Speak for Sociology

Promoting sociology and sociology research

August, 2011

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

NSF Seeking Nominations for Waterman Award

NSF is now accepting nominations for the 2012 Alan T. Waterman Award, NSF’s highest recognition of an outstanding young researcher in any field of science or engineering supported by the NSF. The award consists of $500,000, a certificate and a medal to be presented in May, 2012. For more information, visit: http://www.nsf.gov/od/waterman/waterman.jsp

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

ASA Press Release: Study Reveals Cultural Characteristics of the Tea Party Movement

LAS VEGAS — American voters sympathetic to the Tea Party movement reflect four primary cultural and political beliefs more than other voters do: authoritarianism, libertarianism, fear of change, and negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Our findings show that the Tea Party movement can best be understood as a new cultural expression of late 20th century conservatism,” said Andrew J. Perrin, an associate professor of sociology in the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, and lead author of the study, “Cultures of the Tea Party.”

Findings are based on two telephone polls of registered voters in North Carolina and Tennessee
(conducted May 30-June 3, 2010 and Sept. 29-Oct. 3, 2010), and a set of interviews and observations at a Tea Party movement rally in Washington, N.C. Nearly half of poll respondents (46 percent) felt favorably toward the Tea Party movement.

Researchers found that respondents who felt positively toward the Tea Party movement held the
following primary cultural and political dispositions more often than other voters did:

  • Authoritarianism: respondents believe that obedience by children is more important than creativity, and that deference to authority is an important value.
  • Libertarianism: respondents believe there should not be regulations or limitations on expressions such as clothing, television shows, and musical lyrics.
  • Fear of change/ontological insecurity: respondents sense that things are changing too fast or too much.
  • Nativism: respondents hold negative attitudes toward immigrants and immigration.

 

Study co-authors are: Steven J. Tepper, an associate professor of sociology at Vanderbilt University; Neal Caren, an assistant professor of sociology at UNC, and Sally Morris, a doctoral student in sociology at UNC.
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Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Sociology Job Market Improves

A new report released by the ASA Research Department indicates that the job market for sociologists has improved. You can read the report here or you can read the Inside Higher Ed article about the report here.  What do you think?  Have your job prospects improved?

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

ASA Press Release: Mothers’ Poor Health Impairs Children’s Well-Being, Not Only Due to Genetics

Las Vegas — Disadvantaged, unhealthy mothers are much more likely to have sickly children than are disadvantaged moms who are relatively healthy—and this is not only due to genetics, suggests new research to be presented at the 106th  Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Relying on nationally representative data from the 2007 and 2008 National Health Interview Surveys, the study finds that children whose mothers are both in poor health and disadvantaged (determined by a combination offamily income, race/ethnicity, family structure, and mother’s level of education) experience a significantly greater number of health issues—such as having fair or poor overall health and suffering from asthma—than children whose mothers are disadvantaged but relatively healthy.

“Mothers who experience frequent or serious health problems may have a harder time monitoring their children or performing day-to-day caretaking tasks, including taking their children to regular medical checkups,” said study co-author Jessica Halliday Hardie. “Maternal health problems can also place emotional and material burdens on children and heighten their stress and anxiety. Finally, to care for herself, an unhealthy mother may have to use financial resources that could otherwise benefit her children.”

The most striking aspect of the study is the stark contrast between the two groups of disadvantaged children—those with mothers in good health and those with mothers in poor health, said Nancy S. Landale, who co-authored the study with Hardie, her colleague at Pennsylvania State University’s Population Research Institute.

Compared to children whose mothers are disadvantaged but relatively healthy, children whose mothers are both disadvantaged and unhealthy are more than five times more likely to have fair or poor overall health (as reported by the mothers).

Children of disadvantaged, unhealthy mothers also fare worse than children of disadvantaged, healthy mothers on other indicators of well-being. They have significantly higher odds of having asthma and a learning disability, and are more likely to go to the emergency room.

“Skeptics may jump to the conclusion that genetics alone are responsible for the health disparities among these groups,” Hardie said. “But, we assess indicators of well-being that are at least partly environmentally conditioned, which suggests that group differences are not completely due to genetics.”

Using a modeling program that identifies subsets of people with similar profiles, Hardie and Landale classified mothers as members of one of three groups: those who are disadvantaged and report health problems (about 15 percent of the sample); those who are disadvantaged but do not report health problems (about 34 percent of the sample); and those who are not disadvantaged and do not report health problems (about 51 percent of the sample). A small number of mothers (less than 2 percent) did not fall primarily within any of the three groups, but they were still assigned to the group of moms with whom they had the most similarities.

