Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished ManuscriptReview Method: Peer ReviewedAbstract: In 2003, the majority of Americans (52 percent) considered two children to be the ideal family size (Gallup 2003). The percentage stating two children are ideal increased steadily following an all time low (16 percent) in 1962 near the height of the baby boom, and then peaked at 59 percent in 1986 (ibid.). However, during the 1990s, as the percentage stating that two children were ideal decreased, the percentage who gave three children as ideal increased. This paper examines the potential causes of the increase in an effort to better understand characteristics driving fertility variation in a post-demographic transition setting. One possible explanation of this unexpected trend is that children have become the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption. If there has been an increase in the number of three-child families among the wealthy, and if the tastes of the rich influence those of the general population, then the fertility behavior of those with higher incomes may drive overall ideals. To test this hypothesis, I will compare the characteristics of families that actually have three children with those who desire three children. Analyzing ideal family size thus provides opportunities to better understand both fertility as well as taste-making.
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished ManuscriptReview Method: Peer ReviewedAbstract: Theorists have long grappled with the concept of power in international relations. It is widely recognized that a simplistic aggregation of capabilities fails to capture the full meaning of power in international affairs, and is even less effective in capturing the elusive process in which power is translated into influence. However, international relations theory has yet to fully articulate a set of alternative tangible concepts that can help us gain a better grasp of the many faces of power. In this paper I focus on prestige as such an alternative concept. Prestige is a social reflection of capabilities and as such it is especially useful in untangling the capabilities/influence conundrum. While international relations theory offers very little insight into the nature and mechanics of prestige, works by prominent social theorists such as Veblen, Gramsci, Bourdieu, Parsons and Mills offer theoretical conceptualizations of prestige as well as observations on prestige-driven behavioral regularities that are applicable to international relations. In this paper I use these works in order to develop a comprehensive analysis of the role, nature, and mechanics of prestige in international affairs. I offer the theory of conspicuous waste in international relations as one testable derivative of this theoretical analysis.
Publication Type: AbstractAbstract: The classical ‘modernist sociological’ way of seeing the university – a perspective that unites Durkheim, Parsons and Bourdieu – is an institution for reproducing at least the elite strata of the social order, through which each successive generation is taught (both formally and informally) what they will need to know in the future. This is made possible through the Humboldtian idea of research-led teaching. STS has had very little, if anything, to say about universities – not even their democratization. Instead, STS has focused mainly on one aspect of the university, its research function and, more specifically, the spaces and flows that are defined by research sites like laboratories. In other words, STS tends to treat the university less as a conceptual entity than as a physical entity. Part of this is due to a deep-seated skepticism about the very existence of institutions that relates to the micro-sociological methods common in STS. But also it reflects STS’s negative ‘postmodern’ assessment of the epistemological significance of the university as the producer and distributor of unified knowledge. Together these features have enabled STS to function very well in a policy environment that has wanted to draw attention to a variety of non-academic sources of knowledge, typically in order to justify the withdrawal of central state funding from universities.
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished ManuscriptReview Method: Peer ReviewedAbstract: In this paper, I explore the employment experiences of refugees resettled in Utah. I argue that refugee ethnic origins and forms of capital intersect with the contexts of reception to shape employment experiences. The study uses textual data recorded by the employment caseworkers of refugees living in Salt Lake City, Utah as well as data from focus groups with members of the Somali community in Salt Lake City. I find strong support for the importance of human and cultural capital for employment outcomes. More importantly, I find evidence of creative discrimination on the part of employers against conspicuously foreign applicants indicating subtly negative contexts of reception and incomplete two-way integration.
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished ManuscriptReview Method: Peer ReviewedAbstract: The world is a highly unequal social system in which citizenship is the key stratifying status. The global hierarchy of citizenship pertains not only to the huge disparities in income or security between different countries, but also to the vast gaps in travel freedom that different passports offer. While numerous scholars have explored the structural aspects of global stratification, we still know little about its micro-sociological dimensions: where and how do individuals experience these global hierarchies? In this paper, I propose a new approach to studying global inequality from the bottom up. I argue that border crossings are a site where individuals experience their place within global hierarchies as they are classified on the basis of their passports. Drawing on the approach of Thorstein Veblen, I analyze cross-border mobility as a field of status competition, invidious comparison and conspicuous display. I demonstrate this approach by drawing on interviews with individuals in Serbia who have acquired a second, European Union citizenship. I show that border crossing experiences involved strong emotions, including shame, pride, joy and guilt. Those emotions were triggered by a competitive comparison that respondents made between their own and others’ ease or difficulty when crossing borders. This suggests that the value of mobility cannot be reduced to its instrumental usefulness. With the intensification of international travel, border crossings have become a prominent site where individuals experience – and negotiate – their social status in a world stratified by citizenship.