Sociology Department Colloquia

Sociology Department Colloquia
Spring 2017
March 22: "The Opportunity Model of Beliefs about Economic Inequality and Redistribution"
Leslie McCall,
Presidential Professor of Sociology and Political Science, and Associate Director of the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality, at the CUNY Graduate Center
To better understand preferences for reducing economic inequality, the opportunity model of beliefs about inequality and redistribution is introduced. We propose that Americans perceive economic inequality as a barrier to economic opportunity and as a result favor opportunity-enhancing policies as a remedy. We test the causal nature of the model using a survey experiment and introduce two carefully constructed policy-oriented questions that allow us to compare support for government redistribution to a method of redistribution that enhances labor market opportunities. Findings will be presented from both papers, which are generally supportive of the model.
***Special Date and Time: Tuesday, April 4 at 2pm***
Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean's Lecture Series
Frances-Fox-Piven-The-Nation-1 "The Resistance"
Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, CUNY

Frances Fox Piven is an internationally renowned social scientist and activist who has demonstrated exemplary commitment to poor and working people and to the practice of democracy.  She is the author or co-author of over 200 articles and several books, including Regulating the Poor (1971), Poor People’s Movements (1977), The Breaking of the American Social Compact (1997), Why Americans Still Don’t Vote and Why Politicians Want It That Way (2000), and Challenging Authority (2008).  A recipient of both Fulbright and Guggenheim Awards, in 2007 she served as President of the American Sociological Association.

Piven is a founder of the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), and a co-founder of Human SERVE, a campaign which pioneered the idea of “automatic voter registration” via citizens’ applications for social assistance or drivers’ licenses.  She serves on the boards of numerous nonprofit and advocacy groups like Project Vote and Wellstone Action, and she supports anti-poverty groups such as Community Voices Heard, FUREE, and the Center for Community Change. Among her many accolades, she has received the Elliott-Black Award from the American Ethical Union for her “life-long commitment to create a society of peace and justice,” and the Hope Shapiro Bread and Roses Award from New Jersey Peace Action, in honor of her “tireless work to protect and expand voter rights.” 


April 19: "Same Difference: Standardized Decision-Making in Practice"
Emily Bosk, Assistant Professor of Social Work
Bosk Emily Standardized procedures for decision-making are understood to solve two related organizational problems in public agencies: First, they are designed to control worker discretion and its attendant negative consequences. Second, the removal of subjectivity attempts to eliminate implicit bias and any resulting disparate outcomes.  Instead of being an equalizing force, I find standardized processes in specific organizational contexts reflect inequality in how frontline workers experience control over their decisions. This talk examines these processes and their implications for using standardized decision-making as a tool for making decision-making more objective 
Fall 2016
October 19: "Being a Gender: the Transgender Child and Changes in the Self"
Tey Meadow
, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Columbia University

Abstract: Something about gender is changing. In this talk, I examine the emergence of a new identity category, the transgender child, and the first generation of parents who actively support and empower extreme gender nonconformity in their children. While some see this as evidence that our social boundaries around gender difference are loosening, indeed it appears that these shifting boundaries are simultaneously becoming more intricately articulated and more deeply tied to and embedded within social institutions.

Her work on gender, sexuality, law and social classifications has appeared in Gender & Society, Sexualities, Politics and Society and the Journal of Contemporary Ethnography. Her first book will be published next year by the University of California Press.

November 16: "Who gets what kind of care?: Latent class analysis and end-of-life care quality"
Libby Luth, Department of Sociology, Rutgers University
Death and dying are complex processes which involve multiple, concurrent dimensions. However, research examines care for dying individuals by considering a single measure or a handful of measures separately. Using four waves of data from the 2011-2014 National Health and Aging Trends Study, I discuss how latent class analysis can be used to simultaneously consider proxy reporter assessments of multiple dimensions of end-of-life (EOL) care. I then test the applicability of fundamental causes theory (FCT), which links social disadvantage to disparities in health and mortality outcomes, to EOL care quality. Finally, I analyze how EOL care setting and provider and health characeristics before death relate to EOL care quality. Contrary to FCT expectations, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status do not predict proxy assessments of EOL care quality. Care setting, provider and health status are associated with lower quality EOL care. I discuss possible explanations and implications for policies to improve EOL care.
November 30: "Concrete Terroir: The Collective Action and Cooperative Networks in a Restaurant Scene"
John Lang
, Associate Professor of Sociology, Occidental College

