Download a copy of Accounts, Issue 2 here.
Alicia D. Eads
Department of Sociology Cornell University
Dissertation description: In my dissertation, I delve into the complex case of the policy response to the housing market collapse in the recent financial crisis in the U.S., which provides useful empirical ground to explore a theoretical puzzle: how does culture affect policy action? I examine this theoretical question from three angles in the dissertation. First, how do cultural meaning structures affect the interpretation of economic events and the policies developed in response? I collect unique data – transcribed speeches from officials – and, methodologically, I use computational text analysis techniques and network analysis to address this question. I find that different government agencies constructed the crisis differently, which impacted the policies they advocated. In a second part of the dissertation, I test the extent to which the cultural meaning that economic events take on affect policy independently of other important factors such as economic conditions and political ideology. I analyze the foreclosure prevention policies enacted by some U.S. states, finding that how events are portrayed affect states’ likelihood of passing policy. Finally, I examine how convergence or divergence of cultural meaning affect actors’ ability to coordinate policy actions.
Many members of the Economic Sociology Section of ASA have professional and social ties to the Organization and Management Theory Division of AOM. (http://omtweb.org) So what is the OMT Division all about? The OMT Division aspires to advance robust theoretical understanding of organizations, organizing, and management. We promote and develop the community of researchers, educators, and practitioners who advance organizational scholarship and practice and its application across domains and topics. Please consider joining our OMT community by emailing Ed Carberry at Edward.Carberry@umb.edu, or joining us at our social hours at the EGOS conference (http://www.egosnet.org) in Naples this July and/or the AOM conference in Anaheim this August. (http://aom.org/annualmeeting/theme/) If you are interested in getting more information on OMT, feel free to visit our website, like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook. com/omtdivision/), or follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/aom_omt).
The SAGE Encyclopedia of Economics and Society
Frederick F. Wherry – Yale University
Juliet B. Schor, Consulting Editor – Boston College, USA, Harvard University
Economics is the nexus and engine that runs society, affecting societal well-being, raising standards of living when economies prosper or lowering citizens through class structures when economies perform poorly. Our society only has to witness the booms and busts of the past decade to see how economics profoundly affects the cores of societies around the world. From a household budget to international trade, economics ranges from the micro- to the macro-level. It relates to a breadth of social science disciplines that help describe the content of the proposed encyclopedia, which will explicitly approach economics through varied disciplinary lenses. Although there are encyclopedias of covering economics (especially classic economic theory and history), the SAGE Encyclopedia of Economics and Society emphasizes the contemporary world, contemporary issues, and society.
Is there life after economic sociology? We had the opportunity to talk about non-academic career tracks with three outstanding interviewees, each of whom has taken their sociological trainings in different and exciting directions. We speak to Peter Levin, who after experience in academia has switched onto a non-academic track; Karina Kloos, a more recent PhD who went straight to a non-academic career; and Charlie Gomez, a PhD student with recent experience in the private sector. Their contact information is provided at the end of the interview.
Tell us about how you landed on a non-academic career track. Were you always interested in working outside of academia or was this something you decided while working towards your PhD?
Peter Levin: I went for my PhD because I wanted to be a professor, and I had been an assistant professor for a long time before looking for a non-academic job. I had a great job at a great institution. My decision to leave academia was gradual, and it came mid-career. I started becoming restless about teaching, and I was increasingly disaffected by the disciplinary part of sociology. Of course, once I “decided” I wanted out, it took me another 3-4 years before I had the courage to jump.
I landed at Intel mostly by accident – I heard they had a lab, and I contacted the director out of the blue. What started as a conversation became a collaborative engagement and ended up becoming a permanent position at Intel Labs, in the user experience research lab (UXR). So we joined the long trail of hipster migration from Brooklyn, New York to Portland, Oregon…
Karina Kloos: When I decided to apply to PhD programs, I had already been working with nonprofit/ non-governmental organizations for a few years. At the time, I had been exposed to enough international development work to have a sense of how much I didn’t know and how much I needed to learn. For me, the PhD was an opportunity to put a ‘pause’ on my work and see what I could figure out: explore issues in depth, learn about different theories for understanding social change, and develop research skills to critically analyze and understand what is — and isn’t — effective.
I learned that I had been accepted to the PhD program at Stanford while I was living and working for a small educational non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Cambodia—one of the countries with the highest NGO densities in the world. When I started the program, my cohort teased me with phrases like “I heart NGOs” because I came in with such a keen interest in dissecting the NGO world… This turned out to be way too big for a PhD dissertation!
In my fourth year of the PhD, I found my way back to working directly with NGOs. I took on a consulting project for the Global Fund for Women. My job was to assess their work and impact over their twenty-five year history, which included funding more than 4,600 grassroots women’s organizational across 175 countries (!). Bringing in my academic social movements background, I also worked with my advisor to frame a movement building strategy for the organization. That work really connected me and my academic experiences and knowledge back into the ‘NGO world.’ A year and a half later, just as I was finishing my PhD, I started working for Landesa, a global land rights NGO based in Seattle. In hindsight, I was really lucky. The kinds of jobs there are now, including the one I have today, weren’t there six years ago when I started the PhD and had these kinds of quixotic aspirations.
