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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Toward a Dynamic Theory of Action at the Micro Level of Genocide: Killing, Desistance, and Saving in 1994 Rwanda

    This article is about behavioral variation in genocide. Research frequently suggests that violent behaviors can be explained by or treated as synonymous with ethnic categories. This literature also tends to pre-group actors as perpetrators, victims, or bystanders for research purposes. However, evidence that individuals cross boundaries from killing to desistance and saving throughout genocide indicates that the relationship between behaviors and categories is often in flux.

  4. 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.

  5. Reproducing and Reworking Colorblind Racial Ideology: Acknowledging Childrens Agency in the White Habitus

    What is the relationship between white children’s interpretations of racial phenomena and dominant racial ideology? Do children passively adopt dominant racial ideological positions, the result of a "deep cultural conditioning" that happens to children? Do kids assertively challenge ideologies, rejecting adults’ authoritative worldviews through enacting child agency? Or is something more dialectically complex occurring that includes both reproduction and reinvention?

  6. Caring for Them Like Family: How Structure and Culture Simultaneously Influence Contemporary African American Middle- and Upper-Middle-Class Mothers Kin and Community Child Care Choices

    Scholars examining kin and community care have often sought to identify the relative importance of structural and cultural factors on the use and availability of these networks, but research has yielded unclear results in the case of child care. Cultural theories focus on how values, beliefs, and practices lead to differences in kin and community care; structural theories focus on how educational attainment, income, inherited power or inequality, and family structure lead to such differences.

  7. Group Position, Threat, and Immigration: The Role of Interest Groups and Elite Actors in Setting the "Lines of Discussion"

    The purpose of this paper is to move research on racial attitudes away from studying intraindividual attitudes toward studying broader structural factors that contribute to the attitudes and feelings of U.S. citizens. We focus on how interest groups and elite actors play a role in shaping the discourse on immigrants and the immigration debate in the twenty-first century. Herbert Blumer posed that over time, the dominant group develops certain feelings toward subordinate group members and that these feelings form the basis of racial prejudice.

  8. (Collective) Memory of Racial Violence and the Social Construction of the Hispanic Category among Houston Hispanics

    Prior U.S.-based research examining the collective remembrance of racially charged events has focused on the black-white binary, largely bypassing such remembrance among U.S. Hispanics. In this article, I ask how a group of Mexican-origin Hispanics in an historic Houston barrio remember two racially charged events as well as whether and how these events are publicly commemorated. Additionally, race and collective memory research has often highlighted the role of collective memory in shaping race relations.

  9. Memorializing Lynch Victims: Countering Colorblind Ideologies with Experiential Learning

    This article describes a class project designed to develop students’ abilities to use their sociological imagination to better understand the structural sources of racial inequality. The event consisted of a memorial reading of the names of more than 4,000 documented lynch victims in the United States. Authors conducted a pretest and posttest on racial attitudes in large Introduction to Sociology courses. Posttest responses evidenced less support for "colorblind" ideologies and greater support for structural sources of inequality.

  10. Digital Punishment's Tangled Web

    Americans love crime. The criminal justice system is fetishized in popular culture and news media. We watch the news and scour the Internet to assess our own moral compass, take cues from others' digressions, and bear witness to justice and punishment. Historically, we learned about crime through news media and fiction. The Internet has dramatically changed this landscape: for the first time, mug shots and jailhouse rosters are available with a click.