ASR December 2010


Volume 75, Number 6 * December 2010

For copies of the articles listed below, please visit the ASR page at Sage Journals Online.

ARTICLES The Temporal Structure of Scientific Consensus Formation
Uri Shwed and Peter S. Bearman
Abstract: This article engages with problems that are usually opaque: What trajectories do scientific debates assume, when does a scientific community consider a proposition to be a fact, and how can we know that? We develop a strategy for evaluating the state of scientific contestation on issues. The analysis builds from Latour’s black box imagery, which we observe in scientific citation networks. We show that as consensus forms, the importance of internal divisions to the overall network structure declines. We consider substantive cases that are now considered facts, such as the carcinogenicity of smoking and the non-carcinogenicity of coffee. We then employ the same analysis to currently contested cases: the suspected carcinogenicity of cellular phones, and the relationship between vaccines and autism. Extracting meaning from the internal structure of scientific knowledge carves a niche for renewed sociological commentary on science, revealing a typology of trajectories that scientific propositions may experience en route to consensus.

Making the News: Movement Organizations, Media Attention, and the Public Agenda
Kenneth T. Andrews and Neal Caren
Abstract: Increasingly, scholars have come to see the news media as playing a pivotal role in shaping whether social movements are able to bring about broader social change. By drawing attention to movements’ issues, claims, and supporters, the news media can shape the public agenda by influencing public opinion, authorities, and elites. Why are some social movement organizations more successful than others at gaining media coverage? Specifically, what organizational, tactical, and issue characteristics enhance media attention? We combine detailed organizational survey data from a representative sample of 187 local environmental organizations in North Carolina with complete news coverage of those organizations in 11 major daily newspapers in the two years following the survey (2,095 articles). Our analyses reveal that local news media favor professional and formalized groups that employ routine advocacy tactics, mobilize large numbers of people, and work on issues that overlap with newspapers’ focus on local economic growth and well-being. Groups that are confrontational, volunteerled, or advocate on behalf of novel issues do not garner as much attention in local media outlets. These findings have important implications and challenge widely held claims about the pathways by which movement actors shape the public agenda through the news media.

Worldwide Trends in the Criminal Regulation of Sex, 1945 to 2005
David John Frank, Bayliss J. Camp, and Steven A. Boutcher
Abstract:Between 1945 and 2005, nation-states around the world revised their criminal laws on sexual activities. This global reform wave—across countries and domains of sexual activity— followed from the reconstitution of world models of society around individuals rather than corporate bodies. During the post-World War II period, this process rearranged the global cultural and organizational underpinnings of sex, eroding world-level support for criminal laws aimed at protecting collective entities—especially the family and the nation—and strengthening world support for laws aimed at protecting individualized persons. To make our case, we use unique cross-national and longitudinal data on the criminal regulation of rape, adultery, sodomy, and child sexual abuse. The data reveal striking counter-directional trends in sexlaw reforms, which simultaneously elaborated regulations protecting individuals and dissolved laws protecting collective entities. World-level negative-binomial regression analyses and country-level event-history analyses confirm our main propositions. The findings demonstrate a sweeping revolution in criminal-sex laws, rooted in the intensified global celebration of free-standing personhood.

Cultural Foundations of Tokenism: Evidence from the Leveraged Buyout Industry
Catherine J. Turco
Abstract: Existing explanations of tokenism predict similar experiences for all numerically small, low-status groups. These explanations, however, cannot account for variation in the experiences of different low-status minority groups within the same setting. This article develops a theory of tokenism that explains such variation. Drawing on 117 interviews in the leveraged buyout industry (LBO) and a comparison of the differing experiences of female and African American male tokens in that setting, I argue that tokenism is contingent on the local cultural context in which it is embedded. Specifically, I identify two elements of an occupation’s culture—its hierarchy of cultural resources and its image of the ideal worker—that can specify some status characteristics as more relevant to and incompatible with the occupation’s work than others. In LBO, the industry values cultural resources that, on average, women lack but men possess, and the ideal worker is defined such that it directly conflicts with cultural beliefs about motherhood. Consequently, in this context, gender is a more relevant status characteristic for exclusion than is race, and female tokens are differentially disadvantaged. In addition to revising received wisdom about tokenism, this study integrates and advances social psychological and cultural theories of exclusion by deepening our understanding of the role of cultural resources and schemas in occupational inequality.

Religion, Social Networks, and Life Satisfaction
Chaeyoon Lim and Robert D. Putnam
Abstract: Although the positive association between religiosity and life satisfaction is well documented, much theoretical and empirical controversy surrounds the question of how religion actually shapes life satisfaction. Using a new panel dataset, this study offers strong evidence for social and participatory mechanisms shaping religion’s impact on life satisfaction. Our findings suggest that religious people are more satisfied with their lives because they regularly attend religious services and build social networks in their congregations. The effect of within-congregation friendship is contingent, however, on the presence of a strong religious identity. We find little evidence that other private or subjective aspects of religiosity affect life satisfaction independent of attendance and congregational friendship.

Have Asian American Men Achieved Labor Market Parity with White Men?
ChangHwan Kim and Arthur Sakamoto
Abstract: We use the 2003 National Survey of College Graduates to investigate earnings differentials between white and Asian American men. We extend prior literature by disaggregating Asian Americans by their immigration status in relation to the U.S. educational system, and by accounting for the effects of field of study and college type. Net of the latter variables and other demographic controls, native-born Asian American men have 8 percent lower earnings than do measurably comparable white men. Our findings show that Asian American men who were schooled entirely overseas have substantial earnings disadvantages, while Asian American men who obtained their highest degree in the United States but completed high school overseas have an intermediate earnings disadvantage. Net of the control variables, including region of residence, only 1.5-generation Asian American men appear to have reached full parity with whites. Most Asian American men lag at least slightly behind white men in terms of full equality in the labor market net of the measured covariates in our statistical models. No one theoretical approach seems able to explain our findings; instead, we suggest the relevance of several perspectives, including the racialized hierarchy view, the demographic heterogeneity approach, and assimilation theory.

Neighborhood Context and the Gender Gap in Adolescent Violent Crime
Gregory M. Zimmerman and Steven F. Messner
Abstract: Research consistently demonstrates that females engage in less criminal behavior than males across the life course, but research on the variability of the gender gap across contexts is sparse. To address this issue, we examine the gender gap in self-reported violent crime among adolescents across neighborhoods. Multilevel models using data from the Project of Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods (PHDCN) indicate that the gender gap in violent crime decreases as levels of neighborhood disadvantage increase. Furthermore, the narrowing of the gender gap is explained by gender differences in peer influence on violent offending. Neighborhood disadvantage increases exposure to peer violence for both sexes, but peer violence has a stronger impact on violent offending for females than for males; this produces the reduction in the gender gap at higher levels of disadvantage. We also find that the gender difference in the relationship between peer violence and offending is explained, in part, by (1) the tendency for females to have more intimate friendships than do males and (2) the moderating effect of peer intimacy on the relationship between peer violence and self-reported violent behavior.