American Sociological Association

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  1. Definitions and the Development of Theory in Social Psychology

    Formal definitions specify what is necessary and sufficient for the identification of a particular term. These formal definitions use precise language and do not admit contradictions; they are exact class. There are multiple advantages of exact class definitions. They enable us to confidently use deductive arguments so we can ensure that the terms in the premises match the terms in the conclusion. They prevent sloppiness and circularity of logic. They also help us look beyond common sense or what we think we already know.
  2. From “Ridiculous” to “Glad to Have Helped”: Debriefing News Delivery and Improved Reactions to Science in Milgram’s “Obedience” Experiments

    Commentators on Milgram’s classic and controversial experiments agree that better integration of theories of “obedience to authority” with current archival research on participants’ viewpoints is essential in explaining compliance. Using conversation analysis, we examine an archived data source that is largely overlooked by the Milgram literature, yet crucial for understanding the interactional organization of participants’ displayed perspectives. In hundreds of interviews conducted immediately after each experiment, participants received one of two types of debriefing: deceptive or full.
  3. Bringing the Global Home: Students Research Local Areas through Postcolonial Perspectives

    This article describes a class that draws on postcolonial insights to create a global sociological imagination. Postcolonial approaches can make visible how global connections have shaped our local environments even if these relations are not always immediately visible. Specifically, students in this class highlight how global relations, such as the slave trade, settler colonialism, racial formations, or migrations, constitute the local. If we start to reconnect global ties, how do we interpret local inequalities differently?
  4. The Art of Trans Politics

    Emmanuel David on contemporary artist Cassils’s embodied struggle and trans politics.
  5. The Structure of Comparison in the Study of Revolution

    The social scientific study of revolution has been deviled by a lack of progress in recent years, divided between competing views on the universality of patterns in revolution. This study examines the origins of these epistemologies. Drawing on an insight that different modes of comparison yield different types of knowledge, I argue that the network structure of how cases are compared constrains or enables the development of a field’s theoretical sensibilities.
  6. How to Read The Wealth of Nations (or Why the Division of Labor Is More Important Than Competition in Adam Smith)

    This article challenges the idea that competition was central to Adam Smith’s thinking by scrutinizing the concept’s role in Smith’s work, particularly The Wealth of Nations. We will understand Smith’s perspective better if we avoid reading later developments of the concept, particularly in economics, back into Smith’s times and writings. Conversely, I argue that the division of labor is the governing idea providing the basic organizational structure of Wealth of Nations.
  7. The Anti-oppressive Value of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality in Social Movement Study

    Social movements can be important mechanisms of social change for vulnerable populations as the formal mechanisms of policy and legislation tend to be in the hands of the powerful in society. Academic scholarship can play an important role in challenging or reinforcing social power dynamics. This reality makes it important to critically interrogate social movement knowledge production and use anti-oppressive frameworks for social movement scholarship.
  8. Education, Smoking, and Cohort Change: Forwarding a Multidimensional Theory of the Environmental Moderation of Genetic Effects

    Sociologists interested in the effects of genes on complex social outcomes claim environmental conditions structure when and how genes matter, but they have only studied environmental moderation of genetic effects on single traits at a time (gene-by-environment interactions). In this article, we propose that the social environment can also transform the genetic link between two traits.
  9. Featured Essay: The Contributions of Charles Tilly to the Social Sciences

    Evaluating Charles Tilly’s contributions to the social sciences is not an easy task: “Chuck Tilly was a master of sociological thinking and methodology,” wrote two of his former students when he passed away ten years ago; “But he was sufficiently concerned about getting to the heart and dynamics of questions and topics that he never permitted the blinkers of disciplinary orthodoxy to stand in his way” (Michelson and Wellman 2008).
  10. Villains, Victims, and Heroes in Character Theory and Affect Control Theory

    We examine three basic tropes—villain, victim, and hero—that emerge in images, claims, and narratives. We compare recent research on characters with the predictions of an established tradition, affect control theory (ACT). Combined, the theories describe core traits of the villain-victim-hero triad and predict audiences’ reactions. Character theory (CT) can help us understand the cultural roots of evaluation, potency, and activity profiles and the robustness of profile ratings.