Public Sociology

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Sociologists call on media not to spread fake surveys


The Sociological Association of Ukraine has called on media outlets to comply with the requirements for the publication of sociological surveys.

This is stated in the appeal of the Sociological Association of Ukraine, which was made public during a round-table meeting entitled “Sociology and elections: an argument for a reasonable choice or manipulation?” at Ukrinform on Friday.

“We are calling on the media and news agencies to strictly comply with the requirements for the publication of sociological surveys (who questioned, when, how many people were interviewed, the survey method, the margin of error and precise wording of questions) and to verify the competence of the source of information. Checking the professionalism of a company that presented the survey data is the task of a media outlet or information broadcaster, not the viewer or the reader. If the company that presented the survey data is not a member of professional communities, has no sociologists in its staff, does not publish on its website detailed information on the methodology of conducting a survey, has no experience in conducting sociological research, is not ready to provide additional information about the research, then it raises doubts about the quality and reliability of data,” reads the appeal.
It notes that the professional community of sociologists is worried about how many fake and unprofessional sociological data appear on the media and the Internet, and media outlets publish such data with reference to unknown or little-known centers without compulsory methodological information for assessing the quality of data.

The authors also say that politicians, political consultants and some journalists, when publishing ratings or discussing the course of the election campaign, accuse leading sociological centers of being corrupt in cases when they consider that these ratings are not advantageous to their political party or bloc. “Such unfair methods of political struggle ultimately confuse the voter and undermine confidence in sociology as a science,” the association said.

The authors of the appeal emphasized that sociological centers, which are members of Ukrainian professional associations (the Sociological Association of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Marketing Association) and international organizations, operate within the rules that do not allow manipulation of the results of the survey.

“Professional communities have the developed mechanisms for influencing their members (including economic ones). Deviation from the rules of sociological research is extremely unlikely, because it is controlled by the community and threatens the future existence of such a center,” the association said.

The document emphasizes that the publication of false findings of studies conducted by fake institutions may have an impact on the consciousness of citizens and domestic politics in Ukraine, as well as contradict national interests and endanger the national security of Ukraine.


Date : February 1, 2019
Source : Ukrinform

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Experts for hire sidelining genuine knowledge


Why am I not writing on Venezuela? It is very simple. I am not an expert on Venezuela or any other Latin American country. Like many others, I have a basic knowledge on what is happening in Venezuela. Just a brief check on the Internet provides you with the information that the country has been rocked by protests since Jan. 10, when President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.

A brief check of the TV, meanwhile, gives you the knowledge that tension escalated when 35-year-old opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself the acting president and he was recognized by many Western countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. Turkey, Russia and China, on the other hand, continue to recognize Maduro as president.

Can this basic knowledge make one a Venezuela expert? Unbelievably, it seems that yes it can. There is a crisis that has been unfolding over the past decade with the development of technology and particularly social media: An increasing number of “experts.” There is a growing phenomenon of people being an “expert” on any trending country despite lacking deep knowledge of the history, politics, sociology, culture, literature and, most importantly, the language of that country. As a result, several people who call themselves “experts” have taken a stage in the media. For instance, in Turkey, hardly a day passes without these so-called experts commenting on TV channels over issues regarding Venezuela or any Middle Eastern country, even though for many decades Turkey, its academia and media, has turned its back on and neglected the developments taking place there.

What kind of problems can this new phenomenon cause? I will briefly list them.

First is oversimplifying. Because most of these experts lack the language spoken in the countries that they comment on, they depend on secondary sources. Most of them have never spent a reasonable amount of time conducting field research and they fail to view the full picture, eventually leading them to fail to understand the dynamics there. Saying that “if a country is rich in natural resources, oil or gas, it would be invaded or its domestic affairs would be interfered with by external powers” is such an oversimplified interpretation, indicating nothing but “intellectual poverty.” Needless to say, like other Latin American countries, Venezuela has experienced many military interventions supported by external forces and current issues in Venezuela are multi-dimensional. Commenting on just one aspect is superficial and one-dimensional.

Second is information pollution in the media. During the UK’s EU referendum campaign in 2016, the then-Justice Secretary Michael Gove said that “people in this country have had enough of experts.” This was a statement that opened a debate on the “crisis of expertise,” which also started to affect the media in an adverse way. When “experts” who fall short of fully understanding the developments in a country do not hesitate to appear on TV, they cause nothing but “info pollution” and ultimately mislead the public. Thus, there are deeply rooted problems within the mainstream news industry and how it functions. Not having genuine experts commenting has a devastating effect on many communities’ understanding of developments in other parts of the world.

Third is a shortage of qualified academics. There are several reports that say there is a crisis in academic publishing. Because there are an increasing number of academics who prefer to appear on television shows, there are not enough anthropological analyses or studies produced on specific countries or regions by the academic community. In regards to Turkey, I always underline that it needs area specialists who have an in-depth understanding of a specific region or country. Area specialists are those who not only contribute to academia with their insights, but also to the media and even a country’s policy-making authorities. The academic community is one of the most important pillars in a country and it plays a significant role in developing knowledge regarding our understanding beyond our borders. Thus, having area specialists would significantly contribute to the foreign policy-making process of a state.

