SAGE Sociology

Coauthors Jeremy Reynolds and Matthew May discuss their article for Social Currents' second issue, "Religion, Motherhood, and the Spirit of Capitalism."


Abstract: Religion can help people cope with problems, but in the modern U.S. economy, it may also create problems for some women. Conservative Protestantism encourages women to avoid paid work when they have young children, but that is a preference many families cannot afford. To better understand how workplace outcomes may reflect religion, we examine whether conservative Protestant, mainline Protestant, Catholic, and non-religious women work the number of hours they prefer. We pay special attention to the interplay of religion and motherhood. We find that among new mothers, conservative Protestants are among the most likely to wish they were working fewer hours. Non-religious women, in contrast, are the least likely to want fewer hours. Among women who are not new mothers, the situation is reversed. Conservative Protestants are least likely to wish they were working fewer hours and non-religious women are the most likely to want fewer hours. These results suggest that researchers interested in the subjective side of employment should pay more attention to how religion shapes experiences of paid work.


Read the full article here.


Posted May 2014

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GWU student interviews author Ivy Ken about her article for Social Currents' second issue, "A Healthy Bottom Line: Obese Children, A Pacified Public, and Corporate Legitimacy."

Abstract: Corporations rarely prioritize healthy communities over healthy profit margins, but their profits depend on community acceptance. This article reveals that in their quest to be perceived as legitimate citizens, some corporations co-opt the rhetorical tactics typically associated with social movement organizations to frame their profit-maximizing practices as the solution to the problem of childhood obesity. In this framing, explored here in an ethnography of the activities of two organizations called the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, obesity is the result of communities’ failure to work together and the cumulative effect of individuals’ bad choices. By framing corporations as vital community partners poised to “work together” across sectors to solve the childhood obesity “crisis,” these organizations hope to inspire the public to participate in this imagined community in one predominant way: by buying their products. Despite the apparent power and reach of their framing, though, these corporations implicitly acknowledge that they are not and cannot be legitimate members of communities unless the public lets them.

Read the article here.


Posted May 2014.


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Author Nicoletta Balbo discusses her article for the June 2014 issue of American Sociological Review, "Does fertility behavior spread among friends?" 

Abstract: By integrating insights from economic and sociological theories, this article investigates whether and through which mechanisms friends’ fertility behavior affects an individual’s transition to parenthood. By exploiting the survey design of the Add Health data, our strategy allows us to properly identify interaction effects and distinguish them from selection and contextual effects. We use a series of discrete-time event history models with random effects at the dyadic level. Results show that, net of confounding effects, a friend’s childbearing increases an individual’s risk of becoming a parent. We find a short-term, curvilinear effect: an individual’s risk of childbearing starts increasing after a friend’s childbearing, reaches its peak approximately two years later, and then decreases.

Article available here.

Posted May 2014.

Direct download: ASR_Nicoletta_Balbo.mp3
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Mellisa Holtzman, co-director of the sexual assault protection seminar, "Elemental," discusses her article in the June 2014 issue of the Journal of Applied Social Science, "A New Model for Sexual Assault Protection: Creation and Initial Testing of Elemental."

The article will soon be available OnlineFirst, here.

Abstract: Sexual assault self-protection programs often address either broad educational goals (e.g., alcohol awareness, gender and safety) or are restricted to the practice of violent hands-on self-protection techniques. Enrollment is almost entirely restricted to female audiences, in spite of a high risk of assault among gay men. We describe the development of Elemental, a sexual assault protection program, wherein we undertook a sociologically grounded yet multidisciplinary approach to produce a holistic and inclusive program that teaches a variety of response options, including non-violent physical and verbal techniques. Through the use of survey data from program participants and a control group, we present results of initial longitudinal tests of the efficacy of the program. Directions for further testing and development are discussed.


For more information or to get involved with Elemental, visit


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JMM: Author Mark McCormack discusses his article with Eric Anderson for an upcoming issue of Men and Masculinities, "Cuddling and Spooning: Heteromasculinity and Homosocial Tactility among Student-athletes."


