Americans love crime. The criminal justice system is fetishized in popular culture and news media. We watch the news and scour the Internet to assess our own moral compass, take cues from others' digressions, and bear witness to justice and punishment. Historically, we learned about crime through news media and fiction. The Internet has dramatically changed this landscape: for the first time, mug shots and jailhouse rosters are available with a click.
Despite significant public, political, and media attention to the issue of criminal violence in the United States, we know surprisingly little about the trends in violent crime for different racial/ethnic groups in recent decades. For example, what are the disparities in homicide between whites, African Americans, and Hispanics? Have these disparities changed over the past 20 years? If so, why? This lack of knowledge is largely due to data limitations, as ethnic identifiers are rarely collected in many official crime statistics.
Over seven million Americans are either incarcerated, on probation, or on parole, with their criminal records often following them for life and affecting access to higher education, jobs, and housing. Court-ordered monetary sanctions that compel criminal defendants to pay fines, fees, surcharges, and restitution further inhibit their ability to reenter society. In A Pound of Flesh, sociologist Alexes Harris analyzes the rise of monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system and shows how they permanently penalize and marginalize the poor.
The American Sociological Association (ASA) filed an amicus curiae brief in March, 2015 with the Supreme Court of the United States in the same-sex marriage cases pending before the court. The ASA’s brief highlights the social science consensus that children raised by same-sex parents fare just as well as children raised by different-sex parents.
ASA speaks with sociologist Christopher Dum at the 2016 ASA Annual Meeting on August, 2016, in Seattle, WA. Dum talks about what it means to “do sociology,” how he uses sociology in his work, highlights of his work in the field, the relevance of sociological work to society, and his advice to students interested in entering the field.
There’s a stark and troubling way that incarceration diminishes the ability of a former inmate to empathize with a loved one behind bars, but existing sociological theories fail to capture it, Vanderbilt University sociologists have found.
Socius: Sociological Research for a Dynamic World invites papers for a special issue on gender in the 2016 elections. We invite contributions on all topics relevant to gender and politics. Potential topics could include (but are not limited to): gender and the executive; women, social policy, and state legislative elections; intersectionality and the media; gender and public opinion; and women in changing political institutions. Informative papers on trends or cross-national comparisons are welcome as long as they are framed in relation to the 2016 U.S. election.
Being a virtual witness to the murder of Philando Castile did something to me. I mourned for days as my mind flashed back to the video of Castile dying during a routine traffic stop. To hear the 4-year-old daughter of Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend and fellow passenger, try to console her mother was unbearable. I knew then that everything I thought I was doing to make a difference wasn’t enough. As the father of two Black boys, I have to use my sociological toolkit more effectively if I want them to live in an equitable and justice-oriented society.