Tag Archives: sociology

Research ideas for Six Degrees Students

Research Ideas for My Students

Hello folks. This is by no means a comprehensive set of resources. It more reflects sources that seemed to be of interest to two or more of you AND that I thought might not jump out at you as pertinent. It is a mix of search terms, blogs, alternative media, as well as books and scholars.

For a few of you, I had specific ideas and those are at the end.  So read through to the end. If I did not comment on your specifically all it means is that your topics are either covered below, or, I don’t have any special suggestions.

General Ideas

The FIRST place for everyone to start if they are basing their paper on a topic in Six Degrees or Tipping point is to look at the references in the back of each book.  Watts provides a guide to different topics, and Gladwell has notes with references.

Also, you can get a one on one appointment with BU librarian once you have your topic.

EVERYONE should make an appointment with a Bucknell research librarian.

You are welcome to search my blog.  You can search or simply use the tag cloud to clickt hough to a set of posts.

Also, I use a social bookmarking service called del.icio.us.com. Basically it is like a big scrapbook of links I collect.  You are welcome to look there for any tags that match your research keywords.

http://delicious.com/jordisunshine

Click on “all tags” on the left to see my tag taxonomy.  For example, Jen mentioned technology and the presidential election in her topics.  I have a politics tag, and when you click on that, you can see what are “related” tags to narrow it down.  Politics+ technology has three links. One of those, to a book called “Netroots Rising” might be useful.

How to use blogs I recommend: browse them.  Use them to identify key ideas.  Use them to look for book, or article suggestions from more reliable sources (scholarly journals, mainstream press).

How context shapes roles

Stanford Prison Experiment

□ Look for social psychology on the impact of groups or roles

How social network affects a company

□ Work by Rob Cross

David Krackhardt

David Obstfeld

How breakthroughs happen…

Mob Mentality or “Wisdom of Crowds”

□ See Swarm intelligence as a search term. Also this book and tool.

□ See Smart Mobs as a search term. Also, this site and book.

Internet and Society

Pew Research Center on Internet and American life

Financial Bubbles…

Bill Moyers with Kuttner

Interviews with Greenspan

Greenspan debate Naomi Klein, a critic (bubbles and feds role comes up)

□   Planet Money Blog

□   Big picture blog

□   Brad DeLong Blog

Fanatic communities

MeetUp

Org theory post

Size of communities (Rule of 150)

□    Gore-Tex maker

□   More on Gore

□   Another article.

□   Leaderless organization

Advertising and Marketing

Changes that the internet has brought about

Viral garden blog

□   Any search on word of mouth or viral marketing

□   Paradox of Choice.

General blogs on organizations, networks, and sociology: Search them for your topics.

Orgtheory http://orgtheory.wordpress.com/

Complexity

Connectedness

Visiblepath

Jen:

About politics and technology.  The Dean campaign of 2004, and also the Bush Campaign of 2004, started the use of web 2.0 technologies as political organizing tools.  I think this book could be useful.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1594514852

Will:

It would be interesting to look at the distribution of hit records over time.  In other words, what proportion of records sold are just a few?  Were the Beatles bigger superstars than a recent “big act” measured as % of all record sales?  How has shift to consuming songs as downloads changed that perception?  Are there fewer superstars now?  What does that mean for music as a business and as a cultural activity?

Charlie:

About diseases: it would be interesting to compare biological and social factors in contagiousness of diseases.

Jeff G:

In terms of channel capacity and music: this reminds me of research now on the cognitive structure of experts vs amateurs.  An expert musician can distinguish more than 7 tones, I think.   What is the evidence that we can increase channel capacity?

Kayla

I am not sure what the best search term for outside-in emotion is.

Emma:

You can do a special kind of search called a cited reference search with a database called Web of Science.  Basically, it tells you who cited a work.  You could look at original article “The Strength of Weak Ties” and see what more current research is saying.  The reference librarians can show you how to do that kind of search.  There will be thousands of articles, so you will need to use narrowing terms.

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Filed under Business, economics, innovation, organization theory, Politics, Power, Activism, Research, Social Networks, sociology

In Defense of White Americans- Finally!

Frank Rich of the NY Time has said what i have been arguing with friends and family for awhile.  Race is a complicated matter in America. 

Op-Ed Columnist – In Defense of White Americans – NYTimes.com
When Obama cited her in his speech on race last spring, the right immediately accused him of “throwing his grandmother under the bus.” But Obama’s critics were merely projecting their own racial hang-ups. He still loves his grandmother. He was merely speaking candidly and generously — like an adult — about the strange, complex and ever-changing racial dynamics of America. He hit a chord because many of us have had white relatives of our own like his, and we, too, see them in full and often love them anyway.

