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  1. Desperation and Service in the Bail Industry

    by Joshua Page, Spring 2017 Contexts

  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: A Brilliant Work in General Theory

    Richard Swedberg reviews Processual Sociology by Andrew Abbot.
  5. Review Essays: Mass Incarceration and Its Discontents

    The contours of mass incarceration are, by now, broadly familiar. The U.S. incarceration rate began an unprecedented ascent in the 1970s. This trend continued through 2007, when 760 of every 100,000 U.S. residents—nearly 1 in 100 adults—lived behind bars, five million others were on probation or parole, more than ten million were booked into jail, and nearly one in three U.S. residents had a criminal record (Kaeble and Glaze 2016, Table 4; PEW Center on the States 2008; Sabol 2014; Subramanian et al. 2016).
  6. Complicating Colorism: Race, Skin Color, and the Likelihood of Arrest

    Both conventional public beliefs and existing academic research on colorism presuppose that variation in skin color predicts social outcomes among minorities but is inconsequential among whites. The authors draw on social psychological research on stereotyping to suggest that in quick, low-information decisions such as an arrest, the opposite may be true.
  7. Paternal Incarceration and Teachers’ Expectations of Students

    In the past 40 years, paternal imprisonment has been transformed from an event affecting only the most unfortunate children to one that one in four African American children experience. Although research speculates that the stigma, strain, and separation resulting from paternal incarceration cause the poor outcomes of children of incarcerated fathers, evidence regarding these mechanisms is lacking.
  8. ASA President Writes Letter in Defense of Jan Tomasz Gross

    ASA President Michèle Lamont recently wrote President Andrzej Duda, Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland criticizing a new Polish law that significantly harms academic freedom. The law punishes those who study Poland's past and reach a well researched conclusion that is opposite to the Polish government's narrative. 

    Lamont urges that no charges be filed against Professor Gross. Gross has written about Poles complicity in the persecution of Jews during WWII.

  9. On the Weak Mortality Returns of the Prison Boom: Comparing Infant Mortality and Homicide in the Incarceration Ledger

    The justifications for the dramatic expansion of the prison population in recent decades have focused on public safety. Prior research on the efficacy of incarceration offers support for such claims, suggesting that increased incarceration saves lives by reducing the prevalence of homicide. We challenge this view by arguing that the effects of mass incarceration include collateral infant mortality consequences that call into question the number of lives saved through increased imprisonment.
  10. Review Essays: A Comparative Approach to Social Differences

    Rogers Brubaker is well known in the sociology of race and ethnicity for the critique of “groupist” tendencies in his now-classic Ethnicity without Groups. In Grounds for Difference, Brubaker extends his comparative and constructionist lens beyond ethnicity; he argues that in recent decades sociological theories of social difference have been challenged by the return to scholarly and popular prominence of three age-old social forces: inequality, biology, and religion.