Monday, January 14, 2019

Woody Powell, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

Seeing Like a Philanthropist: From business of benevolence to benevolence of business

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Co-author: Aaron Horvath 

Over the course of American history, philanthropists have been both praised and pilloried, depicted as redeemers of democracy and a threat to it. Despite the shifting social terrain in which they have operated, philanthropists — and the organizations they create — have grown in number and influence, acting as a catalytic force in the genesis and development of the modern nonprofit sector. Philanthropic largesse has also played a powerful role in shaping civic life and political affairs. This chapter argues that it is important to understand not only how philanthropists are seen, but also how they see. In narrating the development of American philanthropy from the late-19th to the early-21st century, our aim is to capture changes in what it means to ‘see like a philanthropist,’ illuminating the meanings and ends of philanthropic wealth. We focus on three core influences on philanthropic visions: (1) the sources of philanthropic wealth, (2) its organizational embodiments, and (3) the criticisms leveled at its outsized influence.  We examine the reciprocal dynamic between political challenges to elite power and philanthropic visions. We show how philanthropists have transposed the practices they used in earning their great fortunes into the organizational routines of their philanthropies and turned these into requirements for those who receive their funding. Actions of philanthropists’ past weigh heavily on philanthropists’ future, hence the political might of philanthropy both constrains and enables the critiques to which it is subjected. In narrating this long arc of history, we demonstrate the evolving perceptions of how the super-rich see themselves and their role in public life, portraying the myriad ways philanthropy has altered civic and political discourse.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Ann Swidler, UC Berkeley Sociology Department

Cultural Architectures

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

“Culture” is not a single entity, but a complex architecture. Instead of the omnibus term “culture,” I propose several concepts intermediate between individual-level cultural meanings and global or “constitutive” cultural schemas. Cultural styles are group-level practices that structure social relations such as solidarity, sociability, and hierarchy. Semiotic codes, including cultural categories, affect action by shaping how people know they will be understood by others. Institutional challenges and opportunities evoke individual-level cultural skills and cognitive models. Public contexts organize cultural understandings in ways quite distinct from individual-level understandings. Collective action schemas model patterns of collective action. They describe what everyone knows that everyone knows that everyone would do in situations requiring collective action. Collective action schemas in turn depend on rituals that make cultural patterns publicly authoritative.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Eero Vaara, Aalto University School of Business

Veiling and Unveiling Membership: Struggles over Strategic Ambiguity in the Sicilian Mafia

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

The purpose of this paper is to elucidate how organizations interact with external actors to dissipate or maintain strategic ambiguity. Based on a historical analysis of the Sicilian Mafia between 1963 and 2018, we identify three types of struggle in which external actors and organizational members engage to construct, develop, and modify the category of Mafioso: struggles over definition, affirmation and extension. We also elaborate on specific unveiling and veiling strategies that the actors used to either reveal or conceal membership and examine both the intended and unintended effects of these strategies on ambiguity surrounding the Mafioso category. By uncovering these processes and strategies, our analysis contributes to research on strategic ambiguity and on negative social categorization. Our analysis also specifically advances research on clandestine organizations and paves the way for new studies in this area.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tom Christensen, University of Oslo

Representative Bureaucracy in Norwegian Central Government? A longitudinal study over 40 years

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Co-author:Per Lægreid, University of Bergen

This is a longitudinal study of change and stability in the demographic profile of civil servants in the Norwegian central government from 1976 to 2016. We address aspects of early socialization such as family background, geographical origin, gender and age, and aspects of late socialization such as professional background and membership in political parties and interest organizations. We compare the profiles of civil servants with those of citizens at large and discuss whether they have changed over time. A model of representative bureaucracy is contrasted with a model of responsible bureaucracy. We examine the relationship between structural features and demographic features based on the different aspects of representativeness. The data base used is the Norwegian Administrative Survey, which was conducted every ten years from 1976 to 2016 and covered civil servants in ministries and central agencies. A main result is that the Norwegian civil service is not representative of the general population and the bias in social background has remained stable over time – with one significant exception. There has been a gender revolution in central government over the past forty years, with far more women now employed. We also see a large increase in the share of social scientists, in particular political scientists, at the expense of lawyers. Overall, the principle of recruitment based on merit stands firm and social background has a weak effect on how bureaucrats work in practice. This contrasts with the importance of organizational factors

*Thursday, February 21, 2019

Bart Bonikowski, Harvard University Department of Sociology
-Special Seminar co-sponsored by Sociology at Stanford-

The Polarization of Nationalist Cleavages in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election


Time and Location: *12:30 PM, McClatchy Hall, Bldg. 120, S40, 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, CA 94305*