To read the article click here

Posted May 2014

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Sociology Podcast Number 7: John Holmwood discusses his paper on Amartya Sen’s capabilities approach to social justice, “Public Reasoning without Sociology: Amartya Sen’s Theory of Justice ”, with Kath Woodward, Editor of Sociology. Posted June 2014 


To view the article please click here

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Sociology Podcast Number 6: Maja Cederberg discusses her paper on the role of public discourses in biographical narratives, “Public Discourses and Migrant Stories of Integration and Inequality: Language and Power in Biographical Narratives ”, with Sophie Watson, Editor of Sociology. Posted May 2014

 To view the article please click <a href=">here</a>

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Research on racial/ethnic categorization provides insight on how broad processes, such as migration trends or political shifts, precede the establishment of new categories, but does not detail the struggles and compromises that emerge between state and non-state actors. As a result, we know little about why new census categories are defined in certain ways or how they become legitimated. This article addresses this gap by using an organizational lens to reconstruct how the Hispanic category emerged in the United States. I demonstrate that categories can become institutionalized through a two-stage process as state actors and ethnic entrepreneurs (1) negotiate a classification’s definition and (2) work together to popularize the category. I argue that cross-field effects undergird these stages—movements toward developing a new category within state agencies are reinforced by similar classification efforts occurring among social movement groups and media firms, and vice versa. I identify three organizational mechanisms that sustained these effects in the Hispanic case: the development of boundary-spanning networks between state and non-state actors, the transposition of resources across fields, and the use of analogy and ambiguity as cognitive tools to describe and legitimate the new category. I discuss the theoretical merits of incorporating organizational analysis, especially the concept of cross-field effects, into the study of racial/ethnic classification.

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Building on recent research emphasizing how legitimacy depends on consensus among audiences about candidates’ characteristics and activities, we examine the relationship between cultural producers’ (candidates) position in the social structure and the consecration of their creative work by relevant audiences. We argue that the outcome of this process of evaluation in any cultural field, whether in art or science, is a function of (1) candidates’ embeddedness within the field, and (2) the type of audience—that is, peers versus critics—evaluating candidates’ work. Specifically, we hypothesize that peers are more likely to favor candidates who are highly embedded in the field, whereas critics will not show such favoritism. We find support for these hypotheses in the context of the Hollywood motion picture industry.

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Durkheim argued that strong social relationships protect individuals from suicide. We posit, however, that strong social relationships also have the potential to increase individuals’ vulnerability when they expose people to suicidality. Using three waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we evaluate whether new suicidal thoughts and attempts are in part responses to exposure to role models’ suicide attempts, specifically friends and family. We find that role models’ suicide attempts do in fact trigger new suicidal thoughts, and in some cases attempts, even after significant controls are introduced. Moreover, we find these effects fade with time, girls are more vulnerable to them than boys, and the relationship to the role model—for teenagers at least—matters. Friends appear to be more salient role models for both boys and girls. Our findings suggest that exposure to suicidal behaviors in significant others may teach individuals new ways to deal with emotional distress, namely by becoming suicidal. This reinforces the idea that the structure—and content—of social networks conditions their role in preventing suicidality. Social ties can be conduits of not just social support, but also antisocial behaviors, like suicidality.

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We use a life course approach to guide an investigation of relationships and health at the nexus of race and gender. We consider childhood as a sensitive period in the life course, during which significant adversity may launch chains of disadvantage in relationships throughout the life course that then have cumulative effects on health over time. Data from a nationally representative panel study (Americans’ Changing Lives, N = 3,477) reveal substantial disparities between black and white adults, especially pronounced among men, in the quality of close relationships and in the consequences of these relationships for health. Greater childhood adversity helps to explain why black men have worse health than white men, and some of this effect appears to operate through childhood adversity’s enduring influence on relationship strain in adulthood. Stress that occurs in adulthood plays a greater role than childhood adversity in explaining racial disparities in health among women.

