Sociology Publications

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    The multiplicity of impact: how social marginalization compounds climate disasters
    (Taylor & Francis, 2023) Priest, A. Alexander; Elliott, James R.
    This study advances and examines the proposition that social marginalization, especially along racial and ethnic lines, produces compound disadvantages that accumulate across a wide range of personal, social and political domains when climate disasters strike, producing a multiplicity of impact often missed by quantitative research on social vulnerability. To test this claim, we use data collected by the Houston Area Survey after the historic rainfall brought by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Analyses reveal that impacts to Black residents were much more pervasive than for any other group, including a disproportionate likelihood of impact to their income, transportation and personal networks in addition to their housing. Results also indicate that this multiplicity of impact across one’s personal and social domains associates with greater scrutiny of local government’s role in the disaster, net of one’s general political ideology. The implication is that we cannot fully understand the social impacts of a changing climate through social vulnerability metrics and property damage assessments, alone. More comprehensive frameworks and impact accounting are needed.
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    Healthcare satisfaction at the intersections of sexual orientation and race/ethnicity
    (Taylor & Francis, 2023) Kim, Min Ju; Wilkins, Kiana; Gorman, Bridget
    Objectives: Existing scholarship has consistently demonstrated disparities in healthcare experience based on sexual identity. However, relatively little research has considered intersections with race/ethnicity, despite that intersection with other characteristics may complicate healthcare experiences and satisfaction among sexual minorities. This study aims to address such a gap by examining healthcare satisfaction across the intersections of sexual and racial/ethnic identity.Design: Utilizing data on U.S. adults included in the 2013–2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) (n = 372,766), we investigate levels of satisfaction with care among a range of groups simultaneously embodying two identities.Results: Findings from ordered logistic regression models show that among adults who identify as heterosexual, the odds of reporting high satisfaction with care are lower among Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans. Among sexual minority adults, the likelihood of reporting high satisfaction with care is consistently lower among Native American gay and lesbian adults compared to gays and lesbians of other race/ethnicity or Native American and White heterosexuals, indicating heightened vulnerability to poorer healthcare experience among this multiple minority group.Conclusion: While levels of satisfaction with care tend to be generally high across groups, future research should endeavor to investigate the driving factors that lower the odds of high healthcare satisfaction among those with intersecting minority identities.
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    Disaggregating Ethnicity and National Origin: Educational Heterogeneity among Vietnamese and Chinese Americans across Immigrant Generations
    (Sage, 2022) Li, Jing; Min, Jie
    Scholars often treat immigrants from the same country as a monolithic group, but intranational ethnicity is usually associated with distinctive premigration backgrounds and migration experiences and plays a role in shaping immigrant adjustment and incorporation in the host country. The authors use census data to distinguish ethnic Chinese from the Vietnamese national group to analyze educational heterogeneity across immigration generations. The results show that first-generation Chinese Vietnamese exhibit much lower levels of education than their Vietnamese counterparts, but this disparity vanishes by the 1.5 generation. The authors also find that both Vietnamese subgroups contribute to the second-generation convergence with Chinese Americans, but Chinese Vietnamese are able to overcome disadvantages more quickly and have slightly higher educational achievement than ethnic Vietnamese. Our case study illustrates how ethnicity and national origin can be disaggregated using nationally representative data and how this approach can provide unique insights into immigration studies in general.
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    Housing Instability Following Felony Conviction and Incarceration: Disentangling Being Marked from Being Locked Up
    (Springer Nature, 2022) Bryan, Brielle
    Objectives: I examine housing instability among individuals with a felony conviction but no incarceration history relative to formerly incarcerated individuals as a means of separating the effect of felon status from that of incarceration per se—a distinction often neglected in prior research. I consider mechanisms and whether this relationship varies based on gender, race/ethnicity, time since conviction, and type of offense. Methods: I use National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 data and restricted comparison group, individual fixed effects, and sibling fixed effects models to examine residential mobility and temporary housing residence during early adulthood. Results: I find robust evidence that never-incarcerated individuals with felony convictions experience elevated risk of housing instability and residential mobility, even after adjusting for important mediators like financial resources and relationships. The evidence that incarceration has an additional, independent effect on housing instability is weaker, however, suggesting that the association between incarceration and housing instability found in prior studies may largely be driven by conviction status. Conclusions: These findings reveal that conviction, independent of incarceration, introduces instability into the lives of the 12 million Americans who have been convicted of a felony but never imprisoned. Thus, research that attempts to identify an incarceration effect by comparing outcomes to convicted individuals who receive non-custodial sentences may obscure the important independent effect of conviction. Moreover, these findings highlight that the socioeconomic effects of criminal justice contact are broader than incarceration-focused research suggests. Consequently, reform efforts promoting the use of community corrections over incarceration may do less to reduce the harm of criminal justice contact than expected.
