Colloquia

Sociology Department Colloquium Series
Blumer Room - 402 Social Sciences Building
MONDAYS, 2:00 - 3:30 PM
[unless otherwise noted]

-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Most post-communist states suffered severe recessions, while rapid economic growth followed where communist parties survived to implement market reform. These differences have been widely attributed to the varied economic starting points of these countries or to policy choices and evolving political circumstances as market economies were built. We argue, instead, that the origins of these differences are to be found earlier in a country’s political history, specifically in the pattern of decline in communist party organizations. The more prolonged and extensive the decline of communist party capacity prior to regime change, the more that ownership claims became unclear and unenforceable, subsequently undermining contract enforcement, taxation, and state capacity. A time series analysis of 31 transitional economies demonstrates the impact of communist party decline on the relative severity of initial recessions, net of initial economic circumstances, policy choices, and regime characteristics. The impact of party decline was large and immediate, but diminished steadily thereafter.
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Immigration researchers have generally applied the concept of illegality—the historically contingent, legally, politically, and socially produced condition affecting undocumented immigrants—to people residing within the boundaries of the receiving country. In that context, it refers mainly to the continuous risk of deportation and its associated consequences. This talk will examine the ways that illegality, even when it is legally produced in the United States, applies and has important consequences for people beyond U.S. borders. Based on in-depth interviews with Salvadoran migrants and their families, the talk will explore how illegality intersects with gender and class to inform the migration decision, journey, and settlement processes.
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Some new discussions among feminist sociologists center around the suggestion that the normative expectations of male/masculine and female/feminine must be undone, because such a belief system is a source of global oppression, institutional inequality, and personal pain.Acknowledging the ways in which gender can operate as a source of oppression, Kristen Schilt and Tey Meadow look to the empirical scholarship on gender, and find that it suggests individuals take deep and meaningful pleasure in doing gender in both normative and transgressive ways. Gender, in this conceptualization, is cultural material for personal and relational forms of exchange in everyday life. We raise this idea of gender pleasure not to naturalize it; rather, we see a need to distinguish between theorizing gender as an oppressive form of social control – and therefore something people should, through education and enlightenment, be willing to “give up” or “undo” – and empirically investigating people’s attachments to both personal gender identities and sense of membership in a broader gender category.
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Do the cultural practices and meanings in one powerful institution shape them in another, and if so how?  I examined this question by looking at the case of how job insecurity affects the way people talk about commitment at work and at home.  Based on in-depth interviews with 80 people, mostly women, who varied in their experience of job insecurity and their relative advantage, I argue that most insecure workers share a sense of precarity as inevitable, and construct a ‘moral wall’ to fend it off from the home.  Respondents were governed by four ‘guiding principles of attachment,’ cultural worldviews that framed the stakes at hand and the emotions they allowed themselves to feel at work and at home.   I found that, absent state support,  job insecurity filters through gender and class inequality to affect the meanings and practices of commitment at home, via such guiding principles as duty, independence and pragmatism. This research demonstrates how cultural action in one setting heightens the salience of particular dilemmas in another; it also contributes to the sociology of work, in documenting some of the broader impacts of job insecurity; and the sociology of family, suggest
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
While much academic work has celebrated the transformation and diversification of family forms, when it comes to how those families are made many scholars are much less celebratory.  In this talk, I recount the stories of my own family creation—which involved the “outsourcing” of key processes—in relation to concerns about the encroachment of market logic into aspects of intimate life that had previously been insulated from commercial forces, and about the various social inequalities assisted reproduction relies on and reinforces.  Through these stories, I point to novel forms of intimacy opened up by contemporary reproductive medicine, especially for those for whom the choice to parent remains institutionally and socially controversial, as well as the troubling structural inequalities that underwrite much alternative family creation.  Finally, in telling my own family origin stories, I consider the politics and ethics of storytelling.
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Sociologists often describe homo-economicus – the calculatively rational and self-interested species animating neoclassical models of economic behavior – as a social construction. Yet we know very little about how ordinary Americans understand the morality of market behavior; let alone, what leads them to adopt their economic beliefs. We use Relational Class Analysis, a method designed to detect ideational heterogeneity in survey data, to decompose Americans’ economic attitudes into different logics of economic rationality. We find that Americans understand the market through three competing normative prisms, and that gender, religious participation and political ideology explain the adoption of these three logics. Moreover, socialization through education and access to the material rewards afforded by market society predict who exhibits a pro-market orientation, regardless of the logic being employed. (co-authored with Paul DiMaggio)
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Feminism, like any globally dispersed and historically long-lived social movement, is intricately intertwined with local specificities of opportunity in how it develops and where and how it succeeds.  By looking at both the discursive opportunities institutionally imbedded in texts with power and the movement’s discursive strategies to frame its claims effectively, I explore differences in how “gender”becomes politically meaningful in three different contexts: Germany, the US and the European Union.  I argue that rather than a “master frame”there are competing “webs of meaning”about inequality that have different and changing resonances across contexts.           
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
The body is increasingly the focus of social science research, yet scant attention has been given to how bodies move, how habits of movement are acquired and what that may tell us about race, gender, and sexuality. Craig's forthcoming book places ethnographic observation and interviews into a larger social history of how recreational dance became associated with women rather than men, youth culture rather than adult life, queer but not straight men, and racial minorities rather than whites. By examining a practice that masculinity seems to exclude, Sorry I Don't Dance examines men living or solving the mind/body problem as dancers, reluctant dancers, or sitters-out. MAXINE CRAIG is Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies and Chair of the Designated Emphasis in Feminist Theory and Research at the University of California, Davis. She received her doctorate in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley. Her book, Ain't I a Beauty Queen? Black Women, Beauty, and the Politics of Race. (Oxford University Press 2002) was the winner of the Best Book award on the Political History
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
In China Constructing Capitalism: Economic Life and Urban Change (2013), we - drawing on a decade’s research and experience - argue that China‘s is not neo-liberal.  Instead there are neo-Daoist and Neo-Confucian routines, which - though they may not have worked for the economy in Max Weber’s time -, are eminently suited to the 21st Century. The relational, embedded forms of economic life and urban property relations China may be closer to Adam Smith’s empiricism (and ethics) than to Weberian rationalism. Neo-liberalism has it basis in neo-classical economics. Carl Menger, one of the founders of neoclassicism was a major influence on Weber in the Methodenstreit at the founding of German Sociology: an influence that still may be dominant in today. Sociology should instead learn from China: it should draw on its own phenomenological routines and neo-institutional political economy (e.g. Ostrom) in a critique of both the neo-classical subject and neo-liberalism.
-
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall
Government taxes and spends less in the United States than in most other rich countries, and much of our political debate centers on how much to cut from key programs. I argue that in coming decades we're likely to move in the other direction. Public spending -- particularly on policies that enhance economic security, expand opportunity, and ensure shared prosperity -- will increase rather than decrease.