Sociology at Stanford is community of sociological scholars on the Sanford campus comprised of members from the Stanford Sociology Department, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and SCANCOR

Research in political science has acknowledged the importance of ethno-nationalism (or more commonly, nativism) as a constitutive element of radical-right politics, but it has typically reduced this phenomenon to its downstream correlates, like attitudes toward ethnic and religious minorities or immigration policy preferences. Sociologists, on the other hand, have extensively studied nationalism as a feature of political culture, but have not weighed in on debates about institutional politics, and the radical-right in particular. In this study, I bring these literatures together by considering how multiple conceptions of American nationhood shaped respondents' voting preferences in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and how the election outcome built on long-term changes in the distribution of nationalist beliefs in the U.S. population. The results suggest that competing definitions of nationhood constitute important cultural cleavages that have become effective mobilized by candidates from both parties. In particular, I show that exclusionary varieties of nationalism were strongly predictive of Trump support in the Republican primary and the general election, while disengagement from the nation was predictive of Sanders support in the Democratic primary. Moreover, nationalism has become sorted by party: over the past twenty years, respondents identifying with the Republican Party have become predominantly ethno-nationalist, while those identifying with the Democratic Party have come to increasingly espouse creedal and disengaged conceptions of nationhood. The mutual reinforcement of nationalist cleavages with other sources of cultural and demographic distinction represents a potential danger for the long-term stability of U.S. democracy. More broadly, this research demonstrates that to understand the 2016 presidential election—and contemporary American political culture—scholars should take nationalism seriously as a primary source of collective identification and political behavior.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Jelena Obradovic, Stanford University Graduate School of Education

Self-regulation: Implications for Adaptation and Resilience in Childhood


Time and Location: *4:00-5:30 PM* CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Children who know how to control their impulses, ignore distracting stimuli, manipulate information in the mind, and shift between competing rules tend to thrive in life. Jelena Obradović will discuss how good self-regulation skills help children succeed in the school context and what parents and teachers can do to promote these skills in children across the globe.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Guido Buenstorf, University of Kassel and University of Gothenburg

Expansion of Doctoral Education and PhDs’ Labor Market Outcomes: Evidence from German Register Data

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

Co-authors: Domink Heinisch, Johannes Koenig, Anne Otto

In many OECD countries, doctoral education has been expanded in recent years. In the United States the annual number of doctoral degrees increased by 33 per cent from 2000 to 2015. Germany experienced an increase of 26 per cent (excluding medical doctorates), and Sweden 31 per cent. These increases raise questions about the capacity of academic and non-academic labor markets to absorb new PhDs. We report results from a large-scale record matching project that links data on all doctoral dissertations completed in Germany with social security records. This approach allows us to trace the labor market entry and subsequent career trajectories for doctoral students who graduated from 1995 to 2013. We compare types of employment, job characteristics, income, and interregional mobility two and five years after graduation across cohorts and by discipline. Our findings help inform the ongoing debate about over-education.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Elizabeth Armstrong, Stanford University, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences

Logics in Conflict? Contradictions in Campus Sexual Misconduct Adjudication

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)

The media presents a crisis of "due process" is the adjudication of sexual misconduct complaints on American college campuses. Based on preliminary analysis of the sexual misconduct policies of 381 universities, we argue that the adjudication of student sexual misconduct is indeed problematic, but for reasons different than discussed to date. Many--if not most--of the policies analyzed were vague and internally inconsistent. Given the high stakes for students and schools of sexual misconduct adjudication, how and why are these policy documents so poor? We draw on Kelly (2010), who argues that organizational noncompliance with law is a result of "failure to update" when laws change and the presence of "competing institutions." Similarly, we argue that the poor quality of these documents is in part a result on the accretion of new policies, without reconciliation with old policies. The lack of reconciliation is, we suspect, a consequence of lack of capacity and unresolved competition among professional groups seeking to control this domain (e.g., student conduct officers, human resources, general counsel, public safety, victim advocates, religious chaplains, Title IX professionals). Incoherent policies have led to indefensible processes in practice. The implementation of these policies has failed students in general, not just those accused of misconduct. It is likely that procedural failures have failed victims more grievously than those accused--by dismissing complaints, failing to investigate them, mishandling investigations, and so forth. In the near term, the politicization of student sexual misconduct adjudication at the national level is likely to impede efforts to arrive at sensible, transparent approaches to adjudication.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Adina Sterling, Stanford University Graduate School of Business

Time and Location: 3:00-4:30 PM, CERAS Building, 520 Galvez Mall, Stanford CA 94305 (Room 123)