Several commentators focusing on popular topics have led to a dilution of the influence of genuinely informed voices in TV debates. This has led to the occurrence of an antipathy toward those “experts.” However, the problem is far more serious than this. Today’s international politics have proven several times that there are no permanent enmities or alliances, and yesterday’s enemy could be tomorrow’s ally. Assumptions and predictions made by experts could be proved to be wrong in a single day. A country’s reading of the developments in a region or a country is influenced greatly by reports prepared by experts, academics and journalists, beside the bureaucratic and diplomatic elite. Therefore, against this crisis in regional expertise, genuinely informed voices are what we need these days.


Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes in Turkey’s relations with the Middle East.


By : Sinem Cengiz
Date : February 15, 2019
Source : Arab News


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One year after the Parkland shooting, is the #NeverAgain movement on track to succeed?


One year ago, a teenage gunman armed with an semiautomatic rifle attacked Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killing 17 people and injuring more than a dozen students and staff. In the days that followed, student survivors demanded action rather than thoughts and prayers, vowing that no one else should live through what they had experienced. They promoted a hashtag, #NeverAgain; began a political campaign; and launched a social movement.

One year later, the Parkland young people have proved savvy and effective organizers. They haven’t stopped mass shootings: There have been more than 300 in the past year, leaving more than 300 people dead and more than 1,300 wounded. And the policies they’ve promoted and the less dangerous world they imagined are still distant.

That doesn’t mean they’ve failed. Successful social movements grow from years of investment in organizing and education. By looking at where the #NeverAgain movement has invested, we can best assess its potential.

1. Success rarely comes overnight

U.S. history is filled with stories of successful movements, beginning with the American Revolution and continuing through abolition, suffrage, civil rights, peace and the environment. But we circulate highly edited social movement stories, drawing short lines between, say, the 1963 march on Washington and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts of 1964 and 1965.

But effective social movements take much longer. These high-profile moments emerge only by building on the work and organizations of earlier campaigns. Rosa Parks spent a dozen years in the civil rights movement before she refused to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955 — backed by allies just as experienced and committed who were prepared to organize a boycott to support her. A. Philip Randolph first proposed the March on Washington in 1941 and, along with many others, spent decades organizing toward it. Activists built organizations, identified grievances and opponents, and framed goals.

2. Timing and coalition-building matter

Successful movements tend to be opportunistic, inclusive and persistent — seizing the moment when events get people to notice that something is wrong. For example, antinuclear activists seized upon the reactor accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, staging a national demonstration and grass-roots activism, and stopped the licensing of new plants for nearly 40 years.

Movements must engage people with a range of commitments and concerns, over a long time. Organizers must convince people that an issue is important, but they must also give recruits something to do and link street protests with political campaigns and legislation.

3. Institutional barriers often thwart social movements

Federalism complicates the path to change. That’s because different levels of government (cities, states and national governments) respond to activist concerns differently, sometimes shifting responsibility elsewhere. Activists face a kind of shell game when looking for meaningful targets. Securing stricter gun laws in Chicago, for example, doesn’t stop weapons from coming from a neighboring state.

Our electoral system also slows social change. Movements must sustain themselves through staggered electoral cycles to win majorities needed to change policy — and in the face of opposition, as with the abortion movement. Stalemate is sometimes the best outcome — and to advocates, it may not feel like victory.

Challenges for the anti-gun violence movement

The battle between opposing movements on guns is particularly unbalanced. The National Rifle Association dominates the gun rights side of the debate, and is far larger and better financed than all the other groups on the issue. With generous support from manufacturers, hobbyists and the politically committed, its budget is typically 10 times that of all gun-control groups put together.
In contrast, support for regulating weapons typically peaks after a dramatic shooting, fading out over time. When politicians ask for quiet after a tragedy, they are attempting to silence gun-control advocates at the only time they have a ready audience. Reformers face the challenge of maintaining attention, activism and resources in between tragedies.

How does #NeverAgain stack up on these three measures?

So far, the Parkland student activists have been tackling all three challenges. First, they took immediate advantage of the spotlight and staged familiar actions: local and national demonstrations, lobbying trips to Tallahassee and Washington, a televised town hall meeting, appearances on television and the covers of major magazines.

But they’ve also kept up their work as the spotlight shifted. They published a book, orchestrated boycotts and school walkouts, and staged a national road trip to promote voter registration among young Americans.

Second, they’ve built broad coalitions, sharing their spotlight with young people from very different backgrounds, defining the problem of gun violence to include crime, suicide and police violence. Their organization, March for Our Lives, joined a coalition of other gun-control organizations that formed in the wake of other shootings, including Moms Demand Action, Everytown for Gun Safety and Courage to Fight Gun Violence.

Third, they’re strategizing for the long term, not only looking at immediate gains. They’ve offered an agenda and identified an opponent: the NRA. They’ve put unusual pressure on companies that do business with it by threatening boycotts.

By keeping gun violence in the news and staging repeated events, the Parkland students helped recruit thousands of new young activists and voters, helping to put new voices in Congress.

For instance, in suburban Atlanta, young activists buoyed the congressional campaign of Democrat Lucy McBath, who had become an activist after her teenage son was shot and killed at a gas station. Aided by unusually high voter turnout, McBath won by just over 3,000 votes in a district that had voted Republican for decades. Since taking office a few weeks ago, she has co-sponsored bills that would mandate universal background checks for gun purchasers and fund research on gun violence.

