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Forming Relationships in the Online World
There is one thing that moves online consumers to click “add to cart,” that allows sellers to accept certain forms of online payment, and that makes online product reviews meaningful: trust. Without trust, online interactions can’t advance. But how is trust among strangers established on the Internet? What role does reputation play in the formation of online trust? In eTrust, editors Karen Cook, Chris Snijders, Vincent Buskens, and Coye Cheshire explore the unmapped territory where trust, reputation, and online relationships intersect, with major implications for online commerce and social networking. eTrust uses experimental studies and field research to examine how trust in anonymous online exchanges can create or diminish cooperation between people. The first part of the volume looks at how feedback affects online auctions using trust experiments. Gary Bolton and Axel Ockenfels find that the availability of feedback leads to more trust among one-time buyers, while Davide Barrera and Vincent Buskens demonstrate that, in investment transactions, the buyer’s own experience guides decision making about future transactions with sellers. The field studies in Part II of the book examine the degree to which reputation facilitates trust in online exchanges. Andreas Diekmann, Ben Jann, and David Wyder identify a “reputation premium” in mobile phone auctions, which not only drives future transactions between buyers and sellers but also payment modes and starting bids. Chris Snijders and Jeroen Weesie shift focus to the market for online programmers, where tough competition among programmers allows buyers to shop around. The book’s third section reveals how the quality and quantity of available information influences actual marketplace participants. Sonja Utz finds that even when unforeseen accidents hinder transactions—lost packages, computer crashes—the seller is still less likely to overcome repercussions from the negative feedback of dissatisfied buyers. So much of our lives are becoming enmeshed with the Internet, where ordinary social cues and reputational networks that support trust in the real world simply don’t apply. eTrust breaks new ground by articulating the conditions under which trust can evolve and grow online, providing both theoretical and practical insights for anyone interested in how online relationships influence our decisions.
Religion and Society
By the end of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of U.S. churches were evangelical in outlook and practice. America’s turn toward modernism and embrace of science in the early twentieth century threatened evangelicalism’s cultural prominence. But as confidence in modern secularism wavered in the 1960s and 1970s, evangelicalism had another great awakening. The two volumes of Evangelicals and Democracy in America trace the development and current role of evangelicalism in American social and political life. Volume I focuses on who evangelicals are today, how they relate to other groups, and what role they play in U.S. social institutions. Part I of Religion and Society examines evangelicals’ identity and activism. Contributor Robert Wuthnow explores the identity built around the centrality of Jesus, church and community service, and the born-again experience. Philip Gorski explores the features of American evangelicalism and society that explain the recurring mobilization of conservative Protestants in American history. Part II looks at how evangelicals relate to other key groups in American society. Individual chapters delve into evangelicals’ relationship to other conservative religious groups, women and gays, African Americans, and mainline Protestants. These chapters show sources of both solidarity and dissension within the “traditionalist alliance” and the hidden strengths of mainline Protestants’ moral discourse. Part III examines religious conservatives’ influence on American social institutions outside of politics. W. Bradford Wilcox, David Sikkink, Gabriel Rossman, and Rogers Smith investigate evangelicals’ influence on families, schools, popular culture, and the courts, respectively. What emerges is a picture of American society as a consumer marketplace with a secular legal structure and an arena of pluralistic competition interpreting what constitutes the public good. These chapters show that religious conservatives have been shaped by these realities more than they have been able to shape them. Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume I is one of the most comprehensive examinations ever of this important current in American life and serves as a corrective to erroneous popular representations. These meticulously balanced studies not only clarify the religious and social origins of evangelical mobilization, but also detail both the scope and limits of evangelicals’ influence in our society. This volume is the perfect complement to its companion in this landmark series, Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume II: Religion and Politics.
