Americans love crime. The criminal justice system is fetishized in popular culture and news media. We watch the news and scour the Internet to assess our own moral compass, take cues from others' digressions, and bear witness to justice and punishment. Historically, we learned about crime through news media and fiction. The Internet has dramatically changed this landscape: for the first time, mug shots and jailhouse rosters are available with a click.
Despite significant public, political, and media attention to the issue of criminal violence in the United States, we know surprisingly little about the trends in violent crime for different racial/ethnic groups in recent decades. For example, what are the disparities in homicide between whites, African Americans, and Hispanics? Have these disparities changed over the past 20 years? If so, why? This lack of knowledge is largely due to data limitations, as ethnic identifiers are rarely collected in many official crime statistics.
One finding animates studies of life in poor urban communities: young men yearn for respect, or the admiration and deference of their peers. Given the threat of violence in their communities, young men learn to defend their bodies. They can gain status through fighting. They can also earn their “stripes” through verbal insults and with the clothes they wear. When mainstream institutions block access to these young men, they invest deeply in these alternative status systems. It’s here where young men can “be known.”
ASA speaks with sociologist Dustin Kidd at the 2016 ASA Annual Meeting on August, 2016, in Seattle, WA. Kidd talks about what it means to “do sociology,” how he uses sociology in his work, highlights of his work in the field, the relevance of sociological work to society, and his advice to students interested in entering the field.
Washington, DC — Increasingly, social scientists use multiple forms of communication to engage broader audiences with their research and contribute to solutions of the pressing problems of our time. Yet, in academia, it is unclear whether these efforts to communicate with the public should count when colleges and universities are evaluating scholars.
There’s a stark and troubling way that incarceration diminishes the ability of a former inmate to empathize with a loved one behind bars, but existing sociological theories fail to capture it, Vanderbilt University sociologists have found.
Childhood lead poisoning in the United States remains a persistent, prevalent environmental public health problem, especially for children living in central-city neighborhoods. These neighborhoods typically are racially segregated, are in proximity to current and/or legacy lead emission sources, consist of older housing, and contain disproportionately African American or black children of low-income families.
Being a virtual witness to the murder of Philando Castile did something to me. I mourned for days as my mind flashed back to the video of Castile dying during a routine traffic stop. To hear the 4-year-old daughter of Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend and fellow passenger, try to console her mother was unbearable. I knew then that everything I thought I was doing to make a difference wasn’t enough. As the father of two Black boys, I have to use my sociological toolkit more effectively if I want them to live in an equitable and justice-oriented society.