largest p value that can be regarded as any kind of evidence against the null hypothesis?
  5. The Problem of Underdetermination in Model Selection

    Conventional model selection evaluates models on their ability to represent data accurately, ignoring their dependence on theoretical and methodological assumptions. Drawing on the concept of underdetermination from the philosophy of science, the author argues that uncritical use of methodological assumptions can pose a problem for effective inference. By ignoring the plausibility of assumptions, existing techniques select models that are poor representations of theory and are thus suboptimal for inference.
  6. Qualitative Comparative Analysis in Critical Perspective

    Qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) appears to offer a systematic means for case-oriented analysis. The method not only offers to provide a standardized procedure for qualitative research but also serves, to some, as an instantiation of deterministic methods. Others, however, contest QCA because of its deterministic lineage. Multiple other issues surrounding QCA, such as its response to measurement error and its ability to ascertain asymmetric causality, are also matters of interest.

  7. Comparing Regression Coefficients Between Same-sample Nested Models Using Logit and Probit: A New Method

    Logit and probit models are widely used in empirical sociological research. However, the common practice of comparing the coefficients of a given variable across differently specified models fitted to the same sample does not warrant the same interpretation in logits and probits as in linear regression. Unlike linear models, the change in the coefficient of the variable of interest cannot be straightforwardly attributed to the inclusion of confounding variables. The reason for this is that the variance of the underlying latent variable is not identified and will differ between models.

  8. Terror, Terrorism, Terrorists

    The terms terror, terrorism, and terrorist do not identify causally coherent and distinct social phenomena but strategies that recur across a wide variety of actors and political situations. Social scientists who reify the terms confuse themselves and render a disservice to public discussion. The U.S. government's own catalogs of terrorist events actually support both claims.

  9. Practicing Intersectionality in Sociological Research: A Critical Analysis of Inclusions, Interactions, and Institutions in the Study of Inequalities

    In this article we ask what it means for sociologists to practice intersectionality as a theoretical and methodological approach to inequality. What are the implications for choices of subject matter and style of work? We distinguish three styles of understanding intersectionality in practice: group-centered, process-centered, and system-centered. The first, emphasizes placing multiply-marginalized groups and their perspectives at the center of the research.

  10. Theory Construction in Qualitative Research: From Grounded Theory to Abductive Analysis

    A critical pathway for conceptual innovation in the social is the construction of theoretical ideas based on empirical data. Grounded theory has become a leading approach promising the construction of novel theories. Yet grounded theory–based theoretical innovation has been scarce in part because of its commitment to let theories emerge inductively rather than imposing analytic frameworks a priori. We note, along with a long philosophical tradition, that induction does not logically lead to novel theoretical insights.