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Social Categories, Social Identities, and Educational Participation
Since the end of legal segregation in schools, most research on educational inequality has focused on economic and other structural obstacles to the academic achievement of disadvantaged groups. But in Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities, a distinguished group of psychologists and social scientists argue that stereotypes about the academic potential of some minority groups remain a significant barrier to their achievement. This groundbreaking volume examines how low institutional and cultural expectations of minorities hinder their academic success, how these stereotypes are perpetuated, and the ways that minority students attempt to empower themselves by redefining their identities. The contributors to Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities explore issues of ethnic identity and educational inequality from a broad range of disciplinary perspectives, drawing on historical analyses, social-psychological experiments, interviews, and observation. Meagan Patterson and Rebecca Bigler show that when teachers label or segregate students according to social categories (even in subtle ways), students are more likely to rank and stereotype one another, so educators must pay attention to the implicit or unintentional ways that they emphasize group differences. Many of the contributors contest John Ogbu’s theory that African Americans have developed an “oppositional culture” that devalues academic effort as a form of “acting white.” Daphna Oyserman and Daniel Brickman, in their study of black and Latino youth, find evidence that strong identification with their ethnic group is actually associated with higher academic motivation among minority youth. Yet, as Julie Garcia and Jennifer Crocker find in a study of African-American female college students, the desire to disprove negative stereotypes about race and gender can lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and excessive, self-defeating levels of effort, which impede learning and academic success. The authors call for educational institutions to diffuse these threats to minority students’ identities by emphasizing that intelligence is a malleable rather than a fixed trait. Contesting Stereotypes and Creating Identities reveals the many hidden ways that educational opportunities are denied to some social groups. At the same time, this probing and wide-ranging anthology provides a fresh perspective on the creative ways that these groups challenge stereotypes and attempt to participate fully in the educational system.
The Social Sciences and Public Policy
Explores the various aspects of recent debates over the independence of the social sciences. The contributors are Kenneth E. Boulding, Harvey Brooks, Jonathan R. Cole, Stephen Cole, Lee J. Cronbach, Paul Doty, Yaron Ezrahi, Charles Frankel, H. Field Haviland, Hugh Hawkins, Harry G. Johnson, Robert Nisbet, Nicholas Rescher, Edward Shils, and Adam Yarmolinksy. The essays deal with such topics as the relation of "values" to "facts" in social science inquiry; the interplay of theoretical and practical considerations; the moral obligations of social science investigators in political contexts; and the ways and means of protecting and advancing the autonomy of the social sciences.
Some social theorists claim that trust is necessary for the smooth functioning of a democratic society. Yet many recent surveys suggest that trust is on the wane in the United States. Does this foreshadow trouble for the nation? In Cooperation Without Trust? Karen Cook, Russell Hardin, and Margaret Levi argue that a society can function well in the absence of trust. Though trust is a useful element in many kinds of relationships, they contend that mutually beneficial cooperative relationships can take place without it. Cooperation Without Trust? employs a wide range of examples illustrating how parties use mechanisms other than trust to secure cooperation. Concerns about one’s reputation, for example, could keep a person in a small community from breaching agreements. State enforcement of contracts ensures that business partners need not trust one another in order to trade. Similarly, monitoring worker behavior permits an employer to vest great responsibility in an employee without necessarily trusting that person. Cook, Hardin, and Levi discuss other mechanisms for facilitating cooperation absent trust, such as the self-regulation of professional societies, management compensation schemes, and social capital networks. In fact, the authors argue that a lack of trust—or even outright distrust—may in many circumstances be more beneficial in creating cooperation. Lack of trust motivates people to reduce risks and establish institutions that promote cooperation. A stout distrust of government prompted America’s founding fathers to establish a system in which leaders are highly accountable to their constituents, and in which checks and balances keep the behavior of government officials in line with the public will. Such institutional mechanisms are generally more dependable in securing cooperation than simple faith in the trustworthiness of others. Cooperation Without Trust? suggests that trust may be a complement to governing institutions, not a substitute for them. Whether or not the decline in trust documented by social surveys actually indicates an erosion of trust in everyday situations, this book argues that society is not in peril. Even if we were a less trusting society, that would not mean we are a less functional one.
