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Engines of Anxiety | RSF
Students and the public routinely consult various published college rankings to assess the quality of colleges and universities and easily compare different schools. However, many institutions have responded to the rankings in ways that benefit neither the schools nor their students. In Engines of Anxiety, sociologists Wendy Espeland and Michael Sauder delve deep into the mechanisms of law school rankings, which have become a top priority within legal education. Based on a wealth of observational data and over 200 in-depth interviews with law students, university deans, and other administrators, they show how the scramble for high rankings has affected the missions and practices of many law schools.

Engines of Anxiety tracks how rankings, such as those published annually by the U.S. News & World Report, permeate every aspect of legal education, beginning with the admissions process. The authors find that prospective law students not only rely heavily on such rankings to evaluate school quality, but also internalize rankings as expressions of their own abilities and flaws. For example, they often view rejections from “first-tier” schools as a sign of personal failure. The rankings also affect the decisions of admissions officers, who try to balance admitting diverse classes with preserving the school’s ranking, which is dependent on factors such as the median LSAT score of the entering class. Espeland and Sauder find that law schools face pressure to admit applicants with high test scores over lower-scoring candidates who possess other favorable credentials.

Engines of Anxiety also reveals how rankings have influenced law schools’ career service departments. Because graduates’ job placements play a major role in the rankings, many institutions have shifted their career-services resources toward tracking placements, and away from counseling and network-building. In turn, law firms regularly use school rankings to recruit and screen job candidates, perpetuating a cycle in which highly ranked schools enjoy increasing prestige. As a result, the rankings create and reinforce a rigid hierarchy that penalizes lower-tier schools that do not conform to the restrictive standards used in the rankings. The authors show that as law schools compete to improve their rankings, their programs become more homogenized and less accessible to non-traditional students.

The ranking system is considered a valuable resource for learning about more than 200 law schools. Yet, Engines of Anxiety shows that the drive to increase a school’s rankings has negative consequences for students, educators, and administrators and has implications for all educational programs that are quantified in similar ways.
book  academia  university  measurement  economic_sociology 
4 weeks ago by rvenkat
Josh Tenenbaum receives 2019 MacArthur Fellowship | MIT News
--Given his preeminence in both cognitive science and machine learning, maybe someone else working on an underappreciated topic, in some other discipline?
sociology_of_science  economic_sociology  academia 
7 weeks ago by rvenkat
Caste and the Indian Economy
Caste plays a role at every stage of an Indian’s economic life; in school, university, the labor market, and into old age. The influence of caste extends beyond private economic activity into the public sphere, where caste politics determines access to public resources. The aggregate evidence indicates that there has been convergence in education, occupations, income, and access to public resources across caste groups in the decades after independence. Some of this convergence is likely due to affirmative action, but caste-based networks could also have played an equalizing role by exploiting the opportunities that became available in a globalizing economy. Ethnic networks were once active in many advanced economies, but ceased to be salient once markets developed. With economic development, it is possible that caste networks will cease to be salient in India. The affirmative action programs may also be rolled back and (statistical) discrimination in urban labor markets may come to an end, if and when there is convergence across caste groups. In the interim period, however, it is important to understand the positive and negative consequences of caste involvement across a variety of spheres in the Indian economy
caste_system  india  economic_history  economic_sociology 
10 weeks ago by rvenkat
Vacancy Chain Models: Do They Fit into the Economist's Toolbox?: Housing, Theory and Society: Vol 21, No 4
Local housing markets are typically “thin”. This implies that vacant housing units are a scarce resource in the local housing market. Vacancy chain models constitute a class of models that explicitly link mobility and the production of vacancies within a housing market. This paper begins with the observation that this class of models is utilized to a quite low degree in the economic analysis of local housing markets. Economic methodological literature is used to discuss the reasons for this. One reason is that these models, quite unnecessarily, are presented as having a non‐behavioural basis. As economics is about the behaviour of deliberately acting agents, this way of presenting vacancy chain models is an obstacle to communication with economists. Although some shortcomings of vacancy chain models are identified and discussed here, it is concluded that such models should be included in the toolbox of economists analysing local housing markets.