It’s a good start, but many challenges remain. The new Democratic-led House may pass the bills McBath supports, but the Republican-controlled Senate is unlikely to follow, given that GOP lawmakers tend to be proud of “A” grades from the NRA. Nor does President Trump seem likely to cross the NRA by signing such bills into law. Substantial reforms at the federal level are at least an election away.

The revived gun-control movement needs to find ways to continue with a sense of urgency, claim partial victories and navigate a long road forward.

David S. Meyer is a professor of sociology and political science at the University of California at Irvine and author of “The Politics of Protest: Social Movements in America” (Oxford University Press, 2014).


By : David S. Meyer
Date : February 15, 2019
Source : The Washington Post

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Why is Southeast Asia lacking in postcolonial perspectives?


Despite being one of the most colonized regions in the 19th century, Southeast Asia has a lack of postcolonial literature.

Postcolonialism can mean several different things depending on which academic you talk to. It is a school of philosophy that is hard to comprehend, especially to someone from a non-colonized country.

Encyclopedia Britannica defines postcolonialism as “the historical period or state of affairs representing the aftermath of Western colonialism.”

The encyclopedia, however, notes that the term also applies to describe “the concurrent project to reclaim and rethink the history and agency of people subordinated under various forms of imperialism.”

Postcolonialism is a hot button issue for a lot of academics, including those in Southeast Asian countries once under the rule of Western colonizers.

Sociologists, historians and curators dived deep into this issue in Postcolonial Perspectives from the Global South, a public forum hosted by the Goethe Institute Jakarta on Jan. 24 and 25 at GoetheHaus Jakarta.

Two panel discussions, in particular, shed light on why Southeast Asia, despite its long history of colonialism, has limited postcolonial perspectives compared to South Asia.

“It’s very important to discuss the comparative studies of colonial histories of different parts of the world,” said Divya Dwivedi, a philosopher with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi.

“Because [it enables us] to study the extent and the role they have in shaping the present and future everywhere.”

In a separate panel, Chua Beng Huat, a sociology professor at the National University of Singapore, said there had been an absence of postcolonial discourse in Southeast Asia. It can be seen from the lack of postcolonial literature, especially in English language, on the region despite its long history under colonial rule.

Southeast Asia, according to Chua, has had possibly the most protracted anti-colonialist process in the world, with some countries such as Vietnam having been at war with Western nations for several decades after World War II.

So why are postcolonial studies so absent from Southeast Asia?

Chua compares Southeast Asia with the South Asian country of India, where a deep concern about history prompted Indian academics to produce a swath of postcolonial perspectives.

Political progress also plays a huge role in the development of India’s postcolonial discourse. After Britain left India in 1947, the newly formed nation transitioned fairly neatly into a liberal democracy with a constitution. The country’s national doctrine formed well although Indian society was and is still marred by problems like caste and corruption.

Such a smooth democratic transition did not happen in the majority of Southeast Asian countries.

“The new states were embroiled in insurgency or civil wars instigated by two contesting ideologies and their respective sponsoring states” Chua, the author of Liberalism Disavowed: Communitarianism, said.

Many countries in the region struggled to stabilize themselves and ultimately fell into authoritarian rule.

“Stability came in different guises of an authoritarian state which systematically suppressed through legal and or illegal means, including mass murder in some cases, the very organic political left – which would have been critical participants in the de-colonization process.”

In the panel discussion, Chua, historian Andi Achdian and Education and Culture Ministry’s director general of culture Hilmar Farid concluded that the decimation of the intellectual left had disrupted any critical analysis of the countries’ colonial past.

“Contemporary South East Asian scholars seem to wear the region history very lightly, with the possible exception of historians,” Chua suggested.

“The suppression and erasure of the deep-seated civilizational past by the European colonialists seems to be of little interest today to South East Asian scholars.”

However, that is not to say that the colonial issue is overlooked in Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia. In fact, the GoetheHaus auditorium was filled to near capacity with young Indonesian students keenly listening in on the discussion about the country’s bitter past that happened decades before they were born.


By : Alex Dalziel
Date : January 30, 2019
Source : The Jakarta Post

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The toll of 50 years on death row


Every day, in any weather, 82-year-old Iwao Hakamada walks around the small Japanese city of Hamamatsu for up to six hours. A volunteer follows a few steps behind to be sure he doesn’t get hurt and can find his way home.

Hakamada suffers from a mental condition diagnosed as “prison psychosis,” the result of spending nearly five decades on death row — thought to be the world record — for a quadruple murder that evidence suggests he did not commit.

In 1966, he was a 30-year-old former professional boxer working at a miso factory, when the manager, along with his wife and two children, were found stabbed to death in their home, which was then set on fire. Hakamada lived on-site and was the only suspect. No one could corroborate his alibi that he’d been in his dorm room and rushed to the fire to help put it out.

Police detained him for about three weeks and according to records from the detention center, interrogated him for up to 14 hours a day. He alleged they beat him with nightsticks, pricked him with pins to keep him awake and denied him adequate food and water until finally he confessed. He later retracted the confession in court.

“It’s striking, almost stunning, how long the interrogations went. Day after day after day, before finally on day 20, Hakamada confessed,” said David Johnson, professor of sociology and an expert on the Japanese justice system at the University of Hawaii. He said false confessions are a major source of wrongful convictions in Japan.

