American Sociological Association

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  1. What Does It Mean to Span Cultural Boundaries? Variety and Atypicality in Cultural Consumption

    We propose a synthesis of two lines of sociological research on boundary spanning in cultural production and consumption. One, research on cultural omnivorousness, analyzes choice by heterogeneous audiences facing an array of crisp cultural offerings. The other, research on categories in markets, analyzes reactions by homogeneous audiences to objects that vary in the degree to which they conform to categorical codes. We develop a model of heterogeneous audiences evaluating objects that vary in typicality.

  2. The Theory of Legal Cynicism and Sunni Insurgent Violence in Post-Invasion Iraq

    We elaborate a cultural framing theory of legal cynicism—previously used to account for neighborhood variation in Chicago homicides—to explain Arab Sunni victimization and insurgent attacks during the U.S. post-invasion occupation of Iraq. Legal cynicism theory has an unrecognized power to explain collective and interpersonal violence in international as well as U.S. settings. We expand on how "double and linked" roles of state and non-state actors can be used to analyze violence against Arab Sunni civilians.

  3. Elements of Professional Expertise: Understanding Relational and Substantive Expertise through Lawyers' Impact

    Lawyers keep the gates of public justice institutions, particularly through their roles in formal procedures like hearings and trials. Yet, it is not clear what lawyers do in such quintessentially legal settings: conclusions from past research are bedeviled by a lack of clear theory and inconsistencies in research design. Conceptualizing litigation work in terms of professional expertise, I conduct a theoretically grounded synthesis of the findings of extant studies of lawyers’ impact on civil case outcomes.

  4. Choice, Information, and Constrained Options: School Transfers in a Stratified Educational System

    It is well known that family socioeconomic background influences childhood access to opportunities. Educational reforms that introduce new information about school quality may lead to increased inequality if families with more resources are better able to respond. However, these policies can also level the playing field for choice by equalizing disadvantaged families’ access to information. This study assesses how a novel accountability system affected family enrollment decisions in the Chicago Public Schools by introducing new test performance information and consequences.

  5. Understanding Educational Policy Formation: The Case of School Violence Policies in Israel

    This study explores mechanisms underlying processes of educational policy formation. Previous studies have given much attention to processes of diffusion when accounting for educational policy formation. Less account has been given to the day-to-day institutional dynamics through which educational policies develop and change. Building on extensive governmental archival data, complemented with interviews and media analysis, I study the development and transformation of school violence policies in Israel.

  6. Symbolic Politics of the State: The Case of In-state Tuition Bills for Undocumented Students

    A symbolic politics approach contends that the meanings policy proposals convey, and the audiences they attract, may matter more than whether they become law. Yet, we know little about the sociopolitical conditions prompting lawmakers to engage in symbolic politics.

  7. The Origins of Race-conscious Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Admissions: A Comparative Analysis of Institutional Change in Higher Education

    What explains the rise of race-conscious affirmative action policies in undergraduate admissions? The dominant theory posits that adoption of such policies was precipitated by urban and campus unrest in the North during the late 1960s. Based on primary research in a sample of 17 selective schools, we find limited support for the dominant theory. Affirmative action arose in two distinct waves during the 1960s. A first wave was launched in the early 1960s by northern college administrators inspired by nonviolent civil rights protests in the South.

  8. Ideology and Threat Assessment: Law Enforcement Evaluation of Muslim and Right-Wing Extremism

    Does ideology affect assessment of the threat of violent extremism? A survey of law enforcement agencies in the United States in 2014 offers a comparison suggesting a small but statistically significant effect: Political attitudes were correlated with assessment of threats posed by Muslim extremists, and threat assessment was not correlated with the number of Muslim Americans who had engaged in violent extremism within the agency’s jurisdiction.
  9. The Emergence of Statistical Objectivity: Changing Ideas of Epistemic Vice and Virtue in Science

    The meaning of objectivity in any specific setting reflects historically situated understandings of both science and self. Recently, various scientific fields have confronted growing mistrust about the replicability of findings, and statistical techniques have been deployed to articulate a “crisis of false positives.” In response, epistemic activists have invoked a decidedly economic understanding of scientists’ selves. This has prompted a scientific social movement of proposed reforms, including regulating disclosure of “backstage” research details and enhancing incentives for replication.
  10. The Racial Composition of Neighborhoods and Local Schools: The Role of Diversity, Inequality, and School Choice

    In an education system that draws students from residentially based attendance zones, schools are local institutions that reflect the racial composition of their surrounding communities. However, with opportunities to opt out of the zoned public school system, the social and economic contexts of neighborhoods may affect the demographic link between neighborhoods and their public neighborhood schools.