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    Opportunity Seeking Across Segregated Schools: Unintended Effects of Automatic Admission Policies on High School Segregation
    (Sage, 2022) Fiel, Jeremy E.
    Automatic admissions policies (AAPs, “percent plans”) redistribute college-going opportunities across segregated high schools to diversify college enrollments, increasing opportunities at predominantly minority high schools. If students “game” AAPs by attending schools with increased opportunities, AAPs could alter racial sorting across high schools. Comparative interrupted time series analyses provide evidence that Texas’s and California’s AAPs reduced Black–White segregation in highly segregated school districts. These effects were concentrated in sparsely populated areas in Texas, and they were modest in California, so it seems unlikely this significantly undermined AAPs’ ability to reduce racial disparities in college-going opportunities. It shows, however, that strategic responses to policies that redistribute opportunities in segregated contexts can create tension between segregation and inequality of opportunity
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    Future flooding increases unequal exposure risks to relic industrial pollution
    (IOP Publishing, 2022) Marlow, Thomas; Elliott, James R.; Frickel, Scott
    Climate change is increasing the probability that urban communities with lengthy histories of land-based industrial pollution and ongoing residential segregation will experience more frequent and destructive flooding in the years ahead. This paper investigates where these past, present, and future forces will converge to potentially produce a new type of climate injustice, as the flooding of former, or ‘relic,’ industrial sites threatens to transport sequestered industrial contaminants off site. Merging property-level flood-risk projections from the First Street Foundation with historical data on former hazardous manufacturing facilities in 6 U.S. cities, we identify more than 6000 relic industrial sites with elevated flood risk over the next 30 years. Exploratory spatial analysis reveals that these sites cluster spatially to create identifiable zones of cumulative impact, within which as many as 560 thousand residents and 229 thousand housing units are currently located. Spatial multilevel modeling further indicates that socially vulnerable groups (i.e. racial minorities, those with lower incomes, and those residing in less autonomous housing) are consistently and disproportionately likely to live in these areas. These findings highlight the need to develop new strategic plans to rethink site-based strategies of remediation and to engage residents of historically marginalized communities in planning efforts as government agencies at all levels work to make their cities more resilient and environmentally just in the age of climate change.
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    Community social environments and cigarette smoking
    (Elsevier, 2022) Denney, Justin T.; Sharp, Gregory; Kimbro, Rachel Tolbert
    Cigarette smoking remains a primary contributor to health disparities in the United States, and significant evidence suggests that smoking behavior is socially influenced. Though residential neighborhoods are important for health disparities, recent evidence suggests that people spend the majority of their waking time away from the residential neighborhood. We advance research on neighborhoods and smoking by using individual, neighborhood, and activity space data for adults in the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS). Moving beyond socioeconomic indicators of neighborhoods, we investigate the ways in which residential neighborhood social cohesion, neighborly exchange, and perceived danger impact smoking behavior after accounting for confounding factors in both the residential neighborhood and other activity spaces in which adults spend their days. We find that perceptions of danger in the residential neighborhood is robustly associated with the likelihood of smoking cigarettes. Further, measures of community social organization interact with perceived danger to influence smoking behavior. Adults with high levels of perceived danger are twice as likely to smoke if residing in communities with lower levels of social organization in the form of helpful, trusting, and supportive relationships. Understanding how the social organization of communities contributes to smoking disparities is important for curbing smoking's impact on population health.
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    Network resources and educational outcomes among Mexican-origin youth
    (Elsevier, 2022) Flores Morales, Josefina; Diaz, Christina J.; Nobles, Jenna; Fletcher, Jason M.