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Integrating insights from cultural sociology and identity theory, I explore the mental health consequences of adolescent romantic relationship inauthenticity—incongruence between thoughts/feelings and actions within romantic contexts. Applying sequence analysis to National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data, I measure relationship inauthenticity by quantifying the extent to which the ordering of events of actual romantic relationships (e.g., holding hands, saying “I love you”) diverges from the sequence of events within idealized relationship scripts among 5,316 adolescents. I then test its association with severe depression, suicide ideation, and suicide attempt. I find that romantic relationship inauthenticity is positively associated with the risk of all three markers of poor mental health, but only for girls. This study highlights the importance of gender and culture in determining how early romantic involvement influences psychological well-being.

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Early research suggested that migration changed gender roles by offering women new wages and exposing them to norms of gender equity. Increasingly, however, scholars have drawn attention to the role of structural factors, such as poverty and undocumented status, in mediating the relationship between migration and gender. This article takes such insights a step further by showing that migrant communities’ reactions to structural marginality—and their efforts to build alternatives in their home villages—may also draw women into new gender roles. I demonstrate this mechanism through the case of San Miguel, a Mixtec sending community in Southern Mexico where, in the context of U.S. migration, once-excluded women came to predominate in civic affairs. In response to harsh conditions in the United States, migrants from San Miguel returned to their village. To make this economically feasible, they sought state development resources. Men, who often stayed in the United States as breadwinners, relied on sympathetic women back in the sending community to advocate on their behalf. Meanwhile, women’s own rejection of migrant life gave them new interest in sustaining their village. For both, incorporating women into politics offered a strategy to secure needed resources and avoid assimilating into an undocumented underclass.

Direct download: GAS_Abigail_Andrews.mp3
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Pregnancy-based employment discrimination has long been a topic of interest for gender inequality scholars and civil rights agencies. Prior work suggests that employer stereotypes and financial interests leave pregnant women vulnerable to being fired. We still know little, however, about women’s interpretations of their terminations and how employers justify such decisions in the face of arguably protective laws. This article provides much needed, in-depth analyses of such dynamics and a relational account of pregnancy-based employment discrimination claims. Elaborating on theoretical expositions of power and research surrounding the patriarchal character of organizational life, we draw on unique quantitative and qualitative data from verified cases of pregnancy-based firing discrimination. Our analyses reveal a two-pronged legitimation process where employers symbolically vilified pregnant workers while simultaneously amplifying ostensibly meritocratic organizational procedures and concerns. Pregnancy discrimination plaintiffs attempted to counter employer arguments. Yet, their limited power within the organizational hierarchy along with the culturally resonant nature of employer logics—logics that seem gender-neutral but that reify gendered assumptions and prioritize business profit—place pregnant women at a considerable disadvantage. Without attending to such cultural and structural power imbalances and the relational processes that undergird them, pregnancy discrimination will remain a significant problem.

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The demands of today’s workplace—long hours, constant availability, self-sacrificial dedication—do not match the needs of today’s workforce, where workers struggle to reconcile competing caregiving and workplace demands. This mismatch has negative consequences for gender equality and workers’ health. Here, the authors put forth a call to action: to redesign work to better meet the needs of today’s workforce and to redefine successful work. The authors propose two avenues for future research to achieve these goals: research that (a) builds a more rigorous business case for work redesign/redefinition and (b) exposes the underlying gender and class dynamics of current work arrangements.

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Social actors who move across categories are typically disadvantaged relative to their more focused peers. Yet candidates who compile experiences across disparate areas can either be appreciated as renaissance individuals or penalized as dilettantes. Extant literature has focused on the comparison between single versus multiple category members and on skill assessment, hindering its applicability. To discriminate between more versus less successful category spanners, I suggest that the order of accumulated experiences matters, because it serves as an indicator of commitment. I propose the concept of erraticism and predict that employers will prefer candidates who demonstrate some erraticism, by moving incrementally between similar jobs, over candidates who do not move and also over those with highly erratic job histories. Furthermore, I suggest this relationship holds for more complex jobs, less experienced freelancers, and is attenuated through working together. These issues are particularly salient given the rise of external labor markets where careers are increasingly marked by moves across traditional boundaries. I test and find support for these hypotheses with data from an online crowd-sourced labor market for freelancing services, I discuss how virtual mediated labor markets may alter hiring processes.

