Archive for July, 2015

On Theory….Tony Style


Theory is a bitch.  A little bit of theory goes a long way, as Reinhard Bendix aptly put it. I used to be more enamored with theoretical advance and synthesis than I now am. Theory, however is essential…but sometimes setting the controls for the heart of the sun only burns you out…..

As my old mentor Tony Oberschall put it in 1973(ix): “A theory in the usual sense is made up of hypotheses that can be empirically confirmed or disconfirmed, that are systematically linked in order to provide explanations for a large body of observations bearing on the same topic and that can be used to predict future events. Single hypotheses that repeatedly have been confirmed are best thought of as empirical generalizations. Conceptual schemes, typological elaborations, semantic analyses of concepts and terminological controversies cannot be empirically verified and are not theories, rather they are approaches to a topic preparatory to the formulation of a theory. Sociology has reached the stage where these preparatory activities no longer hold center stage, as they have for so long.”

I have an empirical generalization about who would like this statement and who would object, and a theory about the disciplinary implications of rejecting positive theory versus wallowing in the muck of constant recreation…..

Yes, Sara Goldrick-Rab is Irresponsible and Unprofessional–and it’s none of the UW Faculty Senate’s Business….

You should have gone to Penn!

You should have gone to Penn!

In our ongoing saga of academics being called out about twats on the internets we have Sara Goldrick-Rab as the latest victim. Of course, unlike the poor person fired at LSU for doing her job using adult language, I find a few of Goldrick-Rab’s actions to be truly irresponsible and unprofessional, particularly given that she styles herself an expert on educational policy. I’ve never met her, but having perused her vita I really think she should feel exceptionally lucky to be a full professor (promoted after only 9 years with a PhD based on a handful of articles in mostly minor journals and a coauthored book–with Jerry Jacobs….who is known for being quite generous to his students) at what is still the best public university in the nation.

I don’t give a fuck about calling Scott Walker Hitler or any other pithy political statement, party on.  But I hear tell that she implored a bunch of ecstatic future Wisconsin Badgers to  go to school somewhere else. Because, of course, since now Wisconsin may actually see the kind of cuts the rest of the nation has been dealing with since 2000, 17 year olds and prospective faculty should look to go elsewhere. Jesus fuck a bunny in the ass! Do you really study educational policy?! Are you really an expert on helping the disadvantaged get degrees? Do you really think a cut in the most well-funded university system in the nation means that it is irrational for young Wisconsinites to go to Madison? Versus what? You think they can go to Penn? Northwestern? Chicago? Do you think it’s any better to take advantage of the tuition break to go to Illinois. Illinois  has a higher tuition….but gives Wisconsinites in-state tuition, but ILL is suffering the exact same cut imposed by Walker, and let’s face it, U of I sucks compared to Wisconsin.

Acting like the sky has already fallen because Wisconsin is about to get the kind of cuts most of the rest of us having been dealing with for over a decade is conduct unbecoming a serious researcher in the field of educational sociology or educational policy. For those of us struggling at truly disadvantaged universities, it’s downright insulting–particularly coming from someone who never attended a public university. I agree with Rebecca Blank (who is really nice, my spouse used to sometimes run with her at the AEA meetings). Wisconsin is still a great university and the people of Wisconsin should feel lucky to have it in their backyard. They should work to protect it, not to undermine it because of political hysteria. As for Goldrick-Rab, I’d be very surprised if “better” universities will be beating down her door to steal her away. Indeed, given the sorry state of public universities across the country, the only people poaching superstars from Wisconsin and elsewhere are going to be elite private universities, and most of the attrition has already taken place (which is why Duke is now number 1 in sociology).

Notably, it is Blank’s job to respond to shit like that in an informal way, the way she did. It is NOT the job of the muckity mucks in the Faculty Senate to act like official assholes and call her out. This isn’t about sanctions. This is about responding to a public issue. That’s the job of administrators (and gods know we have plenty of them…..), not of quasi-judicial bodies and other assorted kangaroo courts….

