American Sociological Association

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  1. Safety pins, awareness ribbons, and the challenges of new symbols

    For many Americans, safety pins have suddenly appeared everywhere: Pinned to shirts, posted to Facebook, or worn by celebrities. When I started wearing one a handful of strangers asked “what the heck are these safety pins all about?” This is the challenge of new symbols. Before they can work people need to know what they mean.

  2. When DNA Evidence Challenges Ideas of A Person’s Racial Purity, White Supremacists Use a Decision Tree to Affirm or Discount the Results

    Now that science can determine a person’s racial and ethnic origins from a cheek swab, those devoted to ideas of racial “purity,” are employing methods of mind games and logic twists to support their beliefs despite facing evidence of their own multiracial heritage.

  3. Communicating Across Difference: Free and Responsible Speech

    Attacks on the speech of students, faculty, and visitors on college campuses have a long history. Not only are such attacks continuing, but social media has generated a climate in which campaigns of intimidation can be organized quickly and easily and the current political climate seems to have released the reins of restraint. Particularly troubling has been the disproportionate number of targets of intimidation campaigns who are scholars from historically marginalized populations, including people of color and members of the LGBTQ community.  

  4. Varieties of American Popular Nationalism

    Despite the relevance of nationalism for politics and intergroup relations, sociologists have devoted surprisingly little attention to the phenomenon in the United States, and historians and political psychologists who do study the United States have limited their focus to specific forms of nationalist sentiment: ethnocultural or civic nationalism, patriotism, or national pride.

  5. Moving a Mountain: The Extraordinary Trajectory of Same-Sex Marriage Approval in the United States

    Most public opinion attitudes in the United States are reasonably stable over time. Using data from the General Social Survey and the American National Election Studies, I quantify typical change rates across all attitudes. I quantify the extent to which change in same-sex marriage approval (and liberalization in attitudes toward gay rights in general) are among a small set of rapid changing outliers in surveyed public opinions. No measured public opinion attitude in the United States has changed more and more quickly than same-sex marriage.
  6. The Struggle to Save Abortion Care

    by Carole Joffe, Summer 2018 Contexts

  7. Featured Essay: The Contributions of Charles Tilly to the Social Sciences

    Evaluating Charles Tilly’s contributions to the social sciences is not an easy task: “Chuck Tilly was a master of sociological thinking and methodology,” wrote two of his former students when he passed away ten years ago; “But he was sufficiently concerned about getting to the heart and dynamics of questions and topics that he never permitted the blinkers of disciplinary orthodoxy to stand in his way” (Michelson and Wellman 2008).
  8. Who are the “Illegals”? The Social Construction of Illegality in the United States

    Immigration scholars have increasingly questioned the idea that “illegality” is a fixed, inherent condition. Instead, the new consensus is that immigration laws produce “illegality.” But can “illegality” be socially constructed? When initially judging who is an “illegal immigrant,” common observers and even authorities typically do not rely on an individual’s documentation.
  9. Political Fit as a Component of Neighborhood Preference and Satisfaction

    We examine the role party identification plays in moderating people's perception of place. Do people rely on heuristics to gauge neighborhood partisan composition? If so, those estimates may influence their perception of fit and neighborhood satisfaction. We find that in the absence of concrete, detailed information, people make quick judgments. Republicans, compared to Democrats and non‐partisans, are more likely to develop impressions based on the specific location characteristics presented here.

  10. The Public Stigma of Mental Illness What Do We Think; What Do We Know; What Can We Prove?

    By the 1990s, sociology faced a frustrating paradox. Classic work on mental illness stigma and labeling theory reinforced that the “mark” of mental illness created prejudice and discrimination for individuals and family members. Yet that foundation, coupled with deinstitutionalization of mental health care, produced contradictory responses. Claims that stigma was dissipating were made, while others argued that intervention efforts were needed to reduce stigma.