--the last tag is because these models originated in occupational mobility literature.
institutions  labor  microeconomics  economic_geography  economic_sociology 
june 2019 by rvenkat
Chains of Opportunity — Harrison C. White | Harvard University Press
The careers of managers and professionals in large bureaucracies are generally contingent and form an interacting system of mobility—individual moves occur in chains of vacancies as one man replaces another. Harrison White has developed a series of mathematical models for analyzing mobility and measuring vacancy chains. Detailed sampling and coding procedures demonstrate the application of the models to such existing data as personnel registers while formulas are also included for determining turnover and career distribution.

-- This provides a good summary
institutions  labor  economic_sociology  sociology  book 
june 2019 by rvenkat
Cultural Beliefs and the Organization of Society: A Historical and Theoretical Reflection on Collectivist and Individualist Societies on JSTOR
Lacking an appropriate theoretical framework, economists and economic historians have paid little attention to the relations between culture and institutional structure. This limits the ability to address a question that seems to be at the heart of developmental failures: Why do societies fail to adopt the institutional structure of more economically successful ones? This paper integrates game-theoretical and sociological concepts to conduct a comparative historical analysis of the relations between culture and institutional structure. It examines cultural factors that have led two premodern societies--one from the Muslim world and the other from the Latin world--to evolve along distinct trajectories of institutional structure. It indicates the theoretical importance of culture in determining institutional structures, in leading to their path dependence, and in forestalling successful intersociety adoption of institutions. Since the distinct institutional structures found in the late medieval period resemble those differentiating contemporary developing and developed economies, the paper suggests the historical importance of distinct cultures in economic development.
economic_history  anthropology  culture  social_structure  economic_sociology 
june 2019 by rvenkat
Do the Poor Pay More for Housing? Exploitation, Profit, and Risk in Rental Markets | American Journal of Sociology: Vol 124, No 4
This article examines tenant exploitation and landlord profit margins within residential rental markets. Defining exploitation as being overcharged relative to the market value of a property, the authors find exploitation of tenants to be highest in poor neighborhoods. Landlords in poor neighborhoods also extract higher profits from housing units. Property values and tax burdens are considerably lower in depressed residential areas, but rents are not. Because landlords operating in poor communities face more risks, they hedge their position by raising rents on all tenants, carrying the weight of social structure into price. Since losses are rare, landlords typically realize the surplus risk charge as higher profits. Promoting a relational approach to the analysis of inequality, this study demonstrates how the market strategies of landlords contribute to high rent burdens in low-income neighborhoods.
poverty  inequality  market_failures  sociology  economic_sociology  institutions 
march 2019 by rvenkat
Why Do Women Earn Less Than Men? Evidence from Bus and Train Operators (Job Market Paper) | Valentin Bolotnyy
Even in a unionized environment where work tasks are similar, hourly wages are identical, and tenure dictates promotions, female workers earn $0.89 on the male-worker dollar (weekly earnings). We use confidential administrative data on bus and train operators from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to show that the weekly earnings gap can be explained entirely by the workplace choices that women and men make. Women value time and flexibility more than men, possibly due to a combination of preferences and personal life constraints. Women take more unpaid time off using the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and work fewer overtime hours than men. When overtime hours are scheduled three months in advance, men and women work a similar number of hours; but when those hours are offered at the last minute, men work nearly twice as many overtime hours. When selecting work schedules, women try to avoid weekend, holiday, and split shifts more than men. To avoid unfavorable work times, women prioritize their schedules over route safety and select routes with a higher probability of accidents. Women are less likely than men to game the scheduling system by trading off work hours at regular wages for overtime hours at premium wages. Conditional on seniority, which dictates choice sets, the weekly earnings gap can be explained entirely by differences in operator choices of hours, schedules, and routes. These results suggest that some policies that increase workplace flexibility, like shift swapping, can reduce the gender earnings gap and disproportionately increase the well-being of female workers.
gender  income  discrimination  debates  economic_sociology  econometrics 
november 2018 by rvenkat
Religious change preceded economic change in the 20th century | Science Advances
The decline in the everyday importance of religion with economic development is a well-known correlation, but which phenomenon comes first? Using unsupervised factor analysis and a birth cohort approach to create a retrospective time series, we present 100-year time series of secularization in different nations, derived from recent global values surveys, which we compare by decade to historical gross domestic product figures in those nations. We find evidence that a rise in secularization generally has preceded economic growth over the past century. Our multilevel, time-lagged regressions also indicate that tolerance for individual rights predicted 20th century economic growth even better than secularization. These findings hold when we control for education and shared cultural heritage.
time_series  secularism  economic_history  the_civilizing_process  economic_sociology  via:pinker 
july 2018 by rvenkat
Internal Colonialism, Core-Periphery Contrasts and Devolution: An Integrative Comment on JSTOR
The idea of internal colonialism is presented as a framework for examining regional deprivation, especially in distinct cultural environments, and is considered in the light of the devolution debate.
economics  political_science  networks  economic_geography  economic_sociology  teaching 
may 2018 by rvenkat
Wuthnow, R.: The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America (Hardcover and eBook) | Princeton University Press
What is fueling rural America's outrage toward the federal government? Why did rural Americans vote overwhelmingly for Donald Trump? And, beyond economic and demographic decline, is there a more nuanced explanation for the growing rural-urban divide? Drawing on more than a decade of research and hundreds of interviews, Robert Wuthnow brings us into America's small towns, farms, and rural communities to paint a rich portrait of the moral order--the interactions, loyalties, obligations, and identities—underpinning this critical segment of the nation. Wuthnow demonstrates that to truly understand rural Americans' anger, their culture must be explored more fully.