Government Reactions to the Great Recession
The financial crisis that erupted on Wall Street in 2008 quickly cascaded throughout much of the advanced industrial world. Facing the specter of another Great Depression, policymakers across the globe responded in sharply different ways to avert an economic collapse. Why did the response to the crisis—and its impact on individual countries—vary so greatly among interdependent economies? How did political factors like public opinion and domestic interest groups shape policymaking in this moment of economic distress? Coping with Crisis offers a rigorous analysis of the choices societies made as a devastating global economic crisis unfolded. With an ambitiously broad range of inquiry, Coping with Crisis examines the interaction between international and domestic politics to shed new light on the inner workings of democratic politics. The volume opens with an engaging overview of the global crisis and the role played by international bodies like the G-20 and the WTO. In his survey of international initiatives in response to the recession, Eric Helleiner emphasizes the limits of multilateral crisis management, finding that domestic pressures were more important in reorienting fiscal policy. He also argues that unilateral decisions by national governments to hold large dollar reserves played the key role in preventing a dollar crisis, which would have considerably worsened the downturn. David R. Cameron discusses the fiscal responses of the European Union and its member states. He suggests that a profound coordination problem involving fiscal and economic policy impeded the E.U.’s ability to respond in a timely and effective manner. The volume also features several case studies and country comparisons. Nolan McCarty assesses the performance of the American political system during the crisis. He argues that the downturn did little to dampen elite polarization in the U.S.; divisions within the Democratic Party—as well as the influence of the financial sector—narrowed the range of policy options available to fight the crisis. Ben W. Ansell examines how fluctuations in housing prices in 30 developed countries affected the policy preferences of both citizens and political parties. His evidence shows that as housing prices increased, homeowners expressed preferences for both lower taxes and a smaller safety net. As more citizens supplement their day-to-day income with assets like stocks and housing, Ansell’s research reveals a potentially significant trend in the formation of public opinion. Five years on, the prospects for a prolonged slump in economic activity remain high, and the policy choices going forward are contentious. But the policy changes made between 2007 and 2010 will likely constrain any new initiatives in the future. Coping with Crisis offers unmatched analysis of the decisions made in the developed world during this critical period. It is an essential read for scholars of comparative politics and anyone interested in a comprehensive account of the new international politics of austerity.
Much has been said about the general subject [of how to measure a corporation's social performance] but little has been contributed to answering this fundamental question. Thus, in November 1971, Russell Sage Foundation sponsored a development effort aimed at examining the "state-of-the-art" and at suggesting a program of research that would advance that state.
"Raymond Bauer and Dan Fenn have provided us with a first product—a state-of-the-art conception and description, and recommendations for future development. They are to be commended for their astute considerations and their clear thinking in the murky pond of corporate social audits. Their effort has provided the social science community with a point of departure for future research in the area."—Eleanor Bernert Sheldon
A Volume in the Russell Sage Foundation's Social Science Frontiers Series
Same-Sex Relations and Americans' Definitions of Family
When state voters passed the California Marriage Protection Act (Proposition 8) in 2008, it restricted the definition of marriage to a legal union between a man and a woman. The act’s passage further agitated an already roiling national debate about whether American notions of family could or should expand to include, for example, same-sex marriage, unmarried cohabitation, and gay adoption. But how do Americans really define family? The first study to explore this largely overlooked question, Counted Out examines currents in public opinion to assess their policy implications and predict how Americans’ definitions of family may change in the future. Counted Out broadens the scope of previous studies by moving beyond efforts to understand how Americans view their own families to examine the way Americans characterize the concept of family in general. The book reports on and analyzes the results of the authors’ Constructing the Family Surveys (2003 and 2006), which asked more than 1,500 people to explain their stances on a broad range of issues, including gay marriage and adoption, single parenthood, the influence of biological and social factors in child development, religious ideology, and the legal rights of unmarried partners. Not surprisingly, the authors find that the standard bearer for public conceptions of family continues to be a married, heterosexual couple with children. More than half of Americans also consider same-sex couples with children as family, and from 2003 to 2006 the percentages of those who believe so increased significantly—up 6 percent for lesbian couples and 5 percent for gay couples. The presence of children in any living arrangement meets with a notable degree of public approval. Less than 30 percent of Americans view heterosexual cohabitating couples without children as family, while similar couples with children count as family for nearly 80 percent. Counted Out shows that for most Americans, however, the boundaries around what they define as family are becoming more malleable with time. Counted Out demonstrates that American definitions of family are becoming more expansive. Who counts as family has far-reaching implications for policy, including health insurance coverage, end-of-life decisions, estate rights, and child custody. Public opinion matters. As lawmakers consider the future of family policy, they will want to consider the evolution in American opinion represented in this groundbreaking book.
