American Sociological Association

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  1. Summer 2016 Contexts online free until November 17

    Dateline: Seattle. Sitting together at the American Sociological Association’s annual conference, we’re reminded (not that we really needed reminding) that sociologists do a really good job of documenting and analyzing so many different facets of our social world. While the last issue was themed “Good News,” this issue is a cornucopia of sociological goodness.

  2. Capturing Culture: A New Method to Estimate Exogenous Cultural Effects Using Migrant Populations

    We know that culture influences people’s behavior. Yet estimating the exact extent of this influence poses a formidable methodological challenge for the social sciences. This is because preferences and beliefs are endogenous, that is, they are shaped by individuals’ own experiences and affected by the same macro-structural conditions that constrain their actions. This study introduces a new method to overcome endogeneity problems in the estimation of cultural effects by using migrant populations.

  3. Pulling Closer and Moving Apart: Interaction, Identity, and Influence in the U.S. Senate, 1973 to 2009

    This article reconciles two seemingly incompatible expectations about interpersonal interaction and social influence. One theoretical perspective predicts that an increase in interaction between two actors will promote subsequent convergence in their attitudes and behaviors, whereas another view anticipates divergence. We examine the role of political identity in moderating the effects of interaction on influence. Our investigation takes place in the U.S.

  4. Ethnic Diversity and Social Trust: Evidence from the Micro-Context

    We argue that residential exposure to ethnic diversity reduces social trust. Previous within-country analyses of the relationship between contextual ethnic diversity and trust have been conducted at higher levels of aggregation, thus ignoring substantial variation in actual exposure to ethnic diversity. In contrast, we analyze how ethnic diversity of the immediate micro-context—where interethnic exposure is inevitable—affects trust.

  5. Sizing up Peers Adolescent Girls’ Weight Control and Social Comparison in the School Context

    Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and multi-level modeling, we examine the role of social comparison with schoolmates in adolescent girls’ weight control. Specifically, we focus on how girls’ own weight control is influenced by the body sizes and weight-control behaviors of their schoolmates. Our findings suggest that comparisons with similar others (in this case, girls of a similar body size) appear to have the strongest association with individual girls’ reports of trying to lose weight.

  6. Taking Up Digital Space: Power and Potentialities of Fatness on Social Media

    In 2013, in Portland, Oregon, the fat positive revolution “got bigger.” A volunteer-run organization called Nolose (National Organization for Lesbians of SizE), centered on ending fat oppression and catalyzing a fat and queer positive culture, organized a conference to continue a conversation of fat acceptance at home and around the world. Part of the conference proceedings was the initiation of a project entitled “I need fat acceptance because…”, a platform on which individuals could express their reasons for needing and supporting a fat acceptance and fat positive ideology.

  7. Fitting In or Standing Out? The Tradeoffs of Structural and Cultural Embeddedness

    A recurring theme in sociological research is the tradeoff between fitting in and standing out. Prior work examining this tension tends to take either a structural or a cultural perspective. We fuse these two traditions to develop a theory of how structural and cultural embeddedness jointly relate to individual attainment within organizations. Given that organizational culture is hard to observe, we develop a novel approach to assessing individuals’ cultural fit with their colleagues based on the language expressed in internal e-mail communications.

  8. Cultural Sentiments and Schema-Consistency Bias in Information Transmission

    The negative outcomes associated with cultural stereotypes based on race, class, and gender and related schema-consistency biases are well documented. How these biases become culturally entrenched is less well understood. In particular, previous research has neglected the role of information transmission processes in perpetuating cultural biases.

  9. Health Insurance Status and Symptoms of Psychological Distress among Low-income Urban Women

    Although numerous studies have considered the effects of having health insurance on access to health care, physical health, and mortality risk, the association between insurance coverage and mental health has been surprisingly understudied. Building on previous work, we use data collected from a two-year follow-up of low-income women living in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio to estimate a series of latent fixed-effects regression models assessing the association between insurance status and symptoms of psychological distress.

  10. Lies, Damned Lies, and Survey Self-Reports? Identity as a Cause of Measurement Bias

    Explanations of error in survey self-reports have focused on social desirability: that respondents answer questions about normative behavior to appear prosocial to interviewers. However, this paradigm fails to explain why bias occurs even in self-administered modes like mail and web surveys. We offer an alternative explanation rooted in identity theory that focuses on measurement directiveness as a cause of bias.