2014 Featured Abstracts

The Membership and Outreach Committee identified a critical dialogue abstract and four paper presentation abstracts from the 2014 Annual Meeting as exemplars of the types of research activities/social action-oriented work that our members participate in. See below for these exceptional abstracts.

2014 Annual Meeting Critical Dialogue Featured Abstract

Matthew Lawrence Kearney, Sociology Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Escalating Mutual Obligation in the Wisconsin Uprising of 2011 Matthew Kearney

The Wisconsin Uprising of 2011 was one of the largest sustained protests in the history of the United States. Three groups - protesters, Assembly Democrats, and Senate Democrats – each responded to legislative efforts to end public sector unions with extreme actions. The movement featured the longest occupation of a government building in the nation's history, the longest continuous legislative session in the state's history, and one of the few lengthy denials of quorum in the nation's history. I argue that each of the three groups continued these extreme action in part because two allied groups were also continuing theirs, in a dynamic I call escalating mutual obligation. Escalating mutual obligation is a sense of solidaristic duty that grows increasingly fervent as others take risks or make sacrifices on behalf of the same cause. This particular form of solidarity is simultaneously rational and moral, and cannot be reduced to political opportunities.

For more information, contact Matthew at mkearney@ssc.wisc.edu.

2014 Paper Presentation Sessions Featured Abstracts

David L. Levinson, President, Norwalk Community College

Public Sociology and the Pursuit of Social Justice: Community Colleges as Positive Forces for Social Change David Levinson

Public sociology in a community college setting offers great possibilities for the advancement of our discipline. As open access institutions whose stakeholders range from high school students dually enrolled in college to retirees epitomizing the ethos of lifetime learning, community colleges attract a diverse populace whose stock of life experiences resonates with sociological concepts. I situate “public sociology” within the context of my role as a college president and discuss how I have utilized a sociological imagination to structure the central themes of a successful capital campaign.

For more information, contact David at dlevinson@norwalk.edu.

Jessica L. Lucero, Department of Sociology, Social Work and Anthropology, Utah State University; Anna Maria Santiago, Karen Ishler, and Leigh Taylor, Jack Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University

Nonmarital Childbearing and Fathering among Black and Latino Young Adults: Neighborhood Risk and Protective Factors

Jessica Lucero Anna Santiago
Karen Isler Leigh Taylor

Utilizing data from the Denver Child Study, a large-scale, mixed-methods study of current and former residents of the Denver (CO) Housing Authority (DHA), this study investigates the neighborhood contexts associated with nonmarital childbearing and fathering for Latino and Black young adults who resided in subsidized public housing for a substantial period of time during their childhood. Quasi-random assignment to neighborhoods offers a natural experiment for overcoming selection bias in the measurement of neighborhood effects. The study sample (N=397) is approximately half Latino and half Black, and 25% of the sample birthed or fathered a child outside of marriage between the ages 18 and 24. We estimate logit models with robust standard errors to adjust for clustering at the family level. We also estimate Cox proportional hazard models with robust standard errors for timing of first nonmarital birth. Two neighborhood indicators related to status and physical context proved statistically significant predictors of nonmarital births: a one standard deviation-higher neighborhood occupational prestige score in the neighborhood was associated with 50 to 54 percent lower odds and 30 to 32 percent lower hazards of experiencing a nonmarital birth. A corresponding increase in the percentage of pre-1940 vintage housing stock was associated with 1.6-times higher odds of experiencing a nonmarital birth. We find relatively few gender or ethnic differences in apparent neighborhood effects on nonmarital births during young adulthood. For males and African Americans only, a one standard-deviation higher neighborhood occupational prestige score was associated with 56 to75 percent lower odds of experiencing a nonmarital birth. Higher percentage of pre-1940 vintage housing stock was a significant predictor of having a nonmarital birth only for males. Three additional neighborhood indicators emerges as statistically significant predictors of nonmarital births for Latino young adults. A one standard-deviation higher neighborhood percentage of African American individuals in the neighborhood was associated with 81 percent lower odds of experiencing a nonmarital birth. Two indicators of neighborhood safety were also predictive of nonmarital births. Although a one standard-deviation-higher neighborhood problems index was associated with 2.2-times higher odds of experiencing a nonmarital birth; the same increase in the child abuse and neglect rate was associated with 60 percent lower odds of experiencing anonmarital birth. Increased exposure to violence and fear of crime may cause caregivers to impose geographic restrictions on youths’ movements outside of home and their immediate environments. There also may be more intense monitoring by caregivers in neighborhoods with higher threats of violence. Both factors may lead to the situation where youths are less likely to have unsupervised periods and places to engage in risky sexual activity that could lead to a nonmarital births.

For more information, contact Jessica at jessica.lucero@usu.edu.

Liam Martin, Sociology Department, Boston College

How Prisons Create Crime: Prisonization and Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice
Liam Martin
Sociologists have explained the rise of mass incarceration in terms of broad social and historical shifts driving punitive penal policy: the growth of populations marginalized from the formal labor market (Beckett and Western 2001), the angst and insecurities of late modernity (Garland 2002), the breakdown of old regimes of racial control (Wacquant 2009). But the current scale of imprisonment is only made possible by processes that create recidivism as a systemic feature of the prison system: the last nationwide study by the Bureau of Justice statistics found that two-thirds of those released from state prison are back behind bars within three years (Langan and Levin 2002). A growing body of quantitative research suggests that one mechanism driving recidivism is built into the prison itself: the criminogenic effects of incarceration (Nagin, Cullen and Jonson 2009). Drawing on ethnographic research living at a halfway house and life history interviews with former prisoners, I examine the relationship between incarceration and crime by re-framing prisonization (Clemmer 1940) using concepts from Bourdieu’s (1977, 1990) theory of practice. I draw attention to the way imprisonment transforms basic habits and dispositions, and show how the process of prisonization interacts with broader structures impacting the lives of former prisoners to produce the criminogenic effects of incarceration.

For more information, contact Liam at liam.martin@bc.edu.

Tracy L. Peressini, Department of Social Development Studies, University of Waterloo

Health Matters: A Case Study of State Sponsored Recreational Supports on the Mental, Social and Economic Health of Children and their Single Parents on WelfareTracy Peressini

Early intervention and state sponsored support programs are vital to the healthy development and well-being of children and their parents on welfare. This paper focuses on a recreational support program for children in single parent families in a mid-sized Canadian city. Using data from a longitudinal study of lone-parents and their children on social assistance, we first sketch their initial social, educational, behavioral and health profile. The next part of the analysis will focus on the social, education, behavioral and mental health outcomes associated with receiving state sponsored recreational supports on both parent(s) and children. The results of a series of multiple analyses of variance and multi-level analyses are presented. The findings indicate that providing recreational supports to children in single parent welfare families results in significant improvements in children’s problem behaviors and conduct disorders, mental and physical health, school and social activities, as well as academic competency and scholastic achievements. The data also indicate dramatic improvements in parents’ mental and physical health, as well as social functioning and the over all well-being of the family. Implications for developing and promoting community-based, state sponsored, recreational programs and policies for impoverished children and families in Canada are discussed.

For more information, contact Tracy at tperessini@uwaterloo.ca.