Overall, Japan’s conviction rate is above 99 percent, meaning almost every criminal case that goes to trial ends in conviction. In part, that’s because prosecutors only bring cases they think they can win, said Johnson, and many of those cases are built on confessions.

Hakamada was imprisoned for 48 years — 30 of them in solitary confinement. Every morning, he awoke at 7 a.m. to find out whether that would be the day he would die by hanging. Japan does not give prisoners advance warning of their executions.

The U.S. and Japan are the only G7 countries that still have capital punishment. The UNHRC has urged Japan to consider abolishing it, pointing to the large number of crimes that can carry a death sentence, the lack of pardons and the execution of elderly and mentally ill convicts.

For Hakamada, decades of living in existential limbo took a toll on his mental health. His decline can be charted in the letters he wrote his family that his sister Hideko keeps in a box at her house, where he now lives.

The earliest letters from the 1960s, are written in neat rows of Japanese characters and filled with hope.

“The report about the first trial showed evidence was faked and the court misinterpreted the facts, so I truly believe there will be a retrial and I’ll be cleared,” one reads. “I’m doing okay, so don’t worry.”

Then in 1980, after 12 years of appeals, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence. Hideko says that was a turning point for her brother.

“Not long after that, he told me the man in the cell next to his had been taken away and on the way out, he said, ‘so long, hope you stay well,’ then never came back. And that was when the death penalty became real to him, and it was very scary.”

His letters from that time show his mind starting to unravel; he writes about devils tormenting him in the shower.

“I could tell he was getting seriously mentally ill,” said Hideko. “So I visited every month, but sometimes he refused to see me. I kept going though, to tell him his family hadn’t abandoned him.”

Then nearly 50 years after he was first imprisoned, Hideko filed for a retrial based on new DNA evidence: Hakamada’s lawyers said his blood did not match blood from the crime scene.

A district court granted the retrial in 2014, writing it was “possible that key evidence had been fabricated by investigators” and that it was “unjust to detain him because of the clear possibility he was innocent.” Hakamada was released to his sister.

“I remember that day so clearly. I was 81 and I smiled for the first time since I was 33,” Hideko said. “It was like I became myself again.”

It was also a joyful day for a judge in the original case. Norimichi Kumamoto was chief of the three-judge tribunal that heard Hakamada’s case in 1968. He later said he believed Hakamada was innocent but couldn’t convince the other two judges. Still, as head of the panel, he had to write the death sentence. He said the look on Hakamada’s face when he heard the sentence haunted him. So he quit the bench a few months later, became estranged from his family and wandered the country.

When Hakamada was released, Kumamoto met him to apologize. The judge was so frail he couldn’t speak but Hideko still thinks the visit meant something to her brother.

That is not the end of the story, though. Because in Japan, prosecutors can appeal rulings and this past June, the Tokyo High Court overturned the decision that set Hakamada free.

The case now goes to the Supreme Court. If Hakamada loses his appeal, he could be sent back to death row.

“Obviously it’s a tragedy for him if he goes back to death row after being released,” said attorney Kiyomi Tsunogae, a member of Hakamada’s defense team. “But it’s also a tragedy for this country. I don’t know any other nation that has done this. They don’t want to admit that they fabricated the evidence and made a mistake 50 years ago.”

Tsunoga said judges are political appointees and can sometimes be more concerned with satisfying the government than administering justice.

Still, there were concerns about how the DNA evidence was handled — the expert witness failed to keep records, for example. Despite that, Johnson at the University of Hawaii said he thinks the court made the wrong decision and Hakamada should have been granted a retrial.

“I believe he’s actually innocent but I can’t be 100 percent sure of it,” said Johnson.

Johnson said it’s possible Hakamada could be sent back to death row but then granted executive clemency, and that it could actually increase public support for the death penalty because the government would be seen as acting mercifully.

For now, the court has allowed Hakamada to remain free on bail at his sister’s house and a community group formed to help care for him. Every day, a volunteer named Ino drives over an hour from her house to cook lunch and make sure there is always someone to accompany him on his walks.

Hakamada himself doesn’t seem to fully grasp his situation but remains upbeat.

“I feel good, I’m healthy,” he said. “The world is developing and becoming a good world — the companies tell you, you can make a lot of money and the authorities don’t punish you anymore.”

His sister just listens and doesn’t push him to talk about his time in prison.

“Even death row inmates, they’re not animals. They’re still human and they should be treated with humanity — so I do think Japan should get rid of the death penalty,” she said. “As for my brother, of course, I’d like the Supreme Court to say he’s innocent but if he gets to stay out of prison, that’s better than nothing.”


By: Abigail Leonard
Date: January 19, 2019
Source: The Week

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Opportunities for students making career in Sociology


If you are sincere to make a career in Sociology, there are several avenues for you to excel. Some of such avenues are urban sociology, political sociology, ethnic and race relations

The study of Sociology entails the exact and orderly investigation of various customs and cultures of society, while incorporating study of social interactions, social relationships.

It is a science to formulate a skeleton of knowledge pertaining to the social order, acceptance and social change or evolution of a society. For this purpose, sociology employs investigation methodologies incorporating empiricism and critical analysis.

Whereas some of the sociologists carry research that relates to welfare and various social policies, others work to refine the theoretical comprehension of social processes.

To sum it up all, sociology deals with answering questions as, but not limited to, these:

How to formulate an ideal society?