Research from the Mexican Migration Project
Discussion of Mexican migration to the United States is often infused with ideological rhetoric, untested theories, and few facts. In Crossing the Border, editors Jorge Durand and Douglas Massey bring the clarity of scientific analysis to this hotly contested but under-researched topic. Leading immigration scholars use data from the Mexican Migration Project—the largest, most comprehensive, and reliable source of data on Mexican immigrants currently available—to answer such important questions as: Who are the people that migrate to the United States from Mexico? Why do they come? How effective is U.S. migration policy in meeting its objectives? Crossing the Border dispels two primary myths about Mexican migration: First, that those who come to the United States are predominantly impoverished and intend to settle here permanently, and second, that the only way to keep them out is with stricter border enforcement. Nadia Flores, Rubén Hernández-León, and Douglas Massey show that Mexican migrants are generally not destitute but in fact cross the border because the higher comparative wages in the United States help them to finance homes back in Mexico, where limited credit opportunities makes it difficult for them to purchase housing. William Kandel’s chapter on immigrant agricultural workers debunks the myth that these laborers are part of a shadowy, underground population that sponges off of social services. In contrast, he finds that most Mexican agricultural workers in the United States are paid by check and not under the table. These workers pay their fair share in U.S. taxes and—despite high rates of eligibility—they rarely utilize welfare programs. Research from the project also indicates that heightened border surveillance is an ineffective strategy to reduce the immigrant population. Pia Orrenius demonstrates that strict barriers at popular border crossings have not kept migrants from entering the United States, but rather have prompted them to seek out other crossing points. Belinda Reyes uses statistical models and qualitative interviews to show that the militarization of the Mexican border has actually kept immigrants who want to return to Mexico from doing so by making them fear that if they leave they will not be able to get back into the United States. By replacing anecdotal and speculative evidence with concrete data, Crossing the Border paints a picture of Mexican immigration to the United States that defies the common knowledge. It portrays a group of committed workers, doing what they can to realize the dream of home ownership in the absence of financing opportunities, and a broken immigration system that tries to keep migrants out of this country, but instead has kept them from leaving.
Understanding and Overcoming Group Conflict
Thirty years of progress on civil rights and a new era of immigration to the United States have together created an unprecedented level of diversity in American schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. But increased contact among individuals from different racial and ethnic groups has not put an end to misunderstanding and conflict. On the contrary, entrenched cultural differences raise vexing questions about the limits of American pluralism. Can a population of increasingly mixed origins learn to live and work together despite differing cultural backgrounds? Or, is social polarization by race and ethnicity inevitable? These are the dilemmas explored in Cultural Divides, a compendium of the latest research into the origins and nature of group conflict, undertaken by a distinguished group of social psychologists who have joined forces to examine the effects of culture on social life.
