Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Important Social Theorists You May Not Have Met in SOC116


This video is a part of a project called EconStories. I've been thinking about a similar project for sociology. Any takers?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Who is Reading Us?

In the last 24 hours, we've had 40+ readers from:

Los Angeles, California | Santiago, Chile| Santiago De Compostela, Spain | Concepción, Chile | Valdivia, Chile | Portland, Oregon | Waterloo, Belgium | Mount Vernon, New York | Edinburgh, Scotland | State College, Pennsylvania | Norfolk, Virginia | Denmark | Dubai, United Arab Emirates | Münster, Germany | Rosny-sous-bois,  France | Dallas, Texas | Rice Lake, Wisconsin | Tokyo Japan | Calabasas, California | Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada | Fukui Japan | Buenos Aires Argentina | Beacon, New York | Scranton, Pennsylvania | Keighley, West Yorkshire United Kingdom | Chicago, Illinois |

Want to become a blogger at Sociology@Mills?  Drop a line:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Harold Garfinkel Dead at 92


It has been reported (use of passive intentional -- I have not located any official announcement or obituary) that the sociologist Harold Garfinkel passed away this week at age 94. Garfinkel founded the school of thought known as "ethnomethodology," the study of the methods people use to account for everyday actions.

The founding text in the field is the 1967 collection Studies in Ethnomethology, an collection of case studies and theoretical essays. Perhaps the most famous of these is "Studies of the Routine Grounds of Everyday Activities."

Even students whose only exposure to sociology is an introductory course probably know of the most famous concept associated with Garfinkel: "breaching experiments" in which tacit and taken-for-granted rules of everyday interaction are exposed by breaking them (a sort of sociological Candid Camera). Facing in rather than out in an elevator may be the most well known (dozens of examples on You-tube).

Garfinkel studied with Talcott Parsons at Harvard in the late 1940s and early 1950s. During this time he encountered several recently immigrated European thinkers, including Alfred Schutz, from whom he learned about new ideas in social theory, psychology and, especially, phenomenology. His ethnomethodology developed somewhat in parallel with Schutz' work as two of the dominant branches in micro-sociology (the other being symbolic interactionism).

Garfinkel's career was spent at UCLA from which he retired in 1987. His most direct legacy today shows up in the fields of conversation analysis and related hyper-micro-sociologies. Many who work in the subfield of symbolic interaction would also cite his work. The painstakingly detailed observation of interaction also appears in research on product design, marketing, and human-machine interface design. His last book Toward a Sociological Theory of Information was published in 2008 but had been written in the 1950s.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two New Posts at Sociology of Information Blog

No Such Thing as Evanescent Data is about the "revelation" yesterday that iPhones, iPads, and likely other devices store geographic information.

Data Exhaust and Informational Efficiency is about a talk at the Palo Alto Research Center on the concept of "data exhaust" that has direct connections to what we do in the social sciences, interestingly, perhaps archaeology most of all.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sample Job Ad for Using Sociology or Anthropology Degree

A frequently asked question around here is "what kind of jobs are out there where I can use my sociology degree?"  One answer is "research associate for an applied social science research organization."  The ad below requires slightly more experience than you are likely to have upon graduating with a BA, but it gives you an idea of the repertoire of skills and experience employers like this are looking for.  
For the record, I don't know anything about OMNI, but the list of skills and job activities here is pretty typical for research associate type jobs.

OMNI is an applied social science research and training/technical assistance nonprofit agency located in Denver, Colorado.  OMNI promotes a diverse work environment and encourages individuals from all backgrounds to apply. OMNI routinely seeks candidates who are bilingual (Spanish and English-speaking) and who have experience working with Spanish-speaking populations.

OMNI Institute's mission is to contribute to a broader understanding of social issues, help improve the effectiveness of social programs and strategies, strengthen the larger nonprofit and public service infrastructures, and guide the adoption of more effective state and federal social policies through the provision of high-quality, client-centered social science research and evaluation, technical assistance and training services. OMNI is soliciting applications for a Research Associate II to join our staff and contribute to our efforts to improve social conditions through social science research and evaluation. The responsibilities of these positions will involve project management, independent research/evaluation, communication with clients, and oversight of work performed by research assistants, data managers and/or data entry specialists. Starting salary for this position is $38,810.

