Academic blogs are an increasingly popular form of social media that allow scholars to enact public engagement. This chapter examines academic blogs as scholarship, blogs about scholarship, and blogs as a tool to generate scholarship. After reviewing key terms and processes related to blogging, a brief history of blogging is provided. Then three types of blog environments are reviewed: personal, topic-driven, and filter blogs. Next, five metaphors for academic blogs are considered: blogs as education, information, relationship, engagement, and scholarship. These metaphors illustrate the breadth of blog functions, specifically their use for research innovation, mobility, connection, and reflexivity as well as for educational possibilities. Blogging as a form of scholarship is then explored in depth, especially the use of blogs for content analysis, multiadic discourse analysis, forms of diary research, and arts-based approaches. Finally, two key tensions regarding blogs as scholarship are explored: how the expedience of blog scholarship comes into conflict with concerns about credibility and how the accessible language and approaches to blog writing come into conflict with a blog entry’s enduring popularity or appeal.
Phillip Vannini and Sarah Abbott
Despite continued appeals by funding bodies, universities, and academy-based professional organizations to engage in knowledge mobilization, few academic researchers have made convincing and sustained efforts to dismantle the existing dominant power architecture that orders and organizes professional merit hierarchies along the lines of publication prestige (as indicated by the reputation of publishers) rather than on the basis of readership size or publication impact. The authors encourage more academics to write for a broader public audience. After highlighting a few common reasons why so much academic writing fails to engage readers beyond specialist audiences, the authors turn to the stories of five academic writers whose books have reached hundreds of thousands of people. These five books were selected because they were published within the last 10 years, were widely read, and were based in a qualitative, ethnographic research approach. Because they wished to reflect on the unique conditions shaping work within institutions of higher education, the authors excluded journalists and professional writers and included only university faculty. The authors interviewed these five authors, asking them about their writing styles, their publication-related experiences, and the production and distribution processes of their work.
Dean Lusher, Peng Wang, Julia Brennecke, Julien Brailly, Malick Faye, and Colin Gallagher
This chapter presents recent developments in exponential random graph models (ERGMs), statistical models for social network structure. ERGMs assume that social networks are composed of various network substructures (or network configurations) like reciprocity, brokerage, or transitive closure, which, combined together, explain how the network came into being. The chapter also discusses recent developments for related models—auto-logistic actor attributes models (ALAAMs)—that examine social influence effects. The chapter focuses on three new types of models that have developed in the past few years: directed network models for social influence, multilevel extensions of ERGMs, and multilevel extensions of ALAAMs. The chapter concludes with three empirical applications to demonstrate what new possibilities exist in the application of these new statistical models for social networks to social science questions.
Kjerstin Gruys and David J. Hutson
This chapter uses a comparative case method, drawing on autoethnographic accounts to explore how ethnographers perform aesthetic labor across two research sites: a women’s plus-size clothing store and a coed retail gym. The authors find that they engaged in aesthetic labor as they adapted to the aesthetic expectations of sites by either blending in or sticking out. In their studies, the successful accomplishment of aesthetic labor relied primarily on gender and body size, highlighting how the body functions as a status characteristic that influences existing power dynamics. Such insights suggest the need to conceptualize ethnographic research through the lens of labor—a lens that makes clearer how academic work is structured by the same intersectional inequalities prevalent in most occupational fields.
Social science is vested in the potential technology carries for expression and connection. Human beings utilize media, social media, and communication technologies for expression and connection. The author has been studying the social and political consequences of communication technologies, with an interest in the soft structures of feeling that these technologies filter, conduit, and enable. This interest has led to the development of the construct of “affective publics” and its companion term, “affective news.” Affective publics are networked publics that come together, are identified, and disband through shared sentiment. These concepts have been adopted in a multitude of studies that examine the relationship between technology and politics. This chapter explicates the concept, traces its theoretical roots, and describes how it might further an understanding of civic engagement.