    Despite schooling gains over the last two decades, Mexican-origin adults complete fewer years of schooling than adults from other ethnic backgrounds. Explanations emphasizing network resources suggest Mexican-origin adolescents have social ties that are more likely to be “closed” from adults with experience in higher education—and this, in turn, inhibits the transition to college. In this study, we draw on unusual network data measuring characteristics of students' peers and friends, as well as the socioeconomic background of peers' and friends' parents. We demonstrate that Mexican-origin adolescents are much less likely to have friends whose parents have college educations. 83% of non-Hispanic Asian students and 72% of non-Hispanic white students have nominated friends with college-educated mothers; about half of Mexican-origin students do. These patterns are the result of socioeconomic segregation in social networks both across and within schools. Within schools, we observe that the educational background of friends is predictive of schooling outcomes for non-Mexican students. We find evidence that this network resource shapes non-Mexican students’ educational expectations in high school and longer-run completed schooling as adults more so than it shapes the outcomes among Mexican-origin students.
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    How Religious Discrimination is Perceived in the Workplace: Expanding the View
    (Sage, 2022) Schneider, Rachel C.; Carroll Coleman, Deidra; Howard Ecklund, Elaine; Daniels, Denise
    Although religious discrimination in U.S. workplaces appears to be rising, little is known about how different groups of employees perceive discrimination. Here, the authors draw on 194 in-depth interviews with Muslim, Jewish, Christian, and nonreligious employees to examine perceptions of religious discrimination in the workplace. The authors identify several common modes of perceived discrimination, including verbal microaggressions and stereotyping, social exclusion and othering, and around religious holidays and symbols. The authors also find that Christians tend to link perceived discrimination to personal piety or taking a moral stand in the workplace, while Muslims, Jews, and nonreligious people tend to link discrimination to group-based stereotypes and describe a sense of being seen as religiously foreign or other. This study reveals the value of studying groups alongside one another for the fullest picture of workplace religious discrimination and points the way toward further sociological research of how both majority and minority groups perceive discrimination.
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    (Can’t Get No) Neighborhood Satisfaction? How Multilevel Immigration Factors Shape Latinos’ Neighborhood Attitudes
    (Sage, 2020) Schachter, Ariela; Sharp, Gregory; Kimbro, Rachel T.
    How does immigrant generation shape Latinos’ neighborhood attitudes? We extend theoretical frameworks focused on neighborhood attainment to explore how immigrant generation structures Latinos’ neighborhood satisfaction, particularly with respect to neighborhood immigrant composition. Using longitudinal data from the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey, we estimate fixed-effects regression models to examine the associations between self-reported neighborhood satisfaction and changes in neighborhood immigrant composition. We find that first-generation Latino immigrants tend to react more positively to growing immigrant populations in their neighborhoods compared to 1.5-generation and native-born Latinos; these differences are most pronounced in more socioeconomically advantaged neighborhoods. We consider the implications of these attitudinal differences for understanding the mechanisms of Latino residential segregation and neighborhood attainment.
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    Evangelicals, evolution, and inerrancy: a comparative study of congregational boundary work
    (Taylor & Francis, 2021) Unsworth, Amy; Ecklund, Elaine Howard
    A number of evangelical Christian denominations and networks uphold a specific doctrine of Scripture, stating that the Bible is the ‘inerrant’ word of God. Those who adhere to biblical inerrancy tend to reject literary interpretations of the creation accounts in the Bible and therefore to reject evolutionary theory. Indeed, evolution rejection frequently functions as a key boundary for biblical inerrantists that must be strictly maintained. In this comparative study, we analyse interview data and other materials to uncover the mechanisms by which evolution rejection as a boundary is strengthened, maintained or weakened within two evangelical church congregations that adhere to biblical inerrancy: one in London, UK, the other in Texas, US. We find significant differences in boundary work between the two congregations and consider how the interplay of three factors—1) orientation of the congregation (internal or external), 2) religious context (minority or majority), 3) boundary salience—may lead to boundary strengthening or weakening.