Religion and Politics
Separation of church and state is a bedrock principal of American democracy, and so, too, is active citizen engagement. Since evangelicals comprise one of the largest and most vocal voting blocs in the United States, tensions and questions naturally arise. In the two-volume Evangelicals and Democracy in America, editors Steven Brint and Jean Reith Schroedel have assembled an authoritative collection of studies of the evangelical movement in America. Religion and Politics, the second volume of the set, focuses on the role of religious conservatives in party politics, the rhetoric evangelicals use to mobilize politically, and what the history of the evangelical movement reveals about where it may be going. Part I of Religion and Politics explores the role of evangelicals in electoral politics. Contributor Pippa Norris looks at evangelicals around the globe and finds that religiosity is a strong predictor of ideological leanings in industrialized countries. But the United States remains one of only a handful of post-industrial societies where religion plays a significant role in partisan politics. Other chapters look at voting trends, especially the growing number of higher-income evangelicals among Republican ranks, how voting is influenced both by “values” and race, and the management of the symbols and networks behind the electoral system of moral-values politics. Part II of the volume focuses on the mobilizing rhetoric of the Christian Right. Nathaniel Klemp and Stephen Macedo show how the rhetorical strategies of the Christian Right create powerful mobilizing narratives, but frequently fail to build broad enough coalitions to prevail in the pluralistic marketplace of ideas. Part III analyzes the cycles and evolution of the Christian Right. Kimberly Conger looks at the specific circumstances that have allowed evangelicals to become dominant in some Republican state party committees but not in others. D. Michael Lindsay examines the “elastic orthodoxy” that has allowed evangelicals to evolve into a formidable social and political force. The final chapter by Clyde Wilcox presents a new framework for understanding the relationship between the Christian Right and the GOP based on the ecological metaphor of co-evolution. With its companion volume on religion and society, this second volume of Evangelicals and Democracy in America offers the most complete examination yet of the social circumstances and political influence of the millions of Americans who are white evangelical Protestants. Understanding their history and prospects for the future is essential to forming a comprehensive picture of America today.
Fairness and Punishment in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Questions about the origins of human cooperation have long puzzled and divided scientists. Social norms that foster fair-minded behavior, altruism and collective action undergird the foundations of large-scale human societies, but we know little about how these norms develop or spread, or why the intensity and breadth of human cooperation varies among different populations. What is the connection between social norms that encourage fair dealing and economic growth? How are these social norms related to the emergence of centralized institutions? Informed by a pioneering set of cross-cultural data, Experimenting with Social Norms advances our understanding of the evolution of human cooperation and the expansion of complex societies.
Editors Jean Ensminger and Joseph Henrich present evidence from an exciting collaboration between anthropologists and economists. Using experimental economics games, researchers examined levels of fairness, cooperation, and norms for punishing those who violate expectations of equality across a diverse swath of societies, from hunter-gatherers in Tanzania to a small town in rural Missouri. These experiments tested individuals’ willingness to conduct mutually beneficial transactions with strangers that reap rewards only at the expense of taking a risk on the cooperation of others. The results show a robust relationship between exposure to market economies and social norms that benefit the group over narrow economic self-interest. Levels of fairness and generosity are generally higher among individuals in communities with more integrated markets. Religion also plays a powerful role. Individuals practicing either Islam or Christianity exhibited a stronger sense of fairness, possibly because religions with high moralizing deities, equipped with ample powers to reward and punish, encourage greater prosociality. The size of the settlement also had an impact. People in larger communities were more willing to punish unfairness compared to those in smaller societies. Taken together, the volume supports the hypothesis that social norms evolved over thousands of years to allow strangers in more complex and large settlements to coexist, trade and prosper.
Innovative and ambitious, Experimenting with Social Norms synthesizes an unprecedented analysis of social behavior from an immense range of human societies. The fifteen case studies analyzed in this volume, which include field experiments in Africa, South America, New Guinea, Siberia and the United States, are available for free download on the Foundation’s website:www.russellsage.org.
Policies for Reconciling Parenthood and Employment
Parents around the world grapple with the common challenge of balancing work and child care. Despite common problems, the industrialized nations have developed dramatically different social and labor market policies—policies that vary widely in the level of support they provide for parents and the extent to which they encourage an equal division of labor between parents as they balance work and care. In Families That Work, Janet Gornick and Marcia Meyers take a close look at the work-family policies in the United States and abroad and call for a new and expanded role for the U.S. government in order to bring this country up to the standards taken for granted in many other Western nations. In many countries in Europe and in Canada, family leave policies grant parents paid time off to care for their young children, and labor market regulations go a long way toward ensuring that work does not overwhelm family obligations. In addition, early childhood education and care programs guarantee access to high-quality care for their children. In most of these countries, policies encourage gender equality by strengthening mothers’ ties to employment and encouraging fathers to spend more time caregiving at home. In sharp contrast, Gornick and Meyers show how in the United States—an economy with high labor force participation among both fathers and mothers—parents are left to craft private solutions to the society-wide dilemma of “who will care for the children?” Parents—overwhelmingly mothers—must loosen their ties to the workplace to care for their children; workers are forced to negotiate with their employers, often unsuccessfully, for family leave and reduced work schedules; and parents must purchase care of dubious quality, at high prices, from consumer markets. By leaving child care solutions up to hard-pressed working parents, these private solutions exact a high price in terms of gender inequality in the workplace and at home, family stress and economic insecurity, and—not least—child well-being. Gornick and Meyers show that it is possible–based on the experiences of other countries—to enhance child well-being and to increase gender equality by promoting more extensive and egalitarian family leave, work-time, and child care policies. Families That Work demonstrates convincingly that the United States has much to learn from policies in Europe and in Canada, and that the often-repeated claim that the United States is simply “too different” to draw lessons from other countries is based largely on misperceptions about policies in other countries and about the possibility of policy expansion in the United States.
