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  1. How to Do Ethnography Right

    Selected essays from the Contexts forum on ethnographic best practices explore the practice of ethnographic "masking," IRBs and legal counsel, and gaining access to vulnerable populations.

  2. Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Probability and Nonprobability Moments in Experiment, Interview, Archival, Administrative, and Ethnographic Data Collection

    Sociologists use data from experiments, ethnographies, survey interviews, in-depth interviews, archives, and administrative records. Analysts disagree, however, on whether probability sampling is necessary for each method. To address the issue, the author introduces eight dimensions of data collection, places each method within those dimensions, and uses that resource to assess the necessity and feasibility of probability sampling for each method. The author finds that some methods often seen as unique are not, whereas others’ unique natures are confirmed.
  3. Some Provisional Techniques for Quantifying the Degree of Field Effect in Social Data

    The authors present some relatively simple measures for the degree of organization of a social field, illustrating them with the intuitively accessible cases of fields that are organized by geographic space, and demonstrate that the measures are able to indicate when fields become more organized and that they can be applied to nongeographic data. Finally, the general approach highlights the danger of ignoring complexities of the functional form of spatial interdependence for social data.
  4. Justice Standard Determines Emotional Responses to Over-Reward

    How do people feel when they benefit from an unfair reward distribution? Equity theory predicts negative emotion in response to over-reward, but sociological research using referential standards of justice drawn from status-value theory repeatedly finds positive emotional responses to over-reward.

  5. Becoming a Public Professor

    M. V. Lee Badgett with three steps for changing hearts, minds, and policy.

  6. Sharing the Emotional Load: Recipient Affiliation Calms Down the Storyteller

    In conversational storytelling, the recipients are expected to show affiliation with the emotional stance displayed by the storytellers. We investigated emotional arousal-related autonomic nervous system responses in tellers and recipients of conversational stories. The data consist of 20 recordings of 45- to 60-minute dyadic conversations between female university and polytechnic students. Conversations were videotaped and analyzed by means of conversation analysis (CA), with a special emphasis on the verbal and nonverbal displays of affiliation in storytelling.

  7. 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.

  8. All That Is Solid: Bench-Building at the Frontiers of Two Experimental Sciences

    The belief that natural sciences are more scientific than the social sciences has been well documented in the perceptions of both lay and scientific populations. Influenced by the Kuhnian concept of "paradigm development" and empirical studies on the closure of scientific controversies, scholars from divergent traditions associate scientific development with increased consensus and stability. However, both the macro/quantitative and micro/qualitative approaches are limited in key ways.

  9. Review Essays: The Path Not Taken? Culture, Materials, and Pleasure in Action

    Claudio E. Benzecry reviews Profane Culture by Paul E. Willis.

  10. Tradition and Innovation in Scientists’ Research Strategies

    What factors affect a scientist’s choice of research problem? Qualitative research in the history and sociology of science suggests that this choice is patterned by an “essential tension” between productive tradition and risky innovation. We examine this tension through Bourdieu’s field theory of science, and we explore it empirically by analyzing millions of biomedical abstracts from MEDLINE. We represent the evolving state of chemical knowledge with networks extracted from these abstracts. We then develop a typology of research strategies on these networks.