American Sociological Association



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  1. Do Sociology Courses Make More Empathetic Students? A Mixed-Methods Study of Empathy Change in Undergraduates

    Assessing course goals is often challenging; assessing an abstract goal, like empathy, can be especially so. For many instructors, empathy is central to sociological thinking. As such, fostering empathy in students is a common course goal. In this article, we report the initial findings of a semester-long assessment of empathy change in undergraduate students (N = 619). We employ a mixed-methods research design that utilizes qualitative instructor data to determine independent instructor-level variables and student surveys to measure student empathy change.
  2. Mapping Cultural Schemas: From Theory to Method

    A growing body of research in sociology uses the concept of cultural schemas to explain how culture influences beliefs and actions. However, this work often relies on belief or attitude measures gleaned from survey data as indicators of schemas, failing to measure the cognitive associations that constitute schemas. In this article, we propose a concept-association-based approach for collecting data about individuals’ schematic associations, and a corresponding method for modeling concept network representations of shared cultural schemas.
  3. Featured Essay: Preventing Violence: Insights from Micro-Sociology

    Micro-sociology of violence looks at what happens in situations where people directly threaten violence, but only sometimes carry it out. This process and its turning points have become easier to see in the current era of visual data: cell-phone videos, long-distance telephoto lenses, CCTV cameras. New cues and instruments are on the horizon as we look at emotional signals, body rhythms, and monitors for body signs such as heart rate (a proxy for adrenaline level).
  4. Residuality and Inconsistency in the Interpretation of Socio-Theoretical Systems

    This article addresses the interpretation and criticism of theoretical systems. Its particular focus is on how to assess the success of theories in dealing with some specific phenomenon. We are interested in how to differentiate between cases where a theory offers an unsatisfactory acknowledgment of a specified phenomenon and those where a theory offers a deeper, more systematic understanding.
  5. What’s Alter Got to Do with It? A Consideration of Network Content and the Social Ties That Provide It

    The strength of weak ties is among the most important theories in the social sciences. One paradoxical element of the theory has been widely understood and valued—that weak ties connect disparate regions of social structure. Less appreciated, however, is the arguably more paradoxical implication that someone only weakly connected to another would provide value beyond that which is provided by the recipient’s (ego’s) strong ties. Once this paradoxical feature of the theory and associated empirical literatures is acknowledged, the interests of the resource provider (alter) demand consideration.
  6. Meaning and Modularity: The Multivalence of “Mechanism” in Sociological Explanation

    Mechanisms are ubiquitous in sociological explanation. Recent theoretical work has sought to extend mechanistic explanation further still: into cultural and interpretative analysis. Yet it is not clear that the concept of mechanism can coherently unify interpretation and causal explanation within a single explanatory framework. We note that sociological mechanistic explanation is marked by a crucial disjuncture.
  7. “Daddies,” “Cougars,” and Their Partners Past Midlife: Gender Attitudes and Relationship and Sexual Well-Being among Older Adults in Age-Heterogenous Partnerships

    Discussion of “daddies” has exploded in popular discourse, yet there is little sociological research on age-heterogenous partnerships. This paper uses data from the 2013 Midlife in the United States survey and the 2015–2016 National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project to examine age-heterogenous partnerships at older ages (63 was the approximate average age of each sample).

  8. The Distribution of School Quality: Do Schools Serving Mostly White and High-SES Children Produce the Most Learning?

    What is schools’ role in the stratification system? One view is that schools are an important mechanism for perpetuating inequality because children from advantaged backgrounds (white and high socioeconomic) enjoy better school learning environments than their disadvantaged peers. But it is difficult to know this with confidence because children’s development is a product of both school and nonschool factors, making it a challenge to isolate school’s role.
  9. The Sociological Canon, Relations between Theories and Methods, and a Latent Political Structure: Findings from a Survey of Sociology Students in Germany and Consequences for Teaching

    We discuss findings from a survey of sociology students in Germany and consequences for teaching. We focus on the de facto formation of a sociological canon, the relation between theories and methods, and effects of social and political characteristics on student’s scientific preferences. Our findings suggest that irrespective of an agreement of the sociological professionals on a common definition of a core, a de facto canon of theories and methods exists in teaching practices. Moreover, specific relations between sociological theories and methods occur in the data.
  10. The Organizational Ecology of College Affordability: Research Activity, State Grant Aid Policies, and Student Debt at U.S. Public Universities

    Sociologists have theorized U.S. universities as a heterogenous organizational ecology. We use this lens to compare student debt and college prices for low-income students across public universities according to their research intensiveness and varied state grant aid policies. We show that students at research-intensive public universities have had an easier time repaying student loans than at other schools.