What are the ingredients for it?

How the culture of a society (or, societies) is created?

How does this culture progress to a generation, from the earlier one?

What are the differences and similarities between various groups of people?

What impact do various social institutions cast on people?

If you are sincere to make a career in Sociology, there are several avenues for you to excel. Some of such avenues are urban sociology, political sociology, ethnic and race relations. Similarly, they are the sociology pertaining to the family and the sphere of social psychology.

In a nutshell, Sociology incorporates study of all facets of human activity and experience. For this, it employs a variety of social disciplines like psychology, history, economics, anthropology and political science and many more.

This way, Sociology proves to be an attraction for the students contemplating studying a variety of subjects and academic spheres.

Eligibility Criteria and the fields for pursuing Sociology as a career

As a subject, Sociology can be pursued at all levels. From high school to the doctorate level, an aspirant can choose the discipline anytime. Below is the mention of various fields in which such aspirants can look forward to their brighter prospects, when taking it as a tool for their career.

The sphere of Journalism

Critical and analytical thinking along with the capacity to communicate well are indispensable for being a journalist of repute. The branch of Sociology trains one in the former two skills. The Universities containing the discipline, teach various scientific approaches and theories of calculations to the pursuers of Sociology. This approach is essentially required for arriving at the mathematically exact conclusions for data pertaining to various communities. Moreover, the institutions also teach the conduct of case studies, interviews and surveys, as supplements.

Moreover, generally, a class of sociology entertains quite thought-provoking debates and discussions. Thus, the exercise opens the opportunities for the students, for participating in them and broadening their horizons of thinking. Thus, a class of Sociology proves to be a platform to propel a journalist’s career, fast enough.

Sociology in Human Resource

A human resource person, in any organisation or firm, interacts with the representatives of every community and culture via his/her fellow workers and the interviewees he/she has to meet daily. Interacting and working with such a variety of people carrying a representation of their own culture becomes easier for a sociologist turned HR person.

This is because, the care taker of the HR sphere, via the course of Sociology, learns to be open to the individuals from several countries, communities, and tribes, irrespective of their race, gender or class.

The sphere of academics

A sociologist cum academician can also have bright prospects in academics. As, being a student of Sociology, such academics are well versed in skills of research. Hence, their skill can be used to recognise problems in a sphere and carry studies for it.

These sociologists cum academicians later provide their services as the teachers and professors in schools and colleges. These teachers then, not only teach the subject but, more importantly, encourage analytical and critical thinking in students, besides providing in-depth knowledge about the society.

The sphere of Public Services/ Social Work

Working as a sociologist in the field of social work, you will work for people that would be going through certain problem(s). You, therefore, can provide immense help as you, being a sociologist, are equipped with the eye for these problems. Besides, such sociologists connect with the organisations like the World Bank, the United Nations, various NGOs and charities, much faster.

A social worker having studied Sociology at the levels of the masters and doctorate, can carry the researches related to their fieldwork, much better and faster. This is because, a scholar of Sociology much quickly and effectively understands many facets of a problematic solution.

The sphere of connecting with the consumers

Having gone through the training for understanding behaviours of groups of people, Sociologists are apt to read the requirements of consumers and various factors involved in it. This is the skill they can acquire in much easier way and quite faster.

Besides these spheres, there are several others where Sociologists are essentially required. Like, for instance, policy making, public litigation, and so on.

Owing to the technological revolutions and globalization in the last few decades, the sphere of Sociology has recently received greater thrusts. Hence, a career in it looks quite promising. Therefore, one hopes the best for future Sociologists.


By: Rohit Manglik
Date: January 20, 2019
Source: The Indian Express

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Study reveals high prevalence of quiet corruption in Lagos’ public schools


A study has revealed that there is high prevalence of quiet corruption in public institutions in Lagos State.

A lecturer in the Department of Sociology, University of Lagos, Dr. David Akeju, disclosed this yesterday at the presentation of a pilot study on ‘Quiet corruption in public education institutions in Lagos State’ jointly carried out by Trust Africa and Human Development Initiatives (HDI).

According to the study, “quiet corruption in schools manifests in teacher absenteeism, students’ sexual harassment, lack of knowledge of subject matter, favoritism, examination malpractice among others.

Akeju said: “By the indicators, we first talked about perception generally, for the primary secondary and tertiary institutions and over 60 percent, some about 70 percent said quiet corruption is prevalent. When you talk of their experience, even among university students, we have as much as 60 per cent of respondents saying that it has affected them in one-way or the other. There is none of the indicators that is lower than 50 percent.

The Executive Director, Human Development Initiatives (HDI), Mrs. Olufunso Owasanoye stated that it is a pity that school administrators and government agencies saddled with the responsibility of taming corruption were shielded from investigating the occurrence and prevalence of quiet corruption within the school system.


By: Gbenga Salau
Date: January 20, 2019
Source: The Guardian

Study reveals high prevalence of quiet corruption in Lagos’ public schools

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Women First Marched to Challenge Trump. Now They Are Challenging Each Other


When millions of protesters flooded the streets of Washington, D.C.; New York; Los Angeles; and dozens of other American cities as part of the Women’s March in January 2017, and again in January 2018, the organization became a powerful symbol of mass, unified opposition to the new Trump Administration.

