Frédéric Lebaron and Brigitte Le Roux
Chapter abstract The extent to which the concepts of field and social space are linked to a concrete mode of empirical research—and in particular to a set of original statistical tools—has seldom been acknowledged. This chapter aims to re-establish the close link between the field concept and geometric data analysis (GDA), Bourdieu’s preferred technique for mapping the “social distances” between individuals. The elective affinity between the two is based on a relation of tight interdependence: on the one hand, the emergent practice of GDA sustains and strengthens the “implicit philosophy” of the theory of fields; on the other hand, the method’s widespread use by Bourdieu and his collaborators has facilitated GDA’s international reception in the social sciences. The chapter concludes by discussing the empirical research program that results from wedding a sociology of fields with the systematic use of GDA.
Celeste Vaughan Curington and Miliann Kang
This chapter examines how racial and gender ideologies shape and are shaped by scientific understandings of beauty practices via a critical examination of the scholarly discourses on skin lightening. Based on qualitative content analysis of thirty domestic and international scholarly articles on skin lightening and whitening published between 2000 and 2017, the authors found that products in Europe and the United States marketed to white customers were likely to be framed as benign beauty products, with health risks attributed to imported products. In contrast, the use of similar products overseas, particularly in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, were depicted as higher risk and locally sourced. Further, by mapping certain skin-related pathologies onto distinct human bodies, these studies reinforce discredited biological understandings of race. Overall, scientific studies of skin whitening and lightening practices enforce the scientific validation of white/western beauty practices alongside the problematization of similar practices/products when used by non-white or non-western subjects. These studies often recognize the dominance of a white cultural ideal but, rather than tracing its structural and historical determinants, instead pathologize those who aspire to it, often neglecting the dynamics of global white supremacy, marketing, production, and distribution in the global beauty economy that fuel the desire and consumption for these products.
Correspondence Analysis and Bourdieu’s Approach to Statistics: Using Correspondence Analysis within Field Theory
Chapter abstract Since the mid-1970s, Bourdieu used multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) on a regular basis in order to construct fields and social spaces. After having been long neglected, this part of his work has spurred a new interest for some years. This chapter aims to highlight the very original and rich thought that lies behind Bourdieu’s use of MCA, but which can lead to misunderstandings. The chapter emphasizes three main points: the specific (French) sociological tradition in which Bourdieu’s statistical practices were rooted; the importance of the stage that consists in establishing the data to construct social spaces in an adequate way; and the dialectic relation between the thinking in terms of field and the use of MCA.
Jeffrey J. Sallaz
Chapter abstract This chapter argues that Pierre Bourdieu’s research program is less compatible with ethnography than it first appears. Bourdieu was critical of structuralism, that perspective on the social world that prioritizes general patterns over lived experience, whereas ethnography claims as its raison d’être the elucidation of lived experience. A close reading of Bourdieu’s entire body of writings, however, reveals multiple reservations about the ethnographic method. At various points Bourdieu argues that ethnography is partial knowledge, impotent knowledge, and dangerous knowledge. This chapter elaborates each of these critiques, and gives ethnography a chance to respond. Ultimately, it concludes that it is possible to do ethnography from within the Bourdieusian research program. But ethnographers must take care to contextualize their field data in its extra-local context; they should deploy systematic research designs; and they must exercise reflexivity as to how one’s position as a scholar shapes one’s experience of others’ social worlds.
Vonnie C. McLoyd, Rosanne M. Jocson, and Abigail B. Williams
This article examines the effects and mediators of childhood poverty, with particular emphasis on the confluence of forces that gave rise to these foci and perspectives. It first considers macroeconomic trends as a context for the study of childhood poverty in the United States, followed by a review of developments that directed attention to the dynamics and context of childhood poverty as research topics, along with a summary of the findings generated by this research. It then discusses perspectives that have emerged about processes that mediate links between poverty and child development, including the social causation and social selection perspectives, as well as the applicability of these perspectives for understanding the effects of poverty on children living in developing countries. Finally, it assesses the role of poverty in maternal and child mental health and the influence of parenting practices and investments on child development.