Charlie Gomez: This past summer, I interned as a quantitative user experience researcher at Facebook. Going to graduate school in Silicon Valley affords many unique opportunities that you don’t really have anywhere else. I’m still committed to a career in academia, but many graduate students in engineering and in computer science frequently leave to join companies in the Valley. It was only recently that colleagues of mine in the social sciences followed suit and joined start-ups and established tech giants – first as research interns and then as full-time employees. The academic job market is stereotyped as unpredictable and bleak. So, from my point of view, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to do academic research in-house at a company in the area. I wanted to see if I could have an equally fulfilling career doing industry research.
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Read any good books lately? That’s the question we asked a handful of scholars this summer, with the nudge that thoughtprovoking books can come from beyond sociology. Here’s what they had to say.
ELIZABETH POPP BERMAN (UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY, SUNY)
The Fires: How a Computer Formula Burned Down New York City—and Determined the Future of American Cities
By: Joe Flood Riverhead Books, 2011, 368 pages
I knew New York City was a much grittier place in the 1970s, but I didn’t know it was this gritty. In The Fires, journalist Joe Flood describes New York in which the backdrop to the World Series was the Bronx on fire. Block after block of the city burned during these years of fiscal crisis and urban decline.
The blame, in Flood’s book, lies at the feet of the experts: in this case, the RAND Corporation, which brought in its cool-headed modelers to tell the struggling city how it could cut fire department budgets without endangering the city. But rationalist faith ran up against the usual problems: politicos who made sure wealthy neighborhoods didn’t lose their firehouses, firemen who provided bad numbers that served their own interests, analysts who were overconfident in their ability to predict. The best of intentions had catastrophic results for the city. It’s a complex, deeply reported story with a sharp sociological edge. And the most gripping book about systems analysis you’re likely to read. BOOKSHELF
EMILY ERIKSON (YALE UNIVERSITY) Magazines and the Making of America: Modernization, Community, and Print Culture, 1741-1860
By: Heather Haveman Princeton University Press, 2015, 432 pages
I am greatly enjoying this book, which provides a rich history of the magazine industry in North America, analyzes the impact of magazines on religious fragmentation, social reform, and economic development and serves up fascinating details about ante-bellum entrepreneurship, the dynamics of religious markets, and Sabbatarianism (among others) along the way. It is the result of a heroic archival effort and makes a significant contribution to understanding the material underpinnings of the transition to modernity, particularly the means through which early-modern relational patterns were reconfigured into translocal communities of interest (and the role of organizations in this process). It also has a much better title than another book I am currently reading on early-modern print culture, Not Dead Things: The Dissemination of Popular Print in England and Wales, Italy, and the Low Countries, 1500-1820.
Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society The mission of Social Politics is to provide “incisive analyses of gender, politics and policy across the globe”. It seeks to bring gender, in all its diversity, to the forefront of research on states, polities, economies and societies and to situate these analyses within international and comparative contexts. The journal’s vision is to engage with concerns of gender, both as they are articulated by self-identified feminist activities and expressed in other arenas in which feminists work, such as challenging capitalist practices and logics, environmental politics and human rights activism. Social Politics’ intellectual roots are broadly located in the explosion of theorizing of states and politics sparked by social movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and carried through to the present in the form of critical, feminist work that bridges theory and empirical research. These are all vibrant and exciting fields of scholarship in which Social Politics has already made a mark. The contributors to the journal over the years have investigated the underpinnings of social policies as they crisscross public and private, interrogated politics that deepen inequality and institutionalize hierarchies and shown the gendered elements of modern state power and social politics to be multiple and to vary by time and place. The journal has also played a leading role in bringing gender into mainstream scholarship – especially on the welfare state – while pioneering new concepts and approaches for the comparative study of power, policy, and politics from a feminist perspective.
Social Politics aspires to be a trailblazer in the areas core to its mission and a vehicle for scholarship of the highest standard, both theoretical and methodological. It seeks to air a wide range of debates and highlight differences as a productive and fruitful route to critical scholarship. The recently-appointed new editors – Kate Bedford, Mary Daly, Margarita Estévez Abe and Aleksandra Kanjuo-Mrčela – intend the journal to be even bolder in its emphasis on comparison and ‘talking across differences’. They are are actively planning for the journal to have a wider geographical reach so that it can facilitate dialogue among an even broader range of scholars. In sum, the aim is that Social Politics will continue to be a leading light in debates and new research agendas around gender, class, sexuality, race/ethnicity and nation, the politics of global markets and economies, transnational governance, and the gendered contexts and contests around care practices and policies as these play out in diverse parts of the world.