American Sociological Association

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  1. Pluralistic Collapse: The “Oil Spill” Model of Mass Opinion Polarization

    Despite widespread feeling that public opinion in the United States has become dramatically polarized along political lines, empirical support for such a pattern is surprisingly elusive. Reporting little evidence of mass polarization, previous studies assume polarization is evidenced via the amplification of existing political alignments. This article considers a different pathway: polarization occurring via social, cultural, and political alignments coming to encompass an increasingly diverse array of opinions and attitudes.

  2. Emotions and Medical Decision-Making

    Sociologists have written surprisingly little about the role emotions play in medical decision-making, largely ceding this terrain to psychologists who conceptualize emotional influences on decision-making in primarily cognitive and individualistic terms. In this article, I use ethnographic data gathered from parents and physicians caring for children with life-threatening conditions to illustrate how emotions enter the medical decision-making process in fundamentally interactional ways.
  3. Measuring Stability and Change in Personal Culture Using Panel Data

    Models of population-wide cultural change tend to invoke one of two broad models of individual change. One approach theorizes people actively updating their beliefs and behaviors in the face of new information. The other argues that, following early socialization experiences, dispositions are stable. We formalize these two models, elaborate empirical implications of each, and derive a simple combined model for comparing them using panel data. We test this model on 183 attitude and behavior items from the 2006 to 2014 rotating panels of the General Social Survey.
  4. Revisiting China’s Social Volcano: Attitudes toward Inequality and Political Trust in China

    Existing literature suggests that despite rising inequality in China, Chinese people tend to tolerate inequality, so it would be unlikely that rising inequality would cause sociopolitical instability. Few studies, however, have systematically explained Chinese people’s attitudes toward inequality, analyzed attitudinal changes over time, or examined the relationship between such attitudes and political trust. The author’s analysis of national surveys in 2004, 2009, and 2014 yields three findings.
  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. Medical Authority under Siege: How Clinicians Transform Patient Resistance into Acceptance

    Over the past decades, professional medical authority has been transformed due to internal and external pressures, including weakened institutional support and patient-centered care. Today’s patients are more likely to resist treatment recommendations. We examine how patient resistance to treatment recommendations indexes the strength of contemporary professional authority. Using conversation analytic methods, we analyze 39 video recordings of patient-clinician encounters involving pediatric epilepsy patients in which parents resist recommended treatments.
  10. Aggression, Conflict, and the Formation of Intimidating Group Reputation

    From inmates in prison gangs to soldiers in elite units, the intimidating reputation of groups often precedes its members. While individual reputation is known to affect people’s aggressiveness, whether one’s group reputation can similarly influence behavior in conflict situations is yet to be established. Using an economic game experiment, we isolate the effect of group reputation on aggression and conflict from that of individual reputation.