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Monthly Archives: August 2015

Paper written by Yao-tai Li accepted by Critical Sociology

The paper written by grad student Yao-tai Li entitled, “Constituting Co-Ethnic Exploitation: The Economic and Cultural Meanings of Cash-In-Hand Jobs for Ethnic Chinese Migrants in Australia” has been accepted by Critical Sociology. Congratulations!

Prof. FitzGerald’s book wins ASA International Migration section award

Professor David FitzGerald’s book, Culling the Masses: The Democratic Origins of Racist Immigration Policy in the Americas, won the ASA International Migration Section’s Thomas & Znaniecki Book Award. Congratulations David!

Laura Pecenco appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor

Many congratulations to Laura Pecenco, who has been appointed as a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Program at San Diego Miramar College! As a grad student, Laura wished to do ethnographic dissertation research on artistic creation in prisons. Since CA had de-funded its prison arts programs, she convinced the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego to allow her to found her own arts program, Project PAINT. This award-winning project has improved the lives of artists in prison and their families. E.g., the first project was a collaborative mural project of landscape scenes for family photograph backdrops in visiting rooms. Laura has overseen the artistic and practical sides of Project PAINT, won state funding, and curated exhibitions at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, the Oceanside Museum of Art, SDSU’s Love Library, the Kruglak Gallery, and other venues. Her work has garnered media attention.
Laura’s dissertation studies how the artistic process and products for prisoners are gendered, raced, and classed and analyzes how the safe space of an arts program combats organizational mandates for hypermasculinity. It also critically examines the unintended consequences of the layers of state and university IRB rules (ostensibly designed to protect individual rights of prisoners), which create Kafkaesque barriers to researchers wishing to conduct reasonable research that would support more humane prison policy. Her work has won an Honorable Mention from the ASS SPPS Section’s Robert Dentler Award for Outstanding Student Achievement. It is also the launching pad for her recent award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Laura is also an award-winning teacher and mentor. Her new position at Miramar College will allow her to continue as Executive Director of Project PAINT, lead her NEA research, and combine research and advocacy with her teaching vocation.

Researching the Role of America’s Shadow Training System

UC San Diego Extension

By Henry DeVries

In his book Innovation Nation, author and former Harvard Business school professor John Kao argues that the United States, once the world’s leading innovator, should step up the pace to regain its innovative edge.  Elected officials from President Barack Obama to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer are singing the praises of the innovation economy as the path to prosperity.


“But there is a dark side to innovation,” says UC San Diego Professor of Sociology John Skrentny. “While it is better for consumers and the economy to have innovation, workers may feel they are on a treadmill and need to continually update skills just to keep pace.”

After spending many years studying law and policy related to equal opportunity, Skrentny’s research and writing interests expanded to include what some call the science of science and innovation policy—especially as these relate to the workforce of scientists and…

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Paper by Natalie Aviles accepted by Sociology Methods and Research

Natalie Aviles has co-written a paper with Isaac Reed, “Ratio via machina: Three standards of mechanistic explanation in sociology,” that has been accepted by Sociological Methods and Research (see abstract below).  Congratulations Natalie!

Natalie B. Aviles (first author) and Isaac Ariail Reed   ABSTRACT: Recently, sociologists have expended much effort in attempts to define social mechanisms. We intervene in these debates by proposing that sociologists in fact have a choice to make between three standards of what constitutes a good mechanistic explanation: strict-substantial, formal, and metaphorical mechanistic explanation. All three standards are active in the field, and we suggest that a more complete theory of mechanistic explanation in sociology must parse these three approaches to draw out the implicit evaluative criteria appropriate to each. Doing so will reveal quite different preferences for explanatory scope and nuance hidden under the ubiquitous term ‘social mechanism.’ Finally, moving beyond extensive debates about realism and anti-realism, we argue prescriptively against ‘mechanistic fundamentalism’ for sociology, and advocate for a more pluralistic understanding of social causality.