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  1. Review Essays: Sociology’s Messy Eating: Food, Consumer Choice, and Social Change

    In 2002, the historian Warren Belasco remarked that while “food is important . . . food scholars may still evoke a sense of surprise” (Belasco 2002, pp. 2, 5). The sociological importance of food should be obvious: one need not be a Marxist to recognize that food production forms an essential infrastructure for other sorts of social activities, nor a Weberian to perceive the role of eating in status and social closure. And yet, at the time of Belasco’s writing, identifying one’s primary research area as “food” to colleagues at an ASA meeting could evoke a cocked eyebrow and an awkward pause.
  2. Shadow Plays: Theory’s Perennial Challenges

    This article argues that theory holds its ground when it confronts itself with the empirics of its claims and this confrontation is geared to the project of increasing analytical specificity. This means (1) shedding as much light as possible on the very process whereby a type of outcome gets generated or takes shape and (2) identifying the factors that condition the likelihood of this process. From this perspective, sound theorizing is predicated on both empirical grounding and analytical specificity.
  3. Puzzling in Sociology: On Doing and Undoing Theoretical Puzzles

    One typical way to motivate a sociological argument is to present the research question as a puzzle. Unlike in physical sciences, sociologists work backward to construct theoretical puzzles from their data. Sociologists risk puzzling for puzzles’ sake, and in so doing, they reify categories and concepts that are not necessary or useful to their empirical material at hand. This essay examines mostly qualitative sociologists’ conventions for puzzling and suggests alternatives rooted in thick description of empirics.
  4. Review Essays: Inequality and Polarization in America

    Doug McAdam and Karina Kloos’s Deeply Divided: Racial Politics and Social Movements in Postwar America provides a powerful and timely analysis of the causes and consequences of growing political polarization and economic inequality. Arguing that social movements have contributed to a reconfiguration of politics, McAdam and Kloos show how the sharp right turn of the Republican Party has generated policies that greatly increase economic inequality.
  5. Agents with Principles: The Control of Labor in the Dutch East India Company, 1700 to 1796

    Agents with Principles: The Control of Labor in the Dutch East India Company, 1700 to 1796
  6. Whitewashing the Working Class

    Six essays consider the emotion, economic power, racial animus, alienation, anti-elitism, and exploitation of the “white working class”–and how it all fit into the 2016 election.

  7. Hope in the Sweatshops of Buenos Aires

    Dreaming and hustling in La Salada, Latin America’s largest low-cost garment marketplace.

  8. Walmart’s Consumer Redlining

    When Walmart opened its first two stores in Washington D.C. in late 2013, Mayor Vincent Gray said that the massive retailer would help to solve the problem of “food deserts” in the city.

  9. Ecometrics in the Age of Big Data: Measuring and Assessing "Broken Windows" Using Large-scale Administrative Records

    The collection of large-scale administrative records in electronic form by many cities provides a new opportunity for the measurement and longitudinal tracking of neighborhood characteristics, but one that will require novel methodologies that convert such data into research-relevant measures. The authors illustrate these challenges by developing measures of "broken windows" from Boston’s constituent relationship management (CRM) system (aka 311 hotline).

  10. Featured Essay: Why Sociologists Matter in the Welfare Reform Debate

    In the 1960s, public support for Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), a federal program that provided cash benefits to eligible poor families with children, began to erode (Teles 1996). Critics of welfare associated the growing number of unwed mothers with the rising rates of AFDC, even though the scientific evidence offered scant support for this claim.