Friday, January 12, 2007

Book Meme II: Academic Version

by Unknown

I've been tagged! (Remember when the "I love you virus" was going around, and you went to coffee with your friends and they were all complaining about how many times they had been sent the "I love you virus," and you felt bad for their computational health but also a little twinge of jealousy because evidently no one loved you enough to give you a virus, but then when you went back to your office, you checked your e-mail and, lo-and-behold, you found the "I love you virus" waiting for you, and although you were a bit peeved that someone would send you a virus, you were secretly a little bit thrilled that you were on the "I love you" network. Or at least, so I'm told.)

Anywhoo, the tagging task is described here, so I won't repeat it again. Like others, I seem to have run into a bit of a glitch in fulfilling the task. The first book-like item I can reach is the January 2007 issue of American Behavioral Scientist.

First problem: is it a book or not? On one hand, it's bound, with a cover and numbered pages between, and all of the chapters are on the same topic, namely the sociology of income inequality. OTOH, it's just a collection of independently written academic articles.

Second problem: ABS carries over page numbers from the prior issue. The first page in the "book", excluding front matter, is page 579. There isn't a page 123.

If I assume it's close enough to a book, and count 123 pages from page 579, here's the third problem: I land on the first page of my own article.* At the risk of seeming unbelievably conceited for quoting my own work, here's the 6th, 7th, and 8th sentences (counting the abstract, which is the only way I could get to 5 sentences on the 123rd page):

Although an appropriately massive literature on the takeoff [in earnings inequality] has developed among social scientists, this literature is dominated by economists and largely ignored by sociologists. This state of affairs is surprising because sociologists, more so than economists, have represented themselves as uniquely concerned with the unequal distribution of valued goods. Why have sociologists, with several notable exceptions [cite cite cite] studiously ignored what is arguably one of the most consequential developments of our time?

I'll leave it up to the reader to answer Tom's question, "is the sociology professorate reading something more interesting than a SAS User's Guide?"

As for the next victims, I tag Robb and Kyle, two sociologists who I suspect may read this blog from time to time but don't have blogs of their own. Feel free to use the comments section.

*I feel like I should explain why ABS 2007 is sitting on my desk. It's not because I'm so enamored with my own work that I read it for fun. (In fact, I rarely even look at anything I've written once it's in print. Too painful.) SAGE press still sends out complimentary hard copies of the journal to authors, and in this office-that-isn't-really-mine I have no idea where to store lone issues of journals-to-which-I-don't-subscribe, and I can't bring myself to just throw it away.
Ah, the first book I have available is Economy and Society which I have been rereading....psyche.

First book available was "American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer" by Bird and Sherwin. I was given this for Christmas and may or may not ever read it:

"Hem ade it clear," Oppenheimer later said, "that this money would go straight to the fighting effort." After a while, however, Addis suggested that it would be more convenient to give these regular contributions to Isaac "Pop" Folkoff, a veteran member of the San Francisco Communist Party. Oppenheimer donated in cash because he thought it might not be entirely legal to contribute money for military equipment, as opposed to medical aid." (talking about contributing to the Communist cause in the Spanish Civil War)

The closest written material of any sort near me is academic though: a copy of Ziva Kunda's article "The Case for Motivated Reasoning."
OMG! I can't stand the suspense! Why have they/we ignored it?
Good Q. I'd think sociologists would have more to say about causes than policy solutions, but maybe even the former are "economists' turf?!"
This tagging ambush occurred while I was at the local bowling alley - I'm sorry the bowling enthusiast(s) in your family couldn't make it. We discussed that all of the bowling alleys in Palo Alto were probably either converted to dot-com start-up offices or uber-hip coffee shops...

Strewn on the floor with the rest of my Xmas packing is :07 Seconds or Less: My Season with the Runnin' and Gunnin' Phoenix Suns, by Jack McCallum. Incidentally, I raved about this book to my fellow tag-ee Robb on the phone last night. It's an embedded ethnography of a professional sports franchise, with all of the candor and detail of Jackall's classic Moral Mazes, with none of the anonymity.

Here's the P. 123 excerpt:

"Some NBA teams sound would've kept Bryant and Bell from commenting, a ridiculous alternative. The players are grown men in the public eye, and they should get the chance to express their feelings. And what is the dire consequence if those feelings come out as antagonistic?"
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