Research Associate II position has the following requirements:
  • A minimum of a BA/BS in a social sciences related field and 5 years experience in research is required. Completion of a Master's degree is preferred and can offset number of years of experience required.
  • Experience with project management is required. Experience with client management and staff supervision is preferred.
  • Experience with data management, cleaning and restructuring of data as well as a thorough understanding of basic descriptive and inferential statistics is preferred.
  • Applicants will be expected to work closely with community partners to collect, report, and use evaluation data. Prior experience is strongly preferred.
  • Applicants must have strong analytic, written and verbal communication skills.
  • Expertise in at least one of the following areas is required: evaluation methods; statistics; public health and/or epidemiology; substance use prevention; recruitment and collaboration; and data utilization and technical assistance.
OMNI Benefits include a comprehensive healthcare package, eligibility to participate in a 401(k) plan with an employer match, employee wellness program and a dynamic and progressive working environment. Interested persons should send a cover letter that specifies any salary requirements, two areas of expertise (as identified above), and experience in main areas of responsibility including research, project management, and staff supervision. Please include a resume outlining qualifications,work history, and references to:
OMNI Institute Attn:
Human Resources
899 Logan St., Suite 600
Denver, CO 80203-3156
(fax) 303-839-9420 -
Attn: Human Resources or (email).
OMNI is an applied social science research and training/technical assistance nonprofit agency located in Denver, Colorado. We have been providing clients with technically sound social science services since 1976. OMNI's client base includes governmental agencies, non-profit organizations, and private foundations. OMNI's experience cuts across many fields including community development, public health, early childhood and education, youth development, juvenile and criminal justice, and prevention and treatment of substance abuse. Visit us at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Collaborate and put your social scientific insight to work?

Innovation Exchange is a worldwide online community of innovators who can use the system to create teams to solve problems for rewards. Most of their "challenges" are about commercial products, others are about public awareness, a few are about public problems. All share the idea that they can be solved by Open Innovation, an idea to keep on your radar screen.

-- DJR (disclosure: I am on their advisory board, contributing ideas about how to form effective teams)

Innovation Exchange - Where creativity is the currency
Hi djjrjr,

The challenge 'Create an advertisement campaign for a small-size car' is ending - and they still need your help! Your idea captured in a 1-2 page document may be all it takes for you to claim this reward. If you have already submitted a solution and want to amend it with any additional information or insight, make sure you post your revised solution by April 15, 2011.
IX Support Team

Create an advertisement campaign for a small-size car. 
view challenge
STATUS:     Closing April 15, 2011
REWARD:   $65,000 USD
Located in East Asia, this car manufacturing company is looking for an imaginative and persuasive advertisement campaign (TV and print) for its small-size class car. Ranked third in market share, this small-size car has some tough competition to overcome, but the company believes that an advertising campaign that is focused on enjoying good music on its car's premium sound system will set it apart from its competition. With this in mind, they want your great ideas for an advertisement campaign that is witty, sentimental, and sophisticated ... and they need your ideas very quickly! 

View Challenge Details

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Next Monday: Briggs on "Moving to Opportunity" at UCB Colloquium


MONDAY April 11th    

The Berkeley Sociology Colloquium Series
Spring 2011 Presents:
MOVING TO OPPORTUNITY: What a remarkable social experiment teaches us about theory, research methods and public policy
Xavier de Souza Briggs
Department of Sociology and Urban Planning, MIT
Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the White House

Xav Briggs, who is on leave from MIT, is the only sociologist on President Obama’s senior domestic policy team at The White House. He will discuss lessons and implications of his new book, Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty. Moving to Opportunity tackles one of America's most enduring dilemmas: the unresolved question of how to overcome persistent ghetto poverty. Launched in 1994, the MTO program took a largely untested approach: helping families, on a voluntary basis, to move from high-poverty, inner-city public housing to low-poverty neighborhoods, some in the suburbs. The book's innovative, mixed-method approach emphasizes the voices and choices of the program's participants but also rigorously analyzes the changing structures of regional opportunity and constraint—in housing, education, the labor market, and more—that shaped the fortunes of those who "signed up," regardless of their goals, preferences and choices. It shines a light on the hopes, surprises, achievements, and limitations of a major social experiment, drawing on sociology, economics, social psychology, anthropology, and other disciplines. For all its ambition, MTO is a uniquely American experiment, and the book brings home its powerful lessons for policymakers and advocates, scholars, students, journalists, and all who share a deep concern for opportunity and inequality in our country.

Xavier de Souza Briggs is Associate Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the White House, overseeing a wide array of policy, budget, and management issues for roughly half the cabinet agencies—Commerce, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Justice and Homeland Security—as well as the Small Business Administration, GSA, financial regulators, and other agencies. He is also an Associate Professor of Sociology and Urban Planning (on leave) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His latest book, with co-authors Sue Popkin and John Goering, is Moving to Opportunity: The Story of an American Experiment to Fight Ghetto Poverty (Oxford University Press, 2010).