American Sociological Association

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  1. Sociology, Teaching, and Reflective Practice: Using Writing to Improve

    The scholarly literature on teaching sociology contains relatively little about improving courses from one semester to the next. In this article, I describe a method for continual teaching improvement that is based on writing, the well-established practice of teacher reflection, and classical sociological principles. This method was developed through the analysis of nine semesters of autoethnographic data that I collected in the form of daily reflective notes.

  2. Thinking with Bourdieu against Bourdieu: A ‘Practical’ Critique of the Habitus

    There are two strands in Bourdieu's sociological writings. On the one hand, Bourdieu argues for a theoretical position one might term his “practical theory” which emphasizes virtuosic interactions between individuals. On the other hand, and most frequently, Bourdieu appeals to the concept of the habitus according to which society consists of objective structures and determined—and isolated—individuals.

  3. The Meaning of 'Theory'

    ‘Theory’ is one of the most important words in the lexicon of contemporary sociology. Yet, their ubiquity notwithstanding, it is quite unclear what sociologists mean by the words ‘theory,’ ‘theoretical,’ and ‘theorize.’ I argue that confusions about the meaning of ‘theory’ have brought about undesirable consequences, including conceptual muddles and even downright miscommunication. In this paper I tackle two questions: (a) what does ‘theory’ mean in the sociological language?; and (b) what ought ‘theory’ to mean in the sociological language? I proceed in five stages.

  4. Going Easy and Going After: Building Inspections and the Selective Allocation of Code Violations

    Sociologists have demonstrated how public and private actors reproduce economic and racial inequality, by protecting the values of lucrative real estate, enforcing the tastes of elite and middle‐class populations, and unfavorably sorting low‐income and minority residents. Building inspections and code violations affect each of these processes. Yet, we know remarkably little about how decisions about building code violations are made.

  5. Data Collection as Disruption: Insights from a Longitudinal Study of Young Adulthood

    Research disrupts the social world, often by making respondents aware that they are being observed or by instigating reflection upon particular aspects of life via the very act of asking questions. Building on insights from the first Hawthorne studies, reflexive ethnographers, and methodologists concerned with panel conditioning, we draw on six years of research within a community in southern Malawi to introduce a conceptual framework for theorizing disruption in observational research.

  6. Essay: Sociology's New Steps?

    It was the devastating problems linked to the dramatic shift from farm to factory during the nineteenth century that fueled sociology’s origins, whether we turn to Comte, Marx, Weber, Durkheim, or Simmel. Building on the eighteenth-century Enlightenment spirit of the power of reason and freedom as well as the triumphs of the biophysical sciences, they envisaged a powerful science of human behavior that could solve those problems.

  7. Review Essay: Important Discussions: Planned, Unplanned, and Even Unremembered

    In Someone to Talk To, Mario Small focuses on core issues in the study of social networks and social support that have somehow remained under-examined: how do individuals decide whom they will confide in, and with whom are confidences actually shared?

  8. Review Essay: Back to the Future

    In one of my undergraduate courses, I show students a photo of Paul Lazarsfeld and Frank Stanton. Of course, neither social scientist is familiar to them, but I argue to my students that Lazarsfeld had a bigger impact on the daily practice of sociology than any member of the Marx/Weber/Durkheim triumvirate they study in classical theory.

  9. How Far From Meritocracy? A Cross-National Longitudinal Analysis of European Countries

    This figure describes the distance from meritocracy in 36 European countries between 2002 and 2017. Following Krauze and Slomczynski, the author defines meritocratic allocation of individuals by education to occupational status groups as a situation when more educated persons do not have jobs with lower status than less educated persons.

  10. How College Makes Citizens: Higher Education Experiences and Political Engagement

    One function of undergraduate education is supporting successful citizenship later in life. Educational achievement is positively, if variably, related to political engagement. However, questions remain about the role of selection into college education as well as the specific college experiences that facilitate postcollege good citizenship.