Faculty Books

The Long Shadow: Family Background, Disadvantaged Urban Youth, and the Transition to Adulthood
June 2014 , Russell Sage Foundation

Karl L. Alexander , author

West Baltimore stands out in the popular imagination as the quintessential “inner city”—gritty, run-down, and marred by drugs and gang violence. Indeed, with the collapse of manufacturing jobs in the 1970s, the area experienced a rapid onset of poverty and high unemployment, with few public resources available to alleviate economic distress. But in stark contrast to the image of a perpetual “urban underclass” depicted in television by shows like The Wire, sociologists Karl Alexander, Doris Entwisle, and Linda Olson present a more nuanced portrait of Baltimore’s inner city residents that employs important new research on the significance of early-life opportunities available to low-income populations. The Long Shadow focuses on children who grew up in west Baltimore neighborhoods and others like them throughout the city, tracing how their early lives in the inner city have affected their long-term well-being. Although research for this book was conducted in Baltimore, that city’s struggles with deindustrialization, white flight, and concentrated poverty were characteristic of most East Coast and Midwest manufacturing cities. The experience of Baltimore’s children who came of age during this era is mirrored in the experiences of urban children across the nation.

For 25 years, the authors of The Long Shadow tracked the life progress of a group of almost 800 predominantly low-income Baltimore school children through the Beginning School Study Youth Panel (BSSYP). The study monitored the children’s transitions to young adulthood with special attention to how opportunities available to them as early as first grade shaped their socioeconomic status as adults. The authors’ fine-grained analysis confirms that the children who lived in more cohesive neighborhoods, had stronger families, and attended better schools tended to maintain a higher economic status later in life. As young adults, they held higher-income jobs and had achieved more personal milestones (such as marriage) than their lower-status counterparts. Differences in race and gender further stratified life opportunities for the Baltimore children. As one of the first studies to closely examine the outcomes of inner-city whites in addition to African Americans, data from the BSSYP shows that by adulthood, white men of lower status family background, despite attaining less education on average, were more likely to be employed than any other group in part due to family connections and long-standing racial biases in Baltimore’s industrial economy. Gender imbalances were also evident: the women, who were more likely to be working in low-wage service and clerical jobs, earned less than men. African American women were doubly disadvantaged insofar as they were less likely to be in a stable relationship than white women, and therefore less likely to benefit from a second income.

Combining original interviews with Baltimore families, teachers, and other community members with the empirical data gathered from the authors’ groundbreaking research, The Long Shadow unravels the complex connections between socioeconomic origins and socioeconomic destinations to reveal a startling and much-needed examination of who succeeds and why.

Handbook of Causal Analysis for Social Research
2013 , Springer

Stephen L. Morgan , editor

What constitutes a causal explanation, and must an explanation be causal? What warrants a causal inference, as opposed to a descriptive regularity? What techniques are available to detect when causal effects are present, and when can these techniques be used to identify the relative importance of these effects? What complications do the interactions of individuals create for these techniques? When can mixed methods of analysis be used to deepen causal accounts? Must causal claims include generative mechanisms, and how effective are empirical methods designed to discover them? The Handbook of Causal Analysis for Social Research tackles these questions with nineteen chapters from leading scholars in sociology, statistics, public health, computer science, and human development.

Mobility and Inequality: Frontiers of Research from Sociology and Economics
2006 , Stanford University Press

Stephen L. Morgan , co-editor

How often do working-class children obtain college degrees and then pursue professional careers? Conversely, how frequently do the children of doctors and lawyers fail to enter high status careers upon completion of their schooling? As inequalities of wealth and income have increased in industrialized nations over the past 30 years, have patterns of between-generation mobility changed?

In this volume, leading sociologists and economists present original findings and conceptual arguments in response to questions like these. After assessing the range of mobility patterns observed in recent decades, the volume considers the mechanisms that generate mobility, focusing on both the training and skills that are rewarded in the labor market as well as the role of educational institutions in certifying graduates for professional positions. The volume concludes with chapters that assess the contexts of social mobility, examining the impact of macroeconomic conditions and societal levels of inequality on social and economic mobility.

Inequality: Structures, Dynamics and Mechanisms, Volume 21: Essays in Honor of Aage B. Sorensen (Research in Social Stratification and Mobility)
2004 , Elsevier

Stephen L. Morgan , co-editor

Aage Sorensen was an influential intellectual presence who was one of the world’s leading authorities on social stratification and the sociology of education. His research sought to understand the structures, dynamics and mechanisms that underlie inequalities in industrial societies by focusing on how individuals’ attainments are shaped by characteristics of a society’s or organization’s opportunity structure, on the one hand, and individuals’ education, experience and other human capital resources, on the other. He emphasized inequalities associated with education and schooling, class, and stratification outcomes such as income and occupational status. Within these general foci, he tackled the study of phenomena as diverse as rates of learning in elementary school reading groups and promotion patterns in large industrial corporations.