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We ask a single question: How do we, through our customs, laws, religion, and common practice, go about justifying the violation of these deeply important, perhaps universal, moral imperatives, all the while holding tightly to their importance? The short answer is this: With empathy and logic we draw boundaries and through political debate we set priorities to resolve dilemmas. An infusing theme running throughout is the life-defining importance of assessed social worth. From time to time science, technology, and crystallizing events disturb, clarify, and inform existing understandings of the implied sense of social worth. New resolutions of dilemmas and definitions of life’s protective boundaries are called for. In this manner moral systems evolve. We will find they do so along a jagged and often contentious path.

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To understand the mechanisms behind social inequality, this address argues that we need to more thoroughly incorporate the effects of status—inequality based on differences in esteem and respect—alongside those based on resources and power. As a micro motive for behavior, status is as significant as money and power. At a macro level, status stabilizes resource and power inequality by transforming it into cultural status beliefs about group differences regarding who is “better” (esteemed and competent). But cultural status beliefs about which groups are “better” constitute group differences as independent dimensions of inequality that generate material advantages due to group membership itself. Acting through micro-level social relations in workplaces, schools, and elsewhere, status beliefs bias evaluations of competence and suitability for authority, bias associational preferences, and evoke resistance to status challenges from low-status group members. These effects accumulate to direct members of higher status groups toward positions of resources and power while holding back lower status group members. Through these processes, status writes group differences such as gender, race, and class-based life style into organizational structures of resources and power, creating durable inequality. Status is thus a central mechanism behind durable patterns of inequality based on social differences.

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Americans are convinced that employment stability has declined in recent decades, but previous research on this question has led to mixed conclusions. A key challenge is that trends for men and women are in opposite directions and appear to cancel each other out. We clarify this situation by examining trends in employer tenure by sex, marital status, and parental status. We find that married mothers are behind the increase in women’s job tenure, but men and never-married women have seen declines in tenure. Furthermore, we show that the timing of tenure trends for women parallels periods of increased labor force attachment. Finally, we find that shifts in industry and occupation composition can account for the decline in tenure among men and never-married women before 1996 but not afterward. We situate these diverging trends in two broad shifts in expectations, norms, and behaviors in the labor market: the end-of-work discourse and the revolution in women’s identification with paid work. Our findings support the view that job tenure is declining for all groups, but women’s greater labor force attachment, especially their more continuous employment around childbirth, countered and masked this trend.

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This article provides empirical results on patterns of native and immigrant geographic mobility in France. Using longitudinal data, we measure mobility from one French municipality (commune) to another over time and estimate the effect of the initial municipality’s ethnic composition on the probability of moving out. These data allow us to use panel techniques to correct for biases related to selection based on geographic and individual unobservables. Our findings tend to discredit the hypothesis of a “white flight” pattern in residential mobility dynamics in France. Some evidence does show ethnic avoidance mechanisms in natives’ relocating. We also find a strong negative and highly robust effect of co-ethnics’ presence on immigrants’ geographic mobility.

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Social Currents' inaugural editors, Toni Calasanti and Vincent Roscigno introduce the debut issue and discuss their editorial hopes for the journal going forward.


Social Currents, the official journal of the Southern Sociological Society, is a broad-ranging social science journal that focuses on cutting-edge research from all methodological and theoretical orientations with implications for national and international sociological communities. The uniqueness of Social Currents lies in its format. The front end of every issue is devoted to short, theoretical, agenda-setting contributions and brief, empirical and policy-related pieces. The back end of every issue includes standard journal articles that cover topics within specific subfields of sociology, as well as across the social sciences more broadly.

Read more here.


Posted February 2014. 

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