SAGE Publications Inc: American Sociological Review: Table of Contents

Inequality Below the Poverty Line since 1967: The Role of the U.S. Welfare State

American Sociological Review, Ahead of Print.
Since the War on Poverty in the 1960s, the U.S. social safety net has shifted away from direct cash assistance for the lowest-income households and toward tax-based transfers targeted at working families with children. Previous research has assessed this shift by evaluating its effect on the national poverty rate. Doing so, however, overlooks how it may also have led to increased inequality among low-income households. We apply a decomposition framework to measure how changes in taxes/transfers and composition have affected trends in inequality below the poverty line from 1967 to 2019. Income inequality among the poorest households has been volatile since the 1960s, and changes to the American welfare state played a decisive role in expanding or reducing inequality below the poverty line. Unlike in previous decades, after the mid-1990s, the policies that most reduced poverty were also those that most increased inequality among the poor. These findings challenge standard theories regarding the effectiveness of income transfers in reducing poverty by revealing that recent state-led antipoverty efforts have placed the near poor and the deeply poor on divergent paths.

15 September 2023, 5:40 pm
Polyoccupationalism: Expertise Stretch and Status Stretch in the Postindustrial Era

American Sociological Review, Ahead of Print.
Past research has posited that occupations are distinct and exclusive communities of workers and used single-entry questions in surveys to measure occupational self-identification. Our study challenges that view by reporting the existence of polyoccupationalism, or workers’ simultaneous identification with multiple occupations. We predict this phenomenon co-occurs with postindustrial forms of work organization and that its expression varies with workers’ position in the occupational structure. Using a survey on creative workers that uniquely allowed respondents to identify with multiple occupations, we find individuals report higher levels of polyoccupationalism when their work is more contract- and project-based, net of other individual and occupational attributes. We further show that polyoccupationalism takes different forms at the top and the bottom of the occupational hierarchy: whereas the polyoccupationalism of high-status “entrepreneurs” stretches expertise—they identify with occupations that are similar in status but functionally distinct—that of lower-status “hustlers” stretches status—the occupations they report involve similar tasks but stand farther apart on the occupational status scale. We discuss the implications of these findings for understanding workers’ occupational identities and the dynamics of occupational hierarchies.

11 September 2023, 8:19 pm
Identity Theft, Trust Breaches, and the Production of Economic Insecurity

American Sociological Review, Ahead of Print.
Across various domains of social life, organizational reliance on personal data and exposure to unanticipated financial hardship have transformed Americans’ life chances and access to opportunities. This article examines an area where they intersect: the hardship caused by breakdowns in information systems. I focus on the case of identity theft, showing how that event—experienced by tens of millions of Americans annually—contributes to economic insecurity. To do so, I first develop a theory of insecurity that links feelings of precariousness to breaches of trust at three levels: interpersonal, organizational, and systemic. Drawing on an original qualitative study of identity theft resolution, I find that most victims worried about their financial lives because they could no longer count on certain people, organizations, or systems. Beneath this commonality, race and class informed feelings of insecurity and associated coping strategies following identity theft. Low-income people and people of color tended to direct suspicion at personal networks and report ending relationships and informal assistance. In contrast, middle- and upper-income and White individuals disproportionately blamed organizations and demanded their protection. These findings—along with the trust-based theory that helped make them visible—have important implications for the study of insecurity, inequality, and trust in the information age.

16 August 2023, 12:29 pm
ASR Editorial Transition

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 599-599, August 2023.


9 August 2023, 6:21 pm
Pathways of Global Cultural Diffusion: Mass Media and People’s Moral Declarations about Men’s Violence against Women

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 742-779, August 2023.
Current theories of global cultural diffusion outline abstract mechanisms through which cultural scripts spread across the world. To reveal how scripts reach individuals, one must identify the specific pathways of diffusion. I examine the case of how scripts about gender relations and violence are diffused through mass media to people in Malawi. Using a mixed-methods approach, I find that international development organizations work with Malawian journalists to produce an array of content denouncing the practice of men abusing women. Entertainment media companies, however, disseminate content portraying patriarchal gender stereotypes. I show that mass media content critical of men’s violence of women is positively associated with people’s stated rejection of this practice, whereas individuals’ exposure to content mixed with patriarchal scripts is not. Notably, a one-standard-deviation increase in the number of newspaper articles critically covering men’s abuse toward women in the 30 days leading up to a person’s unique survey interview date is associated with a 3.2 (women) or 2.1 (men) percentage-point increase in the probability of respondents stating that they condemn such violence. Broadly, the results outline a multifaceted portrait of global cultural diffusion, with liberal and patriarchal scripts simultaneously reaching individual people.