This chapter explores “anti-consumerist” critique and practice as articulated in a range of Western nations over the last two decades. It surveys the rise of a twenty-first-century consumption politics, identifying how it has coalesced around opposition to consumerism and overconsumption, while remaining elusive in the extent to which it advocates substantive social and economic change and in the degree to which it rejects or embraces consumption as an arena of agency. The chapter explores this ambiguity through discussion of two interconnected forms of recent consumption politics—“responsible” consumer choice and “alternative” enterprise—outlining the fractured and tenuous ways in which these practices speak of contestation and of the emancipatory in relation to consumption and consumer economies. The chapter concludes by recognizing the conceptual and ideological limits of contemporary consumption politics, while insisting also that it has significantly expanded the political and ethical sensibilities through which we understand the commodity and its impact.
This chapter focuses on research among internally displaced Afghan communities who had fled to Pakistan over the protracted periods of conflict and were then unable to return to their homes and are currently living in temporary accommodation. Drawing on interviews with forced migrants this chapter aims to explore their lived experiences. In doing so, it highlights the complexities of the decision-making processes that involuntary migrants undertake. Negative public discourses of Afghan refugees notwithstanding, they are the quintessential exemplars of a global migration crisis, given that the geopolitical situation in the region over the last three decades have compelled millions to flee their homes. In order to dispel the fears and distrust toward asylum-seekers this chapter shows the importance of producing accurate data based on the worldviews of the displaced as they are formulating their decisions to flee. This in turn enables us to challenge both the artificially constructed demonizing discourses centered on asylum-seekers as well as the refugees’ own retrospective accounts, which are sometimes at odds with their actual experiences.
André Grow and Andreas Flache
Social scientists increasingly construe social life as a complex dynamic process, in which macro-level properties of social systems can emerge from individuals’ actions and interactions in unexpected, unintended, and possibly undesirable ways. Reputation and status differentiation are important examples. This chapter discusses how agent-based computational modeling (ABCM) can be used to better understand the social processes by which the behavioral dynamics that underlie reputation formation can generate social inequality and contribute to status differentiation. The chapter begins by elaborating the foundations of ABCM and subsequently discusses a number of ABCM examples that address the emergence of reputation and status differentiation from simple but fundamental rules of social behavior and interaction. To further illustrate the method, the chapter presents a formal model that explains the emergence of status differentiation from reputation formation. It closes with a discussion of important future directions in this area, in particular the role that gossip might play in future ABCM work on reputation and status.
Michel Walrave, Joris Van Ouytsel, and Koen Ponnet
Both adolescents and adults use mobile applications to engage in conversations, expand their social networks, and, for some, engage in romantic relationships. While mobile applications offer a range of opportunities for maintaining and expanding one’s social circle, some users are confronted with forms of aggression. This chapter reviews the scientific knowledge on two forms of aggressive behavior through mobile technology within interpersonal relationships: cyberbullying and cyber dating abuse. First, the chapter focuses on cyberbullying, defined as intentional acts through digital media to hurt, socially isolate, or cause distress to a victim, which may occur repeatedly or result in repeated harm by continued exposure. The different types, prevalence, as well as predictors and consequences of cyberbullying are analyzed. Second, the authors review research on what stimulates bystanders to help a victim or, on the contrary, join in cyberbullying. Forms of aggression through digital media may occur not only among friends or peers but also within romantic relationships. The third part of the chapter is therefore devoted to the types, motives, and consequences of cyber dating abuse: digital behaviors that occur to control, stalk, harass, or abuse one’s dating partner. Next to emotional forms of abuse (such as threatening or insulting one’s partner), some forms of cyber abuse are sexual (such as pressuring a partner to engage in sexting). To offer a deeper understanding of these digital forms of dating abuse, the contextual and relational factors of the behavior are discussed.