We hear from farmers who want government out of their business, factory workers who believe in working hard to support their families, town managers who find the federal government unresponsive to their communities' needs, and clergy who say the moral climate is being undermined. Wuthnow argues that rural America's fury stems less from specific economic concerns than from the perception that Washington is distant from and yet threatening to the social fabric of small towns. Rural dwellers are especially troubled by Washington's seeming lack of empathy for such small-town norms as personal responsibility, frugality, cooperation, and common sense. Wuthnow also shows that while these communities may not be as discriminatory as critics claim, racism and misogyny remain embedded in rural patterns of life.

Moving beyond simplistic depictions of the residents of America's heartland, The Left Behind offers a clearer picture of how this important population will influence the nation's political future.
via:?  trumpism  inequality  democracy  right-wing_populism  economic_sociology  book 
march 2018 by rvenkat
Behavioral Communities and the Atomic Structure of Networks by Matthew O. Jackson, Evan Storms :: SSRN
We develop a theory of 'behavioral communities' and the 'atomic structure' of networks. We define atoms to be groups of agents whose behaviors always match each other in a set of coordination games played on the network. This provides a microfoundation for a method of detecting communities in social and economic networks. We provide theoretical results characterizing such behavior-based communities and atomic structures and discussing their properties in large random networks. We also provide an algorithm for identifying behavioral communities. We discuss applications including: a method of estimating underlying preferences by observing behavioral conventions in data, and optimally seeding diffusion processes when there are peer interactions and homophily. We illustrate the techniques with applications to high school friendship networks and rural village networks.
networks  social_behavior  game_theory  social_networks  community_detection  economic_sociology  teaching  matthew.jackson 
february 2018 by rvenkat
Ordinalization: Lewis A. Coser Memorial Award for Theoretical Agenda Setting 2014 - Marion Fourcade, 2016
We can think of three basic principles of classificatory judgment for comparing things and people. I call these judgments nominal (oriented to essence), cardinal (oriented to quantities), and ordinal (oriented to relative positions). Most social orders throughout history are organized around the intersection of these different types. In line with the ideals of political liberalism, however, democratic societies have developed an arsenal of institutions to untangle nominal and ordinal judgments in various domains of social life. In doing so, I suggest, they have contributed to the parallel amplification of both. In this article, I specifically discuss the socio-technical channels through which ordinal judgments are now elaborated, a process I call ordinalization. I conclude by exploring the political and economic possibilities of a society in which ordinal processes are ubiquitous.
economic_sociology  inequality  social_theory  institutions  historical_sociology  comparative 
february 2018 by rvenkat

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