Maxine Leeds Craig
The concept of intersectionality has profoundly shaped sociological research on bodies and embodiment. While single-axis analyses of race or gender were common in sociology before the late 1980s, they appear inadequate now. Nonetheless, the concept of intersectionality has been critiqued for its weddedness to identitarian projects, and applications of intersectionality have been critiqued for failing to move beyond additive approaches. This chapter highlights examples of research on bodies and embodiment that employ methodologies that realize intersectionality’s promise. Examples of ethnographic, autoethnographic, archival, textual, interview, and mixed methods are presented as methodologies that investigate the simultaneous force of multiple social structures. These methods involve identity categories but treat them as always in motion. Keeping categories in motion within sociology of the body entails accounting for individual bodily change, contextual and historical change in the available identity categories, and change in the meanings that are socially attached to forms of embodiment.
Samantha Kwan and Trenton M. Haltom
This chapter outlines the foundations of mixed methods research and discusses several examples of mixed methods research in the sociology of the body and embodiment. It begins with a brief history of mixed methods and conceptualizations of this term. To illustrate mixed methods in practice, including its benefits, drawbacks, and relevance to intersectionality research, the authors discuss the first author’s research on body weight, as well as a study about young women’s contraceptive use and a study about nude embodiment. The chapter concludes by discussing the future of mixed methods for sociologists of the body and embodiment, maintaining that mixed methods would serve well scholars who desire to understand embodiment-related trends in a population, as well as experiences of lived embodiment.
This article examines the history of poverty research and the evolution of the practice of gathering knowledge about the poor. It distinguishes between poverty research and poverty knowledge, suggesting that the convergence of the two was a historically specific development that first began to gain wide currency in the late nineteenth century in response to the vast and increasingly visible disparities of industrial capitalism in Western Europe and the United States. It also situates poverty research within the politics and social organization of knowledge and considers the influence of broader contextual factors, such as the creation, expansion, and subsequent restructuring of welfare states in Western industrial democracies; the geopolitical imperatives of empire, decolonization, and the Cold War; and the official declaration of the War on Poverty in the 1960s. Finally, it explores how poverty knowledge was reshaped by the economic, political, and ideological transformations associated with the rise of neoliberalism.
Timothy M. Smeeding
This article focuses on the complexities and idiosyncrasies of poverty measurement, from its origins to current practice. It first considers various concepts of poverty and their measurement and how economists, social statisticians, public policy scholars, sociologists, and other social scientists have contributed to this literature. It then discusses a few empirical estimates of poverty across and within nations, drawing primarily on data from the Luxembourg Income Study and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to highlight levels and trends in overall poverty, while also referring to the World Bank’s measures of global absolute poverty. In the empirical examinations, the article takes a look at rich and middle-income countries and some developing nations. It compares trends in relative poverty over different time periods and in relative and anchored poverty across the Great Recession.
Feminist scholars have long argued for embodied reflexivity that involves accounting for how embodiment shapes qualitative field research as an intersubjective process. This chapter draws on ethnographic research with sixty-four low-income men of color who participated in a US government-funded fatherhood program conducted when the author was visibly pregnant with her first child. It analyzes pregnant embodiment as a strategy for facilitating rapport and credibility with socially dissimilar respondents and contributes to an epistemology of embodiment that attends to how researchers’ bodily states and experiences are sources of both data and analysis in field research. It concludes with insights generated from the project about how attention to embodiment is a valuable and illuminating reflexive space from which to better understand and empathize with respondents.
This article focuses on surveys and their potential as a research methodology in the field of analytical sociology. It presents arguments to show how analytical sociologists can take advantage of the widespread use of surveys in sociology. First, surveys provide social facts, or empirical regularities that analytical sociology aims to explain. Second, surveys can be and have been used to empirically study social mechanisms. Third, survey data are better suited than data collected by many other methods to the analysis, comparison, and simulation of macro effects or aggregation and are therefore critical for studying interdependent action. The article also considers how survey design can exploit the full potential for interaction-based explanations and discusses the problem of causal inference with observational data. It suggests that surveys can and do provide useful data when anchored appropriately in time and social space.
Natalie Kay Fullenkamp
In this chapter we present a methodological template for the use of video diaries (vlogs) as data in social science research, with a particular eye toward the selection, coding, and analysis of vlogs as data. Amid the sea of YouTube content, vlogs provide a medium for ordinary people to tell and share sobering stories about coming to terms with profound life events. YouTube vlogs that present individuals’ experiences with illness are a case in point. Considered as illness narratives, vlogs afford a new way to both document and study the experience of illness. Of importance to us here, vlogs project the physical body into cyberspace in ways that shape how “wounded storytellers” (Frank 1995) perform their illness. Beyond the specifics of our empirical case, therefore, a study of illness vlogs is relevant to body scholars interested in the representation and construction of bodies in online spaces.