American Sociological Association

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  1. Tradition and Innovation in Scientists' Research Strategies

    What factors affect a scientist’s choice of research problem? Qualitative research in the history and sociology of science suggests that this choice is patterned by an "essential tension" between productive tradition and risky innovation. We examine this tension through Bourdieu’s field theory of science, and we explore it empirically by analyzing millions of biomedical abstracts from MEDLINE. We represent the evolving state of chemical knowledge with networks extracted from these abstracts. We then develop a typology of research strategies on these networks.

  2. Rage against the Iron Cage: The Varied Effects of Bureaucratic Personnel Reforms on Diversity

    Organization scholars since Max Weber have argued that formal personnel systems can prevent discrimination. We draw on sociological and psychological literatures to develop a theory of the varied effects of bureaucratic reforms on managerial motivation. Drawing on self-perception and cognitive-dissonance theories, we contend that initiatives that engage managers in promoting diversity—special recruitment and training programs—will increase diversity.

  3. 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.

  4. The Age-Graded Nature of Advice: Distributional Patterns and Implications for Life Meaning

    Drawing from life course, social networks, and developmental social psychology scholarship, this article considers how advice transmission varies across age groups and examines the age-contingent associations between advice-giving and life meaning. Binomial and ordered logistic regression using the 2006 Portraits of American Life Study (n = 2,583) reveal that adults in their twenties are most likely to report offering advice to multiple social targets.

  5. Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? Neighborhood Age Composition and Age Discrimination

    Age discrimination is pervasive in the United States, yet little is known about the social contexts in which it occurs. Older persons spend much of their time in their neighborhoods, where a density of other older persons may protect against age discrimination. Extending group density theory to age, we analyze data from 1,561 older adults from the second wave of the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States, using neighborhood-level data from the 2010 U.S. census.

  6. Reward Stability Promotes Group Commitment

    A pressing problem for the social sciences is to understand the processes leading to commitment within organizational settings. Toward this end, we argue for the stability of rewards derived from groups as a key dimension of commitment. We present a theory that links reward stability to justice evaluations and corresponding emotional reactions, which in turn predict group commitment. From this theory, we derive several hypotheses, the key one being that justice evaluations and corresponding emotional reactions explain the effect of reward stability on commitment.

  7. 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.

  8. The Habitus and the Critique of the Present: A Wittgensteinian Reading of Bourdieus Social Theory

    I tackle some major criticisms addressed to Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of habitus by foregrounding its affinities with Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notion of rule-following. To this end, I first clarify the character of the habitus as a theoretical device, and then elucidate what features of Wittgenstein’s analysis Bourdieu found of interest from a methodological viewpoint. To vindicate this reading, I contend that Wittgenstein’s discussion of rule-following was meant to unearth the internal connection between rules and the performative activities whereby rules are brought into life.

  9. Prejudice, Exclusion, and Economic Disadvantage: A Theory

    A central hypothesis about discrimination is that prejudice forces the stigmatized into low-paying, undesirable jobs. Prejudice clearly leads to exclusion. But surprisingly, evidence linking exclusion to disadvantage is mixed. We address this issue theoretically, providing a formal rational choice model combining arguments from sociology (on prejudice) and economics (on competition). Our theory suggests that economic organization is crucial.

  10. The Onset of Ethnic War: A General Theory

    This article develops a general theory regarding the onset of ethnic war, starting with two analytic innovations: a mechanism-based approach toward social facts and an emphasis on dynamic interactions. I deploy two meta-mechanisms – the security dilemma/spiral model and intergroup-intragroup interactions – as meta-synthesizers. I then bring together the numerous factors and mechanisms scattered in the literature into a more integrative and dynamic theory of ethnic war by linking factors with immediate drivers of conflictual behavior via the two meta-mechanisms.