Consistent with previous research, Hardie and Landale find that children whose mothers are neither disadvantaged nor unhealthy generally have the best health outcomes. These children have the lowest odds among all three groups of having fair or poor overall health, suffering from asthma, being overweight, and not having regular doctors’ checkups. They also go to the emergency room significantly less often than the other groups.

Hardie and Landale said their study is important because children’s well-being has long-term consequences for health and achievement in later life.

“Knowing that maternal health strongly predicts child well-being could put additional pressure on policy-makers to help unhealthy mothers, particularly those who are disadvantaged,” said Landale. “This undertaking would also benefit the children of these mothers.”

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About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, “Cumulative Disadvantage, Maternal Health, and Children’s Well-Being,” will be presented on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 10:30 a.m. PDT in Caesars Palace Las Vegas, at the American Sociological Association’s 106th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for more information on other ASA presentations; or for assistance reaching the study’s authors, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler at pubinfo@asanet.org or (202) 527-7885. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 20-23), ASA’s Public Information Office staff can be reached in the press room, located in the Sorrento Room of Caesars Palace, at (702) 866-1916 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

This news release was written by Mary Griffin, ASA Office of Public Affairs and Public Information.

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

ASA Press Release: Less Educated Americans Turning Their Backs on

Las Vegas — While religious service attendance has decreased for all white Americans since the early 1970s, the rate of decline has been more than twice as high for those without college degrees compared to those who graduated from college, according to new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Our study suggests that the less educated are dropping out of the American religious sector, similarly to the way in which they have dropped out of the American labor market,” said lead researcher W. Bradford Wilcox, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia.

The study focuses on whites because black and Latino religiosity is less divided by education and income. Most whites who report a religious affiliation are Catholics, evangelical Protestants, mainline Protestants, Mormons, or Jews.

Relying on nationally representative data from the General Social Survey and the National Survey of Family Growth, the study finds that moderately educated whites—those who have a high school degree but who did not graduate from a 4-year college—attended religious services in the 1970s at about the same rate as the most educated whites—those who at a minimum graduated from a 4-year college—but they attended at much lower frequencies in the 2000s.

The least educated white Americans—those who did not graduate from high school—attended religious services less frequently than both the moderately educated and most educated in the 1970s and that remained the case in the 2000s. “The least educated have been consistently less religiously engaged than even the moderately educated, meaning the gap between the least educated and most educated is even larger than the one between the moderately educated and most educated,” Wilcox said.

In the 1970s, among those aged 25-44, 51 percent of college-educated whites attended religious services monthly or more, compared to 50 percent of moderately educated whites, and 38 percent of the least educated whites. In the 2000s, among those aged 25-44, 46 percent of college-educated whites attended monthly or more, compared to 37 percent of moderately educated whites, and 23 percent of the least educated whites.

Wilcox views this disengagement among the less educated as troubling because religious institutions typically provide their members with benefits—such as improved physical and psychological health, social networks, and civic skills—that may be particularly important for the less educated, who often lack the degree of access to social networks and civic skills that the college-educated have.

“Today, the market and the state provide less financial security to the less educated than they once did, and this is particularly true for the moderately educated—those who have high school degrees, but didn’t graduate from a 4-year college,” Wilcox said. “Religious congregations may be one of the few institutional sectors less educated Americans can turn to for social, economic, and emotional support in the face of today’s tough times, yet it appears that increasingly few of them are choosing to do so.”

The study also shows that Americans with higher incomes attend religious services more often, and those who have experienced unemployment at some point over the past 10 years attend less often. In addition, the study finds that those who are married (especially if they have children), those who hold more conservative views toward premarital sex, and those who lost their virginity later than their peers, attend religious services more frequently.

Indeed, the study points out that modern religious institutions tend to promote a family-centered morality that valorizes marriage and parenthood, and they embrace traditional middle-class virtues such as self-control, delayed gratification, and a focus on education.

Over the past 40 years, however, the moderately educated have become less likely to hold familistic beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college-educated adults. During the same period, wages have fallen and rates of unemployment have risen markedly for moderately educated men, while wages have remained stagnant for moderately educated women. For the least educated—those without high school degrees—the economic situation has been even worse, and they have also become less likely to hold familistic beliefs and less likely to get and stay married, compared to college-educated adults.

