ASR August 2010
Volume 75, Number 4 * August 2010
For copies of the articles listed below, please visit the ASR page at Sage Journals Online.
Bringing the Polluters Back In: Environmental Inequality and the Organization of Chemical Production
Don Grant, Mary Nell Trautner, Liam Downey, and Lisa Thiebaud
Abstract: Environmental justice scholars have suggested that because chemical plants and other hazardous facilities emit more pollutants where they face the least resistance, disadvantaged communities face a special health risk. In trying to determine whether race or income has the bigger impact on a neighborhood’s exposure to pollution, however, scholars tend to overlook the facilities themselves and the effect of their characteristics on emissions. In particular, how do the characteristics of facilities and their surrounding communities jointly shape pollution outcomes? We propose a new line of environmental justice research that focuses on facilities and how their features combine with communities’ features to create dangerous emissions. Using novel fuzzy-set analysis techniques and the EPA’s newly developed Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators, we test the influence of facility and community factors on chemical plants’ health-threatening emissions. Contrary to the idea that community characteristics have singular, linear effects, findings show that facility and community factors combine in a variety of ways to produce risky emissions. We speculate that as chemical firms experiment with different ways of producing goods and externalizing pollution costs, new “recipes of risk” are likely to emerge. The question, then, will no longer be whether race or income matters most, but in which of these recipes do they matter and how.
National and Global Origins of Environmental Association
Wesley Longhofer and Evan Schofer
Abstract: We examine the origins of voluntary associations devoted to environmental protection, focusing on the divergent trajectories of industrialized versus developing countries. We consider a wide range of domestic economic, political, and institutional dynamics that give rise to environmental associations. Developing and extending neo-institutional world polity arguments, we characterize domestic association in the developing world as the product of global cultural models, legitimation, and resources. Using event history and dynamic panel models, we analyze the formation of domestic environmental associations for a large sample of countries in the contemporary period. Among highly industrialized countries, domestic factors—resources and political institutions that afford favorable opportunities—largely explain the prevalence of environmental associations. In contrast, global forces are a powerful catalyst for environmental organizing in the developing world The environmental movement, which had domestic origins in the West, became institutionalized in the world polity, generating new associations on a global scale. We also find positive effects of democratic institutions and philanthropic foundations. Environmental degradation and societal affluence are not primary drivers of environmental association. We conclude by reflecting on the implications of globally-sponsored voluntary associations, which appear to be common in the developing world.
Effects of Prenatal Poverty on Infant Health: State Earned Income Tax Credits and Birth Weight
Kate W. Strully, David H. Rehkopf, and Ziming Xuan
Abstract: This study estimates the effects of prenatal poverty on birth weight using changes in state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC) as a natural experiment. We seek to answer two questions about poverty and child wellbeing. First, are there associations between prenatal poverty and lower birth weights even after factoring out unmeasured potential confounders? Because birth weight predicts a range of outcomes across the life course, lower birth weights that result from poverty may have lasting consequences for children’s life chances. Second, how have recent expansions of a work-based welfare program (i.e., the EITC) affected maternal and infant health? In recent decades, U.S. poverty relief has become increasingly tied to earnings and labor markets, but the consequences for children’s wellbeing remain controversial. We find that state EITCs increase birth weights and reduce maternal smoking. However, results related to AFDC/TANF and varying EITC effects across maternal ages raise cautionary messages.
The Things They Carry: Combat, Disability, and Unemployment among U.S. Men
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Abstract: Sociologists have long recognized that historical events, such as wars, depressions, and natural disasters, influence trajectories of people’s lives and reproduce or alter social structures. This article extends that line of research. Using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, I test three accounts regarding how combat exposure in war affects men’s ability to work. The direct cumulative disadvantage account posits that war negatively affects servicemen who see combat, regardless of their pre-combat characteristics. The moderated cumulative disadvantage account suggests that combat most negatively affects men who had lower status before they fought. The turning point account suggests the reverse: combat most negatively affects men who had greater status before they fought. Findings suggest that with regard to disability and unemployment, the effects of combat exposure in war are most consistent with the direct cumulative disadvantage account.
Religious Economy or Organizational Field? Predicting Bishops’ Votes at the Second Vatican Council
Melissa J. Wilde, Kristin Geraty, Shelley L. Nelson, and Emily A. Bowman
Click here for the Syntax Supplement (PDF file).
Click here for the Methodological Supplement (PDF file).
Abstract: This article explores the national factors that predict bishops’ votes on two of the most contentious issues at the Second Vatican Council. Using data obtained from the Vatican Secret Archive, analyses demonstrate that rational choice oriented theory in the sociology of religion that focuses on competition is limited. While competition is important to religious leaders’ actions, its effects can be understood only in relation to other crucial characteristics of the social environment within which leaders operate. These characteristics, which we derive from Neo-Institutional Theory (NIT), shape leaders’ interests and often lead them to prioritize concerns about their institutions’ legitimacy over the concerns about efficiency and growth rational choice theorists assume are predominant. Most NIT studies examine the population of firms within one organizational field. Because we hold firm constant and examine how variation in the type of organizational field (supplied by the more than 100 countries in our analysis) predicts firm leaders’ actions, this study represents a unique test of NIT.
Activist Religion, Empire, and the Emergence of Modern Long-Distance Advocacy Networks
Abstract: Considering long-distance advocacy as a distinctive institution of European modernity, the article examines the genesis and history of networks engaged in political action on behalf of distant others. Ever since the beginnings of European expansion overseas in the sixteenth century, such networks have originated from a persistent pattern of radicalization of religious actors against rival networks within the context of empire. In the late eighteenth century, the very same processes led to the establishment of modern forms of long-distance advocacy, with the international movement against colonial slavery and the slave trade. Throughout, long-distance advocacy was initiated and carried out by distinctively reformist and activist religious organizations within Catholicism and Protestantism. These findings highlight the importance of religious organizations in the imperial context for the configuration of modern forms of political activism.