Cultural Divides shows how new lines of investigation into intergroup conflict shape current thinking on such questions as: Why are people so strongly prone to attribute personal differences to group membership rather than to individual nature? Why are negative beliefs about other groups so resistent to change, even with increased contact? Is it possible to struggle toward equal status for all people and still maintain separate ethnic identities for culturally distinct groups? Cultural Divides offers new theories about how social identity comes to be rooted in groups: Some essays describe the value of group membership for enhancing individual self-esteem, while others focus on the belief in social hierarchies, or the perception that people of different skin colors and ethnic origins fall into immutably different categories. Among the phenomena explored are the varying degrees of commitment and identification felt by many black students toward their educational institutions, the reasons why social stigma affects the self-worth of some minority groups more than others, and the peculiar psychology of hate crime perpetrators. The way cultural boundaries can impair our ability to resolve disputes is a recurrent theme in the volume. An essay on American cultures of European, Asian, African, and Mexican origin examines core differences in how each traditionally views conflict and its proper methods of resolution. Another takes a hard look at the multiculturalist agenda and asks whether it can realistically succeed. Other contributors describe the effectiveness of social experiments aimed at increasing positive attitudes, cooperation, and conflict management skills in mixed group settings.
Cultural Divides illuminates the beliefs and attitudes that people hold about themselves in relation to others, and how these social thought processes shape the formation of group identity and intergroup antagonism. In so doing, Cultural Divides points the way toward a new science of cultural contact and confronts issues of social change that increasingly affect all Americans.
Why Meanings Matter
In a multi-cultural society, differing worldviews among groups can lead to conflict over competing values and behaviors. Nowhere is this tension more concrete than in the wilderness, where people of different cultures hunt and fish for the same animals. White Americans tend to see nature as something external which they have some responsibility to care for. In contrast, Native Americans are more likely to see themselves as one with nature. In Culture and Resource Conflict, authors Douglas Medin, Norbert Ross, and Douglas Cox investigate the discord between whites and Menominee American Indians over hunting and fishing, and in the process, contribute to our understanding of how and why cultures so often collide. Based on detailed ethnographic and experimental research, Culture and Resource Conflict finds that Native American and European American hunters and fishermen have differing approaches—or mental models—with respect to fish and game, and that these differences lead to misunderstanding, stereotyping, and conflict. Menominee look at the practice of hunting and fishing for sport as a sign of a lack of respect for nature. Whites, on the other hand, define respect for nature more on grounds of resource management and conservation. Some whites believe—contrary to fact—that Native Americans are depleting animal populations with excessive hunting and fishing, while the Menominee protest that they only hunt what they need and make extensive use of their catch. Yet the authors find that, despite these differences, the two groups share the fundamental underlying goal of preserving fish and game for future generations, and both groups see hunting and fishing as deeply meaningful activities. At its core, the conflict between these two groups is more about mistrust and stereotyping than actual disagreement over values. Combining the strengths of psychology and anthropology, Culture and Resource Conflict shows how misunderstandings about the motives of others can lead to hostility and conflict. As debates over natural resources rage worldwide, this unique book demonstrates the obstacles that must be overcome for different groups to reach consensus over environmental policy.
Causes, Consequences, and Policy Implications
In a time when the American family has undergone dramatic evolution, change among African Americans has been particularly rapid and acute. African Americans now marry later than any other major ethnic group, and while in earlier decades nearly 95 percent of black women eventually married, today 30 percent are expected to remain single. The black divorcee rate has increased nearly five-fold over the last thirty years, and is double the rate of the general population. The result, according to The Decline in Marriage Among African Americans, is a greater share of family responsibilities being borne by women, an increased vulnerability to poverty and violence, and an erosion of community ties.
The original, often controversial, research presented in this book links marital decline to a pivotal drop in the pool of marriageable black males. Increased joblessness has robbed many black men of their economic viability, rendering them not only less desirable as mates, but also less inclined to take on the responsibility of marriage. Higher death rates resulting from disease, poor health care, and violent crime, as well as evergrowing incarceration rates, have further depleted the male population. Editors M. Belinda Tucker and Claudia Mitchell-Kernan and the contributors take a hard look at the effects of chronic economic instability and cultural attitudes toward the male role as family provider. Their cogent historical analyses suggest that the influence of external circumstances over marriage preferences stems in large part from the profoundly damaging experience of slavery.
This book firmly positions declining marriage within an ominous cycle of economic and social erosion. The authors propose policies for relieving the problems associated the changing marital behavior, focusing on support for single parent families, public education, and increased employment for African American men.