27 July 2023, 7:47 pm
The Corner, the Crew, and the Digital Street: Multiplex Networks of Gang Online-Offline Conflict Dynamics in the Digital Age

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 709-741, August 2023.
Social media is increasingly intertwined into people’s lives, spurring questions about the relationships between online behavior and offline actions. We advance knowledge in conflict dynamics by using a multiplex network framework that conceptualizes online and offline gang relationships as co-constitutive networks—online and offline relationships often overlap and entangle in complex ways that influence behavior in both the virtual and real worlds. We propose a mixed-methods abductive approach for digital data that uses qualitative analyses to challenge and corroborate quantitative analyses of online gang conflict. Synthesizing data from Facebook posts by alleged gang members, maps of gang territory, and police records of offline shooting events, we show that online gang conflicts are not random attacks but targeted network relationships, and such online relationships are dependent on offline geographic relationships and shooting history relationships between gangs. Our mixed-methods approach further shows via qualitative analyses that the statistical network associations are based on cultural-specific language surrounding gang names and symbols, neighborhood streets, and prominent gang members. Our approach underscores how mixed-methods and qualitative approaches are essential in unpacking “big data” and computational methods in understanding the multiplex nature of group conflict.

26 July 2023, 1:20 pm
Taking the Time: The Implications of Workplace Assessment for Organizational Gender Inequality

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 627-655, August 2023.
Gendered differences in workload distribution, in particular who spends time on low-promotability workplace tasks—tasks that are essential for organizations yet do not typically lead to promotions—contribute to persistent gender inequalities in workplaces. We examined how gender is implicated in the content, quality, and consequences of one low-promotability workplace task: assessment. By analyzing real-world behavioral data that include 33,456 in-the-moment numerical and textual evaluations of 359 resident physicians (subordinates) by 285 attending physicians (superordinates) in eight U.S. hospitals, and by combining qualitative methods and machine learning, we found that, compared to men, women attendings wrote more words in their comments to residents, used more job-related terms, and were more likely to provide helpful feedback, particularly when residents were struggling. Additionally, we found women residents were less likely to receive substantive evaluations, regardless of attending gender. Our findings suggest that workplace assessment is gendered in three ways: women (superordinates) spend more time on this low-promotability task, they are more cognitively engaged with assessment, and women (subordinates) are less likely to fully benefit from quality assessment. We conclude that workplaces would benefit from addressing pervasive inequalities hidden within workplace assessment, equalizing not only who provides this assessment work, but who does it well and equitably.

25 July 2023, 1:32 pm
Standardizing Refuge: Pipelines and Pathways in the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 681-708, August 2023.
How do bureaucracies pattern durable inequalities? Predominant approaches emphasize the role of administrative categories, which prioritize certain populations for valued resources based on broader regimes of human worth. This article extends this body of work by examining how categorical inequalities become embedded within administrative infrastructures and institutional pathways. I develop this argument through a case study of the United States’ refugee resettlement program. Drawing together previously unseen government statistics, expert interviews, and documentary analysis, I show that U.S. resettlement is organized through administrative pipelines that create path dependent imbalances in the distribution of scarce resettlement spaces. Social and political logics of immigrant worthiness are important, yet a full understanding of these imbalances requires attention to the tendency of pipelines to become self-reproducing. I identify three factors that account for this tendency: calculative rationales, administrative reactivity, and structured visibility. This three-part conceptualization of pipelines can be applied to other institutional contexts to study the origins, dynamics, and durability of social inequalities. My findings also demonstrate the analytically autonomous role of policy administration in shaping ethnoracial imbalances in immigrant selection.

13 July 2023, 12:48 pm
Understanding Patterns and Trends in Income Mobility through Multiverse Analysis

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 600-626, August 2023.
Rising inequalities in rich countries have led to concerns that the economic ladder is getting harder to climb. Yet, research on trends in intergenerational income mobility finds conflicting results. To better understand this variation, we adopt a multiverse approach that estimates trends over 82,944 different definitions of income mobility, varying how and for whom income is measured. Our analysis draws on comprehensive register data for Swedish cohorts born 1958 to 1977 and their parents. We find that income mobility has declined, but for reasons neglected by previous research: improved gender equality in the labor market raises intergenerational persistence in women’s earnings and the household incomes of both men and women. Dominant theories that focus on childhood investments have blinded researchers to this development. Methodologically, we show how multiverse analysis can be used with abduction—inference to the best explanation—to improve theory-building in social science.

13 July 2023, 12:47 pm
The Politics of Police

American Sociological Review, Volume 88, Issue 4, Page 656-680, August 2023.
The connection between racially prejudiced policing and politics has a long history in the United States. In the current period, police organizations have displayed unprecedented support for Republican presidential candidates, and both have organized against social movements focused on addressing racial disparities in police contact. Yet despite strong connections between law enforcement and party politics, we know almost nothing about the relationship between partisan identity and the behavior of police officers. Using millions of traffic stop records from the Florida Highway Patrol and linked voter records, the present study shows that White Republican officers exhibit a larger racial disparity than White Democratic officers in their propensity to search motorists whom they have stopped. This result is robust to an array of alternative empirical tests and holds across varying sociodemographic contexts. I also find that both White Republican and White Democratic officers grew more biased between 2012 and 2020, a period characterized by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the election of Donald Trump.

25 May 2023, 4:59 pm

American Sociological Review

The American Sociological Review is the flagship journal of the American Sociological Association (ASA). The ASA founded this journal in 1936 with the mission to publish original works of interest to the sociology discipline in general, new theoretical developments, results of research that advance our understanding of fundamental social processes, and important methodological innovations. All areas of sociology are welcome in the American Sociological Review. Emphasis is on exceptional quality and general interest. The American Sociological Review does not publish book reviews.