Because less educated whites are now less likely to be stably employed, to earn a decent income, to be married with children, and to hold familistic views, it makes sense that they also do not as often attend services at religious institutions that continue to uphold conventional norms, Wilcox said.

“While we recognize that not everyone wishes to worship, and that religious diversity can be valuable, we also think that the existence of a large group of less educated Americans that is increasingly disconnected from religious institutions is troubling for our society,” said Andrew Cherlin, co-author of the study and a professor of sociology and public policy at the Johns Hopkins University. “This development reinforces the social marginalization of less educated Americans who are also increasingly disconnected from the institutions of marriage and work.”

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About the American Sociological Association

The American Sociological Association (www.asanet.org), founded in 1905, is a non-profit membership association dedicated to serving sociologists in their work, advancing sociology as a science and profession, and promoting the contributions to and use of sociology by society.

The paper, “No Money, No Honey, No Church: The Deinstitutionalization of Religious Life Among the White Working Class,” will be presented on Sunday, Aug. 21, at 2:30 p.m. PDT in Caesars Palace Las Vegas, at the American Sociological Association’s 106th Annual Meeting.

To obtain a copy of the paper; for more information on other ASA presentations; or for assistance reaching the study’s authors, members of the media can contact Daniel Fowler at pubinfo@asanet.org or (202) 527-7885. During the Annual Meeting (Aug. 20-23), ASA’s Public Information Office staff can be reached in the press room, located in the Sorrento Room of Caesars Palace, at (702) 866-1916 or (914) 450-4557 (cell).

This news release was written by Mary Griffin, ASA Office of Public Affairs and Public Information.

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

ASA Press Release: Less Depression for Working Moms Who Expect That They ‘Can’t Do It All’

Las Vegas — Working moms have lower rates of depression than their stay-at-home counterparts, but buying into the supermom myth could put working mothers at greater risk for depression, suggests new research to be presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

The study shows that working mothers who expressed a supermom attitude that work and home lives can be blended with relative ease showed higher levels of depression symptoms than working moms who expected that they would have to forego some aspects of their career or parenting to achieve a work-life balance.

“Women are sold a story that they can do it all, but most workplaces are still designed for employees without child-care responsibilities,” said Katrina Leupp, a University of Washington sociology graduate student who led the study. In reality, juggling home and work lives requires some sacrifice, she said, such as cutting back on work hours and getting husbands to help more.

“You can happily combine child rearing and a career, if you’re willing to let some things slide,” Leupp said.

Leupp analyzed survey responses from 1,600 women, all 40 years old and married, across the United States. The respondents, a mix of stay-at-home moms and working mothers, were participating in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor.

As young adults, the women answered questions about work-life balance by ranking how much they agreed with statements, such as “A woman who fulfills her family responsibilities doesn’t have time for a job outside the home,” “Working wives lead to more juvenile delinquency” and “A woman is happiest if she can stay at home with her children.”

Then, when the women were 40, Leupp measured their levels of depression.

She found that the stay-at-home moms had more depression symptoms than the working moms in the study, which agrees with findings from other studies. “Employment is ultimately beneficial for women’s health, even when differences in marital satisfaction and working full or part time are ruled out,” said Leupp. She added that there is some truth to the adage, “Stay-at-home moms have the hardest job in the world.”

But among the working moms in the study, Leupp found that those with the supermom attitude—who as young adults consistently agreed with statements that women can combine employment and family care—were at a higher risk for depression compared with working moms who had a more realistic view.

“Employed women who expected that work-life balance was going to be hard are probably more likely to accept that they can’t do it all,” Leupp said. These moms may be more comfortable making tradeoffs, such as leaving work early to pick up kids, and, Leupp shows they have fewer depression symptoms.

But women who expect that work and family life can be satisfactorily combined without many tradeoffs may be more likely to feel like they are failing when they struggle to achieve this ideal. Guilt over not being able to manage the work-family balance and frustration over division of household labor could also play roles in the increase of depression symptoms in the supermom group.

“Supermoms have higher expectations for fairness, so it makes sense that they would be more frustrated with the division of household chores,” Leupp said.

So, should superdads help? Perhaps. Leupp did not include fathers in her study, but says that most men don’t cut back on employment hours to accommodate child rearing.

“Employment is still ultimately good for women’s health,” Leupp said. “But for better mental health, working moms should accept that they can’t do it all.”

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Friday, August 19th, 2011

OMB Guidance for FY 2013 Agency Budgets

Here is an interesting couple of sentences from OMB Director Jacob Lew’s budget guidance memo to department heads and agencies.