In this chapter, the author considers some of the theoretical and methodological conundrums that she encountered in her qualitative research that has focused on later life experiences of the aging body as a site of inequality. Western culture is replete with deeply entrenched ageist stereotypes, which position old bodies as inherently asexual, dependent, frail, obsolete, senile, unproductive, and undesirable. Negative cultural constructions of old bodies are further reflected in and buttressed by masculinity and femininity ideals as well as societal assumptions concerning personal responsibility for health. Collectively, these cultural norms shape research in powerful ways as they lead to the avoidance of certain topics, taken-for-granted assumptions that are difficult to elicit or interrogate, and complex power dynamics between researchers and study participants. Reflecting on the intricacies of researching later life body image and embodiment, I offer some suggestions about how the challenges might be reframed as opportunities.
Simon Feeny and Mark McGillivray
This article examines the relationship between foreign aid and poverty in developing countries, with the goal of determining whether donor governments are motivated and actively set out to reduce poverty in developing countries through the provision of aid but with the impact of aid on poverty reduction. It begins with an overview of the aid and poverty record based on global data from the 1980s onward, with particular emphasis on Official Development Assistance (ODA). It then considers the analytics of aid and poverty before reviewing the relevant literature, including studies that address the impact of aid on growth and growth elasticity of poverty. The article argues that aid has had a marginally positive impact on poverty reduction in developing countries, and that poverty would be slightly higher without it.
After some 10 years in power and more than two years in control of several municipalities, the previously banned Tunisian Islamist party al-Nahda has had a unique trajectory as a Sunni Islamic political movement in the wake of the Arab uprisings. This chapter examines that trajectory from a local perspective, focused on two popular districts of Greater Tunis, al-Tadamun and Douar Hisher, historic strongholds of al-Nahda. The aim is to understand the mutations through which this central actor has passed in Tunisia, examining the evolution of its social action and its political legitimization repertoire. The chapter outlines the tensions marking its institutionalization in terms of generational dislocation and the alienation of its popular base. In doing so, it traces the recomposition of local power and its underlying arrangements in relegated urban margins 10 years after the fall of Ben Ali’s authoritarian regime.
This chapter considers the significance of Marx’s concept of alienation to his overall criticism of capitalism. At the concept’s core is the idea that while labor is potentially a fulfilling and liberating activity, under capitalism it appears only as a hostile, dominating force. Workers thus experience their own activity, natural and built environments, and fellow human beings as alien and hostile. While this idea has been deeply influential, it has also been the subject of heated controversies, in particular for its apparent dependence on an essentialist or teleological idea of human nature. While important, such controversies were often inflated by their political and intellectual context, and this chapter argues they should be considered alongside the lasting significance of alienation as an explanatory concept. Understood as such, it can still contribute a great deal to understanding and criticizing contemporary society, and provide guidance for how to transcend and replace it.
Larissa Hjorth and Ingrid Richardson
In this chapter the authors conceptualize the shifts in mobile gaming through two key rubrics—ambient play and digital wayfaring—that help to coalesce the multiple forms of domestic, casual, and urban play that constitute mobile gaming. In the first two sections the authors provide a definition of these two terms and then a short history of mobile casual gaming in terms of the mobilization of private space. This is followed by a discussion of pervasive games as vehicles for transforming urban environments into playspaces. The authors finish with a brief discussion of the Pokémon Go phenomenon in terms of what constitutes mobile gaming today.
This article examines the unique contribution that analytic ethnography has made and can make to accomplishing two of the key principles of analytical sociology: developing theoretical explanations by identifying mechanisms that connect actors, action, and outcomes; bridging the micro, meso, and macro levels of analysis in those explanations. It first distinguishes ‘analytic ethnography’ from other varieties of ethnography before showing how analytic ethnography has historically developed mechanism-based explanations that go beyond the micro level. It then compares analytic ethnography to analytical sociology in order to highlight the compatibility of the two. Finally, it demonstrates how theoretical integration can be achieved first within analytic ethnography, then between analytic ethnography and analytical sociology, using research on signaling and explanations of outcomes in which signals are the mechanism.
