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.

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.


Counterfactuals and Causal Inference: Methods and Principles for Social Research (Analytical Methods for Social Research)
2014 , Cambridge University Press

Stephen L. Morgan , co-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.

Every time I feel
Every Time I Feel the Spirit: Religious Experience and Ritual in an African American Church (Qualitative Studies in Religion)
2005 , New York University

Timothy Nelson , author

Dreams and visions, prophetic words from God about “dusty souls” speaking in tongues while “in the spirit” narratives of these and similar events comprise the heart of Every Time I Feel the Spirit. This in-depth study of a Black congregation in Charleston, South Carolina provides a window into the tremendously important yet still largely overlooked world of African American religion as the faith is lived by ordinary believers. For decades, scholars have been preoccupied with the relation between Black Christianity, civil rights, and social activism. Every Time I Feel the Spirit is about black religion as religion. It focuses on the everyday experience of religion in the church, congregants’ relationships with God, and the role that God and Satan play in congregants’ lives not only as objects of belief but as actual agents. It explores the concepts of religious experience and religious ritual, while emphasizing the attributions that people make to the operation of spiritual forces and beings in their lives. Through interviews and field work, Nelson uncovers what religious people themselves see as important about their faith while extending and refining sociological understandings of religious ritual and religious experience.

Change and Stability
Change and Stability: A Cross-National Analysis of Social Structure and Personality
2006 , Paradigm Publishers

Melvin L. Kohn , author

This book presents an intensive cross-national analysis of social structure and personality, testing the generality of the thesis that position in the larger social structure affects (and is affected by) personality largely because of the linkages between social-structural position with proximate conditions of life, and of proximate conditions of life with personality. Kohn and his collaborators have focused their research on two basic dimensions of social structure (class and stratification), the proximate conditions of life most directly related to class and stratification (job conditions), and three fundamental aspects of personality (intellectual flexibility, self-directedness of orientation, and feelings of well-being or distress). Their findings for the United States, then-socialist Poland, and Japan demonstrate remarkable cross-national similarities across cultures and economic systems, along with an intriguing cross-national difference between socialist Poland and the capitalist U.S. and Japan, in the relationships of class and stratification with job conditions and thus with personality during times of apparent social stability. Kohn then asks whether the cross-nationally consistent relationships could possibly survive the conditions of radical social change entailed in the transition of Poland and Ukraine from socialism to nascent capitalism, and whether the one major difference between socialist Poland and the capitalist countries would persist when Poland and Ukraine were no longer socialist. The cross-national similarities endure, despite social instability and, in Ukraine, even despite personality itself becoming astonishingly unstable; and the cross-national difference has disappeared with the transition from socialism to nascent capitalism.

Doing the best I can
Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City
2013 , University of California Press

Kathryn Edin , author
Timothy Nelson, author

Across the political spectrum, unwed fatherhood is denounced as one of the leading social problems of today. Doing the Best I Can is a strikingly rich, paradigm-shifting look at fatherhood among inner-city men often dismissed as “deadbeat dads.” Kathryn Edin and Timothy J. Nelson examine how couples in challenging straits come together and get pregnant so quickly—without planning. The authors chronicle the high hopes for forging lasting family bonds that pregnancy inspires, and pinpoint the fatal flaws that often lead to the relationship’s demise. They offer keen insight into a radical redefinition of family life where the father-child bond is central and parental ties are peripheral.

Drawing on years of fieldwork, Doing the Best I Can shows how mammoth economic and cultural changes have transformed the meaning of fatherhood among the urban poor. Intimate interviews with more than 100 fathers make real the significant obstacles faced by low-income men at every step in the familial process: from the difficulties of romantic relationships, to decision-making dilemmas at conception, to the often celebratory moment of birth, and finally to the hardships that accompany the early years of the child’s life, and beyond.

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.

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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).


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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.

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Protest with Chinese Characteristics: Demonstrations, Riots, and Petitions in the Mid-Qing Dynasty
June 2011 , Columbia University Press

Ho-Fung Hung , author

The origin of political modernity has long been tied to the Western history of protest and revolution, the currents of which many believe sparked popular dissent worldwide. Reviewing nearly one thousand instances of protest in China from the eighteenth to the early-nineteenth centuries, Ho-fung Hung charts an evolution of Chinese dissent that stands apart from Western trends.

Hung samples from mid-Qing petitions and humble plaints to the emperor. He revisits rallies, riots, market strikes, and other forms of contention rarely considered in previous studies. Drawing on new world history, which accommodates parallels and divergences between political-economic and cultural developments East and West, Hung shows how the centralization of political power and an expanding market, coupled with a persistent Confucianist orthodoxy, shaped protesters’ strategies and appeals in Qing China.

This unique form of mid-Qing protest combined a quest for justice and autonomy with a filial-loyal respect for the imperial center, and Hung’s careful research ties this distinct characteristic to popular protest in China today. As Hung makes clear, the nature of these protests prove late imperial China was anything but a stagnant and tranquil empire before the West cracked it open. In fact, the origins of modern popular politics in China predate the 1911 Revolution. Hung’s work ultimately establishes a framework others can use to compare popular protest among different cultural fabrics. His book fundamentally recasts the evolution of such acts worldwide.