But on the third anniversary of the Women’s March on Jan. 19, the group has come to represent something else entirely: the fractious and often discordant relationship among those who oppose President Trump.

“There have been broad progressive coalitions on the left before whose main goal was to get as many people out in the streets as possible,” says Georgetown history professor Michael Kazin. “But all the ones I know about were focused on a single issue. There was thus a basis for unity which may not exist in the Women’s March.”

Women’s March, Inc., the umbrella organization that formed after Trump’s election in 2016, has faced increased scrutiny in past months, after its leaders failed to adequately address allegations of anti-Semitism and racism among their ranks. Top sponsors, including the Democratic National Committee and the National Organization for Women, have vanished from the group’s online list of benefactors, and dozens of women have announced on the group’s Facebook page that they will no longer attend the third annual Women’s March on Saturday.

A group in Humboldt County, California, canceled their planned march over concerns participants would be “overwhelmingly white,” and the main Women’s March, which was originally scheduled to return to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, will now take place at a smaller venue.
The backlash to the Women’s March began over a year ago after Tamika Mallory, the organization’s co-president, posted an Instagram photo of herself and anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, taken at an event he had hosted. In the photo’s caption, Mallory described Farrakhan as “the GOAT,” meaning the “greatest of all time.” In the past, Farrakhan has compared Jewish people to termites and described them as “satanic.” In 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated Farrakhan’s organization as a hate group.

The Women’s March responded to criticism over Mallory’s association to it in an online statement, saying, “[w]e do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities.” But Mallory herself repeatedly defended her relationship to Farrakhan, saying she has long attended events hosted by the Nation of Islam and crediting the organization for helping her overcome personal tragedy. This month, Mallory again stopped short of condemning Farrakhan during an appearance on “The View.”

“I didn’t call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric. I called him the greatest of all time because of what he’s done in black communities,” she said on Jan. 14.

Linda Sarsour, a prominent board member of Women’s March, Inc., has also refused to condemn Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. “People are asking us to take responsibility for commentary made by someone else, and in particular a man, which is actually quite antithetical to feminism,” she told NPR on Jan. 17. “We have our own agency; we should be judged by our own work.”

Teresa Shook, one of the original founders of the Women’s March, formally broke with the organization in November 2018 and called for its leadership to resign. “Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course,” she wrote in Facebook post. “I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not. In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti-LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”

The unraveling of Women’s March, Inc. is partly the result of its individual leaders’ decisions and public comments. But it’s also indicative, experts say, of a broader dysfunction that often affects generalized, fast-growing social justice movements. In organizations with a myriad of loosely defined goals, such as the Women’s March, leaders will emerge with conflicting visions and priorities.

“If you think about the history of the women’s movement in this country, it’s full of divisions,” says Jo Reger, a sociology professor who researches social movements and gender at Oakland University. “Sometimes [fractures] allow movements to develop more organizations. They allow people to find the groups that have the beliefs, the strategies, and the ideologies they’re most comfortable with.” But sometimes, she warns, the divisions rob the larger movement of its momentum.

Janni Aragon, an expert in feminism and current adjunct professor at University of Victoria, says that even an organization theoretically unified by support for women’s equality is not immune to discord. “Feminism is really like Baskin-Robbins,” she says. “There’s 31-plus different flavors.”

The failure of Women’s March, Inc.’s leadership is tied in part to its leaders’ inability to negotiate tensions over U.S. policy toward Israel, an issue that has long roiled left-leaning social justice organizations. Sarsour, who has been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, failed to distance her own views from those held by people like Farrakhan, who have been overtly anti-Semitic.

Vanessa Wruble, a social justice activist and early organizer at Women’s March, Inc., told TIME she was driven out of the organization and believes her Jewish identity was a factor. Women’s March, Inc. failed to respond to multiple requests this week for comment regarding Wruble’s allegation.

“Every member of our movement matters to us — including our incredible Jewish and LGBTQ members,” the group said in a November statement. “We are deeply sorry for the harm we have caused, but we see you, we love you, and we are fighting with you.”

The Women’s March eventual disjuncture can be traced largely to its broad-based, grassroots origins, experts on social movements said. Shook, a Hawaiian grandmother, first floated the idea of a large protest march in Washington, D.C., in a Facebook group after the results of the 2016 election began trickling in. When she woke up the next day, the event page she created almost on a whim had amassed thousands of RSVPs. The Women’s March, in other words, was born of collective concern over the new administration, rather than a coherent set of legislative or policy goals.

Thousands of miles from Washington, Shook enlisted the help of women that had reached out to her, who subsequently enlisted the help of more women. Eventually, Shook took a backseat role, as other leaders came on board. Mallory and Carmen Perez were brought on after Wruble raised concerns that women of color were underrepresented.

The Women’s March, which was intended to express unity and inclusion, has now spawned dozens of other disparate groups, both local and national.

Reger, the Oakland sociologist, says discord within an enormous organization like Women’s March, Inc., can prove positive in the long run. “Sometimes the ways we begin to change these things is when we begin to talk about them,” she says, “and to examine the world around us to see: What have I been allowing? What have I not noticed? What have I been accepting? What has my privilege blinded me to? And how can I begin to address it?”

March On, a national umbrella organization that spun off of the original Women’s March movement and is not associated with Women’s March, Inc., will host dozens of events this month. Last year, nearly 2.7 million people joined March On protests across the country.

