American Sociological Association

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  1. Toward a Social Topography: Status as a Spatial Practice

    Sociological theorists have long understood the central role of status distinctions in producing social inequality. Although empirical studies have demonstrated how status hierarchies are reproduced in a broad range of cultural domains, there remains little research into where legitimating cultural practices take place, where they do not, and the role of space itself in producing status differences. As a result, sociologists lack a clear understanding of how status hierarchies give shape to cities and how the structure of cities might be practiced hierarchically.

  2. Prejudice, Exclusion, and Economic Disadvantage: A Theory

    A central hypothesis about discrimination is that prejudice forces the stigmatized into low-paying, undesirable jobs. Prejudice clearly leads to exclusion. But surprisingly, evidence linking exclusion to disadvantage is mixed. We address this issue theoretically, providing a formal rational choice model combining arguments from sociology (on prejudice) and economics (on competition). Our theory suggests that economic organization is crucial.

  3. The Onset of Ethnic War: A General Theory

    This article develops a general theory regarding the onset of ethnic war, starting with two analytic innovations: a mechanism-based approach toward social facts and an emphasis on dynamic interactions. I deploy two meta-mechanisms – the security dilemma/spiral model and intergroup-intragroup interactions – as meta-synthesizers. I then bring together the numerous factors and mechanisms scattered in the literature into a more integrative and dynamic theory of ethnic war by linking factors with immediate drivers of conflictual behavior via the two meta-mechanisms.

  4. Ability Groupings Effects on Grades and the Attainment of Higher Education: A Natural Experiment

    To test the effect of ability grouping on grades and the attainment of higher education, this study examines a naturally occurring experiment—an admission reform that dramatically increased ability sorting between schools in the municipality of Stockholm. Following six cohorts of students (N = 79,020) from the age of 16 to 26, I find a mean effect close to zero and small positive and negative differentiating effects on grades.

  5. Stratified Failure: Educational Stratification and Students Attributions of Their Mathematics Performance in 24 Countries

    Country rankings based on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) invite politicians and specialists to speculate about the reasons their countries did well or failed to do well. Rarely, however, do we hear from the students on whose performance these rankings are based. This omission is unfortunate for two reasons. First, research suggests that how students explain their academic performance has important consequences for their future achievements.

  6. (No) Harm in Asking: Class, Acquired Cultural Capital, and Academic Engagement at an Elite University

    How do undergraduates engage authority figures in college? Existing explanations predict class-based engagement strategies. Using in-depth interviews with 89 undergraduates at an elite university, I show how undergraduates with disparate precollege experiences differ in their orientations toward and strategies for engaging authority figures in college. Middle-class undergraduates report being at ease in interacting with authority figures and are proactive in doing so. Lower-income undergraduates, however, are split.

  7. Does College Influence Sociopolitical Attitudes?

    Past research shows a statistically significant relationship between college completion and sociopolitical attitudes. However, recent scholarship suggests the effects of college on social outcomes may be confounded with unobserved family background. In this study, we leverage the shared family and social background of siblings to better identify the effect of college on sociopolitical attitudes.

  8. ''Fake It 'til You Make It'': Why Community College Students' Aspirations ''Hold Steady''

    Sociologists of education have explored the relationship between students’ postsecondary aspirations and their propensity to get "cooled out" in community colleges. However, researchers have directed little attention to students whose aspirations remain stable over long periods of time or to the different roles that college degree goals play in the lives of disadvantaged students. Using four waves of longitudinal interviews, I examine the reasons why low-income women hold steady to their aspirations for college degrees over a three-and-a-half-year period.

  9. Inhabiting Latino Politics: How Colleges Shape Students' Political Styles

    To comply with ideals of multiculturalism and diversity, postsecondary institutions incorporate Latino students into distinct campus cultures. These cultures influence how students interact with one another, the university community at large, and communities outside of campus, ultimately shaping how students inhabit Latino politics. Drawing on data from 20 months of ethnographic fieldwork with six student organizations and 60 in-depth interviews, I compare Latino student organizations in a liberal arts college, a research university, and a regional public university.

  10. Field of Study in College and Lifetime Earnings in the United States

    Our understanding about the relationship between education and lifetime earnings often neglects differences by field of study. Utilizing data that match respondents in the Survey of Income and Program Participation to their longitudinal earnings records based on administrative tax information, we investigate the trajectories of annual earnings following the same individuals over 20 years and then estimate the long-term effects of field of study on earnings for U.S. men and women. Our results provide new evidence revealing large lifetime earnings gaps across fields of study.