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.
Over seven million Americans are either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their criminal records often following them for life and affecting access to higher education, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered monetary sanctions that compel criminal defendants to pay fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution further inhibit their ability to reenter society. In A Pound of Flesh, sociologist Alexes Harris analyzes the rise of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system and shows how they permanently penalize and marginalize the poor.
“What does it mean to live for sociology, today?” Michael Burawoy asks in his timely essay, “Sociology as a Vocation.” Drawing on insights from Max Weber’s classic lectures on science and politics, Burawoy argues that sociology is uniquely positioned to reinvigorate civil society and the university in the face of the relentless growth of marketization across the globe.
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.”
The American Sociological Association (ASA) filed an amicus curiae brief in March, 2015 with the Supreme Court of the United States in the same-sex marriage cases pending before the court. The ASA’s brief highlights the social science consensus that children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by different-sex parents.
The American Sociological Association (ASA) recently played a key role in support of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2016 ruling in the affirmative action case Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. The judgement allowed the university to continue using race as a factor in admissions decisions.
“Scientific research shows that having a diverse student body leads to a number of educational benefits, including a decline in prejudice, improvements in students’ cognitive skills and self-confidence, and better classroom environments,” said ASA Executive Officer Sally T. Hillsman.
ASA speaks with ethnographer and sociologist Jessica Calarco at the 2016 ASA Annual Meeting on August, 2016, in Seattle, WA. Calarco talks about what it means to “do sociology,” how she uses sociology in her work, highlights of her work in the field, the relevance of sociological work to society, and her advice to students interested in entering the field.
ASA speaks with sociologist Christopher Dum at the 2016 ASA Annual Meeting on August, 2016, in Seattle, WA. Dum 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.