The original Women’s March organization may unraveling, but at least this year, activists say, the spirit that first gave rise to it will go marching on.


By: Abby Vesoulis
Date: January 19, 2019
Source: Time

Posted in Latest Post, Public Sociology | Leave a comment

Academic Affirmative Action Is a Really Bad Idea. Here’s Why


If professors like Elizabeth Warren want to be taken seriously, then they should admit what every academic knows: race matters.

In 2003, with my doctoral dissertation approved and my PhD certificate in the mail, I went on the academic job market looking for an assistant professor position in sociology. I applied for more than eighty jobs and got just three interviews. One of them was at the sociology department of the University of Pittsburgh.

It was the middle of winter, I had a chest infection, and Pittsburgh was very cold. I was flying in from Arizona. There was a two-hour time difference and the Pittsburgh recruiting committee wanted me to start my day by meeting the director of the Center for Latin-American Studies at 7:30 a.m.

I pleaded for a later meeting since my next appointment wasn’t until 10:30 a.m. I pointed out that, due to jet lag, a 7:30 a.m. meeting would be like 5:30 a.m. for me, that I was very sick, and that I didn’t study Latin America. But the center’s director wanted to meet me, and he couldn’t meet me at any other time.

The chair of the sociology recruiting committee told me that he thought it was “very important” for me to meet with the Center for Latin-American Studies. I pointed out that I didn’t study Latin America in any way whatsoever, but he was insistent. He wouldn’t tell me why it was important. But when I threatened that, given my illness, I might just have to cancel the interview, he relented.

Over the course of my interview day in Pittsburgh, several people gently probed my family background. What sort of name was Babones? Was I perhaps from Argentina, a Latino of Italian origins? I readily told everyone the truth: my paternal grandparents came from Greece, my maternal great-grandparents came from Italy, and I came from New Jersey. Babones was just an Ellis Island misspelling of Bebonis, our proper Greek family name.

When the hiring decision came, I was informed that I was rated “exactly equal” to one of the other candidates. Since that candidate was African-American, and I was unremarkable-American, the university’s affirmative action policy dictated that the other candidate be offered the position first. If he or she declined the job, then it would go to me. (What would happen if we had both been minority candidates and had been rated “exactly equal” was left unsaid.)

That we were rated “exactly equal” was a funny bit of bureaucratic posturing. If I had been rated second, and the minority candidate turned down the job, then the sociology department would have had to admit that it was “unable to attract its preferred candidates”—i.e., that they had a problem. So we were both the preferred candidate. The department got to have its affirmative action cake and eat it, too.

What Did the Senator Know—And When Did She Know It?

Senator Elizabeth Warren has copped a lot of flak for claiming Native American heritage on the basis of old family stories of the kind that circulate in many white American families that have been in the country for a long time. Some of this criticism, like when Donald Trump calls her Pocahontas , is boorish bordering on racist. But inappropriate criticism doesn’t exonerate Warren for her own behavior. And that behavior has been questionable, if not outright duplicitous.

Warren first publicly identified herself as “Native American” in 1986 in the directory of the Association of American Law Schools. She was thirty-seven years old at the time and had been a law professor for eight years. By that point in life, and having been not just a professor, but a law professor, she must have known that publicly identifying as a minority scholar could have a dramatic impact on her career prospects. Only the most disingenuous or dimwitted academic could claim to be ignorant of this, and Elizabeth Warren is certainly not dimwitted.

Quite the contrary: in true lawyerly fashion, she officially identified herself as Native American only after receiving employment offers from both Penn State and Harvard. In 1987, she was hired at Penn as “white,” then updated her forms three years later to become “Native American.” Even stranger, in 1995, while legally identifying herself as Native American at Penn, she marked herself as “white” on her job application at Harvard. Only after winning the position did she change her Harvard status to “Native American.”

As a result, so far as all of the public records are concerned, Warren’s minority status never played a role in her career advancement. And maybe it never did. But when Senator Warren flatly states in her video defense that “my background played no role in my hiring,” she is making a claim that, as she has carefully ensured, cannot be disproved. Harvard law professor, indeed.

The Mendacity of Truth

Elizabeth Warren is, no doubt, a highly accomplished legal scholar and educator. She certainly seems to have merited the confidence placed in her by her academic peers. But any professorship at Harvard attracts hundreds of highly accomplished applicants. Undergraduate admissions at Harvard attract tens of thousands. In both professorial hiring and student admissions, the truth is that most of those rejected could do the work just as well as the lucky few who are accepted.

And not just at Harvard. As American society has become more open and democratic, it has become more competitive. Rising inequality has further increased the payoff for winning the Ivy League sweepstakes. Even subtle advantages can produce massive rewards. No Harvard professorship, no Senator Warren, no President Warren. It may not be quite that simple, but it’s not much more complex.

When I applied at the University of Pittsburgh, I never asked to be considered as a minority applicant. I checked “white” on all my forms. But the pressure to hire minority hiring targets is so strong that I was still interviewed as a possible Hispanic. Universities routinely use foreigners from Spain, Portugal, or Latin America to meet Hispanic hiring targets, just as they use African immigrants to meet African-American targets. If you can pick up a “Native American” while hiring a woman, too, then all the better.

