American Sociological Association

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  1. Adopting a Cloak of Incompetence: Impression Management Techniques for Feigning Lesser Selves

    The “cloak of competence” concept captures attempts to disguise limitations and exaggerate abilities. The author examines the conceptual converse: the “cloak of incompetence,” or the various ways people deliberately disregard, disguise, downplay, or diminish their personal abilities. Drawing on a comparative analysis of manifold empirical cases, the author identifies three generic competence-concealing techniques—avoidance, performance, and neutralization—and considers some of the interactional contingencies that can enhance or reduce their effectiveness.
  2. The New Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere

    Set against the background of mid-twentieth-century institutional changes analyzed by Jürgen Habermas, we provide an account of new social conditions that compose “the public sphere” in the contemporary United States. First, we review recent developments in theorizing the public sphere, arguing they benefit from renewed attention to institutional changes in how that sphere operates.
  3. Racial Ideology or Racial Ignorance? An Alternative Theory of Racial Cognition

    Directing attention to racial ignorance as a core dimension of racialized social systems, this article advances a process-focused Theory of Racial Ignorance (TRI), grounded in Critical Race Theory and the philosophical construct white ignorance. TRI embodies five tenets—epistemology of ignorance, ignorance as ends-based technology, corporate white agency, centrality of praxis, and interest convergence.
  4. Sociology’s Next Steps? Fiftieth Anniversary of Gouldner’s Vision and Sixtieth Anniversary of Mills’s Vision

    My essay in the July 2019 issue of Contemporary Sociology leaned heavily on Habermas’s focus on “personal emancipation” and Giddens’s concept of “structuration.”
  5. Where Ivy Matters: The Educational Backgrounds of U.S. Cultural Elites

    Status transmission theory argues that leading educational institutions prepare individuals from privileged backgrounds for positions of prestige and power in their societies. We examine the educational backgrounds of more than 2,900 members of the U.S. cultural elite and compare these backgrounds to a sample of nearly 4,000 business and political leaders. We find that the leading U.S. educational institutions are substantially more important for preparing future members of the cultural elite than they are for preparing future members of the business or political elite.
  6. Workplace Compensation Practices and the Rise in Benefit Inequality

    This article aims to explain why inequality in fringe benefits has grown faster than wage inequality over the past four decades. We depart from previous income inequality research by studying benefits in addition to wages, but also by focusing on workplaces as the main drivers of benefit determination. We advance the argument that benefits determination is more organizationally embedded than wages mainly because workplaces have greater ability and incentive to alter benefits.
  7. Understanding Recent Growth Dynamics in Small Urban Places: The Case of New England

    This article utilizes recently published US Census data covering the pre‐and post‐Great Recession period (1990–2015) to identify key determinants of growth among small urban places in the New England Region. We find little evidence of random growth and robust evidence of convergence in growth, indicating that smaller urban areas tend to experience faster rates of growth than larger ones, over both the short and long term. Factors such as distance to large city areas and amenities are found to be particularly relevant to population growth rates.

  8. Producing Facts in a World of Alternatives: Why Journalism Matters and Why It Could Matter More

    In a time of shrinking newsrooms, newspaper closings, fake news, alternative facts and outrage, and incursion from outsiders, why does professional journalism matter anymore? How can journalists, looking to defend their profession and the news they produce, claim authority over truth and fact? Michael Schudson engages these questions in Why Journalism Still Matters, a collection of writings on the value of today’s journalism for today’s democracy.
  9. The Phenomenology of Homo Economicus

    Much has been written about the fictitious nature of the atomistic model of homo economicus. Nevertheless, this economic model of self-interest and egoism has become conventional wisdom in market societies. This article offers a phenomenological explanation for the model’s commonsensical grip. Building on the work of Alfred Schutz, I argue that a reliance on homo economicus as an interpretive scheme for making sense of the behavior of economic Others has the effect of reversing the meaning of signs and doubts that challenge the model’s assumptions.
  10. Theorizing Region: Links to Ethnicity, Nation, and Race

    The concept of “region” is widespread in the social sciences but rarely theorized. I argue here that region is a multivalent concept similar to ethnicity, nation, and race. Building on the work of Bourdieu, Brubaker, and Griswold, I show that all four concepts can be understood as both “categories of analysis” and “categories of practice.” Moreover, all four have fundamental similarities regarding (1) ontology and relation to space; (2) historical sequences and relation to time; and (3) protean boundaries that may change with social scientists’ research questions.