Unrelated events, related constituencies, and right wing mobilization: Same-Sex Marriage and the Confederate Flag



Well, well, well….The evil satanic sharia court has now held through a very slim majority that every American must be gay married, and that all churches must forcibly gay marry all of their parishioners underneath an upside down cross while swearing on a Koran. Ah, the celebration from Satanists, Sodomites, and Satanist Sodomites as Barak Hussain Obama’s dream of turning us from a nation of Jesus to a nation of Satan has now come to its full fruition. Praise Allah! What with gay marriage, we are practically a part of the Islamic State!

To add insult to injury and insult, the sodomite satanist race-mixers have cancelled the Dukes of Hazzard, in an attempt to break the spiritual will of good white Christians who yearn, desperately, not to be gay married, despite the siren song sung by the notorious Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her gay backup that Kennedy guy. In an unrelated event, an avowed Christian Terrorist who was an adherent of several organized white supremacist movements murdered (or accidentally killed?) 9 African Americans in a church. The response to this has been interesting! And of course, the Confederate Christians have resumed burning African American Churches, because, duh!Given that most white people aren’t Confederate racists (just regular racists, you know….), the image of the Christian terrorist guy with Confederate Battle flags prompted elite whites to say, “Hey, Bubba, get rid of that, you’re embarrassing me!” Because, of course, if we just got rid of the bubbas with Confederate Flags, racism would be completely over.

But, Jesus Fuck, shitcanning the Dukes of Hazzard is just going too far! What are white racist rednecks going to do?! They have the whole series on VHS, fortunately. And, NASCAR thought they could ban the flag (you know, the main flag that flies over NASCAR races…and it ain’t the American flag….). And, of course, the evil Muslim usurper Obama joined in with whatever that Governor Hayley woman is (Sikh…she’s a Sikh….) to call for the removal of the flag of white Christian Southern Patriotism, and even to demand that the flag be painted over on the top of the General Lee. I like President Carter’s take on the state of the South and the Confederacy.

Gays get to marry, and white Christian patriots have to hide their flag, under penalty of being fired from their good, whites-only, government socialist jobs. Jesus must be coming soon, but in case he isn’t, the faithful have vowed to refuse to serve people who are an abomination to their gods. Why should good Christians be forced to serve homosexuals and Negroes against the dictates of their severely held beliefs? Why, it’s a violation of the First Amendment, whatever that is! Religious freedom demands that we allow people to offend and discriminate! Rebel Yell Anyone!

Lest anyone think that any of this is going away soon, let us come to the realization that white Christians in the Union are now adopting the Confederate Battle Flag as a symbol of their oppression, because we know that White Christians are the most oppressed group in all of America. And, this gay marriage thing makes all of the American government illegitimate, in a white Christian Patriot kind of way.

So, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, and the majority opinion of their fellow Americans, must be opposed by white Christian patriots. But, let’s not marginalize this group….because this is the large and pissed off base of a heavily armed and potentially violent movement. The Confederate angle is particularly shocking, since we have people defending a symbol embraced by a lethally successful terrorist, and let’s not forget the legions of other Christian terrorists terrorizing real America. Large pluralities of sectarian Protestants, fundamentalist Christians, and Republicans not only remain opposed to same sex marriage, but report that they are “very opposed” to what just took place.

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2014 General Social Survey

Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 2014 General Social Survey

The festering of religious and racist hatred should not be undersold. Most fundamentalists and sectarians are disconnected from other Americans and only associate with coreligionists, and their consolidation of social ties is made easier and more pure by geographic concentrations, both regionally and in rural, suburban, and exurban enclaves–Like Dalton Georgia, where an impromptu (and police supported) reactionary Confederate Flag parade had a little oopsie. Most people in those communities, the vast majority, are opposed to same sex marriage, and you can bet the General Lee that they don’t like black people or Messicans or Arabs or none of them other unamericans…..