In light of the tight limits on discretionary spending starting in 2012, your 2013 budget submission to OMB should provide options to support the President’s commitment to cut waste and reorder priorities to achieve deficit reduction while investing in those areas critical to job creation and economic growth.  Unless your agency has been given explicit direction otherwise by OMB, your overall agency request for 2013 should be at least 5 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriation.  As discussed at the recent Cabinet meetings, your 2013 budget submission should also identify additional discretionary funding reductions that would bring your request to a level that is at least 10 percent below your 2011 enacted discretionary appropriations.

The entine memo can be found at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/memoranda/m11-30.pdf 

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Diversity of the U.S. Population is Increasing

Data from the 2010 Census is showing the growing diversity of the United States.  Here is a great blog post that analyzes the Census data.

Friday, August 12th, 2011

NIH News and Information

NATIONAL CHILDREN’S STUDY UPGRADING DATA GATHERING, ANALYSIS
Federal study seeks collaborations on improving information systems

The National Children’s Study is changing its approach to informatics-the science of classifying, cataloging, storing, analyzing, and retrieving information, study officials announced today.

The new approach, termed facilitated decentralization, seeks to test a variety of different yet compatible information systems to identify those that will best meet the needs of the study.  Study officials invite interested researchers in the federal government and in research institutions to collaborate on new informatics components to be integrated into the study’s main informatics system.

The National Children’s Study <http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov/Pages/default.aspx> is a multi-site research study examining the effects of environment and genetics on the growth, development and health of children across the United States, from pre-conception to age 21.  Because of its size, length, and complexity, the study will be conducted as two separate but related studies: a vanguard, or pilot study and a main study.  The vanguard study seeks to evaluate the ease, acceptability, and costs involved in the methods needed to conduct the main study.

Results from the vanguard study will be used to inform the design of the main study, which is planned to begin in mid-2012.  The new components for the National Children’s Study informatics systems will be tested in the vanguard study.

To learn more about opportunities to collaborate on informatics as well as other aspects of the study, researchers are invited to attend National Children’s Study Research Day on Aug. 24, 2011 on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md.  Additional information is available at <http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov/newsandevents/events/Pages/ncsresearchday.aspx>.

The National Children’s Study is led by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, in collaboration with a consortium that includes the NIH’s National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The idea is to identify and develop systems that not only meet the study’s current needs, but can also be adapted and upgraded easily to meet the changing needs of the study as it proceeds through its 21 year span,” said Capt. Steven Hirschfeld, M.D., United States Public Health Service, the acting director of the National Children’s Study and director of clinical research.

Dr. Hirschfeld explained that the facilitated decentralization approach for the study seeks to move away from proprietary informational systems to publicly available, non-proprietary systems.  The National Children’s Study will establish uniform standards for the new informational systems components to be studied.  In addition to being non proprietary, prospective components must open architecture based-meaning that it can be easily upgraded by researchers wishing to collaborate to expand the system’s capacity.

Dr. Hirschfeld added that the new approach is the first time that different systems can be evaluated concurrently. In addition, the approach is intended to facilitate efforts to classify the concepts and terminology needed to carry out the study.  Many conditions and disorders that National Children’s Study scientists will study are unique to childhood and are not uniformly found in the current classification systems that researchers use for their analysis of adult studies.  For example, different terminology systems vary on how they have classified a structural birth defect affecting the roof of the mouth.  The condition is generally referred to as cleft palate, but different terminologies in use may or may not include a cleft lip within the term or the concept. The NCS is working to coordinate the various terminology systems that apply to early childhood, relate them to terms and concepts across the life course, and ensure that a robust informatics infrastructure supports a uniform terminology.

Information for researchers interested in collaborating in the study’s new facilitated decentralization approach is available at <http://www.nationalchildrensstudy.gov/about/overview/Pages/NCS_concept_of_operations_04_28_11.pdf>.

About the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): The NICHD sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation.  For more information, visit the Institute’s Web site at <http://www.nichd.nih.gov/>.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit <www.nih.gov>.

 

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This NIH News Release is available online at:

<http://www.nih.gov/news/health/aug2011/nichd-12.htm>.

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Census Bureau 2010 ACS Data Set for Release

The U. S. Census Bureau has announced that the 2010 ACS 1-year estimates will be released on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. The 2010 ACS 1-year estimates will be available for the nation, all states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more.

For the complete ACS data release schedule, visit the 2010 Release Schedule
http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2010_release_schedule/

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