Family Reunification and the Meaning of Race and Nation in American Migration
Today, roughly 70 percent of all visas for legal immigration are reserved for family members of permanent residents or American citizens. Family reunification – policies that seek to preserve family unity during or following migration – is a central pillar of current immigration law, but it has existed in some form in American statutes since at least the mid-nineteenth century. In Fictive Kinship, sociologist Catherine Lee delves into the fascinating history of family reunification to examine how and why our conceptions of family have shaped immigration, the meaning of race, and the way we see ourselves as a country. Drawing from a rich set of archival sources, Fictive Kinship shows that even the most draconian anti-immigrant laws, such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, contained provisions for family unity, albeit for a limited class of immigrants. Arguments for uniting families separated by World War II and the Korean War also shaped immigration debates and the policies that led to the landmark 1965 Immigration Act. Lee argues that debating the contours of family offers a ready set of symbols and meanings to frame national identity and to define who counts as “one of us.” Talk about family, however, does not inevitably lead to more liberal immigration policies. Welfare reform in the 1990s, for example, placed limits on benefits for immigrant families, and recent debates over the children of undocumented immigrants fanned petitions to rescind birthright citizenship. Fictive Kinship shows that the centrality of family unity in the immigration discourse often limits the discussion about the goals, functions and roles of immigration and prevents a broader definition of American identity.
An After-School Program Built on Diversity
The significant increase in the number of working mothers over the last twenty years has led to widespread worries about the plight of “latchkey kids,” who return from school each day to empty homes. Concerned that unsupervised children might be at greater risk of delinquency, schools and communities across the nation began providing after-school activities. But many of these programs were hastily devised with little understanding of what constitutes a quality program that meets children’s developmental needs. The Fifth Dimension explores and evaluates one of the country’s most successful and innovative after-school programs, providing insightful and practical lessons about what works and doesn’t work after-school. The Fifth Dimension program was established in the 1980s as a partnership between community centers and local colleges to establish an educational after-school program. With an emphasis on diversity and computer technology, the program incorporates the latest theories about child development and gives college students the opportunity to apply their textbook understanding of child development to real learning environments. The Fifth Dimension explores the design, implementation, and evaluation of this thriving program. The authors attribute the success of the Fifth Dimension to several factors. First, the program offers a balance of intellectually enriching exercises with development enhancing games. Second, by engaging undergraduates as active participants in both learning and social activities, the program gives local community organizations a large infusion of high-quality help for their educational efforts. Third, by rewarding children for their achievements and good behavior with greater flexibility in choosing their own schedules, the Fifth Dimension acts as a powerful, enduring motivator. The Fifth Dimension program serves as a model for what an enriching after-school program can be. The product of years of innovation and careful assessment, The Fifth Dimension is a valuable resource for all who are interested in developing successful community-based learning programs.
Once primarily used in medical clinical trials, random assignment experimentation is now accepted among social scientists across a broad range of disciplines. The technique has been used in social experiments to evaluate a variety of programs, from microfinance and welfare reform to housing vouchers and teaching methods. How did randomized experiments move beyond medicine and into the social sciences, and can they be used effectively to evaluate complex social problems? Fighting for Reliable Evidence provides an absorbing historical account of the characters and controversies that have propelled the wider use of random assignment in social policy research over the past forty years.Drawing from their extensive experience evaluating welfare reform programs, noted scholar practitioners Judith M. Gueron and Howard Rolston portray randomized experiments as a vital research tool to assess the impact of social policy. In a random assignment experiment, participants are sorted into either a treatment group that participates in a particular program, or a control group that does not. Because the groups are randomly selected, they do not differ from one another systematically. Therefore any subsequent differences between the groups can be attributed to the influence of the program or policy. The theory is elegant and persuasive, but many scholars worry that such an experiment is too difficult or expensive to implement in the real world. Can a control group be truly insulated from the treatment policy? Would staffers comply with the random allocation of participants? Would the findings matter?Weaving history, data analysis and personal experience, Fighting for Reliable Evidence offers valuable lessons for researchers, policymakers, funders, and informed citizens interested in isolating the effect of policy initiatives. It is an essential primer on welfare policy, causal inference, and experimental designs.
