Slipping and Sliding

Slipping and sliding—that’s how many Americans experience their lives today. And we’re not talking about the recent harsh winter. The seemingly eternal truths many of us once took for granted—that a college degree is a ticket to a decent job, working hard and being a loyal employee pays off, and marriage marks one’s entry into adulthood—are slipping away.

Jennifer Silva’s “Working Class Growing Pains” takes us into the lives of working class young adults to show how they’re coping with new insecurities. Though reaching the legal age of adulthood, they have little hope of achieving the traditional markers of adulthood—a home, a job, and a family. “Growing up today,” Silva writes, “means learning to depend on no one but yourself.”

For most poor Americans these measures of success have always been out of reach; as Susan Sered shows, instead of removing barriers, the institutions of the carceral state blame poor individuals for their plight. Class inequality has deepened in the United States as we know, but assessments of racial progress are more mixed. Amy Steinbugler interviews interracial couples and finds that though they are less likely to encounter overt hostility today, everyday racism persists.

Race and class inequality, Brazilian style, is the focus of Katherine Jensen’s take on media coverage of street protests in São Paulo and other cities last year. And Grace Yukich, Kimberly Stokes, and Daniela Bellows look at how American media responds when athletes proudly display their faith, and why Tim Tebow rubbed journalists the wrong way.

In this issue, Mediations, Books, and In Pictures offer different glimpses of Detroit, a city in transition. Women choosing single motherhood and aging alone are the focus of our Trends essays. And in this issue’s Q&A, editor Jodi O’Brien interviews Mormon sociologist Armand Mauss, discussing how being a sociologist of faith can be challenging—especially if you’re a member of a controversial religion.

In the spirit of “teaching the controversy” we’ve invited three feminist sociologists to share differing perspectives on marriage equality in Pedagogies. Mediations editor Karen Sternheimer and editorial board member Sudhir Venkatesh (Unplugged) offer insights on the promise and peril of writing public sociology.

Finally, this issue’s Jargon continues the theme of writing, focusing on “Open Access,” a movement that challenges the traditional journal as the sine qua non of academic publishing.

And speaking of open access, we’re very pleased to announce that SAGE and the ASA have agreed to allow free access to each new issue of Contexts for 30 days. So please check us out at, and read on!