American Sociological Association

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  1. The Social Construction of Illness: Key Insights and Policy Implications

    The social construction of illness is a major research perspective in medical sociology. This article traces the roots of this perspective and presents three overarching constructionist findings. First, some illnesses are particularly embedded with cultural meaning—which is not directly derived from the nature of the condition—that shapes how society responds to those afflicted and influences the experience of that illness. Second, all illnesses are socially constructed at the experiential level, based on how individuals come to understand and live with their illness.

  2. No Laughter among Thieves: Authenticity and the Enforcement of Community Norms in Stand-Up Comedy

    Why might observers label one social actor’s questionable act a norm violation even as they seem to excuse similar behavior by others? To answer this question, I use participant-observer data on Los Angeles stand-up comics to explore the phenomenon of joke theft. Informal, community-based systems govern the property rights pertaining to jokes. Most instances of possible joke theft are ambiguous owing to the potential for simultaneous and coincidental discovery.
  3. Identifying the Urban: Resident Perceptions of Community Character and Local Institutions in Eight Metropolitan Areas

    What does the term “urban” signify as a descriptor of contemporary communities in the United States? We investigate this question using data from the Soul of the Community survey, examining how people within eight metropolitan areas characterize their communities. A substantial disjunction exists between where within their regions respondents live and how they describe those areas.

  4. Regulating Landlords: Unintended Consequences for Poor Tenants

    This paper explores “hidden” ways by which cities may inadvertently undermine access to decent, stable, affordable housing—especially for vulnerable renter households—through regulations that sanction landlords for tenant activities on their property.

  5. Opportunity for Whom? The Diverse Definitions of Neighborhood Opportunity in Baltimore

    Across the United States, communities are increasingly interested in the spatial structure of opportunity. Recently, several federal programs have promulgated opportunity mapping as a tool to help increase disadvantaged communities’ access to neighborhood opportunity. The increasing institutionalization of opportunity mapping raises questions about how opportunity is defined and by whom. This paper analyzes data from community engagement events held for a regional planning process throughout the Baltimore metropolitan area.

  6. Residential Stratification is the Linchpin of Racial Stratification

    Three decades of research have amply confirmed Pettigrew's (1979) prescient observation that residential segregation constitutes the “structural linchpin” of racial stratification in the United States. Although the centrality of segregation as a stratifying force in American society remains, however, patterns of segregation have changed substantially since the 1970s.

  7. Do‐It‐Yourself Urban Design: The Social Practice of Informal “Improvement” Through Unauthorized Alteration

    There are numerous ways in which people make illegal or unauthorized alterations to urban space.

  8. From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy, and Prevention

    Scott Decker reviews From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime: Criminal Careers, Justice Policy, and Prevention edited by Rolf Loeber and David P. Farrington

  9. Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It

    Thomas B. Hoffer reviews Dropping Out: Why Students Drop Out of High School and What Can Be Done About It by Russell W. Rumberger.

  10. Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy

    Social relationships—both quantity and quality—affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. Sociologists have played a central role in establishing the link between social relationships and health outcomes, identifying explanations for this link, and discovering social variation (e.g., by gender and race) at the population level.