American Sociological Association

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  1. Microscopic Hair Comparison and the Sociology of Science

    Flawed forensics and overstated claims make scientific evidence tricky at trial.

  2. A Paper Ceiling: Explaining the Persistent Underrepresentation of Women in Printed News

    In the early twenty-first century, women continue to receive substantially less media coverage than men, despite women’s much increased participation in public life. Media scholars argue that actors in news organizations skew news coverage in favor of men and male-related topics. However, no previous study has systematically examined whether such media bias exists beyond gender ratio imbalances in coverage that merely mirror societal-level structural and occupational gender inequalities.

  3. How National Institutions Mediate the Global: Screen Translation, Institutional Interdependencies, and the Production of National Difference in Four European Countries

    How do national institutional contexts mediate the global? This article aims to answer this question by analyzing screen translation—the translation of audiovisual materials like movies and television programs—in four European countries: France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. A cross-national, multi-method research project combining interviews, ethnography, and a small survey found considerable cross-national differences in translation norms and practices, sometimes leading to very different translated versions of the same product.

  4. Defining the State from within: Boundaries, Schemas, and Associational Policymaking

    A growing literature posits the importance of boundaries in structuring social systems. Yet sociologists have not adequately theorized one of the most fraught and consequential sites of boundary-making in contemporary life: the delineation of the official edges of the government—and, consequently, of state from society. This article addresses that gap by theorizing the mechanisms of state boundary formation. In so doing, we extend culturalist theories of the state by providing a more specific model of how the state-society boundary is produced.

  5. The Public Life of Secrets: Deception, Disclosure, and Discursive Framing in the Policy Process

    While secrecy enables policy makers to escape public scrutiny, leaks of classified information reveal the social construction of reality by the state. I develop a theory that explains how leaks shape the discursive frames states create to communicate the causes of social problems to the public and corresponding solutions to redress them. Synthesizing cultural sociology, symbolic interactionism, and ethnomethodology, I argue that leaks enable non–state actors to amplify contradictions between the public and secret behavior of the state.

  6. Individualism as a Discursive Strategy of Action: Autonomy, Agency, and Reflexivity among Religious Americans

    This paper reconceptualizes "individualism" as a discursive strategy of action through which everyday Americans attempt to manage the cultural dilemma of engaging in externally imposed social obligations within a broader individualistic culture.

  7. New Horizontal Inequalities in German Higher Education? Social Selectivity of Studying Abroad between 1991 and 2012

    On the basis of theories of cultural reproduction and rational choice, we examine whether access to study-abroad opportunities is socially selective and whether this pattern changed during educational expansion. We test our hypotheses for Germany by combining student survey data and administrative data on higher education entry rates. We find that studying abroad was socially selective during the entire observation period. Selectivity increased between 1991 and 2003 and hardly changed thereafter. Unexpectedly, the expansion of higher education does not explain this development.

  8. School Racial Composition and Parental Choice: New Evidence on the Preferences of White Parents in the United States

    Racial segregation remains a persistent problem in U.S. schools. In this article, we examine how social psychological factors—in particular, individuals’ perceptions of schools with varying demographic characteristics—may contribute to the ongoing structural problem of school segregation. We investigate the effects of school racial composition and several nonracial school characteristics on white parents’ school enrollment decisions for their children as well as how racial stereotypes shape the school choice process.

  9. Ability Groupings Effects on Grades and the Attainment of Higher Education: A Natural Experiment

    To test the effect of ability grouping on grades and the attainment of higher education, this study examines a naturally occurring experiment—an admission reform that dramatically increased ability sorting between schools in the municipality of Stockholm. Following six cohorts of students (N = 79,020) from the age of 16 to 26, I find a mean effect close to zero and small positive and negative differentiating effects on grades.

  10. Stratified Failure: Educational Stratification and Students Attributions of Their Mathematics Performance in 24 Countries

    Country rankings based on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) invite politicians and specialists to speculate about the reasons their countries did well or failed to do well. Rarely, however, do we hear from the students on whose performance these rankings are based. This omission is unfortunate for two reasons. First, research suggests that how students explain their academic performance has important consequences for their future achievements.