The chapters of this volume illustrate some of the major themes that characterized Aage’s research; these topics are also likely to constitute important concerns for future efforts to understand structured social inequality in society. These themes include: the development of explicit dynamic models to account for observed patterns of education, career, and labor market outcomes; aspects of educational inequality such as school effects and learning opportunities; issues related to intragenerational mobility and careers; and the role of rents in generating structural inequality.

Published as Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, Volume 21.

Counterfactuals and Causal Inference: Methods and Principles for Social Research
2015 , Cambridge University Press

Stephen L. Morgan , author

In this second edition of Counterfactuals and Causal Inference, completely revised and expanded, the essential features of the counterfactual approach to observational data analysis are presented with examples from the social, demographic, and health sciences. Alternative estimation techniques are first introduced using both the potential outcome model and causal graphs; after which, conditioning techniques, such as matching and regression, are presented from a potential outcomes perspective. For research scenarios in which important determinants of causal exposure are unobserved, alternative techniques, such as instrumental variable estimators, longitudinal methods, and estimation via causal mechanisms, are then presented. The importance of causal effect heterogeneity is stressed throughout the book, and the need for deep causal explanation via mechanisms is discussed.

Counterfactuals and Causal Inference: Methods and Principles for Social Research
2007 , Cambridge University Press

Stephen L. Morgan , author

Did mandatory busing programs in the 1970s increase the school achievement of disadvantaged minority youth? Does obtaining a college degree increase an individual’s labor market earnings? Did the use of a butterfly ballot in some Florida counties in the 2000 presidential election cost Al Gore votes? Simple cause-and-effect questions such as these are the motivation for much empirical work in the social sciences. In this book, the counterfactual model of causality for observational data analysis is presented, and methods for causal effect estimation are demonstrated using examples from sociology, political science, and economics.

On the Edge of Commitment: Educational Attainment and Race in the United States
2005 , Stanford University Press.

Stephen L. Morgan , author

The importance of educational certification for labor market success has increased since the 1970s. But social sciences still cannot answer a fundamental question: Who goes to college and why? In On the Edge of Commitment, Stephen L. Morgan offers a new model of educational achievement to explain why some students are committed to preparation for college.

Morgan’s model unites in one common framework the forward-looking cost-benefit assessments of students with social influence processes. The model is then used to explain puzzling race differences in patterns of high school achievement and subsequent rates of college enrollment. The book, using this model, makes a major theoretical statement on the process of educational achievement, which will help to launch a new generation of empirical work.

Networks beyond Empires: Chinese Business and Nationalism in the Hong Kong-Singapore Corridor, 1914-1941
August 2014 , Brill Academic Publishers

Huei-Ying Kuo , author

In Networks beyond Empires, Kuo examines business and nationalist activities of the Chinese bourgeoisie in Hong Kong and Singapore between 1914 and 1941. The book argues that speech-group ties were key to understanding the intertwining relationship between business and nationalism.

Organization of transnational businesses and nationalist campaigns overlapped with the boundary of Chinese speech-group networks. Embedded in different political-economic contexts, these networks fostered different responses to the decline of the British power, the expansion of the Japanese empire, as well as the contested state building processes in China. Through negotiating with the imperialist powers and Chinese state-builders, Chinese bourgeoisie overseas contributed to the making of an automatic space of diasporic nationalism in the Hong Kong-Singapore corridor.


Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 8.21.17 AM
Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India
April 2013 , Cambridge University Press

Rina Agarwala , author

Since the 1980s, the world’s governments have decreased state welfare and thus increased the number of unprotected “informal” or “precarious” workers. As a result, more and more workers do not receive secure wages or benefits from either employers or the state. What are these workers doing to improve their livelihoods? Informal Labor, Formal Politics, and Dignified Discontent in India offers a fresh and provocative look into the alternative social movements informal workers in India are launching. It also offers a unique analysis of the conditions under which these movements succeed or fail. Drawing from 300 interviews with informal workers, government officials, and union leaders, Rina Agarwala argues that Indian informal workers are using their power as voters to demand welfare benefits (such as education, housing, and healthcare) from the state, rather than demanding traditional work benefits (such as minimum wages and job security) from employers. In addition, they are organizing at the neighborhood level, rather than the shop floor, and appealing to “citizenship,” rather than labor rights. Agarwala concludes that movements are most successful when operating under parties that compete for mass votes and support economic liberalization (even populist parties), and are least successful when operating under non-competitive electoral contexts (even those tied to communist parties).


Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 8.36.43 AM
Public and Private Families: An Introduction (7th Edition)
September 2012 , McGraw-Hill

Andrew J. Cherlin , author

As the title suggests, Public and Private Families: An Introduction, seventh edition, discusses the family in two senses: the private family, in which we live most of our personal lives, and the public family, in which we, as adults, deal with broader societal issues such as the care of the frail elderly, the increase in divorce, and childbearing outside of marriage. The book examines intimate personal concerns, such as whether to marry, as well as societal concerns, such as governmental policies that affect families. Distinctive chapters examine contemporary issues such as income assistance to poor families, the effects of out-of-home childcare, and the costs of Social Security and Medicare programs.

A companion reader to this textbook, Public and Private Families: A Reader, seventh edition, with 14 same-named chapters, has 34 readings from both the popular press and academic journals.