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    Social Capital and Student Achievement: An Intervention-Based Test of Theory
    (Sage, 2021) Gamoran, Adam; Miller, Hannah K.; Fiel, Jeremy E.; Valentine, Jessa Lewis
    Social capital is widely cited as benefiting children’s school performance, but close inspection of existing research yields inconsistent findings. Focusing on intergenerational closure among parents of children in the same school, this article draws from a field experiment to test the effects of social capital on children’s achievement in reading and mathematics. When children were in first grade, their schools were randomly assigned to an after-school family-based intervention that boosts social capital. A total of 52 schools in Phoenix, Arizona, and San Antonio, Texas, containing over 3,000 first graders, participated in the study, with half the schools in each city assigned to the treatment group and half serving as no-treatment controls. Two years later, no differences in third-grade achievement were evident between children who had been in treatment schools versus control schools. By contrast, nonexperimental analyses of survey-based measures of social capital suggest positive effects on achievement, indicating that naïve estimates based on survey measures may be upwardly biased by unobserved conditions that lead to both stronger ties among parents and higher test scores. This article adds to a growing literature that raises doubts about the effects of this type of social capital for achievement outcomes among young children.
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    Relational Segregation: A Structural View of Categorical Relations
    (Sage, 2021) Fiel, Jeremy E.
    This article builds a framework for a relational approach to segregation that emphasizes structures of interactions, transactions, and ties between and within social categories. Rather than explaining segregation with dominants imposing formal rules or homophilic people sorting themselves, I highlight segregation's emergence amid dueling control efforts among actors with malleable categorical identities. And rather than assuming segregation necessarily fuels cycles of inequality or persecution, I identify nuanced advantages and disadvantages for different actors in social conflict. I also explore an underappreciated role of institutions in segregation: They guide relations across different domains of activity that may have different degrees of segregation. An overarching theme is that segregation is not a specific thing with regular causes and effects but an inherently contradictory structural feature of relations that evolves as actors struggle for control.
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    Divergent Residential Pathways from Flood-Prone Areas: How Neighborhood Inequalities Are Shaping Urban Climate Adaptation
    (2021) Elliott, James; Loughran, Kevin; Brown, Phylicia Lee; Department of Sociology
    Flood risks are rising across the United States, putting the economic and social values of growing numbers of homes at risk. In response, the federal government is funding the purchase and demolition of housing in areas of greatest jeopardy, tacitly promoting residential resettlement as a strategy of climate adaptation, especially in cities. Despite these developments, little is known about where people move when they engage in such resettlement or how answers to that question vary by the racial and economic status of their flood-prone neighborhoods. The present study begins to fill that gap. First, we introduce a new typology for classifying environmental resettlement along two socio-spatial dimensions of community attachment: (a) distance moved from one’s flood-prone home; and (b) average distance resettled from similarly relocated neighbors. Next, we analyze data from 1,572 homeowners who accepted government-funded buyouts across 39 neighborhood areas in Harris County, Texas – Houston’s urban core. Results indicate that homeowners from more privileged neighborhoods resettle closer to both their flood-prone homes and to one another, thus helping to preserve the social as well as economic value of home; whereas, homeowners from less privileged areas end up farther away from both. Implications for understanding social inequities in government-funded urban climate adaptation are discussed.
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    Navigating Religion Online: Jewish and Muslim Responses to Social Media
    (MDPI, 2021) Ferguson, Jauhara; Ecklund, Elaine Howard; Rothschild, Connor
    Although social media use among religious communities is proliferating, significant gaps remain in our understanding of how religious minorities perceive social media in relation to their faith and community. Thus, we ask how individuals use religion to frame moral attitudes around social media for Jews and Muslims. Specifically, how does social media shape understandings of community? We analyze 52 interviews with Jews and Muslims sampled from Houston and Chicago. We find that Jews and Muslims view social media as a “double-edged sword”—providing opportunities to expand intracommunal ties and access to religious resources, while also diluting the quality of ties and increasing exposure to religious distractions. These findings help us understand what it is about being a religious minority in the US that might shape how individuals engage with social media. Moreover, they suggest that social media may be transforming faith communities in less embodied ways, a topic that is of particular relevance in our pandemic times.
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    The very ivory tower: pathways reproducing racial-ethnic stratification in US academic science
    (Taylor & Francis, 2021) Thomson, Robert A. Jr.; Salazar, Esmeralda Sánchez; Ecklund, Elaine Howard
    We theorized that income racial-ethnic stratification among academic scientists is perpetuated by inequality of scientific capital including institutional prestige, research funding, publishing, and tenure. We tested our model with original survey data of US biologists and physicists (n = 1,160). Findings indicated that white scientists reported higher incomes than non-white scientists despite no significant differences in productivity, funding, or institutional status. Black scientists reported earning the lowest pay, while Hispanic scientists reported incomes statistically similar to those of white scientists. We also observed racial-ethnic inequality in promotion to tenure, which indirectly contributed to racial-ethnic stratification in pay. While overrepresented in our sample relative to the US population, East Asian scientists experienced particular disadvantages in promotion. Our findings challenge the Model Minority Myth, and they have implications for our understanding of the reproduction of a racial order, even in science, a field characterized by explicit overtures of tolerance and inclusion.