Peter Hedström and Lars Udehn
This article locates analytic sociology in the Mertonian tradition of middle-range theory, which focuses on partial explanation of phenomena observed in different social domains through identification of core causal mechanisms. Robert K. Merton was one of the most important figures in twentieth-century sociology. He wrote on a wide range of topics, including bureaucracy, deviance, mass communications, professions, social stratification, and the sociology of science, paying attention to the consolidation and codification of existing sociological theories. His theoretical agenda has much in common with that of contemporary analytical sociology. This article begins with an overview of Merton’s middle-range theory, followed by a discussion of the micro-macro relationship. It then considers Merton’s arguments regarding social dynamics, along with his theories of self-fulfilling prophecies and the Matthew effect. It also explains different kinds of middle-range theories and concludes by stressing the importance of developing theories with sufficient causal depth.
Marx’s historical materialism is a powerful antidote to culturalist essentialism of the kind that became known as Orientalism after Edward Said. The Marxian perspective allows for a full consideration of the role of Western imperialism in hindering the development of the Middle East as well as in the deliberate preservation of archaic sociopolitical features in the region. The concept of Bonapartism that Marx developed in his writings on the French Second Empire is highly relevant to the analysis of the national-developmental experiences that emerged in the Middle East in the twentieth century. His insight on the reactionary aspiration of sections of the petite bourgeoisie confronted with capitalist transformation provides an important clue to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East. Marx’s theory of revolution as resulting from the blockage of economic development finds a most striking illustration in what is commonly designated as the Arab Spring.
Analyzing the Socio-Technical Transformation of Energy Systems: The Concept of “Sustainability Transitions”
Dealing with the immense societal challenges of climate change and resource depletion requires no less than a fundamental transformation of the energy system, comprising not only technological change, but also cultures of energy use and consumption, new regulations, and new types of actors operating on the energy market. A growing field of interdisciplinary social science research on “sustainability transitions” deals with the dynamics and governance of such transformative, systemic, and socio-technical change processes toward sustainability. This chapter gives an overview of concepts used to study energy system transitions, their strengths and shortcomings, as well as new advancements. The chapter also discusses a concrete example of socio-technical change in the field of renewable energy—wind power—and reflects on some of the lessons that can be drawn from this about the interdependence of energy and society and for an understanding of transitions toward a more sustainable energy system.
Organ donation and transplantation is a largely successful treatment used to replace failing organs. However, donation rates have never met the demand for transplantable organs. Biomedical researchers are exploring alternative sources from nonhuman animal donors such as pigs; improved biotechnological solutions such as total artificial hearts; and 3D printed organs developed from the recipient’s own cells. These solutions are in various stages of development, and they may or may not prove viable in terms of cost, functionality, and/or compatibility with the recipient’s body. In this chapter, I ask not about the viability of these proposed solutions, but rather, about the acceptability of the various technologies to potential recipients. Simply put: were these organ transplant alternatives to become available, would patients agree to them? Analyzing answers from focus group interviews and surveys, I use the responses to show that individuals imagine these various technologies as familiar or foreign, self or other, clean or dirty, and so on. People envisage that using different materials will certainly affect their bodies but also their subjectivities. New biotechnologies are raising questions about altering subjectivity through body modification, and the answers to these questions demonstrate ambiguity.
Bianca Beersma, Gerben A. van Kleef, and Maria T. M. Dijkstra
This chapter provides an overview of the antecedents and consequences of gossip in work groups. First, the chapter reviews the different motives for gossip in work groups (i.e., bonding, entertainment, emotional venting, information exchange, maintenance of group norms/social order, and interpersonal aggression) and links each motive to psychological theory. Second, the chapter reviews the different types of influence that gossip can have on various indicators of group effectiveness. Reflecting on the motives underlying gossip in work groups, as well as on its outcomes, it argues that future research should start integrating the diverse insights provided by earlier research on both gossip motives and outcomes, and it provides a number of suggestions for doing so.