Categories ▸ OrgTheory
There’s been a bit of chat about “Cultural Sociology and its Others”, the Culture Section one-day conference held before the ASA meetings this year. This has broadened out into a discussion of the place of cultural analysis within sociology, and the relative position of the subfield. Some people worried about the allegedly marginal status of culture within sociology. Other people pointedly said that they were rather central figures in the discipline, thank you very much.
Over the past few months, I’ve been messing around with Git and Mercurial, two modern, distributed version control systems (DVCSs). While designed by software engineers, these systems are very useful to people who, like me, write papers and do data analysis in some plain-text file format or other, who very often revise those files, sometimes splitting them off into different branches as projects develop, and who do this work on more than one computer.
I just noticed the last paragraph of White’s “Notes on the Constituents of Social Structure” (1965), which we’ve been talking about this week.
Either-or intensities and infinitely sharp criteria of membership have been assumed in defining nets and cats. The realities of social structure are more blurred. The most revealing approach to these realities is through analysis of the validation and legitimation structures and processes which settle issues of existence and intensity of ties and attributes in social systems.
At Scatterplot, Shamus remarks in passing that some people have told him that blogging while untenured is a bad idea. In the comments, olderwoman says:
The problem with blogging for untenured people is not what you say (unless it is so egregious it makes national news or something) but that it is a recreational activity. There are a fair number of academics — in my experience, mostly but not only men — who believe that single-minded devotion to career is everything when you are young.
In comments at Scatterplot, Dan Hirschman asks,
A colleague of mine in graduate school interested in social theory claimed there were no longer job postings available for specialists in theory. Instead, budding theorists have to masquerade as ‘cultural sociologists’ or something like it. Does that hold up to your impressions of the Sociology job market? What advice would you give to a budding sociology PhD who wanted to concentrate on social theory?
Following on from our discussion of editing tools the other day, and in response to a couple of requests, I have updated and somewhat expanded my note about Choosing Your Workflow Applications. The revised version talks about which operating system to choose (to a first approximation, these days I’m agnostic), focuses on Emacs+R+LaTeX as an integrated set of high-quality apps available for free across all the major platforms, and then points to some alternatives (like Stata and various editors).
Not one but two former office mates of mine are quoted on the front page of the Times today in a story about Facebook. Jason Kaufman talks about his work with Nicholas Christakis on patterns of affiliation amongst Facebook users. Our own Eszter Hargittai talks about her research on comparative adoption of Facebook and MySpace. And my brilliant colleague Ron Breiger will doubtless be pleased to see that Georg Simmel gets a shoutout too, for the idea of triadic social closure.
A discussion about Mac applications at Scatterplot (which is threatening to spill over into a Windows vs OS X war) reminded me of something. Although not by any means a quant jock, a good deal of my work involves analyzing quantitative data. Almost since I learned how to do that kind of thing at all, I have used software tools designed to make the process easier and less error-prone.
The most basic of these is a proper programmer’s text editor with support for whatever statistical software I’m using.
By emphasizing social dysfunction, we become associated with dysfunction. A basic finding in the study of the professions is that the prestige of your clients is a big predictor of your prestige. Also, if that’s what the average college student takes away from sociology – that it’s the field of social problems – then that’s the image they’ll have about us for the rest of our lives.
From Alan Macfarlane, an interview with the late Mary Douglas. The full interview (almost an hour and a half) is available on Macfarlane’s website, which has a terrific number of such conversations with social anthropologists and sociologists. Here’s the full menu. Highlights include Ronald Dore, Raymond Firth, Audrey Richards (worth listening to for a great anecdote about Malinowski and colored pencils), and many others. Also worth checking out is film from a pair of seminars from 1976 and 77, with roundtable discussion from the likes of Jack Goody, Ernest Gellner, Maurice Godelier, Tom Bottomore, Edmund Leach, Edward Thompson, and others.
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