Shifting Boundaries of Work and Social Life
Though there are still just twenty-four hours in a day, society’s idea of who should be doing what and when has shifted. Time, the ultimate scarce resource, has become an increasingly contested battle zone in American life, with work, family, and personal obligations pulling individuals in conflicting directions. In Fighting for Time, editors Cynthia Fuchs Epstein and Arne Kalleberg bring together a team of distinguished sociologists and management analysts to examine the social construction of time and its importance in American culture. Fighting for Time opens with an exploration of changes in time spent at work—both when people are on the job and the number of hours they spend there—and the consequences of those changes for individuals and families. Contributors Jerry Jacobs and Kathleen Gerson find that the relative constancy of the average workweek in America over the last thirty years hides the fact that blue-collar workers are putting in fewer hours while more educated white-collar workers are putting in more. Rudy Fenwick and Mark Tausig look at the effect of nonstandard schedules on workers’ health and family life. They find that working unconventional hours can increase family stress, but that control over one’s work schedule improves family, social, and health outcomes for workers. The book then turns to an examination of how time influences the organization and control of work. The British insurance company studied by David Collinson and Margaret Collinson is an example of a culture where employees are judged on the number of hours they work rather than on their productivity. There, managers are under intense pressure not to take legally guaranteed parental leave, and clocks are banned from the office walls so that employees will work without regard to the time. In the book’s final section, the contributors examine how time can have different meanings for men and women. Cynthia Fuchs Epstein points out that professional women and stay-at-home fathers face social disapproval for spending too much time on activities that do not conform to socially prescribed gender roles—men are mocked by coworkers for taking paternity leave, while working mothers are chastised for leaving their children to the care of others. Fighting for Time challenges assumptions about the relationship between time and work, revealing that time is a fluid concept that derives its importance from cultural attitudes, social psychological processes, and the exercise of power. Its insight will be of interest to sociologists, economists, social psychologists, business leaders, and anyone interested in the work-life balance.
Access to capital and financial services is crucial for healthy communities. However, many impoverished individuals and neighborhoods are routinely ignored by mainstream financial institutions. This neglect led to the creation of community development financial institutions (CDFIs), which provide low-income communities with financial services and act as a conduit to conventional financial organizations and capital markets. Edited by Julia Sass Rubin, Financing Low-Income Communities brings together leading experts in the field to assess what we know about the challenges of bringing financial services and capital to poor communities, map out future lines of research, and propose policy reforms to make these efforts more effective. The contributors to Financing Low-Income Communities distill research on key topics related to community development finance. Daniel Schneider and Peter Tufano examine the obstacles that make saving and asset accumulation difficult for low-income households—such as the fact that tens of millions of low-income and minority adults don’t have a bank account—and consider solutions, like making it easier for low-wage workers to enroll in 401(K) plans. Jeanne Hogarth, Jane Kolodinksy, and Marianne Hilgert review evidence showing that community-based financial education programs can be effective in changing families’ saving and budgeting patterns. Lisa Servon proposes strategies for addressing the challenges facing the microenterprise field in the United States. Julia Sass Rubin discusses ways community loan and venture capital funds have adapted in response to the decreased availability of funding, and considers potential sources of new capital, such as state governments and public pension funds. Marva Williams explores the evolution and recent performance of community development banks and credit unions. Kathleen Engel and Patricia McCoy document the proliferation of predatory lenders, who market loans at onerous interest rates to financially vulnerable families and the devastating effects of such lending on communities—from increased crime to falling home values and lower tax revenues. Rachel Bratt reviews the policies and programs used to make rental and owned housing financially accessible. Rob Hollister proposes a framework for evaluating the contributions of community development financial institutions. Despite the many accomplishments of CDFIs over the last four decades, changing political and economic conditions make it imperative that they adapt in order to survive. Financing Low-Income Communities charts out new directions for public and private organizations which aim to end the financial exclusion of marginalized neighborhoods.