 Not only is the restaurant industry economically significant, restaurants are sites of conviviality and collective experience, where we celebrate the major moments of our personal and professional lives. Given the degree to which food permeates public consciousness, our scholarly understanding of restaurants is relatively sparse. The rich abundance of public food writing and journalism, both narrative and analytic, may keep scholars away. Yet, these popular media accounts of restaurants tend to focus on individual actors like genius chefs or talented restaurateurs. This, in turn, suggests that the professional world of food is capricious business, subject to the whims of a fickle public, framed around a dramatic, flamboyant, or idiosyncratic persona. This de-professionalized understanding of food production distorts the reality of restaurants while neglecting other elements of food production. By attributing failure or success to individuals like virtuoso chefs or talented restaurateurs, we are left with fragile explanation for the complex world of restaurant work that neglects the diverse constituency of patrons, culinary professionals, and critics that contribute to a particular restaurant, and more generally, to a city’s restaurant scene. That these rich networks of production, distribution, and consumption are overlooked suggests an opportunity to elaborate on this commonplace and consequential aspect of our lives.
December 7: "The Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis"
Lynn Chancer
, Professor of Sociology, Hunter College, CUNY 
This talk presents an argument for using and furthering psychosocial perspectives in order to understand social life, and draws on a recent collection of essays that makes this case through examples drawn from a wide variety of social situations. In the first part of the talk, I explore why and how it came to pass that psychosocial frameworks -- especially psychoanalytic ones -- became relatively marginalized within American sociology from the 1940s through the present.  Secondly, I present several conceptual tools that illuminate contemporary social problems (such as the rise of authoritarian movements
around the world); here, I contend that the need for 'psychosocial' explanations is more obviously pressing at present than in prior decades of this perspective's overlooking.
Spring 2016

February 10:"Urbanization's Changing Nature"
Scott Frickel, Brown Unversity
(Rose Series Lecture/ Colloquium)

The talk is based on Frickel's book manuscript in progress, co-authored with James Elliott, Examining the long-term accumulation of environmentally hazardous materials in American cities.


February 18: "The Social Standing of Occupations in the United States, 1989-2012: Fitting 200 New Occupations into the Prestige Order" 
Michael Hout, NYU (Health Institute talk, co-sponsored by Sociology)

****Special Time and Location: Thursday 12:00-1:30pm, Health Institute, room 120
112 Paterson St, New Brunswick****

March 9: "Signal Crimes and the Reaction Order"
Martin Innes,
Cardiff University (Colloquium)
Iddo Tavory

March 23: "Summoned: Identification and Religious Life in a Jewish Neighborhood"
Iddo Tavory,
NYU (Colloquium)

Abstract: An ethnographic account of the fabric of everyday life in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, and an attempt to think through the relationship among actors' identifications, the crystallization of their social worlds, and the micro-patterning of social interaction. Tavory traces the ways in which both entrenched institutions and fleeting moments of interaction on the streets of LA's Melrose-La Brea neighborhood solidify actors' identifications and social worlds.

March 30: "Weathering Punishment and Adaptation"
Michael Walker, The University of Nebraska Omaha

The predominate study of penal adaptation takes rates of misconduct as measures of inmate adaptation, which assumes that there is or should be an inherent connection between organizational goals and inmate behavior. The misconduct-equates to-maladaptation model is chiefly top-down in its orientation, and it largely ignores what adaptation means for those who are actually tasked with penal living. Drawing on ethnographic data collected in a Southern California county jail system, the author presents a bottom-up perspective on penal adaptation—one that is rooted in the experiences of inmates. The principal argument here is that there is a dual process of weathering, where because inmates are subjected to the same treatments, they experience the same psychic and biological weathering patterns, and simultaneously, adaptive measures represent attempts to weather or endure the daily experiences of punishment. This investigation’s findings demonstrate that adaptation is an asymptotic process instead of an achieved disposition and that the process of adaptation has little to do with challenging the goals of penal punishment. Instead, penal adaptation is about (re)establishing a sense of normalcy. These findings emphasize the importance of coercive contexts for shaping how inmates respond to penal punishment.

April 6: Title: "Racializing Crimmigration: Local Law Enforcement Agencies and the Institutional Production of Immigrant Criminality"
Amanda Armenta, University of Pennsylvania (Colloquium)

Abstract: Deporting “criminal aliens” has become the highest priority in American immigration enforcement. Today, most deportations are achieved through the “crimmigration” system, a term that describes the convergence of the criminal justice and immigration enforcement systems. Emerging research argues that US immigration enforcement is a “racial project” that subordinates and racializes Latino residents in the US. This article extends the literature on the racialization of Latinos by examining the role of local law enforcement agencies in the production of immigrant criminality. Focusing on the techniques and logics that drive law enforcement practices vis-à-vis Latino immigrants across two agencies, I argue that, local law enforcement agents racialize Latinos and punish illegality through their daily practices. For example, investigatory traffic stops put Latinos at disproportionate risk of arrest and citation, whereas processing at the local jail subject unauthorized immigrants to deportation. While a variety of local actors sustain the deportation system, most do not see themselves as active participants in immigrant removal and explain their behavior through a color-blind ideology. This color-blind ideology obscures and naturalizes how organizational practices and laws converge to systematically criminalize and punish Latinos in the United States.


***Special Time and Location: Wednesday, 7:00-9:00pm Trayes Hall, Douglass Campus***
Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean's Inaugural Lecture Series

April 13: "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City
Matthew Desmond, Harvard University

Abstract: Evictions used to be rare. But today, for many poor Americans eviction has become a way of life. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City follows tenants and landlords swept up in the process of eviction. Combining urban reportage with an array of original statistical data, this book shows that eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty and that the face of America’s eviction epidemic belongs to mothers and children. Presenting new insights into the fundamental role housing plays in deepening inequality in America, this work affirms the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.



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