American Sociological Association

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  1. Toward a Cultural-Structural Theory of Suicide: Examining Excessive Regulation and Its Discontents

    Despite its enduring insights, Durkheim’s theory of suicide fails to account for a significant set of cases because of its overreliance on structural forces to the detriment of other possible factors. In this paper, we develop a new theoretical framework for thinking about the role of culture in vulnerability to suicide. We argue that by focusing on the cultural dynamics of excessive regulation, particularly at the meso level, a more robust sociological model for suicide could be offered that supplements structure-heavy Durkheimian theory.
  2. Scents and Sensibility: Olfaction, Sense-Making, and Meaning Attribution

    How are smells invested with meaning and how do those meanings structure interactions and group relations? I use cultural theories of meaning-making to explore these questions, situating my inquiry in the world of commercially marketed perfumes. Using blind smell tests in focus groups, I examine how individuals make sense of certain fragrances absent direction from manufacturers or marketing materials. I find that most participants can correctly decode perfume manufacturers’ intended message, target users, and usage sites.
  3. Mass Mobilization and the Durability of New Democracies

    The “elitist approach” to democratization contends that “democratic regimes that last have seldom, if ever, been instituted by mass popular actors” (Huntington 1984:212). This article subjects this observation to empirical scrutiny using statistical analyses of new democracies over the past half-century and a case study. Contrary to the elitist approach, I argue that new democracies growing out of mass mobilization are more likely to survive than are new democracies that were born amid quiescence.
  4. Velvet Rope Racism, Racial Paranoia, and Cultural Scripts: Alleged Dress Code Discrimination in Urban Nightlife, 2000–2014

    Using news stories appearing between June 1, 2000, and June 15, 2014, I explore the nature of African Americans’ allegations of racial discrimination in the use of dress codes at urban nightclubs. In this qualitative analysis I outline the nature of these incidents and the extent to which they represent what I refer to as “velvet rope racism”. I focus on how these incidents are negotiated between patrons and nightclub management, observing that owners who face allegations of racial discrimination turn to cultural scripts to make counterclaims to allegations.

  5. After Charlottesville

    Essays explore Americans’ construction and deconstruction of collective memory as White supremacists take to the streets.
  6. Making Protest Great Again

    From the Women’s March to Unite the Right, the Trump presidency has gotten underway during an extraordinary period of mobilized American protest. If nothing else, he may very well be making protest great again.
  7. The Algorithmic Rise of the “Alt-Right”

    As with so many technologies, the Internet’s racism was programmed right in—and it’s quickly fueled the spread of White supremacist, xenophobic rhetoric throughout the western world.
  8. Anger, Profanity, and Hatred

    Protest posters as a flexible, class-free mechanism of expression.
  9. The Art of Trans Politics

    Emmanuel David on contemporary artist Cassils’s embodied struggle and trans politics.
  10. Do Black Lives Increasingly Matter?

    Christopher Todd Beer on trends in police killings of unarmed citizens.