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  1. Ramen Noodles Supplanting Cigarettes as Currency Among Prisoners

    Ramen noodles are supplanting the once popular cigarettes as a form of currency among state prisoners, but not in response to bans on tobacco products within prison systems, finds a new study. 

    Instead, study author Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona School of Sociology, found that inmates are trying to figure out ways to better feed themselves as certain prison services are being defunded. 

  2. Study Finds Changes to Retirement Savings System May Exacerbate Economic Inequality

    A shift to defined-contribution retirement plans, such as 401(k) plans, has led to an income and education gap in pension savings that could exacerbate future economic inequality, according to a study that was presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

  3. Money Supply, Class Power, and Inflation: Monetarism Reassessed

    Recent sociological work shows that pro-market neoliberal policies across advanced capitalist countries are due to distributional struggle between classes in the 1970s and 1980s. The orthodox monetarist view, alternatively, sees neoliberal reform as a nonpolitical attempt to end the stagflation crisis of the 1970s. From this perspective, monetary and fiscal expansions brought high inflation, and central bank discipline and government austerity is the solution; but the recent trend of low inflation despite accelerating money growth and government spending contradicts this view.

  4. The Causes of Fraud in the Financial Crisis of 2007 to 2009: Evidence from the Mortgage-Backed Securities Industry

    The financial crisis of 2007 to 2009 was marked by widespread fraud in the mortgage securitization industry. Most of the largest mortgage originators and mortgage-backed securities issuers and underwriters have been implicated in regulatory settlements, and many have paid multibillion-dollar penalties. This article seeks to explain why this behavior became so pervasive. We evaluate predominant theories of white-collar crime, finding that theories emphasizing deregulation or technical opacity identify only necessary, not sufficient, conditions.

  5. Nonmarital First Births, Marriage, and Income Inequality

    Many aggregate-level studies suggest a relationship between economic inequality and sociodemographic outcomes such as family formation, health, and mortality; individual-level evidence, however, is lacking. Nor is there satisfactory evidence on the mechanisms by which inequality may have an effect. We study the determinants of transitions to a nonmarital first birth as a single parent or as a cohabiting parent compared to transitions to marriage prior to a first birth among unmarried, childless young adults in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 cohort, from 1997 to 2011.

  6. What Skills Can Buy: Transmission of Advantage through Cognitive and Noncognitive Skills

    Parental income and wealth contribute to children’s success but are at least partly endogenous to parents’ cognitive and noncognitive skills. We estimate the degree to which mothers’ skills measured in early adulthood confound the relationship between their economic resources and their children’s postsecondary education outcomes.

  7. Study Reveals Incarceration’s Hidden Wounds for African American Men

    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.

  8. Income Inequality Leads Millennials to Start Families before Marriage

    Rising income inequality, and the resulting scarcity of certain types of jobs, is a key reason a growing number of young Americans are having babies before getting married.

  9. Category Taken-for-Grantedness as a Strategic Opportunity: The Case of Light Cigarettes, 1964 to 1993

    Theories within organizational and economic sociology that center on market categories often equate taken-for-grantedness with increased constraint on category members’ features. In contrast, we develop a novel perspective that considers how market participants’ changing category-related attributions decrease the scrutiny of category offerings, opening up strategic opportunities for firms. We further argue that whether producers should be expected to take advantage of these opportunities depends on the extent to which they are incentivized to do so.

  10. Can Ratings Have Indirect Effects? Evidence from the Organizational Response to Peers’ Environmental Ratings

    Organizations are increasingly subject to rating and ranking by third-party evaluators. Research in this area tends to emphasize the direct effects of ratings systems that occur when ratings give key audiences, such as consumers or investors, more information about a rated firm. Yet, ratings systems may also indirectly influence organizations when the collective presence of more rated peers alters the broader institutional and competitive milieu.