Many of my white, educated friends (just the people supposedly immune to racial stereotyping or prejudice) openly acknowledge our shock at the amount of subtle racist thinking that shows up in tests like the implicit racial bias test. Unions, pop culture (Eminem anyone?  Or Hootie and the Blowfish?), sports teams, public school, and, of course, the original integrator, the US military have done a lot to create millions of moments for people to know each other as individuals and forge some sense of solidarity.  My point is that racial bias, in its subtle form, extends everywhere (ask Hispanics or Koreans about Blacks, for example, or vice verse) and that social fact CAN and DOES exist in quirky disharmony with the human capacity to interact and relate across a myriad divides and misunderstandings.

Racism in the face of the yawning maw of economic collapse is a luxury only zealous ideologues can afford.  And most Americans are pretty pragmatic.


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Filed under Politics, Power, Activism, sociology

Pretty good advice from fallen Fals Borda

Orland Fals Borda,  a Columbian sociologist active since the 1960s, had this to say.

Obituary: Orlando Fals Borda | World news | The Guardian
There he delivered a speech in which he outlined four of his own guidelines for sociology researchers: “Do not monopolise your knowledge nor impose arrogantly your techniques, but respect and combine your skills with the knowledge of the researched or grassroots communities, taking them as full partners and co-researchers. Do not trust elitist versions of history and science which respond to dominant interests, but be receptive to counter-narratives and try to recapture them. Do not depend solely on your culture to interpret facts, but recover local values, traits, beliefs, and arts for action by and with the research organisations. Do not impose your own ponderous scientific style for communicating results, but diffuse and share what you have learned together with the people, in a manner that is wholly understandable and even literary and pleasant, for science should not be necessarily a mystery nor a monopoly of experts and intellectuals.”

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Filed under Politics, Power, Activism, Scholars, sociology

On-line reputation(another media inquiry)

I got _another_ media inquiry.

Summary: How does on-line reputation matter?  What can you do if your reputation is being trashed?

Hmmm. It is interesting how many of these queries seem to be “how-to.”  There is the famous case of the Facebook suicide, but such stories do more to illustrate our fears than capture the reality of most people most of the time.  My first thought to protect your reputation is to have a reputation worth protecting.

You might ask Greta Polites and Eric Santanen also.  (In my department.)

I have this book and have not read it but it seems relevant.

http://www.wordofmouthbook.com/

It must be possible to spend a lot of time surveilling   one’s on-line profile.  “Google myself” is a verb and a state of mind.  How is the “me” I know being seen in cyberspace?  But I think if you obsess about it, it says more about you than the world.  Judging by the generally low level of negative feedback on eBay transactions, or in Amazon ratings, or in other open reputation systems (by open, I mean where any user can comment on an identifiable user).  As opposed to the Hobbesian dog eat dog world we often imagine, when we look at most interactions, even on-line, it is kind of boring in the sense that most people are OK and not trying to cheat others for gain or trash them for a sick kind of fun.  There are of course a few exceptions.

For those times when you are worried about how you are being presented, I would think about the audience before reacting.  If an employer or consulting prospect is concerned or I think they can see negative comments, offer up your own list of recommenders for them to contact directly.  Offer several.  This would mean more than written letters.  If the negativity comes from anonymous systems, you can delicately point out that such attacks are not very reputable and cowardly.  On systems like LinkedIn, have people who will speak on your behalf noted so that a prospective contact can link to them easily.  Include contacts form multiple jobs over your career.  If those people are not on, take this moment to be a technology maven and encourage them to sign up.

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Filed under Information and Communication Technology, Network Society, participatory technology, Social Networks, technology, writing

Business Optimists Rediscover Society!

A somewhat structured web surf about organizational change lead me to this site about the book/project called:

Megacommunities.

Which includes this amusing graphic.

I think that web od dense relations in the middle also has an older name: society.

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Filed under Business, humor, social theory, sociology

Politics inside or outside the magic circle?

The magic circle seems a key concept in virtual worlds and gaming.  For origin of the term from Huzinga, see here.

The wikipedia article, in summarizing Castronova’s arguments, states:

Even though there are political activities inside synthetic worlds, it is interesting to note that “debates, which really do involve legitimate political interests, almost always occur outside the membrane rather than inside it.”[16

How about for SL?  Do these discussions happen inside or out?  What about other VWs?  Isn’t the story in Second Life Herald all about sparking these types of discussions in-world?  In TSO and also in SL?  And the apocryphal account of LambdaMOO discussion about the cyber rape was also in that world.

And is the point whether the discussion is between self-identified people or avatars?

