Categories ▸ Sociology
Yesterday I came across Aaron Penne’s collection of very nice data visualizations, one of which was of monthly births in the United States since 1933. He made a tiled heatmap of the data, taking care when calculating the average rate to correct for the varying number of days in different months. Aaron works in Python, so I took the opportunity to play around with the data and redo the plots in R.
On Twitter the other day, Philip Cohen put up some data on changes in Bachelor’s degrees awarded between 1995 and 2015. The data come from the National Center for Education Statistics. It seemed like a good candidate for drawing as a figure, so I had a go at it:
Changes in the number of Bachelor’s degrees awarded over the past twenty years.
Afterwards, I was messing around with the data and wanted to draw some time-series plots for the various subject areas the NCES tracks.
I was asked to give a short talk in my Departmental Proseminar yesterday on the topic of giving presentations, and specifically about making slides effective.
There is more than one way to give a good talk, and there is more than one way to make “good slides” or—better—make good use of slides and other material you might want to show people. So the things I’ll talk about and especially the specific techniques I’ll discuss are selected from many good ways to present yourself and your work.
Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction will be published later this year by Princeton University Press. You can read a near-complete draft of the book at socviz.co. If you would like to receive one (1) email when the book is available for pre-order, please fill out this very short form. The goal of the book is to introduce readers to the principles and practice of data visualization in a humane, reproducible, and up-to-date way.
Every couple of years—usually after one of the inevitable mass shootings—I find myself updating this graph. The originals were done in 2012. You can read America is a Violent Country, and Assault Deaths Within the United States to see those. This morning I pulled the latest figures from the OECD Health Status database. The method and scope are the same as before. Here is the main figure, showing assault death rates for the US and 23 other OECD countries.
I was interviewed recently by Brian Southwell for his public radio show, The Measure of Everyday Life. We talked for about half an hour, first about Nuance and then a little about performativity in social research, and the ethical issues associated with it. You can listen directly to the episode, find it on iTunes, or through your favorite podcast app.
Data Visualization for Social Science: A Practical Introduction with R and ggplot2
I’m writing a book on data visualization, provisionally titled Data Visualization for Social Science: A practical introduction with R and ggplot2. As part of that process, largely because I’ve benefited so much myself from the availability of open and widely shared tools for software development, I’m making the draft version of the book available as its own website.
“Fuck Nuance” has just been published in Sociological Theory. The pace of academic publishing being what it is, the paper has been out in the world for a while in draft form, but it’s nice to see the canonical version appear. The issue also contains a symposium on theory in Sociology, with contributions from Ivan Ermakoff, Ashley Mears, and Max Besbris and Shamus Khan. I’ve described the circumstances of the paper’s conception before.
Update: Since writing this post, I repeatedly tried to delete the offending review from my profile, but Google Scholar kept re-inserting it as part of its automated trawl through its corpus of articles. The robots were determined to grant me these citations whether I wanted them or not. Finally, in January of 2018, John Fox got the citations he deserved and the error was fixed. True to form, the correction appeared out of the blue and its rationale was completely opaque.
I was playing with some county-level data from the U.S. general election, partly out of a spirit of honest inquiry and partly out of a feeling of morbid curiosity. Because I had some county-level census data to hand, I took a look at the results using some extremely basic demographic information—the two variables that structure America’s ur-choropleths, namely population density and percent black. I focused on the counties that flipped from their vote in the 2012 general election.
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