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  1. The Habitus and the Critique of the Present: A Wittgensteinian Reading of Bourdieus Social Theory

    I tackle some major criticisms addressed to Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of habitus by foregrounding its affinities with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notion of rule-following. To this end, I first clarify the character of the habitus as a theoretical device, and then elucidate what features of Wittgenstein’s analysis Bourdieu found of interest from a methodological viewpoint. To vindicate this reading, I contend that Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following was meant to unearth the internal connection between rules and the performative activities whereby rules are brought into life.

  2. 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.

  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. Markets, Nature, and Society: Embedding Economic & Environmental Sociology

    Social scientists have drawn on theories of embeddedness to explain the different ways legal, political, and cultural frameworks shape markets. Often overlooked, however, is how the materiality of nature also structures markets. In this article, I suggest that neo-Polanyian scholars, and economic sociologists more generally, should better engage in a historical sociology of concept formation to problematize the human exemptionalist paradigm their work upholds and recognize the role of nature in shaping markets and society.

  5. The Public Life of Secrets: Deception, Disclosure, and Discursive Framing in the Policy Process

    While secrecy enables policy makers to escape public scrutiny, leaks of classified information reveal the social construction of reality by the state. I develop a theory that explains how leaks shape the discursive frames states create to communicate the causes of social problems to the public and corresponding solutions to redress them. Synthesizing cultural sociology, symbolic interactionism, and ethnomethodology, I argue that leaks enable non–state actors to amplify contradictions between the public and secret behavior of the state.

  6. 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.

  7. (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.

  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. The Social Structure of Criminalized and Medicalized School Discipline

    In this article, the author examines how school- and district-level racial/ethnic and socioeconomic compositions influence schools’ use of different types of criminalized and medicalized school discipline. Using a large data set containing information on over 60,000 schools in over 6,000 districts, the authors uses multilevel modeling and a group-mean modeling strategy to answer several important questions about school discipline. First, how do school- and district-level racial and ethnic compositions influence criminalized school discipline and medicalization?

  10. Secondary Education Systems and the General Skills of Less- and Intermediate-educated Adults: A Comparison of 18 Countries

    We investigate the impact of external differentiation and vocational orientation of (lower and upper) secondary education on country variation in the mean numeracy skills of, and skills gaps between, adults with low and intermediate formal qualifications. We use data on 30- to 44-year-olds in 18 countries from the 2011–12 round of the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies. We find that higher levels of external differentiation (tracking) amplify skills gaps between less- and intermediate-educated adults.