Lastly, ignoring above distinction for the time, one of the lessons I draw from how discussions happen outside the membrane is that it is further proof of how users of VWs and MMOs are part of a broader institutional field.

“The organizational field isolates for analysis a system of organizations operating in the same realm as defined by relational linkages and shared cultural rules and meaning systems(118)”

(from: Scott, W. R., Davis, G. F., & Scott, W. R. (2007). Organizations and organizing : Rational, natural, and open systems perspectives (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.)

So, in the out-of-membrane discussions about politics, we see a network of players, or a community, instead of an organization formally, but nonetheless engaging in joint enterprise.  THis network is defined by its relation to the virtual world and also to other networks of players/users and also worlds.  They discuss and strategize about political questions pertaining to the synthetic world in ways that reveal shared (or contested) cultural rules and meaning systems,  What makes for  a good game?  What is fair?  What should different parties do?  These are questions relevant only in the context of a field.

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Filed under Gaming, organization theory, Research, social theory, technology, virtual worlds

Summer Reading List

OK, I leave for five weeks in a week. Its mostly vacation, but I am looking forward to spending some time reading some of the dense social theory or social science books that I rely on, but have never finished or even read (ouch, hurts to admit that in print). I’ll probably get drummed out of the bidness (its like our omerta) for saying this, but when you read lots of journal article,s you start to know what are the foundational texts and how they are used. Its like seeing the shape of a plane by its shadow. Foucault, is, I think a classic in this regard. Everyone cites, few have actually read (beyond strategic skimming). And Weber. (Although I did take a grad school seminar where we did nothing but read Economy and Society. That’s a story for another time).

Anyway, for the sake of _actually_ reading some of these from my ever-expanding list of books, I am limiting myself to two. So, this is the fun part, like choosing courses from a stellar menu. Which two?

Possible summer reading list (In Progress):

  • Identity and Control by Harrison White
  • Sociology of Philosophy by Randall Collins
  • Constitution of Society by Anthony Giddens
  • Volumes 2 and 3 of The Information Age by Manuel Castells
  • The Hacker Ethic By Pekka Hinamen
  • something by Bourdieu…
  • Brokerage and Closure by Ron Burt
  • Something by Charles Tilly, Big structures, large processes, huge comparisons or Identities, Boundaries and Social Ties
  • Code v 2.0 by Lawrence Lessig
  • The Hacker Ethic by Pekka Himanen (for  teaching really).

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Filed under Books, Castells, New Projects, organization studies, organization theory, Orgs Stuff (theory, science, studies), Social Networks, social theory

Blau Exchange: Charles Tilly Interview

This was a treat to find.  And reassuring as it is basically the trajectory I am trying to follow.

Blau Exchange: Charles Tilly Interview
Paul DiPerna:

If you have any advice for the next generation of scholars and researchers in the social sciences, what would you like to tell them?
Charles Tilly:

Don’t get blindsided by neuroscience, which is going to make individualistic, brain-centered accounts of human behavior even more popular for the next ten years or so. Anticipate the following phase, when even the neuroscientists will begin to recognize the importance of social interaction in the formation of individuals.
Paul DiPerna:

Along similar lines…. if you have any hopes for the next generation of scholars, what would you like to ask of them?
Charles Tilly:

Figure out how to do relational analyses that provide valid explanations of individual behavior and are accessible (at least in simplified form) to readers outside of social science.

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Filed under Great Quotations, Networks, Scholars, social theory, sociology

Charles Tilly is gone…

The Bwog
Charles Tilly, the eminent Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, passed away this morning. An official University-wide announcement is still in the works, though some of his students and colleagues have organized a vigil tonight at 7 p.m. that will take place under his Fayerweather office’s (514) window.

You can read more about Tilly and some of his work here. Although, if you’ve taken any courses in social science, it’s likely you’re already well-acquainted with his ideas.

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Filed under Scholars, social theory

Comparing fourth and fifth editions of Organizations by Richard Scott (And Gerry Davis for fifth)

So, a new edition of Organizations:Rational, Natural, and Open Systems by W. Richard Scott is out. Its co-authored by Gerry Davis (Who was a student of Scott’s at Stanford, apparently) and has a newer, more active title (stamp out nouns!). This book was an absolute classic for me doing my PhD at IESE. It also helped me bridge sociology and management. So, like the priests we are, it is good to turn back to the canon and see what is there.

Organizations and Organizing: rational, natural, and open systems perspectives.

I wanted to see if it is worth reading/buying the new version. A quick comparison of the two tables of contents reveals that some major changes were made. After Break for table.

Continue reading

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Filed under Books, organization studies, organization theory, Scholars, sociology