July/August 2014 Issue • Volume 42 • Issue 6

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ASA Awards Six Grants for the Advancement of Sociology

Member donations are needed to continue advancing the discipline

The American Sociological Association (ASA) announced six awards from the December 2013 round of the Fund for the Advancement of the Discipline (FAD). Co-funded by ASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) and administered by the ASA, FAD provides seed money (up to $7,000) to PhD scholars for innovative research projects and scientific conferences that advance the discipline through theoretical and methodological breakthroughs. Funding decisions are made by an advisory panel composed of members of ASA’s Council and the Director of Research and Development.

Member donations help build the strong FAD tradition and maintain current funding levels. Therefore, we are asking ASA members to provide the donations needed to allow us to continue to fund six or seven proposals per cycle (December 15 and June 15). Individuals can contribute online (by logging into the ASA website and clicking on “contribute”), by phone at (202) 383-9005, or by sending contributions to FAD, c/o Business Office, American Sociological Association, 1430 K Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005.

Below is a list of the latest FAD Principal Investigators (PIs) and a brief description of their projects from the December 13 round of the project.

Jennifer Karas Montez, Case Western Reserve University, $6950 for Explaining Inequalities in Women’s Mortality across U.S. States.

Women’s mortality increased in over 40 percent of U.S. counties between 1992 and 2006, with a strong geographic pattern. It is unknown whether the pattern reflects differences between geographic areas in the composition of their populations (e.g., women’s education levels) or structural characteristics of the areas (e.g., sociopolitical orientation). One reason the pattern is poorly understood is a lack of appropriate data. This proposal seeks funds to explain the geographic pattern at the state level by analyzing the restricted-use National Health Interview Survey Linked Mortality File. The researcher hypothesizes that behaviors linked to premature death, such as smoking, are a function of a state’s structural characteristics. She predicts that regional variation and educational attainment will explain a large portion of the variance in mortality rates. This proposal targets a relatively new area of interdisciplinary research on health disparities in which sociologists are becoming more central.

Zulema Valdez, University of California–Merced, and Nancy Plankey Videla, Texas A&M University, $5570 for The Effects of Legal Status on the Social and Economic Incorporation of Mexican-Origin Mixed Status Families in the Southwest.

The proposal’s authors suggest that unauthorized Mexican immigrants face barriers in the United States based on their legal status, which affects their social and economic integration. Yet, the investigators claim that few researchers have examined “unauthorized status” as a central determinant of Mexican incorporation in the United States; fewer researchers address how unauthorized status affects the incorporation trajectories of families and households, especially “mixed status” households. This study highlights the role of family and household structure on trajectories of integration, including the uneven incorporation experiences of family members within the same household. This is stage two of a two-stage project, where stage one was a Mobile Consular Survey of Mexican immigrants at two points in time. The researchers will conduct focus groups to extend their survey work on the household strategies that respondents employ to overcome the stigma of an unauthorized status.

Michaela Soyer and Gary Zajac, both at the Justice Center for Research, Pennsylvania State University, $7000 for Fatal Choices? – Investigating the Emergence of Negative Turning Points in the Lives of Young Male Offenders.

The project uses a life course approach to focus on the social processes surrounding the development of negative turning points in the life of 25 juvenile offenders who were sentenced as adults. The authors will investigate how negative turning points manifest, using a research design consisting of three parts: 1) life-course interviews with male inmates who were adjudicated as adults for crimes they committed when underage, 2) interviews with at least three members of the original respondents’ social network outside of prison, and 3) a content analysis of the case summary files containing offending history, work history, and socio-economic background. The interviews will solicit information about periods in the offenders’ lives, including family status, activities, schooling, confrontations with the law, what they might have done differently, and what might have helped them to move to a different path. The primary purpose of the project is to connect juvenile justice policy with theoretical advances in life course research and to move juvenile justice policy away from its reliance on actuarial methods.

Sean Kelly, University of Pittsburgh, $7000 for Enhancing the Sociology Pipeline: A Capacity-Building Workshop for Secondary Social Studies Teachers.

Degree growth in sociology has failed to keep pace with rising enrollment trends in higher education. Few students come to college knowing much about sociology, and students tend to come to the major late in their college careers. This proposal seeks to promote sociology concepts and skills across the high school social studies curriculum, better prepare high school students for college, and positively impact the number of students who consider sociology as a viable field for their advanced study (college majors and minors). To accomplish this, the project co-PIs will conduct a workshop for 25 social studies teachers in one school district in Pennsylvania. The authors seek to expose project participants to various ASA-endorsed sociology teaching materials and ideas, to facilitate their sustained use of these materials long after completion of the workshop, and to encourage their contributions of additional materials and lesson ideas to the existing repository. This project may serve as a model for other such workshops to promote sociology early in the educational pipeline.

Amanda K. Damarin, Georgia Perimeter College, $7000 for Employer Use of Internet-Based Labor Market Intermediaries: Consequences for Inequality.

Labor market intermediaries affect employment inequality because of the unevenness with which they connect workers with jobs and through their impact on perceptions of job candidates. Conventional wisdom suggests the anonymity of the Internet minimizes discrimination, but the researchers question this assumption. For example, access to and use of Internet sources is unequally structured such that younger and higher income people have greater access. They suggest decisions about hiring strategies vary along several dimensions including required skill-level, type of position, and ascribed identities. New Internet-based intermediaries, including job posting sites, social networking services, and search engines, have been described as both levelers and reinforcers of inequality, according to the researchers. Among the research questions asked are: Are different intermediaries used for different kinds of jobs in different labor markets? Do employers associate particular intermediaries with characteristics of people? And, do employers use intermediary cues to sort through candidates? The PI will collect and analyze data via semi-structured, in-depth interviews with human resource personnel, hiring managers, and employment recruiters in the Atlanta area.

Emily Ryo, University of Southern California, $7000 for Immigrant Detention Study.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operates the largest detention and supervised release program in the United States. In 2011, more than 400,000 immigrants were held in 250 detention centers around the country at a cost of more than $2 billion, according to the author. This proposed study will focus on family members of detainees using legal documents to examine bond hearings availability and the legal process for detainees and their families, as well as conducting a survey and interviews with families. The author proposes to investigate three questions about long-term immigration detention in the United States: What are the social, economic, legal, and health consequences of long-term detention on immigrants, their families, and their communities? What is the nature of bond hearings available to long-term immigrant detainees, and how do the detainees and their families experience and navigate this legal process? What is the feasibility of applying methodological innovations in research on incarceration/reentry to a longitudinal study of difficult-to-reach immigrant populations?

We encourage ASA members to submit applications. Potential applicants can send inquiries to research@asanet.org. For more information, visit www.asanet.org/funding/fad.cfm.


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