But opponents of affirmative action must reckon with the consequences of identity-blind admissions and hiring. Is it really acceptable to have an all-white law faculty or an all-male engineering school? There are so few female economists that when the Nobel Prize committee finally recognized a woman’s contribution to the discipline, they turned to a political scientist , Elinor Ostrom. Whatever your opinion about affirmative action, that’s a problem.

If Elizabeth Warren wants to be taken seriously, then she should admit what every academic knows: race matters. Gender matters too. Maybe it shouldn’t matter, and maybe it should. Either way, it does. If she doesn’t realize that, then she is too clueless to serve as a United States senator—never mind contend for the presidency of the United States.

As for myself, I am now an associate professor at the University of Sydney in Australia. I’d like to return to the United States, and I just applied for a job at City University of New York. The CUNY system is distinctive for extending affirmative action protections to Italian-Americans, a long-time disadvantaged group in New York City. As a result, in addition to other races and ethnicities, candidates can self-identify as Italian-American. And yes, I checked that box.


Salvatore Babones is the author of The New Authoritarianism: Trump, Populism, and the Tyranny of Experts.


By : Salvatore Babones
Date : October 23, 2018
Source : The National Interest

Posted in Education, Latest Post, Public Sociology | Leave a comment

Cultural stereotypes drive negative perceptions of undocumented immigrants


Study uncovers how biases shape Americans’ perceptions of what it means to be ‘illegal’

Heated political rhetoric on immigration has dominated the media for the past few years, with politicians including President Donald Trump often portraying undocumented immigrants as dangerous criminals.

According to new University of Chicago research, that kind of dialogue may be fostering a national sentiment of fear and hostility toward already disadvantaged populations.

“They are promoting the perception that if someone doesn’t have papers, they must be very bad,” said René D. Flores, the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology. “The actual data show a consistent, negative correlation between immigration and crime. All of that political rhetoric is data-free.”

Flores explores the shifting idea of what it means to be “illegal” in his latest research, published by the American Sociological Review. The paper, which he co-authored with sociologist Ariela Schachter of Washington University in St. Louis, uncovers stereotypes among white Americans about who is most likely to be “illegal.”

In the study, Flores and Schachter applied a survey experiment to a nationally representative sample of more than 1,500 non-Hispanic whites. These respondents were shown profiles of different immigrants with randomly assigned traits including national origin, age, gender, occupation and criminal history, among others, then they asked the subjects if they thought these immigrants were undocumented.

The study reveals that national origin, social class and, especially, criminal background powerfully shape perceptions of illegality. On the basis of these traits, some people are being classified by others as “illegal,” regardless of their actual documentation status, a condition Flores and Schachter refer to as “social illegality.”

The results show that Mexicans and other Latin Americans, but also Africans and Middle Easterners, were significantly more suspect than immigrants from Europe or Asia—despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of undocumented European and Asian immigrants in the country. Flores noted that many Asian, European and Canadian immigrants are “invisible illegals.”

“They are able to live their lives without being constantly confronted about their immigration status,” Flores said.

Subjects’ opinions also were shaped by immigrants’ class background. When immigrants were described as low-educated, and working in informal roles as gardeners or nannies, they were more likely to be considered undocumented than those with formal, white-collar jobs, he said.

The most dramatic results were respondents’ reaction to criminal background. Keeping other traits constant, subjects consistently believed that if someone committed crimes like rape or murder, they must be illegal, he said.

Flores said that in all of his years as an experimentalist, he has rarely seen such dramatic effect sizes in his research. “It tells us that the American public is increasingly internalizing the idea that undocumented immigrants are in fact criminals, even if this is not supported by empirical facts.”

Fear mongering

These engrained biases have led to countless scenarios in which individuals, even some who are born in the U.S., have come under scrutiny from immigration authorities, Flores said. He points to a recent story of ICE agents flagging individuals with Latin-sounding last names from guest lists provided by Motel 6 workers, or the State Department refusing to recognize birth certificates of some U.S. citizens who were born along the U.S./Mexican border. “It’s a hot-button issue that politicians use to inflame people,” Flores said.

“Social illegality” may also negatively influence the decisions of hiring managers, landlords and other members of the public, potentially affecting access to jobs, housing, health care and education for people who happen to “fit the profile,” regardless of their actual citizenship status. “If a teacher thinks a student is undocumented, they may decide not to invest in that child.”

For a long time being undocumented was considered a mere labor infraction. But some politicians have figured out that they can use immigration to activate their bases. “Immigrants make great punching bags,” Flores said. Nativist politicians use them to incite fear in voters because they know they face minimal backlash in the short term. “Undocumented folks can’t vote, so unlike prior immigrant waves, they have limited power to fight back politically.”

Flores hopes this research will highlight how national rhetoric may be negatively affecting some of the most disadvantaged people in our society, and that future scholars will use it as a baseline to track future immigration biases. He is optimistic that it will contribute to creating a more equitable society for immigrants in the future.

“The first step is becoming aware of the biases that shape perceived illegality and how they may affect immigration enforcement,” he said.


Citation: “Who are the “Illegals”? The Social Construction of Illegality in the United States.” René D. Flores and Ariela Schachter, American Sociological Review. Oct. 1, 2018. doi: 10.1177/0003122418794635


By : Sarah Fister Gale
Date : October 23, 2018
Source : UChicago News

Posted in Latest Post, Public Sociology | Leave a comment
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