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    Polarized Scientists? Exploring Political Differences about Religion and Science among U.S. Biologists and Physicists
    (Wiley, 2021) Mehta, Sharan Kaur; Thomson, Robert A. Jr.; Ecklund, Elaine Howard
    From the Texas textbook debate to the March for Science, visible displays of activism illuminate how deeply politicized the science‐religion interface has become. However, little is known about the extent to which scientists’ attitudes about science and religion are politicized. Using original survey data from 1,989 U.S. academic biologists and physicists, we examine the degree to which political views shape how scientists perceive the relationship between religion and science, religious authority, their personal religious identity, and views on dominant scientific theories. Findings suggest that, indeed, the science‐religion interface holds political meaning for scientists, but in different ways across the political spectrum. Specifically, for politically liberal scientists, atheism and the conflict narrative are particularly politicized belief structures, while politically conservative scientists emphasize religious identity to distinguish themselves from political liberals. Findings point to the critical role of politics in shaping scientists’ attitudes and identities, which may have implications for the scientific enterprise, both at the lab bench and in the political sphere.
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    Determinants of Confidence in U.S. Institutions: Comparing Congress and Corporations
    (Wiley, 2021) Bolger, Daniel; Thomson, Robert Jr.; Ecklund, Elaine Howard
    Objectives: The political discourse surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election highlighted discontent with both Congress and corporations, a reality corroborated in recent scholarship highlighting declines in institutional confidence among U.S. citizens. Here we test theories of institutional confidence to understand the social and cultural determinants of confidence in Congress and corporations prior to the start of the 2016 presidential campaigns. Methods: We draw on data from the Religious Understandings of Science Survey, a nationally representative survey conducted in 2013–2014 (N = 9,416). Results: We find that political ideology largely explained confidence in corporations while social location (particularly racial‐ethnic identity and gender) strongly related to confidence in Congress. Seemingly opposing factors converged to predict trust in both institutions. Conclusions: Institutional confidence is shaped not only by social and cultural factors but also by the symbolic functions of institutions themselves.
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    Individuals’ Experiences with Religious Hostility, Discrimination, and Violence: Findings from a New National Survey
    (Sage, 2020) Scheitle, Christopher P.; Ecklund, Elaine Howard
    While concerns about the consequences of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of religious bias have grown in the past several years, the data available to examine these issues have been limited. This study utilizes new data from a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults featuring oversamples of key religious minority groups and an instrument dedicated to measuring the extent to which individuals experience hostility, discrimination, and violence due to their religion. Findings show that, while a sizable minority of Christian adults report such experiences, a much greater share of Muslim and Jewish adults report experiences with interpersonal hostility, organizational discrimination, and violent victimization due to their religion. Analyses show that these patterns are largely unchanged after accounting for individuals’ race and ethnicity, national origin, and other characteristics, suggesting that experiences with religious hostility are not epiphenomenal to other social locations.
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    From Secular to Sacred: Bringing Work to Church
    (MDPI, 2020) Ecklund, Elaine Howard; Daniels, Denise; Schneider, Rachel C.
    Work and faith are significant life commitments for many people. Understanding how people integrate these facets of life is important for scholars, faith leaders, and religious communities. We use data from Faith at Work: An Empirical Study, which includes a U.S. general population survey (n = 13,270) and in-depth interviews. Drawing data from a Christian sub-sample we ask: How do Christians draw on their faith community in relation to work? For those in different social locations, in what ways does talk about work come up in churches? Finally, what work-related challenges do Christians experience, and how do Christians want their churches and pastors to address them? We find that many Christians see faith as a resource for enhancing their work lives but do not often encounter discussion of work at church or talk with pastors about work, though Black congregants are nearly twice as likely as whites to hear their pastors discuss work. Further, specific groups of Christians want their pastors and churches to do more to support them in their work and/or to help them navigate faith in the workplace. They also want churches to better accommodate the needs of working people at church, so they can more fully participate.